By Samantha Smith
The planning process for Buda’s future housing needs has been put on hold after city staff pulled the plug on its recent Housing Action Plan (HAP) survey earlier this month.
But the decision to suspend the survey in no way reflected the possibility of dissolving the city’s housing action plan, said Chance Sparks, Buda’s director of planning.
Council learned of the survey’s suspension Sept. 20 when Sparks reported the decision, which was made after multiple factors resulted in an inconclusive data stream.
“The suspension of this process provides an opportunity to reflect on the entire approach to the plan and consultants involved, and to have an open discussion with the housing advisory committee about how they think we should proceed,” Sparks said.
The survey was intended to elicit the community’s involvement and input in order to better plan the future housing landscape of Buda, Sparks said.
However, there were only 900 respondents to the HAP survey, which according to city officials was not a representative sample of a town’s population that is nearing 13,000.
In addition to the lack of community involvement, Sparks said there were additional complaints about the survey.
Sparks said those complaints extended to “perceived bias, inadequate education on the meaning of different terms such as ‘affordable’ and questions that may not be producing adequate information.”
“There are additional questions we need to ask and data we need to gather in order for the committee and the community to determine what the appropriate vision is for housing in Buda,” Sparks said.
Sparks said the Housing Action Plan survey was sparked by previous discussions on different housing needs in Buda.
The Buda City Council earlier this year allocated $35,000 from its current budget for the development of the Housing Action Plan. Additionally, the Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation (CAHFC) provided a $10,000 grant to supplement city funds for the plan.
“This project is about more than a survey – it’s an entire planning effort to address housing in a holistic manner,” Sparks said.
According to the staff report presented at the Sept. 20 meeting, there have been “no decisions made about possible solutions or strategies” by staff or the housing advisory committee.
Sparks said the advisory committee would meet next week “to reassess and reflect on the appropriate path forward.”
In addition to the suspension of the HAP survey, the efforts of Holtkamp Planning related to this project have halted as well.
At this time it is unknown when the housing advisory committee will make its recommendations to council as to how best proceed with the city’s housing action plan.
“Buda is facing tremendous growth and we need to be sure it is consistent with the community vision and what brought people to Buda in the first place,” Sparks said.