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Here's What's Really Ruining Austin (and It's Not SXSW)

It's not the tourists; it's the locals. There are just too many now—and no plan for handling them all.
Folks taking selfies in Austin at the ACL Festival in October.
Folks taking selfies in Austin at the ACL Festival in October.Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

The annual arrival of South by Southwest in Austin means the yearly departure of a lot of longtime Austin residents. This year's festival—which kicked off Friday with SXSW Interactive—has brought with it all the requisite grumbling. Affixing mobile chargers to roving St. Bernards is a step up from the homeless-person hotspots of yesteryear, but even a benign Southby festival is enough of a mess to drive residents right out Austin's city limits.

The thing is, it's not SXSW that makes living in Austin so taxing. It's not the ACL or Fun Fun Fun festivals, either, although those are chief among targets for Austin grumps. These days, Austin is trouble year-round. What's ruining Old Waterloo for the people who live there and love it are the people who live there and love it. There's just too many of them—and no plan for handling them all.