AUSTIN (KXAN) — What can be built where? It’s the conversation heating up again at Austin’s City Hall.
The Austin City Council is once again trying to update the city’s land development code, and a big factor playing a role is the number of people who continue to move here.
State Demographer Lloyd Potter told KXAN Texas is one of the fastest growing states.
He estimates our statewide population to be at about 29 million, and in 2016 and 2017, he said, “We added about 1,000 new Texans every day.”
He cautions, however, you need to understand how that number breaks down.
“About half of those new Texans are babies,” Potter explained.
That means about 500 people moved to Texas every day.
For the Austin region specifically, City Demographer Ryan Robinson said, “The net addition each day to that metro area is about 105 people.”
But again, he said we have to keep in mind, “Over one-third of that growth comes from natural increase, which is births over deaths, and in our case, we have a lot more births than deaths.”
For the Austin region, according to data from Texas Demographic Center, a little more than half of all the people moving to the area come from other parts of the state. A good number comes from other states, and the city is also adding people from international immigration.
“A lot of people want to point to the influx from California,” Robinson said, “Yes, there are Californians moving here, but it’s also from Florida. It’s from Washington state. It’s from the metro Chicago area. It’s from New York. It’s from overseas. It’s international immigration.”
The state data also suggests Travis County’s population will grow by about half a million from 2010 to 2030.
Robinson explained, “I don’t think we’ll see a pause until we see a national level recession. Our fundamentals are very solid. Our unemployment rate is almost too low.”
As more people move to the region, Potter is expecting suburban areas to see significant growth.
“Essentially it’s like a target. This concentric growth that’s been happening and that’s likely to continue,” he said.
Robinson also pointed about in terms of the growth percentage, Austin is seeing more older people move here as well.
He said older baby boomers and retirees are also starting to call Central Texas home.
Robinson said that’s why Austin needs to update its Land Development Code.
“If you and I were using an operating system on a computer that was created in 1985, I mean think about what that would be,” he said. “We’re still using a land development code that was crafted in the mid-’80s.”
He went on to say, “We have to be strategic about where that housing is and what type it is.”
Currently, the city manager is working to rewrite the land development code. Last month, he sent a letter to the city asking for guidance and specifics on key policy issues including the scope of the revision, details on density and housing, compatibility standards and parking requirements.
City Council members have started sharing their suggestions including building 135,000 units in ten years. You can read all of the suggestions on the Austin City Council forum website here.