Council Members Say “#FixtheCode”

Four CMs say CodeNEXT process must strongly address inequality

In a morning press conference outside Blazier Elementary School, four City Council Members – Delia Garza, Pio Renteria, Greg Casar, and Jimmy Flannigan – declared their unhappiness with the current CodeNEXT process, and called for the next draft to fully address citywide inequality, affordability, gentrification, and displacement.

Greg Casar, Pio Renteria, Delia Garza, Jimmy Flannigan (Photo by Michael King)

If the new land use code does not begin to address the city’s substantial affordability issues, they said, they would not be able to vote for it.

Blazier Elementary is located in Garza’s Southeast District 2, and she described it as an example of the population pressures facing the city. “Blazier was built 10 years ago to serve 600 students,” she said, “and now it is at 161% capacity” – featuring temporary classrooms and classes moved elsewhere. “By 2021, it will be at 181% capacity.” She said the population growth at the city’s outskirts is a consequence of “how we zone,” and the new code needs to be aimed at “preserving families” within the city and especially in close-in neighborhoods.

“We need to fix the Code,” Garza concluded, as the lectern displayed hashtags “#FixtheCode” and “#4AllAustinites.”

Flannigan’s District 6 is at the opposite, northwest corner of the city, and yet he said his constituents are facing some of the same displacement pressures experienced in other districts. “We can’t sprawl our way out of the problem,” Flannigan said, and called for greater simplicity and fewer incentives for sprawl under CodeNEXT.

In Renteria’s District 3, the Council member said, “all of my childhood friends” in and around the Cesar Chavez neighborhood have been driven out by high prices and high property taxes, and the neighborhood schools have the opposite problem: too few students because families have had to move outward. “We need to encourage greater density,” he said, as a primary way of addressing affordability. “I’m tired of fighting gentrification case-by-case,” Renteria said, and the Code must be fixed to address these pressures citywide.

Finally, District 4 CM Casar said that even though the four districts are very different and the Council members sometimes take different positions, they are united on this question of revising the CodeNEXT draft in a new direction. “The first draft is deficient in these areas, and it will incentivize more McMansions instead of affordable housing in high opportunity areas,” Casar said. He added that the Code needs to encourage density that will serve more public mass transit. “The Code accelerates gentrification instead of discouraging it.”

The four Council members said they would not be able to vote for a version of CodeNEXT that remains unnecessarily complex, encourages gentrification and displacement, and does not embody fair housing standards. Right now it’s a “Frankenstein monster,” said Flannigan, and the four CMs said they are committed to insist on substantial change.

For more on CodeNEXT and City Council, follow the Daily News and this week’s print edition.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More City Council 2017
Some Say the World Will End … in Ice
Council Wrap Dec. 7, 2017
City Council dodges the ice storm, and much of its agenda

Michael King, Dec. 11, 2017

A Two-Horse Race
City Manager Search
Council selects finalists for city manager – public meeting Tuesday

Michael King, Dec. 8, 2017

More CodeNEXT
So, What Did the Council Actually Say About Rewriting the Land Code?
So, What Did the Council Actually Say About Rewriting the Land Code?
City Hall releases "policy guidance" memo for the land code revision

Mike Clark-Madison, May 9, 2019

Mayor Calls for End to CodeNEXT
Mayor Calls for End to CodeNEXT
"Divisive and poisoned" zoning rewrite now in real jeopardy

Sarah Marloff, Aug. 1, 2018

More by Michael King
In Search of Greater Justice With a Travis County Public Defender’s Office
In Search of Greater Justice With a Travis County Public Defender’s Office
Taking steps toward a much improved, more equitable local criminal justice system

May 24, 2019

Legislature Restores Public's Right to Know
Legislature Restores Public's Right to Know
Bipartisan public records bill likely to become law

May 24, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

City Council 2017, CodeNEXT

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle