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

Where the Sidewalk [Money] Ends

The Mayor and City Council recently endorsed a bond proposal for $720 million addressing mobility concerns across the city.  The mix of funding in question follows the chart below: Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 7: CodeNEXT

 This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. What is a zoning code, or land development code? It is a set of rules determined by a city that says what can be built, and what categories different pieces of land fall into. Many zoning codes restrict what types of uses each category can have. For example, “LI” means “Light Industrial” and can be used for various industrial purposes but cannot be used for commercial purposes (like a store). Zoning came about to protect people from living next to smelting plants and uses that might impact health. Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 6: Create a Healthy Austin

 This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. There is increasing evidence that moderate exercise, like walking, can extend life expectancy and reduce chronic disease.  In many places around the world people get their recommended 10,000 steps, or 30 minutes of walking, simply by going about their daily lives.  That might include walking to the bus, running errands by bike, strolling to the park, etc.What would Austin look like if we could get our daily exercise simply by going about our daily lives? Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 5: Continue to Grow Austin’s Economy by Investing in Our Workforce, Education Systems, Entrepreneurs, and Local Businesses

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. Everyone hears about how many people are moving here each day as well the booming technology economy, but what about the residents already here who might not have those particular skills? The Workforce and Education priority is all about ensuring that our communities thrive by building up the skills of workforce, investing in small businesses, and investing in our schools. Continue reading

Reform McMansion

Re: AURA Views on Subchapter F Carport Exemption On Tuesday, the Planning Commission will consider changes to the carport exemption for McMansion.  We encourage the Planning Commission to not think small, and instead make serious reforms to the regulations. Subchapter F, better known as the McMansion Ordinance, has placed limitations on the floor to area ratio (FAR) of new homes built in Austin. According to the McMansion Ordinance, the allowable FAR for a home is calculated using lengthy and complicated sets of exemptions.  While these FAR requirements were originally devised to regulate massing and scale, they have failed to result in meaningful design improvements, and in fact have substantially harmed design, aesthetics, and the development process. Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 4: Use green infrastructure to protect environmentally sensitive areas and integrate nature into the city

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. Imagine Austin discusses the importance of integrating nature into the city as the benefits of open space and nature are well-documented and widespread. Austin has always been a bit more “green” than the rest of Texas and many Austinites treasure the numerous parks and greenspaces throughout the city. As such, Imagine Austin called for a focus to preserve and protect this critical part of who we are.  Green infrastructure throughout the city is one important way we can do that. Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 3: Grow and invest in Austin's creative economy

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. “The possible disappearance of live music venues, art spaces and other Keep Austin Weird-type businesses in favor of mixed-use condominium developments could undermine the city’s reputation as a creative hub, which helped fuel its growth in the first place.” Austin Business Journal (April 2015)  “Failure to address affordability endangers the economic security of us all. A sizable segment of Austin’s economy and the city’s brand is based on the entertainment industry. Businesses attract new talent based on the city’s reputation, whether their core products are semiconductors or homes.” Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board (June 2015) Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 2: Sustainably manage our water resources

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. This program is focused on conserving water resources and improving watershed health. This includes issues such as public health, recreation, conservation, and water supply. Austin’s Water Utility is municipally owned, which allows Austin Water to work more closely with all departments that have an impact on water supply and watershed health. Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 1: Invest in a compact, connected Austin

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. Prior to Imagine Austin, it was clear that this city had a long way to go before it could be considered to be even a little bit "compact and connected." Outside of the few square miles of old Austin, much of this city had been laid out as though it was one massive suburban subdivision—with low-density housing and disconnected streets dominating the landscape. Continue reading