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Adler Strikes a Cautious Tone and Praises Council in His Second State of the City

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News
Mayor Steve Adler delivered his second State of the City speech Tuesday night at the ZACH Theatre.

There have been plenty of critics of the work the Austin City Council’s done over the past year. Tuesday night, Austin Mayor Steve Adler delivered his second State of the City Address – offering a defense of their work.

The Mayor was cautious in summing up the past year’s achievements.

In other words, Adler admitted that this fledgling Council’s made a few mistakes. He noted the collaboration between Council and community members when it came to drafting regulations for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft — of this, he was proud.

“But I am less proud of the hours of expended time that could have been spent looking for innovative solutions to mobility and affordability,” he said. 

Adler also praised a recent affordable housing deal called Pilot Knob. The City received some backlash when it became clear the deal would be funded in part by diverting roughly $80 million from Austin Water – raising customers’ rates by a couple dollars a month. Adler’s tone was at first reflective:

“As much as the Pilot Knob represents an achievement in creating opportunities for affordable housing, it also represents an incredible teaching moment for my administration.”

Then defensive:

“Changes can cause so much discomfort that maybe they come with a disclaimer of possible side effects. It is not unusual for the city to do SMART housing projects without ever causing a newspaper to spill ink.”

Throughout his speech, Adler talked big on the need to take risks and try new things – especially on citywide concerns such as mobility and affordability. But he also defended what some say has been a Council slow to pass meaningful initiatives.

“When we come together next year to once again assess the state of our city, the measure of our success will not be whether we have completed this work, but whether we have begun down a substantial and meaningful path and whether we’re still at it.”

Protestors had a different take on this sentiment. As Adler wrapped his speech, several people shouted “more action, less talk.” Some in the crowd booed their cries, and the protestors were escorted out.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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