What’s next with CodeNext?: Paving the way for Austin housing co-ops

Remind me — what is CodeNEXT?


CodeNEXT is the City of Austin’s 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.


What’s the issue for co-ops?


If hearing “Land Development Code” makes your eyes glaze, consider this — the 2nd draft (released Sept 15) would greatly restrict where new housing co-ops could be established, and would strip the “co-op” status from over 90% of existing cooperative housing.

How could CodeNEXT be altered to help co-ops?


The folks at the ACBA are working hard to lobby for more co-op-friendly conditions in CodeNEXT. The changes they are proposing for the 3rd draft include:


  • #1 - Improving the land use definition of “cooperative” - The current definition limits co-ops to properties with 3 or more separate units, which would exclude the many co-ops that are in large, single households.

  • #2 - Allow co-ops by Minor Use Permits (MUP) in R zones -  This would allow co-ops in most, if not all, neighborhoods around Austin.

  • #3 - Allow higher occupancy limits - Under the current draft, the maximum number of people allowed to live in a single housing unit in most zones is 4.

  • #4 - Allow co-ops in R zones to have more flexible development standards  - This would allow cooperatives to be bigger, have several attached units, and have more lenient requirements for parking and open spaces.

  • #5 - Incentive the redevelopment of older apartment buildings into co-ops - Co-ops can be a great way to preserve older apartment buildings in a more tenant-friendly fashion (e.g. La Reunion in North Austin). However, bringing them up to code can be cost-prohibitive, so partially relaxing these requirements would give more co-ops a chance of forming.


How can I help?


There are many stakeholders in the CodeNEXT negotiations, so it’s important that co-opers have a strong voice if we hope to pave a promising future for Austin co-ops. Here are some ways to stay in the loop and support the cause:


  • Most Importantly: Comment on (or upvote!) on the CodeNEXT website to support the allowance of co-ops in more areas of Austin. Comments for this current draft are open thru Oct 31st. For more detailed instructions, check out the end of this blog post!

  • Sign up to be a CodeNEXT organizer to stay in the loop and hear of future volunteer opportunities. All backgrounds and levels of time commitment welcome!

  • Contact the Planning Commission and let them know that you want fair development rights for co-ops in Austin through the changes listed above. Not sure who to call? Click the link below to find out who represents you on City Council, and then check who your Commissioner is here.

  • Contact your city council member’s office and let them know, too. Not sure who represents your house? Find out here.

  • Talk about CodeNEXT with your fellow co-opers! Share this info with your friends on social media, send it out on your email list, bring it up at dinner, or put it on the agenda for your next meeting.

  • Hold a letter-writing event or comment party at your house where your members are encouraged to get together and write letters to the CAG and your city council members. If you're not sure where to start, get in touch with us and we'll give you everything you need to become a Co-opNEXT organizer.

  • Subscribe to the ACBA email list for more updates and opportunities for action!


What’s the timeline for this whole process?


The current CodeNEXT timeline is as follows:

  • Oct 31, 2017 - deadline for public comment on the 2nd draft of CodeNEXT

  • End of November, 2017 - the expected release date of the 3rd draft of CodeNEXT

  • Feb, 2018 - Council begins deliberation on the final iteration of CodeNEXT

  • April, 2018 - Council votes on CodeNEXT


Keep an eye on ACBA social media to stay up-to-date on all things CodeNEXT. Remember, the last time the Land Development Code was overhauled was nearly thirty years ago — who knows when we’ll get another chance to improve conditions for Austin co-ops!


Instructions for Commenting on CodeNEXT.

  1. Go to the online commentable text and create an account.

  2. To comment on the recommendation #1 improve the definition go to 23-2M -2030

  3. Recommendation #2 allow Coops in R zones by MUP. Found in section 23-4D-2030(B) and (C). On the top left make sure the Current Section drop down is on Section D.

  4. Recomendation #3 The sections dealing with Occupancy limits is 23-4E-7040. Make sure Current Section drop down is on Section E.

  5. Recommendation #4 is found in 23-4E-6 and Recommendation #5 23-2G-1050, but we need to work out the specifics. Feel free to review and provide feedback.