Council Member Pool’s Response to Passage of Draft 2 of Austin’s Land Development Code

Council Member Pool’s Response to Passage of Draft 2 of Austin’s Land Development Code

From Leslie Pool, Council Member, District 7
February 14 at 5:59 PM ·

At Second Reading last night, I voted against the Land Development Code rewrite, along with my colleagues CMs Alter, Kitchen and Tovo, because it remains unclear that the code will do what is intended and needed.

Austin must get this right. The new code, with all its parts, must work together.

My three colleagues and I urge an approach to the Code rewrite that includes planning to inform how and where the city of Austin will grow.

Because of the intense market pressure that Austinites are experiencing, planning and thoughtful decision-making consistent with Austin’s values are more crucial than ever.

I believe the city needs to build community consensus and better ensure that shared goals are achieved while reducing the risks of unintended harm.

I agree with the rest of Council that …

– Austin needs an updated land development code that includes better tools to address growth.
– Increasing housing along major corridors makes sense because new development can be more easily served by robust transit.
– Imagine Austin regional centers are opportunities to create more housing and complete communities.
– Our city needs more affordable housing and housing types across the city and council has agreed upon target goals to meet.

However, I remain concerned that …

– The proposed code and map will not provide new development where we want and need it or at the right price.
– Some council actions may have unintended consequences, accelerating the loss of older, more affordable housing for renters and families.
– The draft proposal and amendments triggering increases in size, number of units, and reliance on street parking, without planning for necessary sidewalks, street improvements, drainage, and other infrastructure will unnecessarily degrade quality of life, public safety, and potentially increase cost burdens to residents to remedy the deficiencies.
– Applying dramatic increases in entitlements instead of phasing increases over time could destabilize neighborhoods and accelerate loss of affordable housing.
– Mapping without sensitive consideration of the location or context and without involvement by the people who live in the areas impacted risks loss of public trust.

In the next several weeks, the four of us will bring forward a proposal we have been working on for a while. We will propose an approach that builds on the District Level Planning amendment adopted at First Reading. This approach will offer a path to build broader, citywide consensus on the code. We hope our colleagues will consider this approach on Third Reading.

I will continue to urge my colleagues to develop a community-driven, data-based, and context-sensitive planning process that will ultimately serve the evolving needs and future growth of communities in and around Activity Centers and Corridors.

Issues surrounding the rewrite of Austin’s Land Development Code continue to cause deep concern in most parts of town. Thank you for all you’re doing on behalf of our beloved city.

Best,

Leslie

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