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Overview

A land development code lays out on-the-ground-rules for how a city develops. Austin’s current land development code is more than 800 pages and regulates new development, redevelopment, zoning, subdivisions, transportation and parking, outdoor signs, site plans, drainage, watershed protection, open space and more.

CodeNEXT is the initiative to rewrite the City of Austin's land development code to align with the city’s Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. The last comprehensive rewrite of the code took place in 1984. There have been hundreds of amendments in the interim, and since 2005 alone there have been more than 180 amendments to the code.

To lead the code rewrite effort, the city contracted with Opticos, a consulting firm that uses a new type of planning process based on understanding the character of neighborhoods and the larger community. This is an intensive process that began in 2013. The consultants and city staff created a Citizen Advisory Group (CAG) comprised of members appointed by city council, which has conducted extensive public outreach.

Currently, the new code is being written by Opticos in collaboration with city staff.  The new code will be “tested” at various points during this process, meaning that it will be applied to a few pilot areas that may be similar to other areas of Austin to determine what the new code would produce.   Eventually the new code will be presented to the public and will be voted on by City Council, possibly in mid to late 2016.

RECA's Positions

  • Imagine Austin was vetted and supported by many Austin residents from all areas of the city, and unanimously approved by City Council in June 2012. Now a vocal minority is trying to derail its vision through the CodeNEXT process. Making Imagine Austin a reality requires a new code.
  • Austin’s population has doubled every 25 years since our city was founded in 1847. We need to accept this and work to keep what makes Austin special. Instead of fighting growth, we as a community need to plan for it and direct it to create the kind of welcoming community we want. A complete overhaul is necessary to make sure Austin can direct unavoidable change, rather than simply survive it.
  • A simplified, flexible code is also necessary to make our development review process work better, not only for developers building necessary additional housing, but also for homeowners trying to remodel their bathrooms or add square footage as their families expand.