Updated: Mar 11, 2020
CodeNEXT is not dead. They killed it a couple of years ago due a looming election and its immense unpopularity, but here it is again, and not much has changed. I don't know anyone that knows much about what it is. In comes Ed English, local Austin activist, and former candidate for the District 7 council seat.
As you hear in the episode, Ed knows his stuff and his been involved in a lot of different local political endeavors. Most notably, at least to me, he helped push the effort for Prop K a couple of years ago which essentially was a measure that would have forced the City of Austin to have a 3rd party audit. That seemed like a no brainer to me, yet somehow it failed. The City painted it as a nefarious plot orchestrated by Big Republican in the State of Texas (it wasn't), and worded it on the ballot to be intentionally misleading. Never mind that the city would have been the ones to pick the auditor and what to do with any savings that would have manifested from said audit, they just couldn't be bothered to be held accountable.
This is where my interest in Austin politics began. I've always been interested in politics, but focused mostly on a national level. With the failure of Prop K, I started paying attention more and more. You could say, in a roundabout way, the Ed is slightly responsible for my interest in starting this show, and for the many endeavors to come.
So what about CodeNEXT? It's here and, if passed, it will change the landscape of Austin for the coming decades. Single family homes will become more rare and possibly more difficult to build. Where I live in Barton Hills, my modest 1600 sq ft home may become neighbors to multi family homes, with up to 11 units - little to no yard, no requirement for onsite parking, stressed infrastructure. And it's not just Barton Hills, but neighborhoods all over the city.
What's worse is that they are trying to eliminate the long standing rule that when your property, or any property within 200ft of your property, gets rezoned, you have a set time period to protest the change. They argue that since all properties in Austin will be rezoned, they do not have to inform you or offer you a chance to have your voice heard. This flies in the face of long standing property rights, which I would argue are the basis of a free society.
Off air, Ed didn't seem all that confident that they would be able to defeat CodeNEXT at the city council level. His biggest hope is that next Monday, March 9th, they will have a win in court by the judge forcing the city to allow protests to the zone changes of individual homes and properties. But there is a catch! Ed is afraid that the judge might say that you can only protest it if you are on record as wanting to protest any potential zoning changes. That's not great, if you ask me, but it is better than nothing.
So how can you go on record? Go to www.fileyourprotest.com and get on the record as having an interest. This is a non-binding act - you do not have to actually protest anything if you do not want to, but it might be the only chance you get should you want to in the future. Ed told me that they have about 15,000 signatures at the moment (15,001 if you count mine after-the-fact), and more are flooding in. The more they have, they stronger their case will be next Monday in court. And what's better, even if the judge does say that only those that signed the protest get the opportunity to have their voice heard, the larger the number that signed up the more likely it is that the City of Austin will have to back off. They, after all, will not bee too keen on being forced to hear thousands of individual protests against their actions, many with good standing, that will throw a wrench in their plans.
Go to www.fileyourprotest.com to have your voice heard - it may be the only opportunity that you get.