Real estate groups demand CodeNext process get back on track

codenext squareFrom yesterday’s Austin Business Journal

Eight organizations representing Austin real estate and business interests are demanding that the city get back on track with rewriting its land development code dubbed “CodeNext.”

Controversies about delays and budget overrides have surfaced in the past couple of months and one of the original members of the original Code Advisory Group — Melissa Neslund — resigned recently, citing her frustration with the process, which was supposed to be completed in September 2015.

The eight organizations, led by the Real Estate Council of Austin, held a press conference Wednesday urging the city to stop procrastinating and “re-litigating Imagine Austin,” said Cid Galindo, president of non-profit Evolve Austin Partners, in a statement.

Imagine Austin was the comprehensive plan adopted by the city in 2012, and CodeNext would codify the process for developers, businesses and residents to follow. But various outside interests have been calling into question issues that many thought were resolved with the adoption of Imagine Austin.

“It’s been four years since the roadmap for CodeNext was laid out in Imagine Austin, and we’re still without a draft of the code,” RECA President Ward Tisdale said in the statement. “Today the project is two years behind schedule, hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget and in jeopardy of collapsing under its own weight.”

Along with Evolve Austin Partners and RECA, the other organizations calling for immediate resolution to the delays and perceived interference are AURA, previously Austinites for Urban Rail Action, a grassroots organization; Austin Apartment Association; Austin Board of Realtors, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Austin Alliance and Home Builders Association of Greater Austin.

The real estate and business coalition said it expects to see a draft of the CodeNext no later than January 2017, supplemented by the following objectives — some that represent a radical shift from current regulations:

The code should include programs that incentivize the construction of below-market housing. Those programs need to be clear, effective, easily implemented and uniform throughout the city.

The code should provide options for missing mid-range and other more affordable housing options throughout the city with limited or no specific regulations as to quantity, density or lot and unit sizes.

The code should revise current concepts of compatibility to support denser options citywide.

The real life impacts from major code proposals should be measured using the Envision Tomorrow tool [a national and urban planning analysis program] and metrics-based planning tools. The impact of the proposed code must be analyzed before it is finalized.