Bill Aleshire, former Travis County Judge said, “The Mayor and Council are about to do the same thing this Thursday with the Grove as they did with Pilot Knob — hide its actions with agenda wording that just says it’s a zoning case. Brian Rodgers sued them over Pilot Knob, and we’ll be adding The Grove to the suit and asking a court to declare their action void.”
When Rodgers blew the whistle back in February on how Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Marc Ott misled Council with an improper posting of the Pilot Knob PUD (Public Utility District) as only a “zoning” item, it contained tens of millions in undisclosed fee waivers and no fiscal note — plus exemptions from other city ordinances without proper notice. Rodgers’ attorneys, Bill Aleshire and Roger Borgelt have now amended the suit to challenge the legality of water and wastewater impact fee waivers under state law to:
- divert $81 million from the water utility budget (that would have helped growth pay for itself) what amounts to a slush fund to be used for anything under the guise of a fund for “affordable “ housing,
- get only 10% “affordable” rental units in the development, when state and federal law requires at least 20% be provided to quality for fee waivers,
- calculate the fee diversion or waivers based on every unit in the development instead of only on those “affordable” units, and
- provide exemptions from important City ordinances, including one that prohibits giving affordable housing fee waivers for developments such as Pilot Knob, which is outside the City limits of Austin.”
The Mayor has stated his wish to amass $300 million from impact fees as a discretionary source of funding for affordable housing. Not only do we claim that this is illegal, it’s just plain wrong to divert money from the Austin Water Utility and its ratepayers. Even if you can stomach the open government violations Adler and Ott pulled on this “deal” – to raid the water utility of $81M in impact fees it needs to pay down its debt and to keep water rates reasonable – Pilot Knob is a ripoff of affordable housing. The feds and, even the miserly state of Texas, require far more of developers than this Mayor dealt the developers.