July 7, 2023
To: City Council, City Manager, and Staff
Re: Timeline for Implementation of Land Development Code Amendments
In recent months, the Austin City Council has passed, in many cases unanimously, many progressive and pro-housing code amendments, all of which are greatly needed to combat Austin’s ever-worsening housing crisis. Our organizations commend City Council for initiating these amendments. While it is important to celebrate these housing advances, they are not impactful to housing cost-burdened Austinites until implemented.
Our organizations are extremely concerned by the protracted timelines City staff have proposed for implementing these amendments. Per this timeline, most of the amendments are not expected to be implemented until late 2024 or 2025. For many of the most impactful amendments, staff is planning for months of development and engagement. While we understand that it is crucial to study the potential impacts of these code changes, we urge Council to press staff to refer to the results of the outreach from the previous land development code rewrite process and prior Council-initiated code changes, where millions of dollars were spent to demonstrate that our city needs to use every tool available to allow more housing. While we support representative and thorough community outreach, we believe that at this point, most efforts would be redundant and likely to just perpetuate the code- created housing crisis that every Council Member campaigned to address.
The positive impacts of many of these amendments, once implemented, will not be felt for years, since new development utilizing the new tools or ordinances will significantly lag implementation. Others, such as the elimination of occupancy limits for non-related adults, would be immediately impactful. In both cases, it is imperative that we implement these policies expeditiously. Our organizations represent and advocate for those who will be directly impacted by these code amendments, and will continue to struggle to remain housed, or will remain unhoused, in Austin without them.
Our organizations urge City Council to provide staff with whatever resources are necessary to shorten these development and engagement timelines so that these much needed code amendments will be implemented within the year. We hope that such resources include funding for consultants and additional staff, as well as an investigation into work policies that might expedite filling the many vacancies in departments responsible for implementing these policies.
We appreciate the work of City Council and staff to research and initiate so many policies that will have benefits to housing capacity and cost. Our organizations will continue to advocate for the efficient implementation of these policies until they are in place and impacting the Austinites who need them most.
Austin Housing Coalition
Austin Justice Coalition