CodeNEXT

Draft 3 of CodeNEXT -- the Staff Recommendation -- will be released by Feb. 12, 2018, with an anticipated Council first reading in late April 2018. Draft 3 initially was slated for release Nov. 28.

The new release date will give staff the time needed to consider the comments and concerns we received to date regarding Draft 2.

Public input on Draft 2 officially ended Oct. 31. Staff is working through the comments received to date to help inform Draft 3. All future comments on CodeNEXT will be gathered for the purpose of informing the commissions' and Council's policy discussions.

The updated timeline is outlined in a memo sent out to the Austin City Council Thursday, Nov. 16. The memo also includes a summary of the Draft 2 Community Open Houses and information about the Council Q&A webpage.

For more on the summary of Draft 2 Community Open Houses, see our blog.

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  • Remarks by Barbara Szalay (Mirrop), Attorney at Law, 24 yr Resident of Lost Creek, active in & holding many former leadership positions in several LC organizations such as the LCNA, and Founding Member of the LCCO—NOT a CURRENT LCCO Board Member.  Unlike all the Board except Paul, I have attended over 30 CodeNEXT events, work groups, stakeholder meetings, & commission meetings & participated in numerous working groups. Even Paul has not been able to attend much of anything for a very long time sadly due to poor health. I also attend almost annually educational updates such as the State Bar and Austin Bar Land Use Seminars and Austin Neighborhoods Council often. My overarching concern is we need to be kind to City Planning Staff; these folks are working till midnight every night. They’ve also been nice to us. In addition, they are the very people who will help us when the Eanes-Marshall and Barton Creek K,L,O tracts are developed, so why needlessly anger them now, just to impress our friends at Austin Neighborhood Council? I also want us to have a DISCUSSION of what WE in LOST CREEK, and WE in the LCCO, want, not just the Board, and very respectfully, not for some nebulous albeit well-meant goals for the whole City of Austin.  

    My remarks are meant to address this resolution if it’s being proposed for our Membership, as has been floated.  Despite some written requests, we have never discussed these as Members. Now, if this remains a Board of Directors’ resolution then they should resolve away as they choose, bearing in mind COA Staff, Commissioners, and Media folks (& Mayoral Candidate Laura Morrison today) constantly believe this “Board Resolution” emanates from the whole LCCO, or even the LCNA or LD, and the tone and content have angered City Staff, so the Board should continue to try to mitigate false impressions whenever possible. The current Acting Board (no elections yet) acc to the LCCO website is Paul Schumann, Barbara & Bob Crutchfield, Carla Doyne, & Sandy Whitney. We thank them for their service.

     

     Lost Creek Civic Organization

    Board of Directors

    Resolution:  CodeNEXT 3.0

     

    WHEREAS, the Lost Creek Civic Organization is committed to protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the quality of life in, and economic value and welfare of, the Lost Creek community; and Fine 

    WHEREAS, the City of Austin is currently considering rewriting its Land Development Code, replacing it with a document popularly called entitled CodeNEXT; and Fine

     

    WHEREAS, the provisions of CodeNEXT 3.0 directly contravene many deed restrictions existing in Lost Creek for almost 40 years, including CodeNEXT provisions for ADUs, short term rentals, and businesses or other non-single family uses of residential lots; and Here we start to have issues. The COA is not a Party to our 17-22 sets of deed restrictions, nor does the COA know if ours are valid.  The COA cannot be expected to research them, let alone enforce them—for every neighborhood in Austin? The COA maintains a hands-off approach. Our deed restrictions remain in force regardless of what the COA does, but WE (the Limited District) enforce them. They will hold up in Court only IF they are “valid” which roughly equates to do we have a strong history of enforcing them fairly and consistently, & if do they otherwise not violate other laws such as those prohibiting housing discrimination.  We do not have a strong history until about 2015 when the Architectural Control Committee was re-vamped by then LCNA President Connor; updating the guidelines and procedures is an ongoing process. Not all our subdivisions are even subject to the ACC; a few homes don’t seem to have existing Deed Restrictions at all. That’s why it’s critically important to ask for what we want from CodeNEXT now.

     Re ADUs, these are simply speaking a living area added that includes a kitchen. They can be attached or not. We have the right to do this now under COA law—repeat: this is an Existing Property Right. Under CodeNEXT 3.0, a “compromise” was reached, in that lots of 10K sf or more will be allowed to build an ADU; size depends on lot size.  This is most of the lots in LC.   

