The group pushing for CodeNext to be placed on the ballot announced Monday night that it has the signatures to trigger an election.
At Austin Energy’s headquarters, organizers from IndyAustin, the billboard company-backed political action committee that began the petition effort, announced that in the past six months, its volunteers and staff have gathered about 24,700 signatures. About 20,000 signatures are needed to trigger an election.
IndyAustin’s head, Bastrop resident Linda Curtis, said the group will file when it collects 28,300 signatures to ensure that it has at least 20,000 valid signatures. Curtis said she aims to file petitions with the Austin City Clerk’s office on March 22.
“We absolutely can make it and will make it,” Curtis said. “The question is the date.”
IndyAustin and the nonprofit group Community Not Commodity have been gathering signatures since last year. If certified, the petition would give voters a yes or no choice on whether they should have a say in any large-scale rewrites to the city’s land use code, specifically targeting CodeNext for a potential repeal next year.
The election would be in November on the same day that five council members and Mayor Steve Adler will be up for reelection. Adding a CodeNext voting referendum to that ballot could make the city’s rewrite of the entire land use and zoning code the dominant issue facing the council members’ campaigns for a second term.
CodeNext is the city’s attempt to implement the recommendations of the 2012 Imagine Austin comprehensive plan by revising what type of development can go where. The effort aims to address many of Austin’s problems, including a lack of low-income housing as well as gentrification and traffic congestion.
Opponents of CodeNext believe that it will destroy neighborhood character by encouraging redevelopment and demolitions of homes. Proponents believe that CodeNext will make housing cheaper by making it easier to build in the city.