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Frequently Asked Questions

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Regular meetings of this group are generally held the third Monday of the month at 4:00 pm. Visit the Austin Land Development Code Advisory Group website for more information.

The CodeNEXT team is proactively seeking out input from all sectors of the community and to utilizing that input to create a Land Development Code that fosters the Imagine Austin vision, check out the Listening to the Community Report. Learn how to get involved.

Just as the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan contains provisions for an annual progress report and a five-year appraisal, an evaluation process can be created for the new Land Development Code so that it is reassessed at regular intervals and kept up to date to address changing conditions.

While many Land Development Code issues are technical, the Code also reflects community values and aspirations, which form the foundation for the new Code. We will take this input and prepare a draft Code that addresses the issues and concerns raised by Austinites. The hope is to make the Code simpler so that it can be more easily understood by everyone who uses it.

Recommended approaches to revising the Land Development Code are scheduled to be presented to the City Council in October of 2014 for consideration. One of the overarching goals of the CodeNEXT project is to create a document that is simpler and easier to understand. Improved formatting, reorganization, elimination of redundant and conflicting provisions, and more use of visual graphics are anticipated so that users can more easily determine what rules apply to a specific property.

Revise the Land Development Code, so that it:

  • Preserves and enhances the best qualities of our communities
  • Is fair, predictable, and easy to use
  • Aligns with Imagine Austin’s vision, policies, growth concept map, and priority programs.

The Land Development Code is the set of rules and processes that guides how land is used and developed in the city of Austin. Austin’s Land Development Code regulates new development, redevelopment, zoning, subdivisions, transportation and parking, outdoor signs, site plans, drainage, watershed protection, open space, and more.

CodeNEXT is a four-step process that will take place over the next few years. Read more about the process here.

The Austin City Council appointed a Land Development Code Revision Advisory Group in February 2013 to assist in public outreach and provide feedback on development and implementation of a revised Code. Read the resolution for additional information.

The public will have many opportunities to provide input during the entire process. After the City Council chooses an approach to revise the Land Development Code, the consultant team and City staff will begin reformatting parts of the Land Development Code that are not changing and drafting new language for those portions that City Council would like modified. It is anticipated that draft language will be publicly available for comment in the fall of 2015.

An electronic version of Austin’s current Land Development Code can be found in the Planning and Development Review Department’s website.

The Land Development Code Revision Advisory Group is made up of:

  • Chris Bradford
  • Stephen Delgado
  • Mandy De Mayo
  • Jim Duncan
  • Will Herring
  • Jeff Jack
  • Melissa Neslund
  • Stephen Oliver
  • Brian Reis
  • Beverly Silas
  • Dave Sullivan

Email links for the Code Advisory Group members can be found here.

The consultant team hired to help revise Austin’s Land Development Code was selected by the Austin City Council in March 2013. Visit the Meet the Team page for more information.

The last comprehensive revision of Austin’s Land Development Code was nearly 30 years ago, in 1984. Since then, it has been amended hundreds of times and, as a result, has become overly complex and complicated for businesses, residents, and City staff to use.

Our existing code is no longer effective in helping us create the kinds of places we want, or in addressing critical issues like:

  • Diminishing natural resources,
  • Lack of household affordability,
  • Access to healthy lifestyles,
  • The development of parks and public places, and
  • Addressing our growing mobility problems.

The current Land Development Code is followed; however, because the Code has been amended repeatedly over the last 30 years – sometimes without adequate coordination – there are many conflicting and confusing provisions that make understanding and interpreting the Code difficult.

There will always be competing interests in land development, and the Code will attempt to provide a reasonable balance between the rights of the property owner and the rights of the public. Our hope is that by better defining what is allowed to be developed, the expectations of developers and residents will be better understood, conflicts can be reduced, and the need for variances and special considerations can be minimized. The Code will also contain procedures for reconciling conflicts when they do inevitably occur.

A Path Forward

The Code Approach and Alternatives document is structured to provide a general framework and guidance for moving forward in drafting a new code. There is a level of flexibility and adjustment within each approach to decide how extensively to address specific changes. Because each approach varies in specific ways, the CodeNEXT Team discourages mixing and matching the Approach elements; once an approach is selected, specific changes can be fine-tuned with further direction from community members and City Council.

