Austin developers, residents want fewer barriers in new city code

Austin released the first draft of CodeNEXT Monday morning which is the first re-write of Austin's city code since the 1980's. (Photo: CBS Austin)

It’s too early for some developers and residents to have an opinion on the first draft of CodeNEXT, but some are wanting less barriers in the new code.

Mayor Steve Adler unveiled the first draft of CodeNEXT Monday morning. The 1,100 page draft would bring changes to a code that hasn’t been updated since the 1980s.

“It does and will impact every part of our lives going forward,” said Melissa Neslund, chair-elect of the Real Estate Council of Austin.

Neslund said she hasn’t had a chance to read through all of this first draft. However, it’s been something she and the real estate world has been waiting on for several years.

“Beyond schedule, over budget but very excited to have a hard copy of the draft code in our hands. Long awaited,” Neslund said.

Neslund says she hopes the new code will help developers build faster because currently it’s difficult to work through the permitting process. That’s why it’s a little concerning for her seeing the length of the draft.

“It’s hard to look at 1,100 pages and not think that there will be more complexity and potential conflicts,” Neslund said.

Residents are also hoping for less barriers in the new code.

“We want to welcome a diversity and abundance of new people in our neighborhoods,” siad Roger Cauvin, co-founder of Friends of Austin Neighborhoods.

Cauvin has been following CodeNEXT closely over the years. He says he’d like to see different kinds of homes built in neighborhoods across Austin.

There are some neighborhoods that only allow larger houses on bigger properties. “That prevents a greater abundance and diversity of people from being able to live in those neighborhoods,” Cauvin said.

He says he’d like to see condos, duplexes or townhomes in those areas as well.

Some residents around the Crestview neighborhood would like to see that too.

“There kind of is a big generational shift about like what younger people want out of their cities compared to what people a little older than us might want out of their cities,” Wooten neighborhood resident Ryan Nill said.

Residents like Nill and Hannah Frankel are also following the new code closely.

“It is the bones of our city,” Frankel said.

Frankel says she likes what she sees so far in the first draft, but she also hasn’t had enough time to go through it yet. Still, the 1,100 pages is daunting for her as well.

“I think they’re going in the right direction. It’s still quite complex and I’m a little concerned about that,” Frankel said.

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