I wish I’d taken a picture.
I’d turned off North Lamar and was driving north on the 183 service road. It has just rained, which makes Austin traffic even more ridiculous than usual. The rumor of rain will extend your commute by 15 minutes. An actual drop, half an hour. We’d had a quick storm, plus nearly every road downtown is under some kind of construction, plus a truck had hit a power line over on 360. That shut the road down in both directions, making Austin’s already sclerotic arteries fail and throw commuter traffic into cardiac arrest. It took 90 minutes to go about 12 miles.
And as I’m dealing with the nightmare on the roads, I see one of Austin’s new camps. You may have heard about these. Mayor Steve Adler and the leftwing city council passed an ordinance allowing the homeless to camp out nearly anywhere they want, all over town (except at city hall). The day this camping went legal, homeless started sleeping in front of businesses and homes. Tent cities started popping up all over, in medians and under overpasses.
Most of the tent cities are just that – tents like you find at the local sporting good store, plus fabric chairs, bicycles and other visual pollution. Mayor Adler and company have paid zero heed to what’s happening in Los Angeles after it allowed open camping: demon plagues now beset the City of Angels. Leprosy itself, that disfiguring disease from the first century, may make a comeback too. If Austin doesn’t change its ways, soon, these medieval blights may descend on the Texas capital.
The tent city I saw on this trip was different. There were no tents. This was a series of wooden shacks hugging a beam supporting the 183 highway above. They were made of mismatched wood and particle board paneling, whatever the residents could scrounge up. My heart goes out to people in these circumstances.
The last time I saw a shanty town like this, I was in Baghdad. That was at the height of the war in January 2007, just days after the end of Saddam Hussein. But this is Austin in 2019.
This Austinite snapped a shot of a smaller shanty than the one I saw, and asks a valid question:
I saw this photo on reddit today. Something occurred to me: why is it homeowners have to get permits for any new construction and yet the #homeless are able to construct their own structures without regard to safety or permits? #atxcouncil #atx pic.twitter.com/x2ZANyGfhm
— ⭐️ Mackenzie Kelly ⭐️ (@mkelly007) September 12, 2019
A homeless man has been charged in the unprovoked attack on a local woman. But it could have been so much worse for her, as it was for UT dance student Haruka Weiser in 2016. Her homeless killer got life in prison.
The point of this is not to bash the homeless. The point is to bash addle-brained people like Steve Adler, Greg Casar and others who ought to be adult enough to know better, but who have turned Austin into their socialist laboratory. Thanks to them Austin has become a basket-case so quickly it’s making the city’s heads spin. Austin now funds abortion with the taxpayer dollars it takes from business and property owners it is ignoring, across the board, with its clownish emphasis on bicycle lanes and homeless campouts. Austin’s priorities ought to disgust all reasonable people.
Under their lack of leadership and vision, Austin is becoming undriveable, unlivable, and unsafe. The city’s elected leaders aren’t failing to learn, they’re succeeding at learning how to destroy a city. And the voters, while they are rightfully complaining and signing the petition to rescind the insane camping policy, are likely to not only re-elect the same people again – they’re probably going to vote for even worse policies and politicians next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
If you’re thinking of moving to Austin, reconsider. The job market is still hot and it’s still nearly impossible to find a bad meal at any restaurant in town. It won’t last forever. Like Seattle, which adopted similar liberal policies, Austin is showing signs of rotting out from the inside – starting at city hall.