Austin Tech Alliance recently joined Evolve Austin, a nonprofit made up of Austin’s leading civic-minded organizations.
Evolve Austin’s mission is creating a more affordable, mobile, and sustainable city by implementing Imagine Austin, the city’s comprehensive plan that took two years to develop and included more than 18,000 public inputs from the community. The Imagine Austin plan was passed unanimously by City Council in 2012.
Evolve’s current focus is on CodeNEXT, the ongoing rewrite of Austin’s Land Development Code. These regulations determine how land can be used throughout the city — including what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can (and cannot) be built.
Many of the important challenges we face today as a city, such as household affordability and traffic congestion, are exacerbated by our existing Code. CodeNEXT thus presents an opportunity to build a more compact and connected city that will continue to attract entrepreneurs and innovators from across the globe.
As Dan Keshet, an Austin tech data scientist, argues: “housing can be Austin’s killer app” when compared to other tech hubs across the country. After all, Silicon Valley’s housing woes are well known, and other areas like New York City, Chicago, and Seattle all face their own affordability crises.
As Dan wrote:
For Austin and our platform of functional public policy, the Killer App can be walkable, bikable, transit-accessible, relatively affordable housing … There are few cities outside Silicon Valley that have the right ingredients of a startup economy as well established as Austin does. All of them have had housing cost problems for far longer than Austin has had, yet none of them have adequately addressed the issue.
CodeNEXT is therefore the biggest and best public policy opportunity to ensure Austin can meet the growing housing demand in our community, a lot of which comes from our city’s growing tech sector.