The City of Austin is undergoing a land development code rewrite, called CodeNEXT. The land development code is a rule-book for allowable development. This affects a multitude of human and environmental issues such as water quality in our creeks, heritage trees, and has the potential to prevent disastrous floods like the devastating Onion Creek disaster.
Several important additions were present in the second draft of CodeNEXT, but more measures are needed. See our recommendations in this comments letter to Austin City Council. We want to be sure that any increase in development and thus potential impervious cover that may come along with a new zoning code properly safeguard our watersheds and those that live around them from flooding and decreased water quality.
In the letter, Save Barton Creek Association, Clean Water Action, and Environment Texas announced their support for some proposed changes to Austin’s land development code that will help reduce water pollution and flooding severity. The proposals will require future developments to retain a minimum amount of rainwater with on-site features, and to limit the amount of runoff flowing into the city’s drainage system. However, they also stated that additional changes still need be made to protect Austin’s safety and environment.
The commissions are currently reviewing the second draft of the revised land development code as part of the CodeNext process. A third draft, which will incorporate the commissions’ recommendations, will go to the City Council for final review early next year.
Previously, we Save Barton Creek Association wrote a Community Viewpoints Paper in response to the first draft of the code, outlining promise and problems in CodeNEXT on watershed issues.
SBCA also helped draft and support “Community Priorities for CodeNEXT” a document written and supported by a diverse stakeholder group including several environmental organizations. SBCA looks forward to reading the draft of CodeNEXT, the City of Austin’s land development code rewrite, and measuring it by the benchmarks in the document. SBCA is particularly interested that CodeNEXT ” shall reduce climate change, increase resilience, reduce the urban heat island effect, and preserve and restore our natural environment,” and “shall require that new and redevelopment mitigate and reduce flooding, runoff pollution, and downstream erosion.”
Save Barton Creek Association will continue to provide feedback to the CodeNEXT process to ensure a healthy environment for all Austinites.