     There are many ADUs already in Lost Creek. At least some were approved by the LCNA ACC. Ironically, and respectfully, some of the same Board Members (the Crutchfields) arguing against your right to build an ADU already have one—a 1BR, 1 BA w/ its own entrance. Also ironically under the 3.0 compromise, their lot may be too small for an ADU so their use becomes non-conforming. 

    Do you want to simply eliminate these? People currently build and use them for older relatives, younger special needs adults, family or non-family caregivers, property caretakers, nannies & other staff. You can age in place with the income you receive from renting one, or live in the ADU and rent the big house maybe with your tenant doing the lawn care. Maybe you want ADUs in general, but you want them to be smaller or you want views preserved. Maybe you want them to be only for family members. My point is—maybe you want to ban ADUs. But maybe you want a more nuanced approach. Ask for what YOU want. 

    Then say it: Examples: “Please ban all ADUs in R1B.” “Please limit ADUs to 700 sf.” “Allow ADUS but please protect existing views.” “Please allow ADUs only on lots bigger than 20K sf.” You get the idea. 

    Re Short Term Rentals, we’ve debated this a lot. No one wants to be next to a Party House that will not follow reasonable rules. But this too is an Existing Property Right.   The COA is committed to enforcing existing ordinances more vigorously to combat noise, unseemly activities, etc. The COA also restricts the # of ADU permits to 3%, and has eliminated non-owner occupied ADUS going forward. Ask for what YOU want. 

    Re Home-Based Businesses, this ship has sailed. These DRs were written before the widespread advent of home computers. Almost the entire LCCO Board arguing that this right should be taken away from you have at one time run a business from their home. Carla is a lawyer. Paul is a Futurist. Most notably, the Crutchfields ran Texas Mobile Dentistry out of the above mentioned ADU for years, complete with daily employees coming & going, and logo decaled trucks. 

    Maybe you want home-based businesses but without “Open” signs or trucks with logos. The COA has you covered with existing ordinances. Are you asking the COA to shut down all home-based businesses? Maybe you are, or maybe you want a more nuanced approach. Ask for what YOU want.   

    Re-Subdivision is the hottest topic. Our deed restrictions prohibit it. 3.0 will allow lots of 10K or more (again most lots in LC are) to be re-sub-divided.  Surprised you didn’t address it. Ask for what YOU want. Examples: “Please don’t allow Sub-division of lots.” Or “Please don’t allow re-subdivision of lots smaller than 20K sf.”

     WHEREAS, implementing CodeNEXT 3.0 would establish a litigious environment within Lost Creek because it does not recognize the deed restrictions running with the land and the City has not committed to avoid zoning that contradicts support, enforce, and defend existing deed restrictions that may conflict with CodeNEXT zoning; and

     WHEREAS, implementing CodeNEXT 3.0 would result in degrading the neighborhood environment in conflict with the “equal or superior” clause of the Texas Local Government Code Sec. 43.056 and otherwise; and No one at the COA seems to understand this argument.  Adding entitlements raises property values; removing existing ones lower values.

     WHEREAS, despite repeated attempts to correct the errors, certain properties owned by the Lost Creek Limited District (LCLD) remain incorrectly zoned as MU2A-A or RR; and This is patently unfair to the COA Staffers. We had ~ seven greenbelt parcels zoned RR; 5 have been changed in direct response to my requests. Two remain & we’re working on it. One more seems to have disputed ownership. Re the Community Bldg, it was zoned RR. You complained. I asked that it be changed. It was—to MU2A. You seemed pleased. Now you don’t like MU2-A. Fine, but what do you want it zoned? Please say instead, “Please zone our remaining greenbelt parcels as CL. Thank you for changing our Community Building away from RR. However, MU2-A is not right either; please change it to ____.” I’m thinking P. Is that what you want? Then say it. In response to this resolution, with which I agree, I've just asked Jerry for P or PR. Tell me if you need me to ask something different.   

    WHEREAS, the Lost Creek commercial zone is zoned as MU2A and MU2B (mixed use zonesthat allow residential, low intensity office, service and retail uses) with potential access through Loop 360 or Lost Creek Boulevard, either of which would result in more traffic on both roads, neither of which can handle more volume; and Okay, I guess, but say what you want instead: “Please zone these commercial zones as ____.”

