Directed by Austin filmmaker Steve Mims, Zoned Out: The Legacy of CodeNEXT is an independently funded investigative documentary focusing on the City of Austin’s repeated attempts to rezone our community’s established neighborhoods. It takes a hard look at the economic and political forces that fueled the failed CodeNEXT plan and that pushed for its revival earlier this year.

Community Not Commodity sat down with Mims to discuss Zoned Out and the impact the Austin City Council’s current rezoning plan might have on local residents.


Why did you take this project on?

I’m a longtime resident of Central Austin, and my home of over 20 years is in a transition zone. So I’m interested in the neighborhood I love, and I’m concerned about it being ruined in service of a concept that is controversial and professionally debated as a misguided concept all over the country.


What would happen to your home and neighborhood if the city council implements this plan?

Over time the neighborhood as I know it will go away. I’m a block away from Burnet Road, and with relaxed compatibility rules for commercial building we’ll get more intense growth there—and with no parking, the only place for cars to go is into the neighborhood. Once four-plexes go in, the gridlock and density will be complete. Our property taxes already come to almost $10,000, and upzoning should make them a huge problem. In the end, Austin will become a super-dense, gridlocked heat island.


What did you learn while shooting the film?

I learned that we live in a great city loaded with many smart and some brilliant people. Seriously. I mean, I think I already knew that, but I was blown away by the folks I got to meet and speak with. These folks are why Austin is Austin, and they’re telling you what you need to understand about what is about to happen.


If you could send a message to Mayor Adler and the rest of the city council, what would it be?

I’d ask them to read about California Senate Bill 50, which was rejected this past May. The Los Angeles Times ran good stories covering it on May 16 and May 22. The bill would have upzoned virtually every single-family home in California. It generated a robust debate among very smart people, and it never got out of the state senate. In the end, neither the Los Angeles nor San Francisco city councils supported it.


You can watch Zoned Out here. Contact the film’s organizers through Facebook if you want to schedule a screening for your neighborhood or community group. You can also help support the filmmaker on Indiegogo.

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