AUSTIN (KXAN) — In its toast to the “dopes, villains, and terrible ideas that bedeviled our beloved state over the past twelve months,” Texas Monthly crowned the city of Austin its 2023 Bum Steer of the Year. Previous years’ winners included Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party and former Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen.
In the article, Texas Monthly said the hundreds of thousands expected to join the metro area in the next 10 years to fulfill jobs at Tesla, Oracle and other companies join those who’ve already moved to the region. The article condemned the city’s skyrocketing costs of living as a byproduct of Austin becoming a “tech-bro theme park.”
It comes as the city is grappling with intense affordability concerns. Recent reporting from Realtor.com found Austin’s real estate scene is likely to become a “nobody’s market,” unfriendly to both buyers and sellers. Austinites approved in November a $350 million affordable housing bond, with plans to ramp up production of low and moderate-income housing for individuals and families.
The publication — which has been headquartered in Austin for nearly 50 years — critiqued the city’s land use code, which they dubbed “restrictive” and partly responsible for rising costs of living. Right now, both Austin mayoral candidates — with the winner to be decided in Tuesday’s runoff — have proposed new ideas to reimagine the city’s land use code, including proposed for a council district-specific code reform and “missing middle” housing that incorporates fourplexes and duplexes.
While it acknowledged Austin’s growth has long since separated it from its former life as a “sleepy college town,” the piece criticized the loss of iconic local institutions, such as Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds — while lamenting that working class musicians and artists have been priced outside of Austin.
“Austin is too expensive to be as bland as it has become,” the article concluded.