CodeNEXT and the Program Priorities in Imagine Austin

CodeNEXT and the Program Priorities in Imagine Austin

An analysis of the CodeNEXT 1.0 draft, and an action plan to align the new code with the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

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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” (Imagine Austin Priority Program 8).   This priority has evolved into ‘CodeNEXT’, which is the City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code.  The first draft of the new code was released on January 30, 2017 (CodeNEXT 1.0), and a public engagement period was launched to give the Austin community a chance to provide feedback on the draft code.

The purpose of the 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. 

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