The Report recommends moving toward more of a By-Right Development Review Model. Does By-Right Development Review result in less of a public process, and why would we want to turn that over to staff? A level of discretionary review would be involved in the by-right review process. A threshold within the by-right review process would need to be determined at which a discretionary process would be triggered, without convoluting or undermining the purpose of by-right review.

 

We encourage community members to submit viewpoints or issue papers, attend public hearings by the Planning Commission and City Council, and participate online at SpeakUpAustin.org.

The Listening to the Community Report summarized community-wide conversations that explored what is working well and what needs to be improved in the places where Austinites live, work, and play, and how the City’s land development code can be most effective as a framework for improving quality of life. Based partially on the input gathered by this report the CodeNEXT team developed a series of Approach Alternatives that address the issues raised by the community.

Selecting an approach will lock in a decision to the extent that the CodeNEXT Team will move forward with code format changes. There is a clear distinction in Approach 1 for cleaning up the current format as opposed to entirely changing the code format in approaches 2 and 3. Otherwise, selecting an approach does not lock the future process in a specific state; rather it allows the team to assess the required level of effort that will be needed in specific areas moving forward.

Separately from CodeNEXT, Zucker Systems is in the process of analyzing the Planning and Development Review Department and the processes that are used for permitting. Their focus is on short-term improvements that can be made under the existing code. Once they have concluded their research, CodeNEXT will closely coordinate with Zucker Systems in learning how to manage the new code as well as any training that would need to occur to improve the permitting process.

While the code revision will ultimately address all of the top ten issues identified in the Code Diagnosis, the Code Approach Alternatives vary in the degree to which they address some of the issues. Because each approach proposes a different set of new or updated tools for the LDC, the tools available for addressing the issues identified in the Code Diagnosis will be different, depending on which approach alternative option is ultimately pursued.

Approaches 2 and 3 are hybrid codes with both form-based and conventional zoning standards. Because form-based zoning is more prescriptive, more applications can be processed “by right,” with limited or no discretionary review. Traditionally, conventional zoning has relied on discretionary review because the regulations are not tailored to local conditions. In a hybrid code, form-based zoning will often be recommended for areas that the community wants to function as “walkable urban” areas. Such areas typically have building frontages close to the sidewalk (with no parking between the building and the street) that define and activate the street at a pedestrian scale. These conditions are well suited to clearly defined standards that require no discretionary review. In “drivable suburban”  areas, more flexibility in building setbacks from the street may be appropriate and even necessary in some cases, so conventional zoning (that relies more on discretionary review) may be recommended for those areas of the City.

The lack of standardization of permit requirements is an issue in the land development code (LDC), as discussed in the Diagnosis Report (Section 5.2). The intent for approaches 2 and 3 is to remedy this issue by clarifying permit procedures and the roles and responsibilities of each review authority and identifying opportunities for streamlining reviews. We would propose that the LDC update provide information on permit application requirements, hearings/noticing, review authorities, required findings, conditions of approval, permit timelines/extensions/ expirations, and other relevant information.

Development standards determine what a code regulates, and how it regulates those items. Generally the different methods for creating development standards can be classified into three categories: Euclidean or use-based zoning standards, performance-based zoning standards, and form-based zoning standards.

Euclidean-based zoning standards, also sometimes called use-based zoning standards, focus on use separation and simple height/ bulk standards. Euclidean zoning limits uses in undesirable locations rather than encouraging uses in desired locations.

Performance-based zoning standards focus on the impacts of use and are more complex than Euclidean-based standards. Performance zoning is still based on limiting an undesired effect; however, it allows for a more precise application of limits than conventional zoning.

Form-based zoning standards focus on building form and public space. Form-based zoning standards go beyond simply limiting an undesired effect by encouraging appropriate building scale and form in places where a specific type and form of development is desired.

Development Review models determine how the code is used to evaluate and permit development projects. The three models are By-Right, Discretionary, and Customized Zoning.

In a by-right system, development applications that comply with zoning can move to the building department/permit quickly. This system is most effective when careful attention is taken to create clear development standards that will provide predictable built results.

