Several Austin policymakers want votes on the land-development code rewrite in 2019

Austin City Hall

Austin City Hall

Six months after City Council voted to end its five-year project to rewrite Austin’s land-use rules, the effort has been rejuvenated, and local policymakers say action, not lengthy debate, is needed in 2019.

Austin’s land-development code—the rules governing what can be built and where—has not seen a substantial update since 1984, when the population was less than half what it is today and land development and demand were at more manageable levels. The need for a new land-development code has been almost unanimously endorsed by the community, but deep divisions exist in how and what to change.

It is at those fault lines where City Council will begin this second attempt at a rewrite. City Manager Spencer Cronk, who was tapped by council to come up with a revision process, asked council members last week to submit their opinions on the hotbed issues of housing supply and density, parking requirements and compatibility standards and the scope of the rewrite in order to guide his team’s strategy.

Following a high-level overview of the policy guidance survey, several council members at the March 26 work session said they want action taken on the land-development code in 2019.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar said the environmental impact of urban sprawl and the growing affordability crisis hitting Austin’s real estate market will only continue to worsen without council action on the land code. Casar, who has been an outspoken supporter of dramatically increasing housing density throughout the city as a means toward affordability, said council would do wrong by the community to rehash arguments over minute details rather than focusing on big solutions to big issues.

“We have to take concrete steps in 2019; we’ve heard from [the community] about these issues for so long,” Casar said. “For us to answer these questions we have to move quickly. Moving fast doesn’t mean we’re not listening.”

Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza echoed Casar’s sentiment, saying she was ready to submit answers to the city manager’s survey and get things done in 2019.

“I agree it will be hard to do in a year, but I think we need to do as much as possible,” Garza said. “It’s going to be hard, but that’s our job to make those decisions and help Austinites.”

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, who last year formed a four-member council housing-preservation caucus with council members Kathie Tovo, Alison Alter and former Council Member Ora Houston in opposition to council members Jimmy Flannigan, Pio Renteria, Casar and Garza’s housing-density caucus, said she was comfortable with a the timeline laid out by her colleagues.

“I think we have a lot of common ground [on council],” Pool said. “There’s good opportunity for a nuanced approach.”

Right now, City Council is scheduling to have public comment on Cronk’s policy guidance survey at the April 11 regular meeting with a final vote on the survey questions coming April 25. Cronk said discussions about the land-development code rewrite would remain a standing item on all council agendas moving forward.


Trustee Lynn Boswell speaks at an Oct. 14 information session of the Austin ISD board of trustees. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD seeks firm to help redistricting process

As districts within AISD are redrawn, the board of trustees will get legal assistance from a firm it has not yet chosen.

The amended version of the planned development unit will now go to the Austin Planning Commission for review. (Rendering courtesy Austin Environmental Commission)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Austin commission OKs development plan near Lady Bird Lake; shopping center coming to Porter and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 15.

Kyle Center Street Trick-or-Treat will be held Oct. 23. (Courtesy city of Kyle)
20 fall activities to do across Central Texas; Grand Donuts coming to Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Early voting starts Oct. 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Travis County early voting begins Oct. 18

There are 27 polling locations throughout the county.

A dash cam still shows flooding on Brandt Road after rain. (Courtesy Jon Iken)
South Austin affordable apartment complex moves forward despite neighbors' concerns

Neighbors worry about road safety and flooding, but City Council says there will be mitigation for those issues.

City Council voted to approve the first reading of a rezoning request, with Council Member Vanessa Fuentes adding directions. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact)
City Council approves South Austin affordable housing development with caveats

Council members say developers should add more affordable units to their apartment complex plan near Beacon Ridge.

The Smoking Joint is now open under the umbrella of Click Click Chew virtual food hall in Cypress. (Courtesy Kirsten Gilliam)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: More restaurant, retail space could be coming to north Frisco development; Locatelli’s owners launch virtual food hall in Cypress, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 14.

Photo of a child receiving a shot
Austin Public Health prepares for possible expansion of COVID-19 vaccine to younger kids

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider authorizing Pfizer's vaccine for use in children ages 5-11 later this month.

A rendering is shown of a flexible space inside Panther Creek High School, which includes learning stairs and a collaboration board. The school's attendance zones are drawn to pull from Lone Star and Memorial high schools. (Courtesy Corgan)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Frisco ISD proposes attendance zone modifications; concerns are voiced over Grogan's Mill Village Center vacancies, plus more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 13.

City Council heard the results of Austin's first-ever quality of life report for the city's LGBTQ community Oct. 12. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Study: Safety, health, housing remain top concerns of Austin's 'vibrant' LGBTQ community

City Council heard a briefing on the first-ever quality-of-life survey of the Austin-area LGBTQ community Oct. 12.

Grand Donuts is opening soon in Georgetown. (Brittany Andes/Community Impact Newspaper)
Grand Donuts coming to Georgetown; new businesses open in Central Austin and more area news

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