Elon Musk warns against turning Austin into a ‘San Francisco copycat’

His warning comes as the city votes on an ordinance that will upgrade Austin’s police department

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 01 November 2021 09:33
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Tesla chief Elon Musk has warned Austin, Texas, against becoming a “San Francisco copycat,” amid an upcoming city election that seeks to upgrade the city’s police infrastructure in response to an earlier budget cut.

The city council’s had decided to cut $150m, or a third, of the city’s police budget in August last year. This was the largest cut from any major city in the US.

“Austin should be its city, not a San Francisco copycat,” Mr Musk said in a tweet on Sunday.

The tweet comes as a municipal election will be held in the city on Tuesday to put to vote “Proposition A”, an ordinance that contains a slew of measures to increase police staffing and include additional training for them.

Mr Musk had also announced last month that Tesla’s headquarters would be moving from Palo Alto in California to Austin.

“I am excited to announce that we’re moving our headquarters to Austin, Texas,” he had said during Tesla’s annual stockholder meeting on 7 October.

“It’s tough for people to afford houses and a lot of people have to come in from far away. We’ve taken it as far as possible but... there’s a limit to how big you can scale it in the Bay Area,” he added.

“Here in Austin, our factory’s like five minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown, and we’re going to create an ecological paradise here because we’re right on the Colorado River. It’s gonna be great.”

Save Austin Now, an organisation that claims to be a “a bipartisan citizen’s group”, had pushed back against the measure to whittle down the city’s police budget and backed Proposition A.

On Monday, the group tweeted a reaction to Mr Musk’s tweet.

The group wants at least two police officers for every thousand residents, something that finds a mention in the ordinance.

Proposition A will seek to promote the additional training of police officers and provide several incentives to officers who speak additional languages, among a slew of proposed measures.

The ordinance would also require police officers to undergo “an additional 40 hours each year of mandatory continuing education and in-service training,” according to Austin’s official government website.

The Austin city council had in August last year voted to cut $150 million or a third of its police budget, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, that had sparked massive, country-wide protests and led to calls for defunding police departments.

Austin councilman Greg Cesar, who spearheaded the police budget cut, had then said that the vote offered a moment to “celebrate what the movement has achieved for safety, racial justice and democracy.”

Austin’s city council decided to invest this money in other public services.

A Fox News report, however, claimed that homicides in Austin had increased by nearly 71 per cent since the vote.

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