CodeNEXT Marches On
A packed house at One Texas Center pondered housing affordability Monday night, as a panel of housing advocates and CodeNEXT consultants addressed the possibility of mitigating Austin housing prices under the work-in-progress revisions of the Land Use Code. Moderator Mandy De Mayo of HousingWorks may have given away the game at the outset – "The Code can't produce affordability," she warned – but within that cautioning framework, panelists laid out a range of tools that might begin to work over time.
UT-Austin asst. professor Jake Wegmann (joking at the risk of "people throwing rocks") argued that "the single best thing to do" would be to build houses on smaller lots – that is, find ways to increase supply of the "missing middle" of housing between McMansions and huge new apartment complexes, each unaffordable to many middle- and low-income residents. He was echoed by Mark Rogers of the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation, which has had success at putting more units on what were single-family lots. But like De Mayo, Rogers warned, "Density alone is not going to get us there," to meet the intense need for increased housing supply.
Shubhada Saxena of the South Asians' International Volunteer Association said there is great need for generational housing – that is, forms that accommodate elders and families living together or in close proximity – meaning granny flats or accessory dwelling units.
Also on the CodeNEXT front, second-draft maps were released Monday afternoon, featuring thousands of corrections. Consultants on-hand noted that the maps and code propose expanding the density bonus programs for affordable housing across the city. On Tuesday morning, they presented that material at City Council work session (see "Public Notice," May 12). The Code marches on ….