The Austin Neighborhoods Council kicked off 2018 at the January 24th meeting. First on the agenda was the membership report with 60 neighborhoods, including NACA, current on the 2018 dues already.
The focus of the meeting continues to be CodeNEXT, the proposed land development and building code. The challenge remains where can we put new growth and still maintain the existing character of the neighborhoods?
The speaker, Jim Duncan, a retired city planner who serves on the Zoning and Platting commission emphasized that the compatibility standards, adopted to ensure that new construction, remodels, and additions are compatible in scale and bulk with existing buildings, have the most potential impact on residents.
A community response panel discussed several equity issues related to CodeNEXT. Austin is among the most economically segregated metropolitan areas in the US and the 78702 zip code is the 2nd most gentrified zip code in the US. With property value skyrocketing, it is difficult for residents on fixed incomes to pay their taxes and maintain their properties. In contrast, Seattle’s development code includes a “displacement risk index” to maintain affordable housing. Others expressed concerns about underrepresented groups such as the Asian American community, intergenerational families, and seniors who want to age in place.
The last presentation was on how to get petitions signed with the goal to get a referendum on CodeNEXT on the November ballot. Ideas included having a “petition party” neighborhood event. There is a difference of opinion on the petition published on CommunityNotCommodity.com. Some express that citizens have the right to vote on something that will impact our quality of life. Others don’t feel the average citizen is well-informed to vote on this important change.
Version 3 of CodeNEXT was released on February 12 and the February ANC meeting on 2/28 will be dedicated to an analysis of the changes based on public input.