Part of the mission of KXAN News is to foster a more informed and engaged community. We deliver in-depth coverage on topics like affordability, safety and mobility that affect the daily lives of Central Texans. And we explore sustainable solutions to economic, systemic and social problems. One way to achieve those goals is providing direct and consistent access to leaders who make decisions that shape local policy — seeking to understand their stances, holding them accountable for promises and asking tough questions when needed. This series of interviews with City of Austin Mayor Kirk Watson is designed with that in mind.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Kirk Watson sat down with KXAN anchor Britt Moreno to discuss the future of the City of Austin’s land development code, as well as provide an update on the search for the new city manager.
On Thursday, Austinites had the chance to tell city leaders what they think about Austin’s land development code. The policy outlined how many homes should be allowed on a lot.
Previous attempts at changing the outdated code have been scrapped when the court ruled the city didn’t get enough community input.
“We have a land development code that hadn’t been significantly changed since the mid-80s, and here we are in coming up on 2024,” Watson said. “We’re a big city now…we’re operating in the 21st century with the land development code that was in the last century and almost half a century old now, so it’s a big deal that we need to get it right when we’re talking about the future of our city.
Supporters said it would allow more homes to be built on a property, creating more affordable options. Critics called the plan irresponsible development.
Use the video player above to watch the discussion.
As far as an update on the city’s future manager, Watson said the search continues.
The person who takes on the job would oversee day-to-day operations, hire and fire most city staffers, manage a team of more than 14,000, recommend policies to the council, carry them out, and prepare the city’s budget.
The contract was recently negotiated with search firm Mosaic Public Partners, which was tasked with finding the next city manager.
The Mayor said he was looking for a person who has experience in city government and understands the council form of city government.
“There needs to be somebody that knows how to get the job done and is not going to wait around and is going to move and move with dispatch,” Watson said. “I want somebody with the common sense to not bring in the goofy things that will end up messing us up.”
When asked if Jose Garza was in the running, Watson said no.
“He is a great city manager. He’s an award-winning city manager, but when he came in, he came in as an interim city manager, and I think he’s enjoying what he’s doing. He’s doing a great job, but I also think he’s looking forward to having served the time and helped us the way he’s done and go back into retirement.”
The Mayor said he was in no rush to fill the job because he wants it done right.