The Kyle File: The new Austin

by David Abdel

Several decades ago, Austin was faced with a conundrum. The growth was becoming exponential and its infrastructure, as well as its longtime residents, were not ready for it. So, faced with this seeming inevitability, everyone read the writing on the wall and came to the conclusion it would be in everyone’s best interest to prepare the town for considerably higher populations, making profound investments in quality of life, transportation and infrastructure to handle the fast growing population.

Wait … no they didn’t. The neighbors of Austin fought hard at every junction to attempt to ward off the growth, setting Austin back several decades. The prevailing attitude was that, if they continue to vote against progressive measures, somehow time and progress would reverse course and bring Austin back to a weird little secret. As we all know, that didn’t happen, and now the price tag for fixing it is in the billions. Well, in this way, Kyle is the new Austin.

No, not the new Austin in the way of cuisine, nightlife, family-oriented entertainment or progressive ideology. Rather, Kyle is the new Austin when it comes to wishing things go back to the way they were, lacking imagination, and complaining that every fault is that of “newcomers” mucking things up. The latter of which I’ve always found to be the most insulting. Especially when studies have shown that most immigration to Central Texas has come from other areas of Texas, NOT from California as is often bandied about. An informal poll I conducted on neighborhood site NextDoor resulted in confirming this. Almost 150 responses were made to the question “If you moved to Kyle in the last 10 years where did you move from?” and 70 percent said from within the state. For those that were from out of state, California was hardly mentioned.

Kyle is at that same tipping point Austin was many moons ago. Does it embrace what is already right in front of its eyes and deal with that reality, or keep pining for the days before? Kyle is growing, and will continue to do so. This is a certifiable fact. Since 2017, when our current elected mayor took office running on a campaign to limit our town’s tax dependency on residential property, this council has approved almost 2000 acres for just that. Currently, according to the city GIS map, there are over 3400 residential lots planned covering another 1000 plus acres. Comparatively, there is only 151 acres of commercial development planned. Here we are, putting in significant effort apparently to grow in size, but no clear plan for what to do to handle when everyone gets here. What will we do? This council seems to desire every inch of land to be developed as quickly as possible, rezoning land for residential development almost every meeting. While, at the same time, doing very little to prepare for that influx. In addition, allowing the neighbors of this town to blame “outsiders” for all of the troubles.

Many people moved to Kyle years ago as they were priced out of Austin. Many of those folks fought change there, only to succumb to it and move to Kyle to once again fight the same change. It’s time to wave the white flag. It’s time to take responsibility. It’s time to demand that those whom you’ve elected to lead the city articulate a plan for how this growth will be managed, how the cost of living will be steadied as not to force relocation of people yet again, and how those who come and those who remain will come to celebrate that decision of living here.

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