"The current code doesn't provide an effective tool set to manage our rapid growth, said Andre Lubomudrov, with the Austin Board of Realtors, at Thursday's meeting."
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City Council stalls over code rewriting decision
Return of Member Bill Spelman in two weeks could help set course.
By Lilly Rockwell firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadlocked over the best way to rewrite Austin's land development code, the Austin City Council punted a decision on this high-interest topic to its next meeting in two weeks.
By then, absent City Council Member Bill Spelman should be back and able to break the 3-3 tie.
For the first time in 30 years, the city is overhauling its land development code, a complex set of regulations that determine what the city looks like, from building height to the size and location of homes, condominiums and commercial buildings.
The code rewrite, called CodeNEXT, is intended to simplify development rules and address the issue of ever-rising housing prices by finding ways to fit more housing in a city still dominated by single-family homes.
The City Council was supposed to vote Thursday on which approach to take in revising the code: a light touch, a middle-ground approach that combines elements of a mild rewrite and a major overhaul, or an aggressive top-to-bottom rewrite.
Groups like the Real Estate Council of Austin, the Austin Board of Realtors and proponents of urban density, like the group Austinites for Urban Rail Action, want the most aggressive code rewrite.
The current code doesn't provide an effective tool set to manage our rapid growth, said Andre Lubomudrov, with the Austin Board of Realtors, at Thursday's meeting
He and others argued that a major re-write will help developers build more affordable housing types like duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes, which are referred to as the missing middle of housing types in Austin.
But the politically powerful Austin Neighborhoods Council, comprises 100 mostly centrally located neighborhoods, said it is opposed to any deci sion on a rewrite now.
Mary Ingle, the president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council, testified that it wasn't clear how the three rewrite options would impact neighborhoods and existing regulations, like the McMansion ordinance.
City Council Members Kathie Tovo, Laura Morrison and Mike Martinez wanted to vote for the middle-ground approach, while Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Members Sheryl Cole and Chris Riley wanted a more aggressive rewrite.
Contact Lilly Rockwell at 512-445-3632.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
Among the items handled late Thursday night, the Austin City Council:
â€¢Reached a 3-3 stalemate on a proposal to lift the parking and density requirements forâ€œmicro-unitâ€ apartments under 500 square feet, located along transit corridors. Council Member Chris Riley, who supported the measure with Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Member Sheryl Cole, said it would provide affordable housing options for those who don't own a car.
Council Members Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo and Mike Martinez opposed it, saying tenants would likely still have cars that would turn neighboring streets into parking lots. The measure will return for consideration Nov. 20, when Council Member Bill Spelman will be back to break the tie.
Directed the staff to negotiate for changes in the city's contract to use the Travis County Jail. The council said people arrested by the Austin Police Department should only be detained for immigration violations if a judge has found probable cause or issued an arrest warrant. Council members noted they may not get what they want: Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton has said he can't opt out of federal requests to hold inmates suspected of being in the country illegally, under the Secure Communities program by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Behind the Statesman's paywall:
It's interesting RECA uses "growth" as an excuse to impose their needs on the City's Land Development Code, considering they are the ones who have supported Opportunity Austin, a plan started in 2004, that is intended to create hyper-growth, to the benefit of developers, but not to the people who are being priced out by Opportunity Austin: