This article was featured in the March/April 2017 issue of Austin REALTOR®. Read the full article here.
CodeNEXT, the rewrite of Austin’s Land Development Code, has been ranked by many, ABoR included, as the most important issue that Austin’s city council will face this year. ABoR spoke with District 2 Council Member Delia Garza to get her perspective on CodeNEXT and the impact it may have on her district and across the city.
When Council Member Garza met with us, she explained that, in her view, the top two issues facing the city as a whole are affordability and transportation. She also explained that while those issues are important in District 2, she would also add health disparities to the list for the area. District 2 has many areas which are defined as “food deserts” and one part of District 2 has the highest rate of childhood obesity in the city. “While health disparities, particularly access to healthcare and healthy food, may seem at odds with the issues of affordability and transportation, all of these issues are connected at the heart of it,” she said.
She views CodeNEXT as an opportunity to address all of these issues head on.
First, she explained how she hopes CodeNEXT can address the issue of affordability. “There is a need for Austin to diversify the types of housing available in all parts of our city. Right now, we have a lot of single-family homes and a lot of multi-family developments, but we need to allow for duplexes and fourplexes in transition zones, as well,” she said. With an average of 100+ people moving to the Austin metro area each week, an increase in housing stock would neither encourage nor discourage growth, but would allow our city and region to keep up with the growth that is already happening.
When asked how she hopes CodeNEXT will address health disparity, an issue she called out as specific to District 2, she remained hopeful that better planning will encourage small neighborhood groceries and allow for more transportation options for those needing to get to and from health appointments. Outside of CodeNEXT, Council Member Garza plans to continue to prioritize public health in her agenda and hopes to increase the budget for Health & Human Services during the next budget cycle.