The City of Austin's rewrite of its land development code (aka CodeNEXT) is back, and we're working on ways that we can green it up. So far, we've had a ton of great suggestions from our members and are working to incorporate them in our list of priorities. If you have any environmentally focused suggestions that you would like to share with us to help turn CodeNEXT into CodeGREEN, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next public hearing on CodeNEXT will be at Austin City Hall (301 W. 2nd Street) on December 7, 2019 at 10am. We encourage you to join us on that day, and let the City Council know what you think about the draft code.
Our preliminary "CodeGREEN" recommendations can be found here.
The City's draft land development code can be found here:
You may have heard: CodeNEXT IS BACK!
On October 4, 2019, the City of Austin unveiled its latest draft of the rewrite of its Land Development Code, which will affect how land is developed throughout the city-including which environmental regulations apply and where certain land uses can be built. Since its release, our staff has been working diligently to review the new draft code and to offer suggestions for how it can be improved.
Thus far, we have been able to influence two major improvements:
SOS is extremely appreciative of the Mayor & City Council for assisting us with getting the proposed SOS Ordinance amendments removed from the LDC rewrite. It is highly likely that these amendments will come back some time in 2020, so we must stay vigilant, but we are hopeful that such a process, if it occurs, will be more collaborative and deliberative.
Additionally, there are several positive improvements proposed in CodeNEXT that we wholeheartedly support, including:
However, there's still much work to do.
As Austin's population continues to increase and our climate becomes more susceptible to longer, more severe periods of drought, it is more important than ever that we have a Land Development Code that is responsive to these challenges. We need a code that will help make development more water-efficient and climate-resilient, and we need a code that won't lose sight of what made Austin special in the first place-it's connection to nature.
With this in mind, we are asking that the City Council adopt several critical amendments to CodeNEXT to make it more climate-responsive. These amendments are summarized here, as part of our preliminary CodeGREEN recommendations. We are continuing to review the code and are working with other environmental groups to gather information, so please know that these are all still subject to change and should not be read as our comprehensive list.
We'd love your feedback!
If you have some environmental-focused suggestions that you'd like to share with us to consider in our comments, please send them email@example.com. We'd also encourage you to participate in the public meetings/public hearings, which can be found at http://www.austintexas.gov/ldc.
Our advocacy is making a difference.
Last night, our regional transportation planners considered and rejected the CAMPO "Regional Arterial Study," a document proposing several new roads through environmentally sensitive areas. The Study ignored any financial or environmental limitations, as demonstrated by its inclusion of many new roads cutting through protected and preserve land-including the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve-as well as nine new bridges across Lake Travis. Echoing SOS's comments, many CAMPO Board members expressed frustration with the process and concerns with the proposed roadways. Ultimately, board members officially "received" the document but did not vote to accept it, and downgraded it from a "study" to a "concept" with no official authority behind it.
Thank you, stay engaged, there are ongoing public comment opportunities:
CAMPO is taking public comment on its 2045 Regional Transportation Plan, intended to address transportation needs over the next 25 years in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. Like CAMPO's past plans, this plan so far encourages business-as-usual sprawl development and massive highways to serve it. This is the first round of public comment, with more to come. Comments are accepted until November 30.
CAMPO is also developing a Regional Transit Study focusing on long-term transit connections for rural and suburban areas outside of Capital Metro's Service Area. Comments are accepted until November 22.
You can learn more and submit comments on CAMPO's website here. You can find upcoming public open houses in your area here.
It's right around the corner! The SOS Holiday Party & Silent Auction is Friday, December 6th from 6pm ~ Midnight!
Join us at the American Legion's historic Charles Johnson House on Lady Bird Lake, 404 Atlanta Street to celebrate another year of being blessed with beautiful Barton Springs and to reconnect with the Save Our Springs Community. The party features everything local from food to music to our fabulous silent auction. There is a $10 donation to SOS at the door but sponsors and silent auction donors get in free.
To Sponsor the event please click here and to donate a silent auction go here.
We look forward to seeing you, your friends and your family there!
In a win for environmental groups and bird lovers, a federal judge affirmed a decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reject a petition seeking removal of the golden-cheeked arbler from the endangered species list. The uber-conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, in coordination with Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, filed the de-listing petition in 2016 based on a controversial study by A&M University that has been criticized by experts as grossly overestimating the warbler’s population.
Central Texas is the only place in the world where this small, shy songbird breeds and raises chicks. It migrates from Mexico each spring to the mature oak-juniper woodlands of Travis, Hays, and surrounding counties in the Texas Hill Country. Originally listed as endangered in 1990, the warbler is a key species in the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Permit, which balances habitat protection with development in our fast-growing region.
The warbler is one of the ever-dwindling list of things that make the Central Texas area unique and extraordinary. Its protected habitat includes the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and what would Austin be without that? The rebuffing of this latest attempt to strip protections of a defenseless creature for the sake of profit is a victory worth celebrating.
Please contact our legislators and ask them to stop HB 3417 (Toth). If passed, the bill would strip the City of Austin of its ability to enforce important watershed protection ordinances, including the SOSOrdinance, in its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The health of Barton Springs and our other surface water bodies depends on these protections. Let's not let our legislature turn Austin's ETJ into a wild west for developers.
WE NEED YOUR HELP RIGHT AWAY BECAUSE THE BILL IS SCHEDULED FOR A VOTE IN THE TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON THURSDAY. PLEASE CALL ANY OR ALL OF THE REPRESENTATIVES LISTED BELOW AND TELL THEM TO STOP HB 3417.
After a distressing week-end of decision making and looking at weather forecasts we have concluded this morning that we should err on the side of safety and cancel BSU tomorrow, April 23rd. There is a 30-60% chance of rain and thunderstorms depending on which forecast you view and we feel we just cannot take the chance with almost 1,000 people, equipment, food order, tents, etc. being affected. We are saddened and disappointed to say the least. We do have the BSU in September already scheduled and approved by the City and PARD. Please MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR SEPTEMBER 17th with a rain date of September 24th for the fall BSU. We hope to keep the schedule as is but adding more speakers and activities as well as more students. Please go to www.BartonSpringsUniversity.org for updates.
We stopped the Leif Johnson Car Lot --for now. Last March, SOS was notified of plans by Leif Johnson Ford to build an 86,079 square foot car dealership in the heart of the Barton Springs Zone, immediately adjacent to the Barton Creek Habitat Preserve that protects the Golden Cheeked Warbler, an endangered species. Leif Johnson attempted to claim vested rights to exempt itself from the requirements of the City's Barton Springs Zone Overlay, which restricts retail uses in the Barton Springs Zone to no more than 50,000 square feet.
But, we fought back. After presenting our case to the City's legal department, the City agreed with us and refused to approve Leif Johnson's site plan. Leif Johnson sued the City in response, but we just got word that the City prevailed in district court. Leif Johnson will now be forced to either scale back its development or appeal the district court's decision.
We'll keep you updated as the case continues, but hopefully the Golden Cheeked Warblers can rest a little easier knowing that a giant car dealership won't be threatening their home when they return to Austin. SOS thanks Alan Watts and Save Oak Hill for their continued vigilance in opposing the car dealership and the City's legal department (especially Asst. City Attorney Chad Shaw) for being receptive to our feedback and defending the City's ordinances.
For more information about the car dealership, please visit StoptheCarLot.org.