Austin needs a new land development code to address housing affordability, flooding, transportation, and taxes. It is now clear that the CodeNext process can no longer get us those solutions.
I have been one of the most vocal proponents of changing how this city grows. For almost 30 years, this city’s “do-nothing“ advocates have stymied needed investments to address traffic, affordable housing, and equity and pushed a majority of the new housing to District 6 and surrounding suburban communities. With the change to 10-1, I was excited and hopeful that we could finally stop ignoring reality and build the city we want instead of the city we get by accident.
In the last 18 months, the D6 team has held over 20 different CodeNEXT meetings across Northwest Austin, listening to our constituents concerns and talking about what our shared future could look like. I was overwhelmed with the thoughtful and reasonable conversation, understanding the hard choices we face and a willingness to balance the tradeoffs.
At the same time, I watched dishonest actors from other parts of town take money from undisclosed donors, push false narratives and outright lies, and literally infiltrate our neighborhood meetings to poison the community again to “do nothing”. I watched their misinformation bleed its way into the subsequent code drafts and distract the hard work of our many boards and commissions. But I remained confident that we could keep working forward on good policy for a more sustainable future. A process that started under a different system of government, with three city administrations, and shifting analytical data was always going to be a challenge. But the work required to get the final draft of CodeNext to a place where it solves these issues is beyond reasonable, and we now need a new way forward.
I am excited to allow our new City Manager the opportunity to revisit the directive from Imagine Austin to rewrite the code and do so in a way that we as a city can stop falling into the “do nothing” trap. We cannot ignore the issues facing Austin and while CodeNext cannot get us to a good place, I know as a District and a City, we will find a way. Our future depends on it.
Council Member District 6
See also: Draft resolution