It is deeply unfortunate that so much time, money and effort was spent before the current mayor finally pulled the plug on CodeNEXT, barely three months before the November election. On his watch, CodeNEXT ballooned from a $2 million two-year project to over $8.5 million with the final cost and finish date still unknown, allowing the prior Council’s adopted process and priorities to be ignored. How long it will take to heal the divisions created by this poorly handled process is anyone’s guess.
With my leadership and vision, I believe it is possible to reset the failed effort and work together toward sensible, effective code revisions that benefit all Austin residents.
As mayor, I will move forward to update Austin’s Land Development Code in the following ways:
- Direct the City Auditor to do an independent review and evaluation of the CodeNext failure.
- Commit to an open, transparent community-driven process in planning for our future.
- Ensure the revision process is led by a manager with experience in major code revisions for a city of Austin’s size. CodeNEXT suffered from five managers in five years, not one of whom had the experience to lead an undertaking of this magnitude.
- Separate the development review and permitting issues from the zoning code, and address these issues independently and expeditiously.
- Divide the code into manageable topic sections for informed review and revision. Do not try to force through a single 1500+ page document all at once.
- Bring forward non-zoning sections with strong consensus support, such as proposed watershed revisions for flood mitigation, for expedited action.
- Separate code text revisions from the mapping process. Remapping should not be undertaken until code text is close to finalized.
- Use a stakeholder process for contentious citywide issues such as parking regulations.
- Incorporate lessons learned from the CodeNEXT evaluation that was recently directed by the City Council and from an audit by the City Auditor (proposed above).