breaking news

Bruno Mars and Britney Spears will play Formula 1 weekend

Commentary: With the right CodeNext, we can preserve and create


Recent backlash against the third draft of CodeNext has sparked a move to scrap the draft altogether, wasting millions of dollars and countless hours of effort from both city representatives and invested citizens. We cannot afford to reach the end of this process with merely a surface-level code clean-up or an $8 million code reformat.

It is important to realize this is our opportunity to create a code that works for everyone. The goal for a new code was to realize the vision for Austin’s development set out in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. That plan, adopted in 2012, reflects the wishes and priorities expressed by the community for a 30-year approach to planning, incorporating Austin’s transportation, housing, economy, public and social services, as well as its cultural identity.

UPDATE: CodeNext foes are done with compromise. They’re going for the kill.

CodeNext should encourage continued density in the downtown district. According to Imagine Austin, the city will have several “regional centers,” which are areas defined as having “the greatest density of people and jobs and the tallest buildings in the region.” This downtown “regional center” is intended to be a hub of commerce that supports the surrounding areas.

Currently, our downtown district supports broader Travis County services such as parks and schools through contributed taxes. With its density and efficient use of land, downtown Austin generates greater tax dollars with minimal infrastructure needs. A 2014 study from consulting firm Urban3 found that it would take an area 28 times larger than a downtown Austin block to generate the same amount in property taxes. Such knowledge suggests that the code must support density and let downtown be downtown.

As the city continues to grow, transportation becomes even more critical. Access is key to downtown jobs, government and entertainment — all which lures visitors and residents from every part of the city. However, we currently have a tourniquet around downtown, making it more and more difficult to navigate the area. A proposed increase in density along corridors is a step in the right direction to alleviate this issue. If more people live along corridors, public transit can provide access and lessen traffic throughout downtown — and decrease environmental impacts.

COMMENTARY: Austin needs a common-sense approach to affordability.

CodeNext should be nimble enough for properties to be built to their fullest potential — and certainly not to less potential than is allowed today. The growth and development in the downtown and university areas in the years since Imagine Austin was adopted is far greater than anyone anticipated. The tools must be in place to support this growth and allow downtown to continue be an economic driver for the region.

The draft code is written to allow enough new homes to accommodate our city’s projected growth, but the cumulative effect of new regulations may have the unintended consequence of decreasing the number of homes that can be built. This could happen so frequently that our code no longer provides enough places for people to live, further exacerbating our community’s affordability issues. We believe this can be fixed so that we have enough housing for those living here today and those moving here for great jobs and quality of life.

With our city’s expected growth, the code must also allow for the preservation of character and history. In Austin, this includes protecting historic buildings and our reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” The key to preserving the city’s core identity is to provide incentive for new construction while saving existing music venues. There’s potential for the code to help achieve that harmony. With the right code, we can preserve and create. We can enjoy live music venues alongside tall office buildings. It requires a code that enables multiple conditions to exist and thrive together. It cannot be an “either/or” code.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Viewpoints page brings the latest commentaries to your Facebook feed.

Changes in economy, technology and transportation are inevitable. Now is our chance to ensure Austin remains stable and attractive in the future. Having the proper mechanisms in place is critical to being able to shape the inevitable growth and development around us. The “next” in CodeNext is happening. Let’s do the work now to create a code that makes it possible to prepare for tomorrow.

Peart is the president and CEO of the Downtown Austin Alliance.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Why Austin isn’t getting as much affordable housing money as you might think

Facing an urgent need to fund more affordable housing in Austin, the City Council set its sights on some tax dollars it figured no one would miss. New tax dollars. Specifically, the shiny new tax revenue that materializes when government-owned land, which doesn’t pay property taxes, becomes private housing, commercial...
Commentary: The danger behind North Korea’s jiu jitsu diplomacy
Commentary: The danger behind North Korea’s jiu jitsu diplomacy

After months of frantic brinkmanship with North Korea, President Donald Trump is now preparing for a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous. He has played right into North Korea’s hands. Trump no doubt thinks that his tough rhetoric has struck fear into the heart of the North...
Letters to the editor: April 25, 2018
Letters to the editor: April 25, 2018

Every time I endeavor to enter MoPac Boulevard at Enfield Road going south during the afternoon-evening rush “hour,” I feel screwed yet again. The backup of traffic from downtown at the southbound Winsted Lane entry ramp causes at least a 15- to 25-minute wait to enter the horribly backed-up freeway. In the meantime, those few drivers who...
Commentary: Asphalt is the last crop
Commentary: Asphalt is the last crop

Missed in the coverage of the recent release of the 2018 Farm Bill is an obscure program that will significantly impact the future of Texas. It is not a commodity program nor does it deal with nutrition assistance. It is smaller in scope and cost than those programs, yet is just as far-reaching. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)...
President Bill Clinton coming to Bass Concert Hall on June 10
President Bill Clinton coming to Bass Concert Hall on June 10

Bass Concert Hall will host “A Conversation with President Bill Clinton” at 7:30 p.m. June 10. Clinton will discuss “The President is Missing,” his new novel co-authored with bestselling writer James Patterson. This is the first time a president has collaborated with a bestselling novelist on a work of fiction.  Tickets...
More Stories