Mayor Adler wants City Council to revamp land code by year end


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rules governing what can be built where in Austin could be revamped by the end of the year if Austin Mayor Steve Adler gets City Council to go along with him. He’ll have an easier time finding consensus on the council for major issues after election wins for density-minded candidates last November. 

“I think the citizens of this community have set us up to be able to actually do big things and it is now incumbent upon the city council and me to actually deliver,” Mayor Adler told KXAN.

Revamping the land code has been on many city leaders’ to-do lists for years. 

Between Manchaca Road and South Lamar Boulevard, the LAAN will house people in 53 townhomes and it’s about one-third finished. Developers began the project four years ago.

“It’s a way to house some of the newcomers that are moving in, in a central location,” said Tom Terkel, one of the principals at FourT Reality.

Terkel says the rules governing land use in Austin delayed this project and many others across the city. Band-aid policies over the years have created a code that’s difficult for city staff to interpret, he says. 

“It’s a very inconsistent process. Sometimes you get one answer. Sometimes you get another answer. The worst case is when you don’t get any answer at all,” he said. 

Terkel went to the Real Estate Council of Austin’s luncheon with Mayor Adler. After city council ditched a code-revamp last year under intense pressure from neighborhood groups, voters chose new council members. In three key races, candidates wanting a more dense land code won a place on council: “Pio” Renteria, Natasha Harper-Madison, and Paige Ellis.

City staff tells KXAN, in the next two or three weeks City Manager Spencer Cronk will lay out the process for the next revamp of the land development code. There will be plenty of back-and-forth in the process ahead over the specific proposals that will come after.

The City Manager is looking into why the Code Next process didn’t pan out after more than five years of work.

In November, Austin voters shot down a proposition that would have limited the city council’s power to make decisions on major changes to the land development code. If the council passes a new land development code this year, Mayor Adler hopes to bring another major transportation bond to voters the year after. 

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