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Heavy lifting starts today on new land code

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 by Jo Clifton

At today’s work session, Council is scheduled to begin the process of answering the questions posed by City Manager Spencer Cronk concerning revisions to the city’s land development code. Cronk asked Council members to make clear whether they wanted a wholesale revision of the code or merely a rewrite of certain portions. From their postings on the City Council Message Board, it seems most Council members agree they want a complete rewrite. The other questions will prove more difficult as they relate to density, compatibility standards and parking requirements. Council Member Greg Casar and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, as well as Mayor Steve Adler, have stressed the importance of moving forward with the goal of making major changes in 2019. Everyone agrees that the new rewrite “should ensure that the housing capacity for the city is significantly increased,” as Garza and Casar have stated. However, it is difficult to see how the city can achieve the goal of increasing the number of housing units by 135,000 in the next 10 years, even with a radical change to land use regulations. Council members Jimmy Flannigan, Pio Renteria, Ann Kitchen and Natasha Harper-Madison pose a number of questions and suggest their answers. For example, what should the city do about parking requirements? Their answer is: “One option could be to eliminate parking minimums city-wide and adopt parking maximums or minimum unit-yield in areas necessary to ensure sufficient transit-supportive development. Another option could be to eliminate parking minimums except in areas that require a more context-sensitive approach. Both options should be done with the understanding that parking supply will still be determined by both the market and federally mandated ADA-accessible parking and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) requirements.” Today’s conversation could be lengthy and will continue at Thursday’s Council meeting with the public invited to offer input.

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