Article taken from SBCA Newsletter, Volume 36 Issue I – Fall 2015
Recently, observers of Austin City government were surprised to hear that most applications to develop land typically don’t get seen by the public, boards or commissions or city council. Instead, they are approved by the bureaucracy out of public view.
At the August 5th meeting of the Environmental Commission, Sue Barnett, head of development review, noted that of 5,280cases processed since December 2013, all but 25 were handled
administratively. In the past, variances to rules seemed more numerous and controversial. Nowadays, most development appears to pass through routinely without needing a public hearing.
Since ‘rule-built’ projects often don’t need discretionary approvals, the content of rules becomes even more crucial to achieving the community goals.
The City of Austin is currently attempting to rewrite the Land Development Code (LDC) in a large overhaul effort called “CodeNext.”
While citizens might be tempted to ignore the sometimes highly technical LDC, it governs everything from water quality in our creeks, to heritage trees, to preventing disastrous floods like the devastating Onion Creek disaster.
It’s like the traffic rules to ensure orderly and safe property development. While building on property is a legal prerogative, it has to respect other people’s rights and protect the natural environment.
To find out more about what these changes might mean for you and the community, and how your voice can be heard, please visit the CodeNext page.