If you’ve been following along with local news, you know that a draft of our city’s new land development code (aka CodeNEXT) has been released. Last week, the City of Austin shared information with the public on the ways that the new land development code could affect the environment, in particular.
(And if you haven’t been following along… here’s a quick update. 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.)
Some of the key issues that city staff and community leaders said CodeNEXT could address include:
- Water Stewardship – The new code seeks to encourage smarter uses of water (like stormwater for irrigation) in order to lessen the pressure on our drinking water supply, especially during times of drought.
- Flood mitigation – All of Austin’s growth is increasing the likelihood of flooding in the city (by replacing greenspace with concrete). The code seeks to address this problem by requiring more development projects to contribute solutions to flooding.
- Tree Protection – The new code seeks to consolidate (and make more clear) current protections of Austin’s urban forest. It also adds more emphasis on preserving smaller trees.
- Open Space and Parks – As Austin grows and densifies, fewer residents have their own backyards to enjoy. So, the new code seeks to create new standards for building park space in large development projects, as well as to create a greater diversity of open space and to promote trail networks.
- Nature in the City – The new codes seeks to incorporate nature into the city in new ways, including through green roofs, green walls, stormwater collection, and rain gardens.
You can watch the entire presentation on “CodeNEXT and the Environment” here>> Stay tuned for more analysis and information in the weeks and months to come, as we interview local environmental nonprofits and community leaders to get their opinions on whether or not the current CodeNEXT draft delivers on these promises.