The conversation around CodeNEXT continued last week, particularly as it relates to one very important topic – gentrification.
A group of community activists (including the organization Community Not Commodity) gathered in East Austin on Martin Luther King Day to protest CodeNEXT and to propose their own East Austin People’s Plan to address gentrification and displacement.
“We have a crisis,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin branch of the NAACP. “Thousands of people of color are being removed from East Austin by gentrification. We need specific programs now to prevent our displacement and save our communities. We call on the City to make its highest priority preventing our displacement from our East Austin communities, and put CodeNEXT on the back burner.”
Through a series of guest speakers, including Susana Almanza (of People Organized In Defense Of Earth And Her Resources or PODER) and Fred McGhee, the group argued that not only does CodeNEXT not do enough to solve Austin’s widespread gentrification problems, but that it actually exacerbates them. That’s why they called on City Council to immediately adopt their East Austin People’s Plan, which was also released on Monday.
The plan includes six main directives:
- Establish interim land restrictions in East Austin to limit the degradation of the natural and cultural environment
- Establish a Low-Income Housing Trust Fund that would make public investments exclusively in low-income housing
- Use city-owned public land to create 2,000 low-income housing units on eight city properties
- Implement an East Austin Neighborhood Conservation Program with Conservation and Historic Preservation Districts to restrict land use
- Enact Right to Return and Right to Stay programs to help seniors and low-income residents stay in and return to their communities
- Enact a local Environmental Quality Review Program to ensure environmental justice
What’s CodeNEXT again?
As a reminder, CodeNEXT is the city’s effort to rewrite its land development code, which is basically a rule book for the city, explaining what can be built where. CodeNEXT will determine how Austin looks 10, 15, and even 50 years from now. And it will affect everything from affordability, to transportation, to the environment. In other words, it’s a really big deal.
So what comes next?
As anyone who has been following CodeNEXT closely knows, it’s an extremely contentious topic. Debate has raged about everything from how quickly it should be implemented, to the merits of increasing density, to whether or not it can even do anything to improve affordability in Austin.
The next draft is set to be released by February 12th, so expect the conversation to really kick back up again then. More info>>