The third draft of CodeNEXT is set to be released next month, after months of delay. City staff gave an updated look at the schedule for the process at last night’s meeting of the Zoning and Platting Commission.
The group’s chairwoman, Jolene Kiolbassa, raised a question that seemed to be on many commissioners’ minds: When is the City Council going to take action?
Greg Guernsey, director of Austin’s Planning and Zoning Department, said the goal is to have CodeNEXT before the council in late April, but he said, “that’s entirely up to this commission and also the Planning Commission.”
City Council will decide whether to adopt CodeNEXT, the overhaul of the city’s land development code. The code would determine what can be built in the city and where it can go. But before that happens, the Zoning and Platting Commission – along with other city bodies – will review it and gather feedback from residents. The city’s Equity Office and Planning Commission are also reviewing the proposed regulations.
“We want to annotate the action of the commissions, both Planning and [Zoning and Platting Commission], to the City Council and to make sure it’s clear on what your recommendations are,” Guernsey said. “And staff frankly needs time to work through those.”
Jorge Rousselin, the city’s project manager on CodeNEXT, told commissioners that the timeline for this process is in flux.
“We can certainly work to give you previews leading up to the release of the draft,” he said. “We do ask for your indulgence for flexibility, obviously, because some of these dates can change as it is a work in progress.”
And Rousselin said even though the target date for getting CodeNEXT to council is late April, there’s no guarantee council members will actually take action at that time.
CodeNEXT has received criticism from some residents who say the proposed rules threaten the character of older neighborhoods; others say the proposed code doesn’t do enough to allow for the construction of new and diverse types of housing.
Some City Council members have called for doing away with a deadline altogether rather than pushing for adoption in April. Others have said it’s important to update the decades-old land development code sooner rather than later, even if the new version isn’t perfect.