Austin residents expressed strong feelings for and against CodeNEXT today at the first public hearing on the final draft of the rewrite of Austin’s land development code.
City Council members spent hours hearing from members of the public, including Dennis Oxford, who said he preferred the status quo to what he called a “bit by bit” approach to the rules governing what can be built where.
He pointed to the vertical multiuse zoning up and down Burnet as an alternative to CodeNEXT. The city adopted the North Burnet/Gateway Master Plan in 2007 to encourage a higher-density mixed-use neighborhood that's friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists.
“It had local input and it was implemented locally," he said, "and it worked well.”
Michael Simmons told the council to consider Austin’s history of racism and segregation when adopting its new land use code.
“I urge you to only accept a code that would encourage integration,” he said. “Listen to the people who have experienced segregation and racism in this city. Prioritize the concerns of neighborhoods like Montopolis. Prioritize wealth creation for the type of people who were actively prevented from owning homes in the past.”
Austin's racial and economic divide has roots in government policies, including a 1928 city plan establishing a “Negro District” and post-Great Depression discriminatory housing policies that denied federally backed mortgages in neighborhoods with significant minority populations.
Council members will hold a second public hearing on CodeNEXT in council chambers Saturday starting at 10 a.m.