Is Third Time The Charm For CodeNEXT?
City staff has unveiled a third version of Austin's land development code, touting its ease of use and preservation of neighborhood character.
City Council launched the rewrite of the Austin land development code, known as CodeNEXT, in 2013 after a series of messy battles over large-scale development.
Consultants who presented the newest version of the code to council Tuesday morning talked about how the latest zoning maps reflect the character of existing neighborhood plans; incorporate the Imagine Austin goals of growth along Austin's major corridors; and consolidate three decades of policy decisions.
Plans for denser zoning categories inside neighborhoods have been removed from the plan. Evolve Austin, which advocates for the city's long-range Imagine Austin plan, issued a statement expressing some dissatisfaction with the plan:
"We obviously haven’t read even the majority of the first draft, but these are first impressions. Big picture, the text of the code appears (again at first blush) to have some improvements but the map is awful. Improvements to the text will mean little if the things enabled or made easier by that text, such as Missing Middle housing in some cases, aren't mapped anywhere. This is a good example of why the code and the text have to be done together.
"Evolve Austin -- a diverse coalition of more than 30 civic-minded organizations representing environmental, transit and affordable housing advocates as well as business groups -- remains committed to this collaborative process. We will be presenting specific, constructive suggestions for improving the code to better provide the City with the tools it needs to implement the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan in the coming weeks. We encourage all sides in this critical process to do the same."
AIA Austin also has expressed concerns about missing middle housing, which typically refers to denser zoning categories to provide housing that caters to a wider range of affordability. Other concerns with the second draft of the code included parking requirements, height restrictions and facade articulation.
Planning and Zoning Director Greg Guernsey, discussing the draft with the media Monday night, said the new draft maintains the character of neighborhoods; reduces penalties for accessory dwelling units or granny flats; and expands the ability to use the density bonus across a wider swath of the city.
The newest version of the land use development plan now goes through the review process at four land use commissions before heading to council.
UPDATE, FEB. 14, 4:07 P.M. CT: A statement from Evolve Austin has been added.