Subject: My Position and Concerns Regarding the Land Development Code Rewrite

Dear Neighbors,

Recently, the City Manager released a memo asking Council for significant policy direction as he resurrects the land development code rewrite (formerly known as CodeNext). Over the past couple of weeks, several council members have posted policy proposals that would pursue a more aggressive strategy than what was previously drafted by our planning staff and consultants in CodeNext Draft 3. A majority of Council wants to vote on these this Thursday, April 25 (Item 11).

My goal is to adopt a new land development code that creates a livable Austin for everyone. I believe we can grow our city while increasing our supply of affordable housing and protecting our environment for future generations. To do so though, we need a sustainable code that solves problems rather than creates new ones. And we must recognize that we cannot simply unleash the market and expect to accomplish our goals.

I am writing you today because a number of ideas being proposed in our council discussions cause me grave concern. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Mapping so-called “transition zones” up to seven lots deep into the interior of neighborhoods beyond the commercial corridor without neighborhood engagement and context-sensitive planning 
  • Upzoning or increasing by-right entitlements on transportation corridors or in the interior of neighborhoods without defined and substantial community benefits in exchange
  • Eliminating all minimum parking requirements
  • Eliminating or dramatically reducing standard minimum residential lot sizes, which may incentivize the demolition of older more affordable housing stock
  • Zoning for a housing capacity that does not meet our affordable housing goals (i.e. drives us towards simply producing high-priced housing that exacerbates displacement and undermines our ability to use the limited tools we have to achieve affordable housing)
  • Eliminating or reducing parkland dedication and heritage tree protection requirements  
  • Weakening impervious cover limits which provide important flood control protections and could exacerbate flooding in neighborhoods
I cannot support these items should they be incorporated into the new land development code. 

In 2018, I crafted a document in collaboration with Mayor Adler and Council Member Kitchen. This document continues to guide my position on what reforms to the land development code I can support. I believe the positions put forward in the document balance our need to grow with our other goals in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, which envisions complete communities that are sustainable and livable.

In the current message board conversation, I would call your attention to the base document put forward by Mayor Adler on April 13 and to proposals offered by Council Member Kitchen individually and with Council Member Pool. These proposals align with my position of reforming our land development code in a manner consistent with the vision of Imagine Austin and acknowledge our citywide responsibility to plan for growth, protect our environment, and promote affordability.

As your council member, my pledge is to represent you at City Hall. However, I am one voice out of 11 and the direction we take will depend on the will of the majority. As this process unfolds we will continue to have town halls, office hours, and updates via our newsletter. Feel free to contact my staff at any point at 512-978-2110. 


Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10

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