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Code advisory group to get new east side members

Monday, May 4, 2015 by Jo Clifton

The City Council Planning and Neighborhoods Committee decided at last week’s meeting to add four new members to the group of citizens putting together recommendations for a new Land Development Code, known as the Code Advisory Group, or CAG.

Since its appointment in 2013, CAG has been working to overhaul the city’s complicated regulatory rules. It is assisting Opticos Design, the consultant that will rewrite the code.

After a lengthy discussion and acknowledgment that there are no renters and no representatives from Districts 2, 3, 4 and 7 on CAG, the committee decided to let the Council members from those districts nominate new members. The full Council will approve those members just as it does other nominations.

There may be some pushback from people who wanted representatives from the Austin Neighborhoods Council and the environmental community. Specifically, the ANC hoped that Council would appoint Mary Ingle, the group’s president.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo pushed to include a representative of ANC as well as an environmentalist. After hearing from a representative of landscape architects, she also added a spot for a landscape architect. Tovo acknowledged in her motion that the committee should have a renter and representatives of the districts that had no member.

Council Member Greg Casar, who chairs the committee, and Council Member Pio Renteria agreed that it was important to include renters on the committee.

Council Member Sheri Gallo found Tovo’s proposal too complicated and made a substitute motion to ask the Council members from Districts 2, 3, 4 and 7 to nominate four new members to CAG.

All 11 current members of CAG — seven appointed by the previous Council and four by the city manager — have indicated that they wish to continue serving after their appointments expire in September.

Tovo represents District 9, which already has two representatives on the committee, Chair Dave Sullivan and Planning Commissioner Nuria Zaragosa. Ingle also lives in District 9.

Tovo does not want to choose between the current representatives, and the committee did not address how it might want to change the group when the current terms expire in September. However, from the discussion it seems likely that current members will have a good chance of continuing their service for another two years.

After the meeting, Ingle told the Austin Monitor, “I’ve been following this since Day 1, and (the ANC) thought it appropriate for me to be on (CAG). Unfortunately, it’s really arrogant and difficult to advocate for yourself, and it’s not my style.

“But I had to send it forward anyway,” she continued. “I got lots of criticism. And we wanted Bill Bunch (of the Save Our Springs Alliance), because it’s a political combination. The environmental community and ANC are joining hands. And if you reject that combination on the CAG, that sends a message to us, especially about the Land Development Code.”

Ingle said she was not dejected about the committee not moving forward with the idea of adding an ANC member. “Because you know why?” she said. “We opened the door for this conversation. It was about expanding — the neighborhoods east of I-35 have been rejected and not included for so long. Districts 2, 3 and 4 (were not represented).”


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