City of Austin Props A through I pass, voters reject Prop J

Austin
Downtown Austin skyline file photo

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinites have approved bond propositions on the ballot totaling $925 million. Propositions A through I have passed, while proposition K failed and proposition J is awaiting final results.

Proposition A — Affordable housing

Results: Passed

The largest of the seven bond propositions, the $250 million Prop A buys land for affordable housing development, provides housing for renters, people with low incomes and people experiencing homelessness.

The plan also includes money for home repairs for low-income homeowners.

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition B — Libraries, Museums and Cultural Arts Facilities

Results: Passed

The $128 million Proposition B plans for $56.5 million in renovations at four Austin cultural centers and museums as well as $34.5 million for library renovations. $25 million is set aside for replacing the Dougherty Arts Center and another $12 million for the acquisition and improvement of creative spaces.

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition C — Parks and Recreation

Results: Passed

The $149 million slated in the Proposition C bond for parks and recreation would go to acquiring land for new dedicated parkland ($45 million), a new Colony Park Pool and major renovations or replacements of existing city pools ($40 million), $25 million in parkland improvements, $21.5 million in building renovations and $17.5 million in infrastructure improvements.

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition D — Flood Mitigation, Open Space and Water Quality Protection

Results: Passed

Most of the $184 million bond proposition will go toward projects to reduce flood and erosion risks and to buy properties in flood-prone areas.

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition E – Health and Human Services

Results: Passed

The $16 million bond item calls for the creation of a Dove Springs Neighborhood Health Services Center.

Services proposed to be provided at the center include Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), immunizations, child care and a neighborhood center.

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition F – Public Safety

Results: Passed

The $38 million bond proposition includes $25 million for renovations at existing Austin-Travis County EMS stations. The item also includes $13 million for renovations at existing fire stations. 

Visit the city of Austin’s website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition G – Transportation Infrastructure

Results: Passed

This $160 million bond proposition includes $66.5 million in funding for the city to “rehabilitate and reconstruct” existing streets in poor or failing condition, including sidewalks, curb ramps and drainage. 

Prop G includes $50 million for the replacement of the Redbud Trail/Emmet Shelton Bridge over Lady Bird Lake.

The bond proposition also includes $20 million to rehabilitate or replace existing sidewalks. There is also $15 million set aside for intersection and pedestrian safety improvements. 

Visit the city of Austin website for additional details on the bond and the ballot language.

Proposition H – Planning Commission

Results: Passed

Prop H would amend the City Charter to make it easier to remove members appointed to the city’s Planning Commission.

Read the ballot language here.

Proposition I – Non-Substantive Corrections to Charter

Results: Passed

This proposition involves non-significant grammatical corrections of City Charger and removal of language that is obsolete.

Read the ballot language here.

Proposition J – Land Development Code

Results: Rejected

This measure would require a waiting period and voter approval before the city of Austin could re-write its land development code. A citizen-led petition drive put this item on the ballot.

Propositions J and K are the two propositions opposed by Mayor Steve Adler.

Read the ballot language here.

IN DEPTH:

Prop J is perhaps the most heated proposition for Austin voters. The proposition requires that any future, major changes to Austin’s land use code be approved by council, then go through a waiting period until the next council election cycle (which is 3 years from now), then the proposed changes will go before a public vote. This proposition was sparked by a petition drive. 

The actual proposition says it will determine whether voters have a say in approving any future overhauls of the city’s land use code. The code is what determines what land can be used for different purposes, how high buildings can be built, what can be added on to existing homes and buildings, and how densely housing can be built into a neighborhood.

But what voters won’t read in the ballot language is how this petition is the product of a divisive battle between city leaders and between community groups over how the city should grow and who should have a say in that policy. 

It was born out of CodeNEXT, the failed attempt to overhaul the city’s land use code which ended this August after six years of work and $8.5 million dollars of investment. City leaders stopped the process because they said it was becoming divisive and unproductive this summer. The process was stopped as the new code was on the home-stretch for the development of its final draft. 

While supporters of CodeNEXT felt it was the change the city’s 30-year-old land code needed in order to grow in a way that benefits the city long-term, community groups in opposition grew frustrated with the process and began coalescing around the idea that the public should have a say. They gathered more than 30 thousand signatures to bring this issue to the ballot.

“Obviously no matter what happens with Proposition J, we will respect the wishes of the voters but whatever happens with proposition J, the council and the city staff still should work to pass a comprehensive land development code that the community can support,” said Fred Lewis, one of the authors of Prop J and an attorney in Austin. 

The code itself is long and dense to read, CodeNEXT — before it was killed — contained more than a thousand pages of policy. Proponents of Prop J say voters have a right to approve the code that will change how their city is being built. But opponents of Prop J say the code needs to be updated urgently and that more harm could be done to the city by waiting longer and leaving the changes up to a public vote.  

“First of all we vote for a lot of complicated things, we vote for the elected officials with all their pluses and minuses, we vote for ballot measures,” explained Fred Lewis who believes voters should have a say in changes to the land code. 

But opponents of Prop J believe letting council decide will result in more fair policy.

“We have these very complicated land development issues that are best for city council to decide, that’s what they’re there for, we have a 10- 1 council who is supposed to represent all parts of the city and that 10-1 council does that, ” said Eric Goff of Aura, a group that opposes Prop J. “Whereas most people that vote, especially in these [mid-term] elections are older white, homeowners, so we need to make sure the city council does its job.”

Groups like the PAC IndyAustin and Community not Commodity support Prop J. Groups like the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Environment Texas oppose it. 

Proposition K – Citizen-Initiated Ordinance Regarding an Efficiency Study

Results: Failed

The measure calls for the city to hire an outside consultant to audit the city’s operations and finances. This also ended up on the ballot because of a petition drive.

Read the ballot language here.

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