A long-awaited first draft of the City’s CodeNEXT zoning map is now available to the public, and reactions have been mixed.
The new map will dictate what gets built and where development takes shape in Austin. While its proponents say the new zoning plan will help encourage dense housing supply along city corridors, some urban groups are saying the plan doesn’t do enough to address housing, affordability, and mobility – widely seen as the biggest challenges to Austin.
— Jeff Stensland (@JeffStensland) April 18, 2017
A blog post by urbanism group AURA lays out what the group says are six major flaws in the CodeNEXT maps: not enough increased housing capacity in Central and West Austin; decreased allowable density in some parts of the central city; a dearth of middle housing like row houses in central neighborhoods; not enough residential zoning along major corridors; a lack of transition zones between major corridors and single family areas; and a still-complicated zoning code.
— AURA (@AURAatx) April 19, 2017
“There are a few bright spots that AURA applauds,” the blog post states. “The map of downtown comes a lot closer to implementing the Downtown Neighborhood Plan than the current code. Some areas along major corridors that are currently zoned “commercial” have been replaced with zones that permit mixed and residential uses, allowing more housing to be built in those areas. However, limited improvements in only a few areas will ensure the continuation of Austin’s current development patterns leading to even more sprawl, congestion, gentrification and segregation.”
CodeNEXT is meant to move the city away from the current use-based code and instead create a form-based code that focuses on varied uses in neighborhoods.
“We know the path we’re on right now with gentrification. We know the path we’re on right now with congestion in this city,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said at an April 18 event announcing the release of the map. “If we don’t do anything, if we don’t change how we approach where we are, then there can’t be an expectation that we would end up in a different place.”
City council could approve the new code by later this year – a vote is anticipated in December.
Compare current and proposed zoning on the CodeNEXT website.
— Robert Foster (@robertfoster) April 22, 2017