Disability requirements for new Austin homes pass City Council

Disability requirements for new Austin homes pass City Council

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It's official...all new homes built in Austin must be outfitted for the disabled.

One of many hot topics debated and decided on at Monday's city council meeting.

We told you last week how the city was looking into requiring all new single family homes and duplexes to be more compliant to the disabled -- like wider doors and a ramp.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell is against the final product of this ordinance...saying there are some good things here like the "visit-ability on the first floor" with an accessible bathroom.

But things like the ramp -- he says most of those building houses won't need them and it raises the cost of the house.

"By adding these requirements, these regulations, these fees, etc., we're making it harder and harder for people to live in Austin. We're driving them to the suburbs," Leffingwell said.

Mayor Leffingwell says he proposed that Austin builders be allowed to put 100 bucks here and there into a fund maintained by the city. Then whoever builds a home needing a ramp, they can pull from the fund.

The Mayor's plan didn't work and the ordinance passed as it is.

Also discussed at the meeting...the Seaholm Power Station.

The Economic Development Department for the city wants Athena Healthcare to move in.

Their analysis says the company will bring in 607 full time jobs over the next 10 years with a $1.67 million benefit to the city.

But to get them here, the city is wanting to offer incentives. $250 for each new full time job over the next decade.

But many critics are saying since Austin is so popular, why do you need to pay a company to come?

"I think that's a very good question. I think we could all do with a little slower growth. At the same time, you either get run over by the growth or you shape it. And our planning efforts...economically and for city planning is to organize the growth and to try and shape it by trying to attract companies that help grow our local companies," said Kevin Johns with the Economic Development Department.

Johns says there are 9 incentive programs out there right now and they've all been cash positive for the city.

That ordinance passed Monday as well...5 to 2.

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