The equity-based preservation plan will replace Austin’s 1981 historic preservation plan with an inclusive, community-oriented process and outcome. Created by a community working group, the draft plan will be released in early 2024 for public review and feedback. The draft plan will propose improved and new policies, programs, and tools that meet both historic preservation and equity goals.
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Vision for preservation
Historic preservation in Austin actively engages communities in protecting and sharing important places and stories. Preservation uses the past to create a shared sense of belonging and to shape an equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and economically vital future for all.
In the news
Austin Monitor (3/30/2023)
“'Preservation is undoubtedly important to Austinites and vital to protecting the cultural heritage and history of our city,' [Council Member Zo Qadri] said via email. 'There’s no doubt our city is facing a housing shortage that is driving up rents and sales prices. We definitely need more housing in all parts of our city to meet demand. At the same time, historic preservation has a role to play in a more affordable Austin by encouraging rehabilitation of older homes, which can cost less than scraping a lot and replacing it with a brand-new mansion.'”
Austin Monitor (9/13/2022)
“Next year will also usher in changes on the broader preservation front, with the city budget set to fund full-time staff and community outreach personnel to spearhead the final phase of the equity-based preservation plan... New community engagement strategies, legacy business relief, proactive stewardship incentives, and expanded historic survey programs are all on the table.”
Austin Monitor (7/19/2022)
"The [draft plan] recommendations address many topics: how to be more inclusive in the historic resources that we recognize and designate, and how the historic review process can be made more efficient [and] effective. Others expand the concept of preservation to community and cultural preservation - intangible heritage - and look at how preservation can help affordability and anti-displacement work."
Austin Business Journal (7/8/2022)
“'[The Preservation Plan Working Group] emphatically embraced the broader idea of our heritage, our culture and how we can creatively start expanding what the tools of preservation can be so that we can be much more effective in allowing future generations to have a real understanding of their history, heritage and their legacy,’ said Ben Heimsath, the Historic Landmark Commission’s vice chairman.”
Austin Monitor (4/5/2022)
“Equity is a primary consideration. In light of that, the planning process has taken a bottom-up approach, with a working group of community members leading the plan’s development. The group, created by the Historic Landmark Commission last year, has met several times in recent months to discuss goals for the plan. Group members’ demographics roughly align with Austin’s demographics.”
The Austin Chronicle (7/2/2021)
“How does one preserve heritage and history in a city changing as rapidly as Austin is? Does protecting existing buildings in some neighborhoods contribute to faster turnover, lower affordability, and more displacement in other areas of town? How should the city balance protecting its architectural assets with honoring and sustaining a cultural legacy that is both ‘historic’ and still alive today? That's what makes the new preservation plan such a gargantuan project.”
“‘Communities whose heritages has been underrepresented in Austin’s historic preservation program really should have a seat at the table in helping to craft this new preservation plan,’ Elizabeth Brummett, the Historic Preservation Office’s manager, said. ‘This is important because the preservation plan should represent the heritage of all Austinites.’”
The Austin Chronicle (6/11/2021)
“A new working group, for which the city is accepting applications from prospective members through June 14, has been tasked with rewriting the city's preservation plan, last updated in 1981… The hope is for the new working group to be empowered to go further to create a historic preservation strategy that reflects Austin's diverse and intersecting cultures.”
Interview – KAZI (6/9/2021)
Project manager Cara Bertron talked to Deejay Slyce about the Equity-Based Historic Preservation Plan and how community members can apply to the working group.
Austin Monitor (5/4/2021)
“Now, the HLC and the Historic Preservation Office aim to bring a more egalitarian playing field to the city’s preservation program with the formation of an equity-based Preservation Plan Working Group made up of about 30 community stakeholders… The group would be charged with crafting recommendations for improving the preservation program while introducing social justice metrics into the equation when considering a property’s historic significance.”
This project is funded in part through a Certified Local Government Grant from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and administered by the Texas Historical Commission.