Live Oak House as Austin Metaphor
The devastation of Hurricane Matthew as well as the destructive vortex of Donald Trump have dominated most of the national news cycles this week. But here in Central Texas, the arduous journey of the asbestos-filled Live Oak House serves as as an alarmingly accurate metaphor regarding some of the least positive aspects of Austin, circa 2016.
- The fact that an old and (relatively) affordable house is being carted away from Austin underscores what we all know — cheap housing in this boomtown is increasing impossible to find. Once upon a time, this was a place where you could hone your craft and find your voice while engaged in a variety of low-paying part time jobs. Higher rents and higher prices mean that this competitive advantage is largely a thing of the past.
- However, being moved outside of Austin proved to be more challenging than initially imagined (see picture above). Why? Because city streets that were built decades ago can’t support the scale of the current traffic load. Perhaps the upcoming $720 million bond package can make a small dent in this problem.
- After eventually making its way out of city, the progress of Live Oak House was again derailed as it navigated Highway 21 South to San Marcos. How many Austin residents have experienced the same kinds of traffic challenges as we attempt to connect with San Marcos, San Antonio and other South Texas destinations? How much more dynamic would this region be if some kind of faster / more efficient transportation system connected the Austin / San Antonio growth corridor (as well as other points in between)?
- One hopes that this structure will enjoy a less complicated existence after reaching its final destination in Lockhart. In this way, Live Oak House follows the trajectory of many long time Austin residents who have found smaller towns such as Lockhart a better match for their Keep It Weird lifestyle.