Austin City Council Votes Unanimously To Scrap CodeNEXT

Aug 9, 2018

The Austin City Council voted unanimously today to scrap CodeNEXT, the controversial overhaul of the city's land development code.

In a resolution, the council said "due to a combination of significant disruptions to the process, CodeNEXT is no longer a suitable mechanism to achieve its stated goals or address the critical challenges currently facing our City."

It directed the city manager to develop and propose a new process to rewrite the land development code.

“Every day we wait, we’re failing current residents and generations to come,” Council Member Greg Casar said before the vote.

The city has spent more than five years and about $8.5 million on drafting the updated rules, which would have guided what could be built in Austin and where it could go.

In 2012, the Austin City Council approved Imagine Austin, a comprehensive 30-year plan to guide the city’s growth that called for rewriting the land development code. The last comprehensive update to the code was made in 1984, and one of the goals of CodeNEXT was to streamline the complex set of rules to better meet the needs of a changing and growing city.

The CodeNEXT process starkly divided Austin residents, largely along the lines of those who support increased housing capacity and density, and those who favor the preservation of existing neighborhoods.

Disagreements over the process even led to a lawsuit. Last month, a district judge ruled that Austin residents should vote on the question of whether any land development code rewrites, such as CodeNEXT, should be put to a public vote. Austin residents are set to vote on that ballot initiative this fall. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler last week called for the council to consider scrapping CodeNEXT, saying the process had been "poisoned."

At today's meeting, Council Member Alison Alter said the city needs to rebuild the public’s trust ahead of another rewrite of the code.

This post has been updated.