CodeNEXT's transect zones may get eliminated in planned organizational overhaul, official says

The second draft of the proposed land development code rewrite will likely see a reorganization and renaming of all the zones. This means transect zones, one of the hallmarks in the first proposal, could be eliminated.

The second draft of the proposed land development code rewrite will likely see a reorganization and renaming of all the zones. This means transect zones, one of the hallmarks in the first proposal, could be eliminated.

CodeNEXT—the rewrite of the city’s land development code—may be headed for an organizational overhaul after city staff this week proposed eliminating transect zones in an effort to make the code less confusing.

“It would involve a lot of work [by] the consultants,” said Jerry Rusthoven, assistant director of the planning and zoning department. “The map would have to change, all of the names of the zones would change. It’s an awful lot of work, [but] it’s not starting over.”

Goodbye, T-Zones


Transect zones, one of the hallmarks in the first draft of CodeNEXT, are form-based zones—a tool created to allow leniency in what structures in a zone are used for and strictness on the “form” or physical character of those structures.

These zones aimed to create neighborhoods mixed with commercial development and a wider variety of residential uses while maintaining a standard neighborhood look. They contrasted with the more standard “use-based” zones in the code, which had opposite priorities.

However, transect zones, which were concentrated in the city’s urban core, turned out to be controversial. Many people voiced concerns that CodeNEXT, while it was supposed to simplify the land development code, only created more confusion by essentially laying out two separate codes— a transect code and a use-based code.
“It would involve a lot of work [by] the consultants. The map would have to change, all of the names of the zones would change. It’s an awful lot of work, [but] it’s not starting over.”  

—Jerry Rusthoven, assistant director of the Austin Planning and Zoning Department

“We’ve heard a lot of criticism that people feel we have two codes,” Rusthoven said. “We are looking at combining them into a single spectrum of zones that would still maintain some zones having more form-based controls and others having less.”

The second draft, due out in August, will still have zones reflective of transect zones and use-based zones, but the names will be unified and easier to discern, as the change would deal primarily with nomenclature.

Hello, R-Zones


During a June 28 CodeNEXT meeting with the City Council, the staff proposed a rough draft of the new naming system.

Lower intensity residential zones will be called “R-zones” and will range from RR—rural residential—to R4. The number will reflect the number of units a parcel of land is allowed to have “by right”, or without having to seek a zoning change approval through the land-use commissions. Each numbered zone will have subzones categorized by lot size and form-based restrictions.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Rusthoven said. Coming up with a new system for the residential zones was more complicated, he said, adding he expected the reorganization of the commercial zones to be less tedious.

According to staff, the P&Z commission and the zoning and platting commission liked the idea. Although the reorganization is in its early stages, Austin Mayor Steve Adler expressed confidence it was a step in the right direction.

“This seems to answer some of the questions I was hearing out in the community,” Adler said.
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.


MOST RECENT

The most recent drafts of a Dripping Springs logo and new slogan were presented to Dripping Springs City Council April 13. (Courtesy city of Dripping Springs)
Dripping Springs set for a facelift this summer, with new website, city logo and slogan

The new logo and slogan were developed by a city committee with feedback from city staff and community leaders.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Head shot of Holly Morris-Kuentz
Dripping Springs ISD names Holly Morris-Kuentz lone finalist for superintendent

Morris-Kuentz currently serves as deputy superintendent for Lake Travis ISD.

Photo of hands holding a vaccine vial
After Austin Public Health appointments go unfilled, officials call for new distribution model

On April 12, APH filled 3,400 out of 14,000 available COVID-19 vaccine appointments in a registration window.

Masking continues to be required, with some relaxed circumstances for fully vaccinated residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin extends COVID-19 health rules through May 18, updates guidance for vaccinated residents

Masking continues to be required, with some relaxed circumstances for fully vaccinated residents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Photo of Cypress Springs Elementary
Dripping Springs ISD approves new attendance zones for 2021-22 year

The new zones accommodate the addition of Cypress Springs Elementary School, which joins the district this fall.

Recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine wait after receiving their shot at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
National supply issues with Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect Austin-area shipments

After a manufacturing error ruined 15 million doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the supply will not increase until the plant in Baltimore is once again allowed to participate in production.

Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a Moderna vaccine vial
Austin Public Health coronavirus vaccine portal opens to all adults April 12

APH will continue outreach efforts to high-priority groups.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph has started a scholarship fund that will provide $6,000 to two Austin Community College Culinary Arts students and give them opportunity to be mentored by Bristol-Joseph and to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Austin chef starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College students

Tavel Bristol-Joseph started the scholarship fund, which will provide $6,000 to two ACC students and give them the opportunity to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants.