The City of Austin is in the midst of rewriting its decades-old Land Development Code. While
the process – known as CodeNEXT – has been lengthy (upwards of three years), complex, and time intensive, the payoff could be worth the wait.
HousingWorks Austin is dedicated to all kinds of homes in all parts of town. This idea is the foundation for “complete communities,” which is integral to Imagine Austin, the City of Austin’s comprehensive plan. Imagine Austin establishes eight “priority programs,” one of which is “to development and maintain household affordability throughout Austin.” The final priority program is “to revise Austin’s development regulations and processes to promote a compact and connected city.”
CodeNEXT is our opportunity to shape what gets built, where it gets built, and how it gets built. HousingWorks recognizes that well-located density, streamlined development reviews, and a simple and predictable development process will increase affordability in a broad sense. But in order to achieve true affordability, it is imperative that onsite, inclusionary affordable housing policies are implemented across the city and in a range of housing types. We need to provide development incentives such as increased density and relaxed development standards only in exchange for onsite affordability.
The city just released its second “prescription paper,” which is focused on household affordability. The prescription papers are designed to highlight some of the tradeoffs and tensions within the land development code and to make some concrete recommendations (“prescriptions”) for addressing complicated issues.
I encourage everyone to take the time to read the household affordability prescription paper, which is aptly titled “Developing Complete Communities for All Austinites:”
The prescriptions focus on the following four areas:
- Refining and expanding density bonus programs;
- Promoting housing diversity in targeted areas such as Imagine Austin Activity Centers and Corridors;
- Providing more flexible development standards to promote housing diversity; and
- Simplifying the permitting process.
After exploring the prescription paper, think about how you (or your organization) want to be engaged and involved. There are multiple ways, including next week’s public input session: