CodeNEXT, the city’s controversial five-year, $8.5 million project to rewrite its land development code, was officially dropped by Austin City Council on Thursday.
Council voted unanimously to kill the project and task new City Manager Spencer Cronk with carving out a new path forward on how to update the city’s land use code. Cronk committed to bringing back a plan by early 2019.
The decision follows Mayor Steve Adler’s surprise suggestion last week that City Council should consider dropping the project that he said had become infected by hyperbole and misinformation.
The resolution passed by City Council Thursday cited “significant disruptions” to the process, which has seen a change to district representation for City Council, three city managers, several project managers and the death of John Fregonese, a lead data analyst on the project.
More recently, anti-CodeNEXT groups successfully petitioned the city to ask residents whether they wanted voting power over the implementation of the new land use code. Council is due to vote on the ballot language late Thursday night.
Council members gave their eulogies Thursday on the highly debated project that aimed to bring Austin’s outdated land use code into the 21st century and help manage the city’s unprecedented growth. District 3 Council Member Pio Renteria, directing his comments to those that long wanted to kill the project, warned the issues created by growth—increased cost and demand on land, displacement and gentrification—are not going away. Renteria called the petition “unfortunate.”
District 4 Council Member Greg Casar urged Cronk to come back as soon as possible with a plan.
“Everyday we don’t reform our land development code is a day that we fail our residents,” Casar said.
District 10 Council Member Alison Alter, one of four council members who supported the petition, said the reboot of CodeNEXT offered a chance to regain the trust of the community.
Cronk emphasized that he will not be “starting anew” and intends to build off what the community and staff have already produced.