Open Letter to the Mayor on CodeNEXT

March 14, 2017 Mayor Adler: AURA is an all-volunteer grassroots urbanist organization focused on building an Austin for everyone by improving land use and transportation through policy analysis, public involvement, and political engagement. While our members are still dissecting the initial CodeNEXT draft, we applaud City of Austin staff and consultants for a thorough community-engagement schedule. A robust city dialogue is imperative to realize the sustainable, compact, and connected city the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan envisions. “Change isn’t easy,” Imagine Austin reminds us, “however, the potential rewards will outweigh the discomforts.” To reaffirm the priorities vetted by Imagine Austin’s 30,000 hours of community engagement, an open dialogue around the benefits of Imagine Austin’s bold vision is critical. Continue reading

AURA Statement on CodeNEXT Draft

For Immediate Release AURA Statement on CodeNEXT Draft January 18, 2017 Austin, TX On Tuesday AURA became aware of a leaked draft of CodeNEXT which was posted to Twitter over the holiday weekend. The document, weighing in at 327 pages, is massive, and yet also astonishingly incomplete (i.e. no sections on site plans, subdivision, drainage, etc). This is perhaps explained by the fact that it is largely dated June 2016. As such, we are hesitant to dig into the details. Limiting ourselves to a broad view, the draft is disappointing. We cannot stress enough that Austin is in the midst of an (un)affordable housing crisis; in conjunction with this crisis, the City’s own Planning and Development Review Department came under intense criticism in March of 2015. The City and its residents are in urgent need of significant policy change to reverse this trend. Unfortunately, it would appear that in this draft the staff and consultants have largely come up short in meeting the modest goals they set out for themselves in the Code Diagnosis back in May 2014. Continue reading

AURA Response to Austin's Draft Strategic Housing Plan

In June, the City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office (NHCD) released a draft of the Austin Strategic Housing Plan. A representative from NHCD attend AURA's November board meeting and presented on the plan and received feedback from AURA members. We are encouraged that the Department recognizes certain fair housing and land use barriers that AURA has named in its CodeNEXT expectations. Subsequently, on November 21, AURA sent the letter below to NHCD as our official response to the draft plan. Since that time, NHCD has released an updated December draft of the plan, which we encourage everyone to review. Continue reading

AURA Response to Cap Metro's Connections 2025 Plan

Introduction Earlier this year, AURA released Transit City: A Vision for a Multimodal Austin wherein we outlined a number of critical steps for increasing ridership on public transportation. Our recommendations focused on ways to increase the usefulness of transit in order to make riding a better option for more people. AURA is pleased that a number of these recommendations are reflected in the draft of Capital Metro's Connections 2025 plan. We view the core of the plan as a network of frequent bus routes across the city, which was one of AURA's highest priorities. It will be key to implement truly frequent service with appropriate stop spacing, generally no more than ¼ mile spacing between stops along all the frequent routes, whether they are officially dubbed “MetroRapid” or local. There are a few parts of the plan, including the perplexing proposal to put high capacity bus service on I-35 and continued large investments in the high cost Red Line, that seem highly questionable.  The actual plan as written so far, though, would be a huge improvement over current service.  More detailed suggestions follow.  Continue reading

AURA and the 2016 Austin Transportation Bonds

Following a vote of its members last week, AURA takes no position on the Proposition 1 transportation bonds.

Austin City Council: How to Vote and Why

Prior to the AURA membership vote for our Austin City Council endorsements, the AURA board shared with members its set of recommendations and reflections on each Council race being contested this November. Since the endorsements line up with the board's original recommendations, we thought we would release the recommendations to a wider audience. Continue reading

AURA endorses candidates in Austin City Council races

The members of AURA offer the following endorsements in Austin's City Council elections: Continue reading

Austin City Council District 6 Candidate Forum

AURA will be hosting an Austin City Council District 6 candidate forum. The forum will take place this Saturday, September 17, at 6:30pm, at the Anderson Mill Limited District Community Center, 11500 El Salido Parkway. Continue reading

2016 Mobility Bond Analysis: The ‘Gallo Amendment’

On June 23, City Council moved forward with a $720 mobility bond including a proposed $55 million for sidewalks. Unfortunately, Council also passed an amendment by councilmember Gallo to take half of the sidewalk funds and to disperse the funds evenly across all council districts for Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS). As discussed previously by Brennan Griffin, the amendment has deleterious effects for pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city. Additional modifications were made at the August 11 Council meeting prior to Council voting 11-0 on 1st and 2nd readings. I will elaborate further on the effects of these funding decisions as well as to detail alternative funding scenarios. Continue reading

AURA's CodeNEXT Expectations

In line with AURA’s Platform for Austin, we expect that the items below will be seriously considered by staff and consultants while writing and mapping CodeNEXT. If AURA does not see substantial progress on most or all of these items, we will have no choice but to oppose the adoption of staff’s recommendations for CodeNEXT. Continue reading