You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Statesman Exclusive

New squad will take up hundreds of Austin’s delayed rape investigations

Over Austin's objections, Texas Senate votes to ban 'linkage fees'

Austin and other Texas cities attempting to address issues of housing affordability likely will have to do so without the benefit of so-called “linkage fees” on new development, after the state Senate on Thursday joined the House in voting to ensure such fees can’t be implemented.

The Senate voted 27-4 to approve an amended version of House Bill 1449, which bans cities from charging fees “on new construction for the purposes of offsetting the cost or rent of any unit of residential housing.”

No Texas city has enacted such charges, known as linkage fees. But Austin Mayor Steve Adler has said he thinks the fees should be a potential tool for municipalities, and an Austin city task force cited the fees last month as a pillar in a plan to raise $600 million over 10 years to help buy and preserve affordable housing for minorities.

Proponents say linkage fees are a mechanism to “link” new development with a means of solving some of the community problems development can create, such as gentrification. The fees have been used in California, Colorado and other states. Under the tentative plan floated by the Austin task force last month, a linkage fee of $2 per square foot would have been charged on new construction in the city.

But state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who introduced HB 1449 in the Senate on Thursday, called linkage fees “essentially a tax on a new development to subsidize low income housing in other areas.”

Nelson offered a successful amendment to the bill, however, making clear that some other efforts to address housing affordability — such as density bonus programs — will be allowed.

Under density bonus programs, developers can voluntarily agree to certain affordability measures in exchange for authorization to build more market-rate units than they otherwise could have under existing zoning.

The state Senate gave the amended version of HB 1449 final approval with no discussion. Democrats Kirk Watson of Austin, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, Borris Miles of Houston and Jose Menendez of San Antonio voted against it.

The House now will have the option of concurring with the Senate’s version or requesting a conference committee to reconcile the differences. State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, originally sponsored HB 1449.

Some industry groups, such as the Texas Association of Builders, have come out in opposition to linkage fees, saying they will exacerbate housing-affordability issues by driving up housing costs for everyone. Nelson echoed that criticism on Thursday, saying she thinks the impact of linkage fees is “the opposite of the stated goal.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Business Digest: Citigroup to pay $97.4 M in money laundering case

FINANCE Citigroup to pay $97.4 M to settle money laundering case For years, Citigroup employees feared that millions of dollars the bank was moving to Mexico might be suspicious. Yet in many cases, the bank did not alert regulators or step up its monitoring for money laundering, federal prosecutors said Monday. Even as the Citigroup unit Banamex USA...
2 more Blue Bell flavors return to stores this week
2 more Blue Bell flavors return to stores this week

Blue Bell’s slow return to normalcy continues following a nationwide recall prompted by listeria fears nearly two years ago, with the Brenham-based creamery rolling out two more flavors this week. Lime sherbet and orange sherbet are both once again available beginning Monday, the company said. Blue Bell has been gradually adding back...
Up the Ladder

Financial services Citizens Inc. has named Jeff Conklin chief accounting officer company. Health care St. David’s Medical Center has named Esther Chung chief operating officer and Lynn O’Neill chief nursing officer. Medical Elligo Health Research has named Rebecca Kush scientific innovation officer. Retail Whole Foods Market has named the...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

HOME SALES Area home sales, home prices surge in April: Central Texas home sales rose just over 3 percent in April and the median price of those sales hit $305,000 — the second-highest level ever, according to new data from the Austin Board of Realtors. The median also set a record for an April. To date, the all-time high for the median home-sales...
America’s fiscal sword of Damocles

“Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness.” President John F. Kennedy delivered those frightening words in front of the United Nations back in 1961. Not much has changed over the decades &mdash...
More Stories