June 9, 2017

City of Austin’s New Code Needs Innovation, Simplicity to Succeed

HBA responds to current draft, plagued with too much complexity, reduced innovation, more challenges than solutions for affordability crisis and traffic woes

Austin, TX (June 9, 2017) – The City of Austin released its first draft of CodeNEXT, the City’s first stab at its effort to rewrite its land development code which has not been done for 30 years. As the largest residential construction trade association in central Texas, the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin represents nearly 700 member companies; and over the last two years, its members have built over 5,000 homes in the City of Austin alone. The HBA of Greater Austin, in its effort to lend  industry expertise to City staff, has reviewed in detail the nuances of the first draft language and offered feedback to improve the code for the benefit of the entire Austin community.

“It is our hope that the final version of CodeNEXT will improve the city in which we live and work, and that the HBA of Greater Austin can be an ally and a resource to ensure that everyone can afford to live, grow, and thrive in our community”, says Emily Blair, CEO of the HBA of Greater Austin.

“We looked at this draft with the lens of the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan,” says Blair.  In 2012, the City of Austin adopted the Imagine Austin Plan to memorialize the vision for the future of our city. In this plan, the City outlined six core principles for action that the City should take to enact our shared vision:

  1. Grow as a compact, connected city
  2. Integrate nature into the city
  3. Provide paths to prosperity for all
  4. Develop as an affordable and healthy community
  5. Sustainably manage water, energy and other environmental resources
  6. Think creatively and work together

The HBA of Greater Austin agrees with Imagine Austin’s vision for the city, and believes that a successful land development code will align with its six core principles.

The HBA  task force identified several major opportunities for improvement with the 2017 draft, and the HBA of Greater Austin is committed to following the entire editing process to assist throughout the code’s evolution. The items identified by the task force are significant and several of the themes that rose to the top during the review process include:

  1. Complexity continues
  2. Restrictions abound
  3. ”Missing middle” is still missing
  4. Need more “small” housing solutions
  5. More innovation needed

As builders, we believe that CodeNEXT, in its final form, can provide the tools to meet our city’s goals as outlined in Imagine Austin. This requires innovation, a shift from what was to what can be. By focusing on building a compact and connected city and simplifying the new code, our collaborative efforts can resolve many of the issues found in this first draft to create a new code that we can all be proud of: one that provides housing opportunities for everyone.

About the HBA

Since 1953, the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin has served as the leading not-for-profit trade organization dedicated to residential construction and remodeling in Central Texas. The HBA works with government, public, business and community organizations in six counties – Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson. The HBA of Greater Austin works to advance the practice and professionalism of the home building industry in our community, with the vision that all people live in homes and communities that enable them to thrive. For more information, visit www.hbaaustin.com.