In a discretionary review system, a permit is issued at the “discretion” of the review authority (i.e. staff or Planning Commission). In this system, standards are generally less specific and leave more room for interpretation, thus requiring a more extensive, and sometimes more subjective review process to ensure the intent is met.

In a customized zoning system, new and independent regulations are necessary to successfully regulate major projects. These new regulations are not coordinated with the overall LDC. An example of customized zoning is a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The three Approach Alternatives are:

Approach 1: Brisk Sweep

Approach 1 provides clean up of the existing LDC with targeted refinements, but does not make any major structural or organizational changes. Under this approach the organization of the Code is minimally revised and reorganized only to address the most urgent usability issues. Form-based standards would have limited application, primarily to future small area plans. Combining districts are compressed where feasible, though most will remain in place. Some zoning districts are removed and new zoning districts are added.

Approach 2: Deep Clean

This approach would substantially improve the appearance, usability and consistency of the Code through a significant reworking of its content and structure. Approach 2 provides a balanced mix of by- right review, customized zoning, and discretionary review where appropriate. Through careful refining and vetting of development standards, this approach will establish Form-based standards for walkable urban contexts, Euclidean-based standards for drivable suburban areas and maintain many of the Performance-based standards that exist today.

Approach 3: Complete Makeover

Approach 3 provides the most extensive modifications to the LDC. This approach improves the appearance, usability, and consistency of the existing LDC by significantly reworking its content and structure. Development standards would be refined to the point that would allow for a development review process that relies primarily on by-right review. Performance-based and some Euclidean-based standards will remain. Combining districts are compressed where feasible. Form-based standards will be created and applied widely across the city.

We are compiling it for the Code Advisory Group, Planning Commission, and City Council.  Additionally, it will help guide the work of revising the regulations next year.

Picking a Code Approach sets the framework on which subsequent decisions about the content of standards and process will be based. This framework sets the direction for what the CodeNEXT team will explore regarding the format and organization of the LDC, the ways in which development applications are reviewed and standards are administered, and the mix of development standards that will be crafted. Each of the approach elements can be understood as dials whose settings determine the extent to which each element is incorporated into each approach alternative. These dials can be adjusted as the new City Council takes office and as discussions with Austinites continue in the next phase of the CodeNEXT project.

Selecting a Code Approach does not change any standards, revise zoning districts, or create new zoning districts within the LDC. Instead it picks a direction for the CodeNEXT team to explore with Austinites. Decisions on what standards remain the same, what standards change, where standards apply across the city and how they are administered will be explored during the next phase of the CodeNEXT project. Picking an approach does not decide where new or revised zoning districts will be mapped or assigned to specific parcels of land. Decisions on where the new or revised zoning districts are mapped will occur after new zoning districts are crafted. At the same time that the new draft zoning districts are being reviewed by the public, the CodeNEXT team will begin testing how the new zoning districts can be mapped. Ultimately City Council will decide how the new districts are mapped.

Once an approach is selected, the CodeNEXT team will begin developing the new code based on policy direction from Imagine Austin, adopted neighborhood plans and master plans, Council policies, and input received from the public. As specific content is drafted the draft code will go through an iterative process that includes the public, stakeholder groups, the Code Advisory Group, and boards and commissions. Adoption of a new code by City Council is anticipated to occur in the fall of 2016.

A hybrid code standards model uses a mix of Euclidean-based, performance-based, and form-based standards. The hybrid approach typically applies Euclidean-based standards to single use contexts that best benefit from the strengths of the development standards model, such as office parks and auto-oriented regional shopping malls. In contexts where a mix of uses is desired, where the form of development is of a high priority, and/or where a high level of coordination between land uses and transportation planning is required, form-based standards may be appropriate. Performance-based standards, such as standards regulating maximum noise levels, water quality, tree protection, and impervious coverage, would apply where they are needed in different parts of the city, much in the way they apply today.

An approach alternative is a general framework or outline to revising the land development code.The Approach Alternatives & Annotated Outlines Document is comprised of three approaches identified by the CodeNEXT Team, resulting from professional analysis and community input from the last twelve months.

