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 CodeNEXT Compared to Imagine Austin
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ULI Austin Work Group Research

CodeNEXT Position Papers

(based on version 1.0)

As a non-partisan research organization, ULI is uniquely positioned to offer land use advice, based upon sound principles and best practices. Because ULI represents a steadfast commitment to responsible public policy, we can leverage our members’ vast expertise to inform and advise City leaders on the rewrite of the code.

Between November 2016 – April 2017 ULI Austin hosted a series of member-led roundtable discussions to examine CodeNEXT and focus on specific aspects of the Code where ULI can have the most impact.

Five work groups met monthly to do a deep dive into specific areas of the code and produce recommendations.  The work groups’ position papers, listed below, were shared with City leaders and consultants advising CodeNEXT:

CodeNEXT and the Program Priorities in Imagine Austin

(based on version 1.0)

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, adopted on June 15, 2012, provides a framework for the management and growth of the Austin community. The plan includes eight “Priority Programs” to implement the plan. Of these eight priority programs, four are impacted by CodeNext and important to guiding the establishment of land development policy regulations:

  • Environment: All efforts should be made to preserve and protect Austin’s natural environment, especially water resources, through the installation of ‘green’ infrastructure.
  • Neighborhood Character: Austin’s neighborhoods are unique and require careful, community-driven management as they evolve.
  • Compact and Connected: Land development in Austin should promote high-density projects along transportation corridors, to reduce sprawl and the reliance on automobiles.
  • Affordability: As Austin grows, it is critical to maintain affordable housing and services. One of the best methods is to increase the available housing stock through zoning and land development regulations geared towards increasing density, especially in central Austin and around transportation corridors.

The primary method to implement these principals was to “Revise Austin’s Development Regulations and Processes to Promote a Compact and Connected City.”   This priority has evolved into ‘CodeNEXT’, which is the City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code.  The purpose of the ULI work group’s analysis is to demonstrate that ‘CodeNEXT 1.0’ does not meet the standard for implementation of the Priority Programs outlined in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. This paper quantifies the problems inherent in the draft code, and offers an action plan to align CodeNEXT with the goals of Imagine Austin.

ULI National Research

Other Local ULI Research

  • “Missing Middle” Housing – What can be done to increase affordable housing for middle income families. <<View the Report HERE >>  Executive Summary begins on page 6
    • The report addresses challenges that prevent the development of housing, which serves middle-income residents within the City of Austin, with special focus on families.
    • The report addresses challenges that are preventing the development of “missing-middle” housing types than can help address the needs of middle-income renters and buyers within the city.
    • The report presents  high-level recommendations to guide the City, housing developers, neighbors, and private- and public-sector partners as they move forward with changes to city plans, codes, and regulatory processes to develop new housing products and methods to finance such housing as part of the community’s overall response to the challenge of housing affordability.
  • Housing for Musicians and Creatives – A look at the feasibility of creating affordable housing specifically for musicians and creatives. <<View the Report HERE >>
    • The cost of living has escalated in Central Texas to exceed that of the national average, according to a poll conducted by  Housing is cited as the primary source for this disparity in cost of living.  Yet, according to, the average musician’s salary in Texas is approximately $25.85 per hour, which is 22% below the national average.To bridge the gap between the high cost of living and low income of musicians and artists, Mosaic Sound Collective (MSC) engaged ULI Austin as a neutral body to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel (Panel) to review the potential for the development of an affordable housing community for musicians. The Panel will consist of local experts with very different view points. This is an exploratory Panel that will make recommendations to Mosaic Sound Collective.
  • Housing on AISD Property: Is it a Possibility to increase teacher and staff retention rates for AISD? <<View the Report HERE >> Executive Summary begins on page 8
    • ULI Austin was engaged by AISD to review affordable housing and staff/teacher housing development/redevelopment opportunities for the District’s surplus real estate properties. The purpose of this panel was to bring together industry experts specializing in affordable housing, staff/teacher housing and Austin development to evaluate the potential benefits and challenges of the various potential development options available for AISD’s surplus land. The District continues to see a decline in student enrollment and an increase in teacher attrition and firmly believes this stems from the lack of affordable housing available within the District.