The Austin City Council approved a new vested rights ordinance at its June 12, 2014 meeting. The ordinance, also referred to as the project duration ordinance, allows nine years before a project may expire if work has not progressed. While RECA staff and key board members had been lobbying the council to allow at least 13 years for large, phased projects, getting a so-called “flat” nine years was a significant improvement over the original draft ordinance which had called for only three years for some projects
RECA members challenged the city’s vested rights ordinance because it conflicts with Chapter 245 of the Local Government Code, the state statute that creates vested rights. Working with state legislators, RECA was successful in requesting an opinion from the Texas Attorney General.
In December 2012, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released an opinion concluding that the city’s ordinance was in fact in violation of Chapter 245 as it was amended in 2005. Although AG opinions are not binding, the city did repeal the ordinance in March of 2013 with a promise to create a new one. RECA members came out in force to testify at the public hearing that preceded that action. After the release of a proposed new ordinance, a team of RECA members and staff met with city staff to give input and analysis of the draft ordinance.