The relevant issue here is “what tax”.
Environmental preservation specifically of Barton Springs has been misunderstood since it’s inception when in 1980’s the science was not well understood. Subsequent ACADEMIC studies state that limiting impervious cover has the practical impact of increasing sprawl. This may to be counter intuitive.
Studies show that impervious cover in UNREGULATED development of the Barton Springs Zone is about 22.5%. That is actually LESS THAN the 25% limit in the contributing zone of the SOS ordinance. Other studies show that impervious cover of 20% can still mitigate flooding impacts. This is the finding of studies by the City and other academic studies. Water scientist Dr’ Michael Barrett shared studies with me that were reaffirmed by civil engineers working in Austin that the real threat to Barton Springs is PET WASTE.
A study in 2008 to 2011 during periods of drought and floods showed that the source of pollution during rain events was surface runoff. The filamentous algae that boys throw at girls in Barton Springs comes from nutrients coming from PET WASTE - surface runoff - in suburban neighborhoods. The study showed that the greatest threat was from Travis County near Loop 1 and SW Parkway. (a bunch of elderly folks maybe?) Who knows?
Measuring environmental impact of development using impervious cover PER ACRE actually defeats the goal of limiting the impact of development on environmentally sensitive land. The Urban Land Institute suggests the better metric - the more useful way to measure environmental impact - is impervious cover PER CAPITA. The latter metric implies that greater density - more people per acre - reduces overall impact of population growth on environmentally sensitive land.
If we project population growth of 250,000 people in 50 years (as is the case in the Barton Springs Zone), is it better put build 100,000 homes over 100,000 acres (sprawl) or 10,000 acres (urban norms) or less like 7 homes per acre that support mass transit?
Which form of development is more likely to provide tax revenue to protect environmental water quality protection land? Sprawl - that does not support public safety services, road infrastructure or schools? Density that has significantly less impact PER CAPITA and provides ten times the tax revenue compared to sprawl?
The policies Austin has adopted to protect it’s environmental resources since the 1980’s has been misinformed and misguided. And I too have made misguided assumptions about sprawl. The latest studies show that the environmental impact of septic systems is not significant, as I had assumed. During periods of drought, the background contribution of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium were not significant. That would have been from septic systems. It was surface runoff that was the significant contributor to the pollution that affects us at Barton Springs and that came from pet waste.
That does not let farming activities off the hook. Recent studies by scientists working with Walmart and others on environmental impacts of commercial activities show that fertilizer as modified by bacterial activity create nitrous oxide that significantly contribute to green house gasses and global warming. Reducing the carbon footprint could NOT be limited to green roofs and natural gas powered trucks. Efforts had to go back further into the supply chain - the farms and the chemical companies that guide how they grow crops.
Opinions and feelings really do not have a role in this discussion. Yet here we are. People suggesting what policies we ought to pursue. I suggest that those who want to contribute to this conversation ground their comments in science.
The proof is that in 1985 there was no algae in Barton Springs. As late as 2006 a comment in the Austin Chronicle notes that Barton Springs was ruined for that person. My grand daughters saw a video of Dee McCandless’ Aquafest water dance I participated in in 1985. No algae. Barton Springs has been ruined in my lifetime and I am sorry to witness it’s demise.