Each Approach consists of three key elements that must be considered in the creation of the overall Approach Alternatives. Each of these elements impacts the clarity and usability of the LDC. Several options for implementing each element are presented and rated based on a set of defined criteria. The three elements and the options for each element are:

Code Format & Organization—how the LDC is formatted and organized.
• Revised Format and Organization
• Replacement Format and Organization

Development Review Models—how the LDC is used to evaluate and permit development projects.
• By-Right
• Dicretionary
• Customized Zoning

Development Standards Models—what type of standards comprise the LDC.
• Euclidean or use-based
• Performance-based
• Form-based, or
• Hybrid

The CodeNEXT Team recommends Approach 2 as the best choice in regard to implementing Imagine Austin, to fixing problems that have been identified throughout the CodeNEXT process, and that best reflect the desires of the community received to-date.

The recommendation is based on all input received to date. This process started with informal outreach in late 2012, and officially kicked off with 9 months of Listening and Understanding. Part of our job is to provide Austin with our best professional recommendation, based on our experience and community input, on a way forward.

Code 101

CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, designated in Imagine Austin as prority program #8.

CodeTALKS

A fundamental basis of CodeNEXT is a Community Character Analysis to help identify and protect the essential character of each neighborhood. This analysis will also identify opportunities for additional housing types for different income levels.

The two CodeTALKS, held on June 12 and 14, were the beginning of the conversation on compatibility. The CodeNEXT team wanted to provide context and examples to enable a productive conversation at smaller tables, as well as to hear diverse perspectives from the community. The conversation helped the community and CodeNEXT Team identify issues of primary concern, which will help us when moving forward in the process. The issue of compatibility has not been concluded, but has been put into context and prepared for further discussion for when the appropriate time arises.

There are some provisions in the current Land Development Code that allow administrative waivers or variances in some situations.  How variances are dealt with and when public hearings should be required will depend on the amount of flexibility in the adopted code, a topic that will be addressed more fully once drafting of the code begins.

Building this type of rule into the code would not provide an adequate or appropriate process for how to handle extenuating circumstances that will inevitably occur.

We assume this is referring to a development code that treats all areas of the city the same. One size does not fit all; this statement carries much weight in our discussion and is the reason for extensive efforts put forward by the CodeNEXT Team to understand the character of different communities. We would like to preserve the unique and eclectic characteristics that we love about our communities today.

During the Imagine Austin process, a great effort was put forward to ensure that Neighborhood Plans were consistent with the Comprehensive Plan as well as the Growth Concept Map. City Council is the only body that can formally amend these plans, and the City Charter requires that plans be consistent with one another.

The CodeNEXT Team goal is to reach a consensus across the community to present to City Council in their decision making. Council members will make the decision to adopt regulations based on community input and values.

Existing compatibility regulations often make it difficult to redevelop small-scale infill projects that could increase the livability of neighborhoods. The CodeNEXT team will explore different solutions for different contexts that could allow for more attainable mixed-use development that is compatible with existing neighborhoods.

Flexibility is a value that we have heard expressed by the community throughout the CodeNEXT process. The level of flexibility to be built into the code will be guided by upcoming decisions from City Council on the Code Approach Alternatives.  Additional guidance will be provided through public involvement in the drafting of the new code once an overall direction has been selected.

There are design issues related to privacy that the code can address. For example, screening of different uses in the form of fencing or vegetation, placement of windows and balconies, setbacks, lighting and noise can be regulated by the code.

For the most part, the Code is based on different building types, not whether the buildings are occupied by owners or renters. However, certain building types such as apartments are designed with renters in mind, and the Code can encourage or discourage certain features that reflect the needs and desires of renters.

The code can be written to encourage the extent to which existing buildings are re-used. When uses are changed there are many factors to consider, such as building code requirements, parking needs, ingress and egress, and effects on surrounding properties. How these factors are considered can determine how adaptable a building is for re-use.

One way to encourage this is to promote a diversity of housing sizes and types in neighborhoods, so that people can stay in the vicinity but move to different dwellings as their personal situations change. Walkability and creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment can also benefit both seniors and families. For example, many seniors are no longer able to drive. Having destinations such as grocery stores, pharmacies and similar uses within close proximity can offer older residents the opportunity of staying in their neighborhoods.

