The challenges of economic development and gentrification facing East Austin are nothing new. But they will get some new attention from a group of city council members convened by Mayor Steve Adler. The group will be focusing on a part of the city some council members are calling the “eastern crescent.”
The exotic, almost alluring term “eastern crescent” was introduced recently into the city council lexicon. Council member Leslie Pool threw it out in a June audit and finance meeting. She was talking to city staff about a public improvement district in East Austin.
“The work that you’re doing – potentially doing – at this location will have a real impact on our interests and concerns in what we’re now calling the eastern crescent of the city of Austin,” Pool said.
Mayor Adler says he thinks another council member coined the phrase.
“You know… Ora Houston was probably the first person I heard mention the 'eastern crescent,'” Adler says.
And Houston agrees. “I’m going to claim that one,” she says.
Houston says if you look at a map of Austin and circle parts of the city where there’s low-income housing – from East Austin, up to Rundberg, and then back down into the southwest -- you’ll start to trace a crescent shape.
“I came up with that 'eastern crescent' because if you go east of Highway 183, there are no grocery stores, there are no health clinics. The same amenities that you and I have in our communities are lacking in that part of the town,” she says.
Both Adler and Houston say the new group’s conversation will focus on bringing jobs and housing to East Austin. On September 12, council members will meet with community leaders to talk about specific projects the city can implement.