Planning Commission Carousel

Nuckols, White both to resign

Planning Commission Carousel

A week after Attorney General Ken Paxton sued eight of Austin's 13 Planning commissioners, two have announced they will resign. But both Tom Nuckols and Trinity White say their decisions have nothing to do with the suit.

Nuckols, Ann Kitchen's appointee since 2015, said he informed Kitchen of his plans in late June. He cited "burnout" following his representation of PC on the 2018 Bond Elec­tion Advisory Task Force, and the body's intense work on CodeNEXT. In denying the lawsuit's impact on his decision, he aired his frustration with the A.G. and Fred Lewis, the local lawyer and anti-CodeNEXT champion who instigated Paxton's suit. "It's sad that people like Lewis enabled Paxton's Austin bashing," Nuckols wrote. "It shows that some people care less about Austin's long-term well-being than they do about glorifying themselves by throwing bombs into good-faith public policy-making exercises like CodeNEXT." Nuckols works for the County Attorney's Office, providing legal support for county departments regulating land development and handling county land sales. His last meeting with the PC would have been Tuesday, but he couldn't attend.

White, too, said her decision to step down was not fueled by Paxton's purge, but by the desire to spend more time with her family and focus on other projects. The architect was appointed to PC by Ora Houston in 2015 and has been a voice of reason since. She said she's intended to resign for a while, but wanted to see CodeNEXT "through the finish line." She said, "I'm not running from this and I don't think I've done anything wrong," and believes the commission's collective professional knowledge was "imperative" to making their way through the rewrite. She'll attend her last meeting on July 24.

Paxton's suit represents the latest effort to undermine the city's rewrite of its land use code. The A.G. got involved after Lewis' Community Not Commodity requested an investigation into the Commission's makeup last fall. The City Charter states that only a third of the 13-seat commission can be "directly or indirectly" tied to real estate or development. For some years now, that number has been closer to half.

Lewis first brought the commission's makeup to Council's attention in 2015, two years before PC dove into CodeNEXT, though the rewrite has been ongoing since 2012. CNC has accused Council of not taking action on the issue, but in May, members instructed the city manager to craft a clearer process to ensure future appointees comply with the charter. That process has been finalized and was used when Mayor Steve Adler appointed Yvette Flores on June 28, to replace Stephen Oliver. The City Manager's Office was also directed to develop "recommended" ballot language for charter amendments that would formalize a removal process for commissioners, which currently is in question. The city is in the process of developing those recommendations; if approved, the amendments would be on November's ballot.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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 Planning Commission
Point Austin: Purging the Commissioners
Point Austin: Purging the Commissioners
If you can’t win the argument, blow up the process

Michael King, May 18, 2018

Micro-Unit Housing Planned for Eastside
Micro-Unit Housing Planned for Eastside
Developer wants to repurpose East Cesar Chavez hotel tract

Tony Cantú, Aug. 28, 2015

More by Sarah Marloff
City Acknowledges Its Debt to Sexual Assault Survivors
City Acknowledges Its Debt to Sexual Assault Survivors
Seen and heard

Feb. 4, 2022

Travis County Settles With Sexual Assault Survivors
Travis County Settles With Sexual Assault Survivors
$580,000 settlement reached in three-year legal battle over handling of sexual assault cases

June 25, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Planning Commission, CodeNEXT, Trinity White, Tom Nuckols, Yvette Flores, Ken Paxton, Fred Lewis

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

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

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