In most cases existing uses are grandfathered or carried over under the new code; this remains intact unless the use changes or the building expands.

The goal of CodeNEXT is to provide a Land Development Code that contains clear regulations that can be understood by anyone who reads it.  The intent is to simplify the text and to use clear graphics and maps to illustrate key points.

Our approach is that compatibility is built into the way that the code is calibrated, and not as something that is additionally applied. How you calibrate different standards and how they apply is a function of where you are; regulations will vary by context.

One way to encourage creativity is to have a review process that is clear, simple, and easy to use. The developer may then be able to devote more effort to creative design within the general framework provided by the code.

Participation in our public events and keeping up to date with the reports and documents that we provide publicly is the best way to stay involved in the process. CodeNEXT has created a culture of continuous conversation and collaboration with all stakeholder groups. Providing feedback through our surveys and online forums is an additional opportunity to be part of this process.

The code will implement the Council adopted Downtown Plan (2011), which contains a specific set of compatibility standards that apply to neighborhoods on the perimeter of Downtown. Click here to find more information regarding the Downtown Plan and its adopted standards.

Imagine Austin has put a great framework in place for that to happen. There are major deficiencies in Austin's transportation and mobility choices right now and the city is trying to catch up. The code is not going to solve that problem, but we can make decisions within the code rewrite to help encourage that. Imagine Austin's growth concept map defines activity centers and corridors. In this process, the CodeNEXT team has to understand how the new code can help implement focused and targeted evolution in those designated areas.

Many commercial corridors have shallow lot depths; this is an issue that needs additional dialog with the community to explore better ways to establish harmonious transitions between different land uses. The Compatibility Standards found in the current Land Development Code are the primary tool for this, but as we heard in the CodeTALK on Compatibility, many people, including strong neighborhood advocates, believe we can improve how this transition between different land uses is achieved.

A fundamental principal behind CodeNEXT is that development regulations should be tailored to the specific context they are trying to create.  The objective is to achieve a balance between maintaining unique characteristics of an area and accommodating new growth at an appropriate scale. The CodeNEXT team has undertaken an extensive effort to identify different contexts through the "Community Character in a Box" exercise.  For more information about how you can participate in this exercise, see http://www.austintexas.gov/department/community-character.

Achieving this balance will be part of the code drafting process. It is necessary for our city to guide the growth that is occurring in order to maintain the desired quality of life while also protecting the rights of property owners. The intent of CodeNEXT is to create tools that will yield the desired results as expressed by community members throughout the current process as well as in Imagine Austin.

The adopted Neighborhood Plans are part of the regulatory framework of the city, and the CodeNEXT team takes them very seriously. The consultant team prepared an assessment of all adopted Neighborhood Plans, which included a compilation of the goals of all neighborhood plans, the definition of categories or themes for the goals, and a listing of the prohibited and conditional uses put in place through the adoption of the Neighborhood Plan Combining District ordinance. The existing neighborhood plans will continue to inform the CodeNEXT initiative moving forward. Ultimately, City Council will decide what zoning is assigned to specific parcels.

Please call 311 for noise complaints.

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan presented a vision of "complete communities" which provide access to employment, shopping, learning, open space, recreation, and other amenities and services.  The plan also set forth a framework for how to achieve this vision over the next several decades, involving many different initiatives to guide implementation of the vision.  CodeNEXT is one tool that can help realize the vision by providing a regulatory system that encourages the development of viable mixed-use communities in appropriate locations and also supports the other goals of Imagine Austin.  For more details, see Chapter 4 of Imagine Austin at http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Planning/ImagineAustin/webiacpreduced.pdf

Co-housing – a form of housing in which residents live in private homes but also have access to common facilities such as recreational space, a kitchen and dining area, and a laundry room -- could affect multiple issues regulated by the Land Development Code, including the number of units on a parcel, the number of unrelated people allowed to occupy a unit, and parking requirements. How it will be carried out regarding each of these aspects has yet to be determined.

