The first draft of CodeNEXT, the overhaul of Austin’s Land Development Code, has been presented to the City Council, the Austin Monitor reports.
The previous code was huge and hard to navigate for both homeowners and developers. It had over 400 ways that zoning regulations could be combined, between zoning districts and special overlay districts. The hope with the new code rewrite is to make it much easier to know what can be built and where around Austin.
CodeNEXT also plans to follow the Imagine Austin plan, a roadmap for the next 30 years that hopes to put the brakes on a long tradition of creating sprawl with new development in favor of an Austin that is compact and easily traversed by foot, bike, and via public transportation to cut down on the car culture.
The draft breaks Austin into six zones that it calls transects, which are: natural, rural, suburban, general urban, urban center, and urban core. Those designations are then divided even more into subcategories to suggest how urban they are to set forth what kind of development can be built there.
The city wants to push affordable housing as well and the code hopes to streamline up Austin’s efforts to provide affordable housing.
CodeNEXT will continue to follow environmental protections that Council has passed in the past such as Save Our Springs and water and tree protections.
The company who consulted on CodeNEXT encouraged people to be patient and to provide constructive criticism rather than completely dismissing the changes. However both those who want to see Austin become more urban and those who oppose development were unhappy with the new code.
The former president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council, which is generally against development for fear of ruining the character of Austin neighborhoods, said that she worried that areas that are zoned for single-family homes would be allowed to be developed for commercial uses. The city’s Planning and Zoning Department said that new commercial uses aren’t allowed in any of the zones.
A founding member of AURA, an urbanist group whose opinion is often opposite of the ANC’s on development, was disappointed with the code as well, primarily with the fact that it continues to maintain existing neighborhood plans and does not simplify code at all.
The city wants to hear opinions from all Austinites will use that public input to tweak the code. Tonight, Wednesday February 1st, an open house is being held from 4-6pm at the Palmer Events Center to allow the public to get to know the CodeNEXT draft.
Next steps will be a proposed zoning map in April, followed by a response from the Land Development Code Advisory Group in June, which will then be used to create a second draft in August. The City Council will get a first reading of the proposed Code in December that they will adopt, but they won’t approve it until its final reading in April 2018.