City leaders have been hosting a series of open houses to inform Austinites about CodeNEXT, the proposed land development code that will shape Austin for years to come. The process has brought up different issues in different council districts.
District 2 makes up the far southeast edge of Austin, with some areas extending past the airport into Del Valle. Residents are represented by Council Member Delia Garza, who hosted a CodeNEXT town hall last week at the American Youthworks school on Ben White Boulevard.
About 30 residents listened as Garza explained how the new code could affect housing choice and transportation, and potentially draw more businesses to the area. Some said this was the first time they had heard about a CodeNEXT meeting in their neighborhood and didn’t have to make the trek into Central Austin to participate.
That brings up a key issue for residents here: traffic congestion. City data show about 73 percent of residents in District 2 drive alone to work; only 4 percent take transit. Garza, who also serves on the Capitol Metro board, said transit works best when there is enough density to support ridership. She said she thinks CodeNEXT could encourage that in a responsible way.
“The best thing we can do is provide a land development code that streamlines the process," she said. "That helps us get development in a sustainable way, where we’re not just building everywhere because there’s environmental concerns about that, obviously, especially in this area which has experienced significant flooding several times."
Roy Woody attended the meeting with his wife and two kids. He said he wasn’t familiar with the land development code before the meeting and that it was a lot of information to take in in just one sitting. He said he has seen a lot of industrial development around his neighborhood over the years, and that he wants to know how the code might encourage more amenities for residents.
“They keep building those warehouses when I think we kind of need something like an HEB, especially for the more eastern side of the city,” he said.
Garza has long been an advocate of improving food access and bringing a grocery to far-flung areas of her district. Last year, HEB bought 17 acres of land in Del Valle, but the grocer has yet to announce when it might begin building a store.