Mayor on CodeNEXT map reveal: 'Everybody chill out'
Affordability and traffic solutions could be on the horizon after Austin gets its first look at the city's CodeNEXT draft maps Tuesday.
The city's building code hasn't changed in 30 years, but the city itself has changed significantly. The CodeNEXT draft maps will illustrate how using land differently could help with the housing shortage and congestion many Austin residents know too well.
Stephen Garten moved to Austin seven years ago. The first neighborhood he called home was Rainey Street.
"Each year they were slowly raising our rent," Garten recalls. He says, the rent doubled in five years and soon he knew it was time to go.
"About two years ago I moved over to the Riverside area where I still got a nice place, but it was a bit cheaper because I was outside of the core part of downtown," Garten explains.
Mayor Steve Adler says looking at how more people can live close to downtown without being priced out is one thing CodeNEXT aims to address.
"Do we have more duplexes and triplexes and quads and where do they go?" Adler asks.
The land use re-write is meant to help Austin's issues of congestion, affordability and gentrification.
"Those things will only get worse unless we do something that's different," Adler says.
Urban planner Heyden Black Walker says it comes down to using land in a way that lets people move around.
"Our bad traffic is really a land use problem and if we don't fix the underlying land uses we really don't have a prayer of fixing our traffic," says Black Walker.
Tuesday new maps will show everyone the first draft in how they might build an Austin for the future.
"If we want to continue being stuck in our cars all of the time we can continue to build the way we are -- or if we want to have a city where people have choices and they can walk places with their families and enjoy the outdoors then we probably need to make some different choices," says Black Walker.
Mayor Adler is calling Tuesday "Austin Everybody Chill Out" day because he knows the CodeNEXT maps will not please everyone. "I know there are going to be some people that look at the maps and freak out. It's okay, but I want everybody just to chill," he says.
The city will have a year before making the code final. They say it's extremely important the community shares their input.