Remember back in June, when we still thought CodeNEXT was going to be a thing? If you’ll recall, the mayor was trying his darnedest to deal with the subject in a way that wouldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. At the first of several meetings on the proposed land development code rewrite, Adler passed out hardhats and visibility vests that read, “Team Austin,” the idea being that every member of Council was on the same team.
Adler’s kumbaya strategy began to falter within hours, as Council members on both sides of the divide over development grew frustrated with his efforts to find consensus on issues that they knew they were simply going to have to agree to disagree on.
But the mayor’s meandering method had one devoted supporter: Council Member Ann Kitchen. The south side CM had begun to align more with the pro-housing crowd than the neighborhood preservation crowd, but clearly didn’t want to lose the goodwill she had built up with the latter crowd over the years. Particularly since she was up for re-election. As of June, she hadn’t drawn an opponent yet, and word on the street was that both she and the mayor were hoping that if Kitchen didn’t have to take any tough votes on CodeNEXT over the summer, she might be able to make it past Aug. 17 filing deadline without an opponent.
Of course, there was one tough vote they were both forced to take: the CodeNEXT ballot initiative. Kitchen stressed that she wanted the public to vote on the matter but she simply didn’t think it was legal. As long as a judge ruled in favor of putting the initiative on the ballot, Kitchen said she would approve it. Adler promised to do the same.
They were both undoubtedly surprised when Judge Orlinda Naranjo declined to say whether the CodeNEXT initiative was legal but ruled that it should go on the ballot anyway. Her ruling was almost begging for an appeal. But Adler and Kitchen had promised not to. With the prospect of running for re-election alongside a ballot initiative over CodeNEXT, Adler decided it’d be better to simply pull the plug on the issue.
CodeNEXT is dead. Adler’s probably feeling good. As for Kitchen:
District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen appears to be absent a challenger after Nathan White, a 26-year-old administrative assistant who planned to run, said not enough of his petition signatures appeared to be valid.