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.”
SHARE THIS STORY
By Christopher Neely

Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


MOST RECENT

An aerial rendering of the schematic design for Dripping Springs ISD's fifth elementary school.
Plans progress on Dripping Springs ISD bond projects, new school construction in 2020

Construction will move forward at several Dripping Springs ISD school sites, both new and existing, this year.

(Courtesy Whataburger)
Whataburger opens new location on East Oltorf Street

This is the burger chain's 19th location in Austin.

Travis County commissioners participated in budget hearings during the fiscal year 2018-19 budget process. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis Central Appraisal District board will host in-person meetings for informal protests in 2020

The Travis Central Appraisal District board of trustees voted to bring back in-person meetings for informal protests this year.

Residents can expect mailers to arrive by mid-March requesting they participate in the 2020 census. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
Austin-Travis County officials establish nonprofit to raise funds to support complete census count

Officials in Austin and Travis County have formed a complete count committee to support the 2020 census effort.

Austin Transportation installed "No parking" signs in 2019 on South Congress Avenue to discourage illegal parking in bicycle lanes. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Austin to start issuing tickets to drivers who park in bike-only lanes in effort to improve safety

Drivers who illegal park in a bicycle lane could receive a $300 fine and have their vehicles towed.

A photo of the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees having a discussion at a meeting.
Dripping Springs ISD discusses next steps for bond advisory committee selection

Dripping Springs ISD's board of trustees is ready to consider applications for the district's new bond oversight group.

The first two Proterra electric buses arrived in Austin, and Capital Metro will roll them out in late January. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro starts electrifying its transit fleet; first 2 electric buses go into service Jan. 26

Capital Metro will roll out the first two electric buses in late January.

A photo of latte art.
Summer Moon Coffee to open at Circle C Ranch

A new coffee shop is set to open in a previous South Austin location of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Austin City Council is considering an end to enforcement of low level marijuana possession laws. (SHELBY SAVAGE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER)
Support grows among Austin City Council members who want to end local penalties for low-level marijuana possession

If successful, the Austin Police Department would no longer hand out arrests or citations for possession of marijuana with no intent to distribute.

Delays have pushed back completion of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Utility and other hurdles delay Bee Creek Sports Complex

Though it was initially planned to be ready for play by 2020, delays pertaining to construction and, more specifically, to water service, have pushed the completion date of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022.

zanjero park water
Travis County commissioners pursue easement to bring water to Las Lomitas subdivision

Travis County commissioners are working to address colonias—unincorporated areas in the county that lack basic utilities.

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Austin Public Health confirms city’s first rubella case since 1999

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999.

Back to top