Dueling Petitions on CodeNEXT

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Dueling Petitions on CodeNEXT

City Hall’s ongoing CodeNEXT project – the rewrite of the land development code currently in Draft 2, and scheduled for a spring 2018 adoption – may not be solving all the city’s housing affordability problems, but it is providing plenty of work for planning consultants, especially if the work is extended beyond its nominal deadlines.

The CodeNEXT project is also generating plenty of on- and offline controversy, and a handful of public petitions on various sides of the issue. Petitions have been started on the timeline, on density, on sprawl, on diversity, on displacement … pretty much on all the arguments roiling the public debate.

Here’s an unscientific sample:

No Transects: “Keep CodeNEXT transects out of our neighborhoods” – initiated by “Austin Neighbor” a couple of months ago, this one objected to the alphabet soup of first-draft zoning categories known as “transects,” which petitioners demanded be “not used in established neighborhoods.”

More Time: In Draft 2, of CodeNEXT, “transects” are about to disappear (at least in name) – Austin Neighbor’s Draft 2 of Petition 1 urges council members to “GET IT RIGHT”; that is, tell the mayor and Council “we need more time” between the second draft/map and the eventual third draft.

Demand Diversity: From another quarter, calling itself “Save Austin’s Middle Class,” this petition asks city officials to “Make Austin Diverse Again!” and describes the current land use code as reinforcing segregation and a “Jim Crow” development history. The petitioners would allow greater density and “missing middle” housing throughout the city, and adopt an AURA/urbanist model of zoning.

Stop Displacement: The latest entry in the online petition wars appears to be “Stop Displacement in Austin” by “Community Not Commodity” (a project of the activist nonprofit [*see correction below] “Save Our City Austin”). The petition would delay any enactment of CodeNEXT until the city adopts “action steps” (e.g., a moratorium on new building entitlements and demolitions) to end residential “displacement,” especially on the Eastside.

Take your pick, and sign. Or start your own.

*Correction: "Save Our City Austin" was originally described, in error, as a political action committee; see note below by SOCA President Fred Lewis.
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