Tomorrow the Austin City Council has a very important item (#10) up for consideration, which will decide whether real estate profits will continue to dominate our City’s land use planning.

In 1994, Austin voters chose to amend the City Charter to limit the influence the real estate and development industries has on our city planning. The charter amendment mandated that at least two-thirds (⅔) of the Planning Commission must be “lay members not connected directly or indirectly to real estate and land development” (i.e., they must be everyday Austinites that don’t benefit from development profits).

The Austin City Council has chosen to ignore this mandate by appointing 7 (out of 13) members from the real estate and development industries. That means that despite the voter-mandate, the Austin City Council has chosen to give the real estate and development industries majority control of the Planning Commission.

Instead of resolving the conflict, the City Legal Department is now advising the City Council to “re-interpret” the charter provision so that the membership can stay the same. They are trying to say that architects and engineers, who are paid for services directly related to the development of land, are not “directly or indirectly to real estate and land development”.

Yes, you read that right. It doesn’t make any sense.

The City Council took an oath to uphold the City Charter, and that is all we are asking them to do. Follow the law. This isn’t a difficult issue. The Planning Commission is illegally constituted--it violates the CIty Charter, it violates the voter’s mandate, and it violates our trust. Council needs to resolve the issue now.

Action Items:

 Call Mayor Adler (512-974-2100) and your City Council representative ( to tell them to give the Planning Commission back to the people who are beholden to the public interest--not real estate profits. Or, send an email to the entire City Council here.

  1. Please attend the City Council hearing at 10am at Austin City Hall (301 W. 2nd Street) this Thursday, April 26th.