The Austin City Council may be headed for another costly lawsuit over our community’s zoning code and state-mandated notice and protest rights.
On Thursday, June 9, council members will vote on Chito Vela’s amendments to a Vertical Mixed Use (VMU) ordinance introduced by Ann Kitchen. Strongly supported by Mayor Steve Adler, Vela’s amendments propose to drastically “relax” compatibility height standards for VMU-zoned properties along Project Connect’s Blue and Orange lines.
Compatibility standards are zoning laws that regulate the height and setbacks of large buildings next to residential neighborhoods, preventing structures with wildly different sizes from being built side-by-side. If Vela’s amendments are passed, land developers will be free to erect buildings up to 90 feet tall just 100 feet from the property lines of existing homes (that’s 440 feet closer than our current standards allow, an 80% reduction in compatibility). Vela’s amendments would also greatly reduce parking requirements for new developments along affected corridors, pushing their residents and guests to park on neighborhood streets.
As if that weren’t enough, the council has failed to notify impacted property owners of the impending changes. That means thousands of Austinites could lose the protections provided by compatibility standards without even realizing the matter is under discussion—and that’s a violation of state law.
If this is starting to sound familiar, it’s because City Hall made exactly the same mistake with the CodeNEXT rezoning scheme and the “transition zone” plan that followed it.
Contact Mayor Steve Adler and the Austin City Council and demand they drop their illegal, ill-advised plan to “relax” compatibility standards. Tell them to start following state law and to stop inviting costly litigation!
Our leaders know better. Just a few months ago, the state’s 14th Court of Appeals affirmed the city must give impacted property owners notice and protest rights because Texas law mandates it, without exception. Besides being legally required, giving property owners notice of a zoning change and an opportunity to protest it are fair, decent, and democratic steps that all local governments should take.
We thought the City of Austin’s recent legal defeats taught council members a valuable lesson about transparency, accountability, and the basic rule of law. Sadly, it appears we were wrong. They have already returned to their backroom, closed-door style of governing.
Please contact Mayor Steve Adler and your representative on the Austin City Council using the information below. Ask them not to “relax” our community’s compatibility standards by 80%, and demand that they follow state law! Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!
You may send a single email to the mayor and all council members using this form.