We’re Going to Court to Fight City Hall’s Rezoning Plan. Here’s What You Need to Know

Fred Lewis

 

The big day is almost here.

On Wednesday, March 11, a local court will hear a case we helped file to protect your right to protest the City of Austin’s controversial rezoning plan.

State law gives all Texans the right to protest the rezoning of their property. A whopping 15,000 Austinites have taken advantage of the law and filed protests against City Hall’s plan, but local officials refuse to recognize them.

That’s why I’m headed to court on Monday, arm-in-arm with a group of 19 other Austin residents. We believe Mayor Steve Adler and the rest of our city’s officials must obey the law.

Here are answers to a few of the most frequent questions we’ve received about the case:

 

What’s at stake in this court battle?

A lot! If the court rules in our favor, the City of Austin will need approval by a supermajority of the Austin City Council (nine of 11 votes) in order to rezone any property that is the subject of an official protest. Ordinarily, local officials could do so with a simple majority (six of 11 votes). Seven council members currently support the plan.

 

If the court upholds our right to protest the rezoning plan, will it stop City Hall from moving forward?

Not necessarily—but it will make it difficult for local officials to implement the plan, particularly when it comes to properties that are the subject of official protests. They will need the support of nine of 11 city council members to rezone those properties, rather than a simple majority.

 

What if the plaintiffs don’t win?

If the court finds in favor of the City of Austin, the plaintiffs plan to appeal the case to the Austin Court of Appeals.

 

How long will the trial last?

We expect the trial to last no more than one day.

 

Are members of the public allowed to attend?

Yes, though seating will be limited. The case is styled Acuña, et al. v. City of Austin, et al., and the trial will take place in Room 512 of the Travis County Courthouse at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, March 11.

 

Can I still file an official protest against City Hall’s rezoning plan?

Yes. Austin residents can file protests at FileYourProtest.com between now and the city council’s final vote on the plan, which is scheduled for early April. The current deadline for filing rezoning protests is March 31, 2020.

 


 

Can’t make it to the trial? Here are other ways you can support our effort:

 

  1. Make Sure You’ve Filed an Official Rezoning Protest
    If you own property in Austin, go to FileYourProtest.com and file an official rezoning protest. The process is easy, safe, and takes just 30 seconds. Once you’ve filed a protest, our legal team believes the City of Austin will be unable to legally rezone your property without support from a supermajority of the city council (nine of 11 votes).
  2. Consider Donating to Community Not Commodity
    Help us educate and activate Austinites from every corner of our community. Make an online donation today!
  3. Contact Mayor Adler and Your City Council Member
    City Hall must respect the right of local residents to protest the rezoning plan. Reach out to the mayor and council and tell them so! Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.

Together we can build an Austin for everyone!

 

Mayor Steve Adler:
steve.adler@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2100

Natasha Harper-Madison (District 1):
natasha.madison@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2101

Delia Garza (District 2):
delia.garza@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2102

Sabino Renteria (District 3):
sabino.renteria@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2103

Greg Casar (District 4):
gregorio.casar@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2104

Ann Kitchen (District 5):
ann.kitchen@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2105

Jimmy Flannigan (District 6):
jimmy.flannigan@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2106

Leslie Pool (District 7):
leslie.pool@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2107

Paige Ellis (District 8):
paige.ellis@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2108

Kathie Tovo (District 9):
kathie.tovo@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2109

Alison Alter (District 10):
alison.alter@austintexas.gov | 512-978-2110