Last night, Austin’s City Council and it’s appointed Code Advisory Group met in a joint session to review the overall progress of Code Next and to clarify roles and expectations for the program. The two-hour special meeting offered a broad overview of the program and allowed the Council to question staff and CAG members on their expectations and anticipated schedule.
Austin is in the middle of a long-awaited rewrite of its cumbersome land development code. The program, named Code Next, began two years ago with a Code Diagnosis issued to evaluate the current process. The Diagnosis highlights the wasteful, confusing, and often counter-productive requirements and procedures involved in securing a permit for nearly all types of commercial and residential construction within the City limits and within its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction. This year, the Code Next team issued four Prescription Papers to outline goals and expectations in four areas: Natural & Built Environment, Household Affordability, Mobility, and Fiscal Health.
As discussed at last night’s meeting, the next step will be a draft of the new code to be presented in January. A six-month period for review and comment will follow. The code must also be applied to specific areas of the City, a process referred to as “mapping.” The mapping program is where neighbors and interested groups may directly influence what is planned or anticipated for their local area.
Heimsath Architects has participated in previous code reform efforts. Ben Heimsath was chair in the 1990’s of the Citizen’s Planning Committee, an effort directed by the Council that resulted in some improvements at the time. The Code Next program is more sweeping and envisions a rewrite of the codes and ordinances in order to align them with the long-term vision for the City, Imagine Austin.
We’ll continue to post updates as the work progresses.