CodeNEXT is working with staff from each Imagine Austin priority program to see how the code can most efficiently and effectively implement the priority programs. This includes the priority programs dealing with sustainable water resources and green infrastructure.

Usability is a very important aspect of all codes that Opticos writes. The intent is to make information that each individual user needs easy to find and easy to aggregate. Opticos Design Inc. codes are very graphic to make sure that the intent of standards is easy to understand and to follow.

Our existing code contains some performance standards related to traffic, such as requirements for a traffic impact analysis in some cases. However, traffic is a complex problem that requires a coordinated approach between land use and transportation. Imagine Austin encourages the development of complete communities that offer a wider variety of ways to be connected in order to reduce the need for automobile travel.

Some behaviors (such as noise and lighting) can be regulated by performance standards in the code. However, it is up to individuals to be good neighbors because codes can't regulate every type of behavior. Use is regulated by every zoning code, including form-based codes.

Like any aspect of the Code that functions within a dynamic city, we acknowledge that there are strong opinions about compatibility regulations, but we feel there is always room for improvement as community values evolve over time. Any changes made to compatibility standards in the new code will have to be made by City Council.

Yes, we are working with all Neighborhood Plan Contact Teams. We have participated in several training sessions with contact teams and have worked with them in analyzing the existing neighborhood plans.

The intent of compatibility standards is to address new construction in proximity to existing development. Part of the CodeNEXT process is to propose improvements to our existing regulations to better deal with transitions between different land uses.

Effective regulations consider the context of an area to set standards for compatible development. For example, the context of downtown is different than the context of a suburban area, so the regulations should be based on respective contexts of different neighborhoods.

The CodeNEXT Team goal is to achieve a code that can be clear and understandable for everyone that reads it by using clearer language and more graphics. We hope to achieve a code that provides a balance to satisfy and benefit both neighborhoods and the development community. We are studying best practices in cities across the country to understand what has been successful and how we can learn from those examples to improve the quality of life of our residents.

First, we need to define what a neighborhood defines as effective compatibility. Secondly, context is very important. Neighborhoods that share characteristics (example: walkable urban neighborhood) would share compatibility tools and approaches with minor tweaks that are specific to their own neighborhoods.

Predictability is a value that we have heard from the community throughout the process; it was also identified in the Listening to the Community Report as a key theme category. The ability to achieve more consistency through predictability can benefit developers and the community alike.

How standards will evolve is still to be determined, and will rely on the level of flexibility written into the code.

The Code revision is a multi-year effort and we are collecting feedback from the community on an ongoing basis. Everyone is welcome to participate, and anyone that chooses to participate in the process and events will have input in the process.  Ultimately City Council will decide what is in the new Code.

The number of parking spaces that are needed or required should be determined based on context. Areas that are intended to be walkable environments that utilize and support transit would have different parking requirements than areas of less density, where surface parking lots could be more appropriate. The number of parking spaces required does not need to be the same in all parts of the city.

Ultimately City Council will decide how the code regulates compatibility, based on a consensus of community values.

A balance needs to be achieved in order to avoid a convoluted result, but guidelines can certainly be part of the solution. The CodeNEXT Team recommends embedding as much of compatibilty directly into the zoning to produce predictable results; supplementary design guidelines can be helpful in order to meet intent. One important clarification is that design guidelines are not mandatory; zoning is mandatory. Through this process, we need to understand what we needs to be mandatory, and what recommendations will serve better as guidelines.

Compatibility standards in the current Land Development Code are triggered by both single-family land uses and zoning; this is an aspect that remains to be examined in the process of developing regulations and standards.

Neighborhood Plans are adopted by City Council and are not changing unless they are amended by City Council. We understand that there is significant concern over the impact a new code could have on Neighborhood Plans. We believe that CodeNEXT can be a tool for helping to implement neighborhood plans more effectively. Each overlay in the Land Development Code has added a layer to the structure and hierarchy of the overall document. These layers have good intent and generally good content. However, the current code is hard to administer, difficult to use, and has inconsistent results. The same is true of public restrictive covenants, which are intended to enforce certain provisions of the existing Code. CodeNEXT will examine the intent behind these existing regulatory mechanisms and look for better ways to implement them.