     WHEREAS, dangerously congested traffic on both Lost Creek Boulevard and the Capital of Texas Highway/Loop 360 presents serious health and safety threats to the neighborhood; and Fine 

    WHEREAS, Lost Creek is a Firewise community; and Okay, but CN does address some Firewise issues as presented at Public Safety Commission. Are you up to date with the changes in 3.0? For example, has the WUI Overlay map been incorporated yet as proposed? 

    WHEREAS, an inadequate water supply in Lost Creek already presents a grave risk to residents from any fire, and increasing the development in the community under CodeNEXT 3.0 standards would exacerbate that risk; and  Yes. So you want less new development and more water supply? Say that. Be aware the Eanes MT devt will require a new water tower.   

    WHEREAS, Lost Creek is a Dark Sky Friendly Skies community Development of Distinction, a desirable neighborhood attribute; and CN does address some goals of Dark Sky including having the lights shine down. The big one not addressed is “No blue light”. So let’s say “Please restrict use of blue light as called for under Dark Sky standards.   

    WHEREAS, CodeNEXT 3.0 cwould permit encourage a significant increase in impervious cover, creating dangerous conditions for wildlife, the likelihood of further water pollution, and an increase in water damage to structures as well as general flooding; and This isn’t exactly right. CN doesn’t increase impervious cover limits. I think what you’re saying is developers may be more tempted to maximize IC if they can re-subdivide and/or build ADUs. 

    WHEREAS, the provisions in CodeNEXT 3.0 that could encourage the construction of a large number of additional residential units in Lost Creek will may not create any new affordable residences because the economics do not favor that result; and In fact, all these new R1B ADUs will have to be Affordable Housing under 3.0. It is true there is no guarantee folks will build any. Why do we care very much? This is a COA issue not a LC one, unless we’re worried about housing the homeless at Boulder Trail Park, LOL.  

     WHEREAS, the effects on education, infrastructure, traffic, and wildfires, among many other important factors, have not been determined but may can reasonably be expected to be significant and negative; and Okay. Bit of a jump with respect to education in particular given all the transfer students EISD has. And you just said no new housing is going to be built because of the “economics.” Contradiction. 

    WHEREAS, CodeNEXT 3.0 has increased to more than 1500 pages, is overly large and complicated, is impossible for a single citizen to comprehend, and has no cross-index between the previous and new code provisions, making it difficult to know all of the new provisions that might affect Lost Creek; and This irritates Staff a lot, rightfully so, esp. w/r/t to Length, unless you tell them what to cut out or write your own CN, like “The People’s Plan.” Also, CodeNOW is HUGE. Index point is well taken.

     WHEREAS, given the length and content of CodeNEXT 3.0, there is insufficient time to engage a neighborhood of 1,250 homes in this complicated document before City commissions and the City Council consider it; and Ask for how much time you want then. Example: “Please delay submission to the Planning Commission/ZAP and then Council until---2019.” 

    WHEREAS, the time between the public release of CodeNEXT 3.0 and the anticipated City Council consideration and vote on it is too short for adoption of a resolution in accordance with the regular procedures of the Lost Creek Civic Organization Bylaws; and true, no opinion 

    WHEREAS, delay by the Lost Creek Civic Organization in responding by resolution to CodeNEXT 3.0 until after the City Council considers and votes on CodeNEXT would reduce the timeliness of the resolution or otherwise make the resolution significantly less meaningful; and sure 

    WHEREAS, the Lost Creek Civic Organization membership were acquainted with an introduction to considered these matters at its duly called March 1, 2018 general meeting and a majority of members present indicated their agreement with the concerns expressed in this Resolution; Not true. I was there. We took no vote except to allow the BD to make their own Resolution. 

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the board of directors of the Lost Creek Civic Organization requests the City of Austin to  Better keep it the Board unless you clean it up. But why keep making City Staff angry? CN is going to pass eventually in my opinion

