Days Away From New Draft, City Commissions Give Their Last Word On CodeNEXT (For Now)

Feb 7, 2018

Less than a week out from the release of the latest version of CodeNEXT, city commissions are weighing in on what they’d like to see in this latest draft of Austin’s land development code.

The Zoning and Platting Commission laid out its plan last night for gathering public feedback on the new rules, which would regulate everything from parking requirements to the types of housing that can be built in Austin. Commissioners want to hold at least two public meetings in different parts of town, possibly holding a combined hearing with the city’s Planning Commission.

Commissioner David King also stressed the need for enough time to review the new rules.

“Once we get this in place, it’s going to be here for decades, for the next generation,” King said. “So I don’t see a problem in allowing the commissions another month or two, whatever it might take … to go through our process.”

Jerry Rusthoven, assistant director of Austin’s Planning and Zoning Department, told commissioners the city wants to ensure as much public participation as possible.

“We are planning on mailing out a postcard to every renter, every utility account holder, every property owner in the city, notifying them of this public hearing,” he said.

Zoning and platting commissioners also got a rare opportunity to speak directly with consultants from Opticos Design, the firm hired by the city to lead the code rewrite. Consultants parsed through technical questions on everything from affordable housing programs to how the proposed rules could affect flood risks to properties in Austin.

John Miki, a senior associate with Opticos, said the new code would serve as a good foundation for Austin’s future growth and will provide room for more specific planning efforts down the road.

“Many people put all their hopes and dreams in CodeNEXT thinking that in one fell swoop, it would solve all the world’s problems, including world peace,” Miki said. “And we’re not going to make it in one big leap.”

The Austin City Council will have the final say on whether the new rules get adopted, but recommendations made by city commissions will ultimately influence the final plan. While last night may have been the last go-around with this CodeNEXT draft for Zoning and Platting, the Planning Commission has one more chance during its meeting tonight.

The third and final draft of the code will be released Monday.