4 Austin City Council members push for affordability in CodeNext

7:06 p.m Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 Local

Just days before the city of Austin releases the latest draft of its ongoing effort to overhaul the land use code, four Austin City Council members are calling for a code that increases density in hopes of promoting affordability.

Council members Greg Casar, Delia Garza, Jimmy Flannigan and Sabino “Pio” Renteria signed their names to a post in the website Medium.com in which they ask for the public’s support in helping push a version of CodeNext that maximizes the creation of affordabile units.

“We are dedicated to ensuring CodeNext prioritizes affordability, inclusion, and sustainability in transportation and housing,” their statement says. “Together we can create a more equitable and sustainable Austin that not only strives but thrives — an Austin for all, not just for the privileged few.”

The release of CodeNext’s third draft on Monday is highly anticipated among developers and advocates on all sides. A key question is whether the city will pursue a broad upzoning or revert to a code that resembles the current land use rules and zones.

The council members’ statement might be a sign of the fight taking shape ahead. Once the third draft is released, supporters and detractors will likely begin picking their battles and whether they want to push a code that maximizes housing capacity, or does its best to limit it.

And many will lobby for the entire $8.5 million project to be shuttered, whether through ballot measures or a council vote.

Casar, Garza, Flannigan and Renteria have appeared to be more friendly to the current process, despite its perceived failings.

The statement from the four council members said that CodeNext needs to be the “complete overhaul” envisioned in the Imagine Austin plan created in 2012 and not a series of “small tweaks and revisions.”

“Now is the time to fix the failed status-quo policies of the past and to create a land-development code for all Austinites,” their statement says. “Now is the time for us to put aside community divisions, look at the big picture, and focus on our shared future.”