    • Commit to support, enforce, and defend existing deed restrictions in Lost Creek that may conflict with CodeNEXT zoning by committing not to zone in contradiction to existing valid deed restrictions; See above. There is an existing ordinance on the books from when Laura Morrison was on Council. You might research that & try to enforce it. 
    • Reject any CodeNEXT provision that would result in degrading the existing Lost Creek neighborhood environment, including zoning classifications that would permit nonresidential uses; Hard to fix this one. Again what does degrading even mean? And surely you don’t want to get rid of all our parks? Are you including parks and Public as residential? That might be correct technically under CN, but this is confusing. Are you absolutely opposed to say, a Hyde Park style Corner Store ever? Wouldn’t such a convenience support your goal of walkability?
    • Correct the zoning of all properties the Lost Creek Limited District owns to CL, PR, [add] or P so that those properties will remain free from development and to preserve their longstanding use as publicly-owned parks, indoor or outdoor active recreation areas, and civic buildings; You’ll want P for Buildings. Maybe PR. Not CL for civic buildings, only for greenbelts.   
    • Preserve the current zoning along the Lost Creek commercial zone that limits development to low-intensity office buildings; Which is closest to what exactly in 3.0?
    • Eliminate any CodeNEXT provision that could significantly increase the volume of traffic on Lost Creek Boulevard or Capital of Texas Highway/Loop 360; Well-meant but what? Hard to fix this one. More specific. I guess keep it.
    • Include additional Firewise standards in CodeNEXT for new construction, subdivision development and re-development, maintaining homes, and maintaining City-owned lands; fine—you realize this is happening to some extent, but you want more? Fine. My tip: attend Public Safety Comm’n, watch the old tapes to see what's been added or proposed, & then be more specific.
    • Remove from CodeNEXT any provision that would exacerbate the existing grave risk to Lost Creek residents from the current inadequate water supply; Well-meant but what? Hard to fix this one. More specific. Say what you want: increase the water supply. And say how if you can.
    • Adopt the Dark Skies Sky lighting standards not already included for all new construction as well as subdivision development and re-development, and encourage compliance with those standards for all existing developments; just an update based on recent improvements and updates that you may not be aware of due to failure to attend CodeNEXT meetings.
    • Reject any provision of CodeNEXT that cwould permit or result in an increase in impervious cover; Well-meant but what? Hard to fix this one. More specific. Probably should delete it.
    • Reject any provision of CodeNEXT that would permit or result in increased residential density in Lost Creek; So no ADUs? No sub-dividing? Too vague. Say what you want.
    • Reject any provision of CodeNEXT that would permit or result in increased development density or broaden permitted uses in the Lost Creek commercial zone; Well-meant but what? Hard to fix this one. More specific. Research needed!
    • Include in CodeNEXT a transition guide that correlates existing code provisions to CodeNEXT provisions, identifies CodeNEXT provisions that do not correlate to previous provisions, and identifies existing code provisions that do not correlate to any CodeNEXT provision; GREAT. And clear.
    • Postpone any vote on CodeNEXT 3.0 until all interested persons June 2019 when all Commissions, Boards, neighborhood groups, and Council have had over six months to read, analyze, and contribute comments about it; and Way too vague and over-reaching. Either name a time certain or at least attempt to define “interested persons”. Hard with election coming up. August 2018 as proposed does provide almost six months.
    • Reject CodeNEXT 3.0 in its entirety, unless the above-described deficiencies and others that are later identified are cured.

     Approved and adopted this 9th day of March, 2018 by the Lost Creek Civic Organization board of directors. Obviously this already happened so you’d change this anyway to reflect the date of Membership Approval.

  • I will comment on the Resolutions at length but may I say the tone and content of the current "Board" CodeNEXT resolutions are very hurtful, inaccurate, and unfair to city Planning Staff. I personally witnessed, and spoke to high ranking Staff about, their hurt, irritation, and yes, even anger, about the untruths stated therein. As a Founding Member, may I say taking such a stance directly contravenes this LCCO goal: "The goals of the LCCO are to:

    • Promote good relations with political leaders, staff, and media" (emphasis added.)

    And why on earth would we seek to irritate the very people who may help us with the Eanes-Marshall and Barton Creek K,L, O Tract developments? 

      

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CodeNEXT

CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can (and cannot) be built.

The process is a collaboration between Austin’s residents, business community, and civic institutions to align our land use standards and regulations with what is important to the community.

This initiative to revise the Land Development Codeis a priority program out of Imagine Austin, our plan for the future adopted by City Council in 2012.

To see the road map of the CodeNEXT process, go to CodeNEXT Journey: Creating the Austin We Imagined.

Ann McCormick and I have been involved in this process representing the neighborhood almost from its beginnings. And, several more of your neighbors worked with us on developing our Community Character in a Box.

We created several reports, documents and photos as part of this process, and these are listed below:

Please help us by getting involved in this forum asking questions and discussing issues.

Paul Schumann

CodeNEXT Project

Community Not Commodity

Austin Contrarian