Yesterday, Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Acuña, et al. v. City of Austin, et al., upholding the rights of local property owners who have filed protests in response to City Hall’s controversial rezoning plan. The decision is a major victory for Austin’s homeowners, renters, small businesses, and the rest of our community.
The City of Austin argued both publicly and in court that local residents have no right to protest the rezoning of their properties because it intends to rezone all properties at once, rather than one at a time. Judge Soifer rejected that claim.
The court’s ruling means that city officials will need approval of three-quarters of the Austin City Council (nine of 11 votes) in order to rezone any property that is the subject of a protest. Only seven council members currently support the rezoning plan.
More than 16,000 Austinites have filed official rezoning protests to date. Those who haven’t are encouraged to visit FileYourProtest.com, where they can fill out a short protest form and protect their residential and commercial property. Protests may be filed until one week before the city council takes its final vote on its code revision. That vote had been scheduled for early April, but was postponed by city officials due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Soifer also ruled that the city council’s votes on first and second reading of the code revision are void because City Hall failed to provide the state-required notice to property owners and the public. If local officials intend to proceed with their plan, they must provide our community with legal notice, and the city must hold its hearings and votes again.
If the City of Austin intends to revise the land development code, it must be one that has broad support and brings our community together rather than dividing it. We need a consensus code.
Community Not Commodity would like to thank the law firm of Gray & Becker, P.C. for providing the plaintiffs with outstanding representation in this complex case. We are also very grateful for the generosity of those who donated to our legal fund. This victory belongs to you.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!