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Austin Reminded to Be Respectful While Debating CodeNEXT

A call for civility amid the great zoning debate in Austin, Texas.
June 11, 2018, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Kushal Bose

"Austin City Council members are fine-tuning their goals for a new land-development code at a meeting Tuesday, and they’re trying to do it in a respectful manner," reports Syeda Hasan.

Hasan is referring to CodeNEXT, which has inspired some "ugly" debate since its first draft was released to the public in 2017. Since then, some neighborhoods have rallied against the plan and the State Legislature proposed a property rights law that would have undercut many changes proposed by CodeNEXT.

In City Council, however, a call for civility required a degree of pageantry to drive point the home:

Tuesday's meeting began with council members agreeing to be respectful to each other as well as to city staff and consultants working on CodeNEXT. Austin Mayor Steve Adler passed out team uniforms, hard hats and reflective vests emblazoned with the words “TEAM AUSTIN.” The mayor said writing a new land-development code has proved to be "a wicked problem," but he said "it's not about wicked people." 

The main purpose of the meeting was for Council to establish "broad goals" for CodeNEXT. "Some of the goals include respecting established neighborhood plans, enabling the construction of more backyard apartments, allowing more homes in more commercial areas, supporting housing development along major corridors and working to combat past patterns of segregation," according to Hasan. A planned 30-minute discussion took two hours.

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Published on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 in KUT
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