A group of Austin residents, including the president of the local NAACP, filed a complaint with the Travis County district attorney’s office on Monday calling for an investigation of a city commission charged with reviewing CodeNext.
The complaint comes just days after one of the leading groups critical of CodeNext, Community Not Commodity, challenged the legality of the composition of the city’s Planning Commission. They allege that too many of the commission’s board members are connected to real estate and development, a violation of Austin’s City Charter.
The charter states that at least two-thirds of the Planning Commission’s 13 members must be “lay members not directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development,” a provision that was approved by voters in 1994. However, the complaint said that seven members of the commission — more than half — are connected real estate and development.
“Their recommendations and work product have more often than not reflected the interests and views of the city’s real estate industry, rather than the general public,” the complaint said. “They have potential conflicts of interest between their personal financial interests and their public service on the commission, contrary to the Charter and public will.”
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told the Statesman she had received the complaint and would have her office review it.
Fred Lewis, a local attorney who leads Community Not Commodity, wrote the complaint. Lewis, who is also the head of a political action committee pushing a petition that would have CodeNext put on March’s ballot. Also signing on to the complaint are local NAACP President Nelson Linder, Save Our Springs Alliance Director Bill Bunch and local attorney Bill Aleshire, as well as others.
The Planning Commission is the sole board required to vote on CodeNext before sending its recommendation to the City Council, which will review the draft code before its scheduled approval in April.
If the commission is unable to meet due to a court order or lack of a quorum, it could delay the Austin City Council’s approval of CodeNext, which is slated for April. However, it is possible that the City Council could move forward without action from the commission, the city has said.