Coalition of 4 council members vows to fight for CodeNEXT proposal that addresses gentrification and sprawl

District 3 Council Member Pio Renteria, a native East Austinite of 67 years, doesn’t have many friends left in his part of town. He blames the city’s land development code and zoning and planning methods.

“During [my lifetime], I watched our working families be displaced and I watched my friends forced to move away,” Renteria said.

On Tuesday Renteria, alongside District 2 Council Member Delia Garza, District 4 Council Member Greg Casar and District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, introduced For All Austinites, their four-council member coalition pushing for dramatic changes to CodeNEXT—the ongoing rewrite of the city’s land development code.

The group aims to address the issues of displacement and gentrification, systemic economic and racial segregation, and sprawling development.

The four council members not only asserted that the current code is broken, but the initial proposal of the rewrite fell well short of providing the tools needed by the government to make substantial changes to Austin’s development landscape.
“The path that has been set out for us in the past is failing working families in our communities, and the path that has been set out for us by city staff doesn’t do enough."

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar

With only 3 weeks left until the second draft of CodeNEXT is released, and five months until the proposal is scheduled to reach council for final deliberations and vote, the council members said they would be working together to ensure the code that reaches the dais reconciles these core issues. As a coalition, they committed to vote against any proposal that falls short of their demands.

Different backgrounds but the same set of demands


Casar said although the four individual council members come from “very different” districts and backgrounds, together they share a set of demands that will need to be met before it gets their votes.

“We cannot vote for and we cannot continue to support a system that is largely incentivizing [large, unaffordable single-family homes] near central Austin when we could have smaller and more affordable homes; we cannot continue to support a system that is keeping working families and income restricted units out of some of our highest opportunity areas—areas where working people should have greatest opportunity to live,” Casar said. “The path that has been set out for us in the past is failing working families in our communities, and the path that has been set out for us by city staff doesn’t do enough.

“So today we committed to charting a new path to fighting for a code that truly serves all Austinites and not just a privileged few.”

Flannigan, who focused his comments on the financial consequences of sprawl, said it is the responsibility of city leaders to stop a system that “forces development out to the outer rings of the city.”

“The complexity of this code exacerbates out affordability issues and only gives access to the privileged few who have the time, money and lobbyists to understand it,” Flannigan said. “Sprawl is a symptom of this broken land use code. Sprawl is not just an environmental disaster. When we sprawl we force our communities to build new infrastructure at the expense of the parks and pools and roads of our inner-city neighborhoods.”

Flannigan said he has seen estimates that sprawl has cost the city of Austin between $4 billion and $11 billion.

“Our current land development code encourages sprawl and has pushed families to areas where they have less access to basic services,” Garza said. “It has created an inequitable system.

“We hear time and time again from the community ‘We’re tired of reports, we’re tired of task forces, we’re tired of consultants—do something.’ The families that we represent can't wait. We need a code for all Austinites, and we need it now.”
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

East West Manufacturing will retain 30 jobs and create an additional 30 new jobs for a total of 60 full-time jobs in Round Rock over five years, according to an economic incentive agreement signed Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock to add 60 jobs and more Central Texas news

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

A screen shot of Elon Musk speaking into a microphone
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirms 2021 opening for Travis County gigafactory

Musk said construction is moving apace at the new electric auto factory east of Austin.

The bakery is known for its Texas Sized Donut weighing 2 pounds and can trace its history back to 1926 when Reinhold R. Moehring opened the shop in downtown Round Rock. (Community Impact file photo courtesy Round Rock Donuts)
Round Rock Donuts coming to Cedar Park and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. (Courtesy Pexels)
Tackling Texas' vote-by-mail system: Applying, delivering, tracking your ballot

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.

This fall, firefighters from Central Texas—including from the Austin, Oak Hill and North Hays County fire departments—have traveled to California to help with the state's ongoing fire season. (Courtesy Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System)
As wildfires burn in the western United States, South Austin neighborhoods, firefighters work to reduce local risks

This fall, firefighters—including from the Austin, Oak Hill and North Hays County fire departments—have traveled to California to help with the state's ongoing fire season.

Photo of Sycamore Springs Middle School
Dripping Springs ISD parents voice concern over COVID-19 cases linked to middle school football

Parents say several Sycamore Springs middle school football players tested positive for the coronavirus, but overall case counts remain low.

Photo of the Chisos Boots building exterior
South Austin business news: New cafe and hotel come to Music Lane, Chisos Boots opens showroom and more

Two Hands, a New York City-based cafe, and Hotel Magdalena, an 89-room hotel with a restaurant helmed by a chef with experience at Launderette and Fres'a Chicken al Carbon, are new arrivals to the South Congress Avenue-area development.

Construction continues at ArborView, with an opening anticipated for early 2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Under construction Greyrock Ridge senior community could see first residents in January

ArborView is a 62+ active-living community that will have 151 total units at build-out.

Graphic visualization of coronavirus
UT experts predict a 96% chance of worsening COVID-19 rates in Travis County in coming weeks

Travis County's health authority says individual actions can still turn the tide.