Community Character in a Box

Please do not annotate photos that you are submitting. The mapping exercise and the photo
documentation exercise are two separate parts. We are creating posters that capture the
residential and commercial character of current existing conditions in each neighborhood
reporting area. These are included and can be found in the Community Character Manual, and
are meant to provide a visual library for readers. Annotations take away from the photo itself
and the surrounding context that is meant to be captured.

We will accept and look at all feedback and documentation submitted. If you would like to
submit photos with annotations, please know that if we cannot crop the annotated lines, they
will not be included on a poster but will be posted on the website.

Each box has a unique e-mail address to which photos should be sent. Please be aware of the following requirements:

  • Photoograph file type: Please submit as JPGs saved at maximum quality. We cannot process RAW files.
  • Photo file size: approximately 3,000 KB - 10,000 KB (3MB-10MB) as a jpg.
  • Email Attachment Limitations:
    • The domain @austin.rr.com is incompatible for submitting photos to the email address supplied.  All other email domains should work.
    • Email attachments need to total less than 80,000 KM (80 MB). You can submit more than one email with attachments.
  • Email Body Text: Please note text added in the body of the email will not be received.  Any text that participants wish to include should be sent as an attachment (NOT written on the photo).

All information submitted will be displayed on the CodeNEXT website:http://www.austintexas.gov/department/community-character . Representative photos will also be selected and displayed on posters which will be included in the Community Character Manual, a library of data from all the neighborhood reporting areas in Austin. The first edition of this manual is online at: ftp://ftp.ci.austin.tx.us/GIS-Data/planning/CodeNext/Community_Character_Manual/.

Updates to the manual will be prepared as information is received from additional neighborhoods throughout 2014.The photo documentation will help the CodeNEXT team define new zoning districts for the City that are sensitive to the different contexts that exist in Austin. The asset mapping, in conjunction with existing zoning and adopted neighborhood plans, will help to define how the
new zoning districts are actually applied to specific properties after the new Code is adopted by City Council (schedule for the fall of 2016).

The Community Character Analysis has two main components: the asset mapping and the
photo documentation. Asset mapping involves marking an aerial photo with assets,
constraints, and opportunities and writing a brief description of why the participants judge
these features to be positive or negative. Photo documentation involves submittal of digital
photos that identify existing conditions in the neighborhood, whether positive or negative.

We have broken up the process into four phases:

  • First submission deadline: April 21, 2014
  • Second submission deadline: July 31, 2014
  • Third submission deadline: October 31, 2014
  • Fourth and final submission deadline: December 31, 2014

An important part of CodeNEXT is a Community Character Analysis. We are trying to
understand how our current Land Development Code and the character of different parts of
our City may be supporting the physical characteristics and uniqueness of Austin’s
neighborhoods or getting in the way of creating places the community values. During this
process, we will be taking a careful look at the character of neighborhoods and the larger
community. We need your help to make sure we understand Austin’s “DNA” — those qualities,
experiences, and places that people love. This new code must reflect the unique character of
neighborhoods throughout Austin.

Please return it to the 5th floor receptionist at One Texas Center between 7:45 AM and 4:45 PM,
Monday through Friday. Please do not attach additional pieces of paper directly to the map
that you submit. If you wish to include additional files, please include them in the returned box
or send electronically to paulina.urbanowicz@austintexas.gov. All submitted maps will be
scanned and put up on the Flickr website for viewing convenience.

The exercise is open to all residents of Austin. We encourage groups to work together on the
mapping and photography, but individuals are also welcome to participate on their own.

Please contact Paulina Urbanowicz at 512-974-5658, or paulina.urbanowicz@austintexas.gov

For areas that have adopted neighborhood plans, we are using the plans to identify goals and
policies that are important to the residents of those areas. However, most of the plans do not
document the community character in the way that we are trying to do in this exercise:
identifying the building types and other physical characteristics that make each neighborhood
special. In these areas, the community character analysis will supplement, not replace, the
adopted neighborhood plans. In addition, less than half of the city limits is covered by adopted
neighborhood plans. In areas without a plan, the community character analysis will provide a
basis for defining what features the residents would like to maintain as well as opportunities for
compatible new development.