CodeNEXT will test whether 10-1 changed Austin politics

Today, the four members of the “neighborhood” bloc on City Council will introduce a resolution to put CodeNEXT on the November ballot. Council Member Ora Houston, one of the sponsors, says she believes it will pass, but it almost certainly will not. In all likelihood, it will only receive four votes.

Supporters of the petition view the issue in two distinct ways:

  1. It’s a matter of following the rules: the charter says that voters have the right to put initiatives on the ballot if they get enough signatures, so Council must  do it.
  2. The roughly 30,000 signatures shows that the People have spoken! Those who spurn them will pay dearly. (Indeed, I heard one aide of a neighborhood bloc member predict that there would be “riots” if Council doesn’t put the question to the voters.)

The other members of Council view it this way:

  1. State law clearly indicates that you can’t subject zoning to the initiative process.
  2. 30,000 signatures? Meh. That’s 3% of the city’s population. Most of them are probably the same old Central/West Austin NIMBYs who aren’t going to vote for me anyway or clueless bystanders who were accosted by Linda Curtis at the Alamo Drafthouse and signed just to get her out of their face.

Before 10-1, the first view would be far more compelling. Every Council member was accountable to every voter and elections were low turnout affairs in May, meaning that everybody would have to worry about the impact of this very dedicated group of anti-growth voters in West/Central Austin. Now, Greg Casar and Delia Garza aren’t too concerned about them.


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