Austin’s land development code rewrite suspended as city postpones public meetings, final vote in response to coronavirus

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (center), flanked by Assistant City Manager Christopher Shorter and City Attorney Ann Morgan, listen to public testimony on the land development code rewrite Dec. 7. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Mayor Steve Adler (center), flanked by Assistant City Manager Christopher Shorter and City Attorney Ann Morgan, listen to public testimony on the land development code rewrite Dec. 7. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (center), flanked by Assistant City Manager Christopher Shorter and City Attorney Ann Morgan, listen to public testimony on the land development code rewrite Dec. 7. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Council was poised to take its final vote on the proposed comprehensive overhaul of the city’s land development code on April 2, capping off an eight-year effort full of starts and stops that has divided the community; however, that vote is now postponed as the city gets serious about social distancing and mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

City council was scheduled to begin holding public meetings on Tuesday, March 24, to discuss further proposed changes to proposed rewrite of the land code, which governs what can be built in the city and where. However, that meeting and the three following meetings leading up to the April 2 vote have all been postponed until further notice.


“These are extraordinary times and public health is paramount. In response to the increasing concerns and fluidity of COVID-19 situation, the City of Austin has decided to postpone meetings and action related to [rewrite],” a March 16 press release read. “We are continuing to discuss options for how to move the Land Development Code Revision process forward. We appreciate your patience as we work through adapting City operations.”

On March 16, the city announced that most city employees would be transitioning to working from home, with the exception of public safety, first responders, public works and emergency management operations. Boards and commission meetings this week have all been canceled and the city is considering canceling next week’s meetings as well, which would include a City Council regular meeting.

Over the weekend, the city began prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On March 16, the federal government recommended against gatherings of more than 10 people. Historically, public hearings regarding Austin’s land development code rewrite have brought hundreds of people to Austin City Hall.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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