CodeNEXT inspires both excitement and revulsion. The process of creating a new land development has been fraught with miscommunication, poor planning, and resident suspicion. This has not helped CodeNEXT with public relations and it does not help that it contains real impacts to neighborhood integrity and safety.
The new changes will make high-density development easier and with it, traffic congestion. City council hopes to expand public transportation and other options with new zoning, but that also brings in safety issues too. Here is a review on CodeNEXT and how it may affect your safety.
What is CodeNEXT?
CodeNEXT is a project seeking to redraft Austin’s land development codes. The code has not been updated for 30 years and city council seeks a new approach in managing growth. It focuses on five main areas: mobility, community, environment, housing, and permitting.
Advocates of CodeNEXT argue that the current code reduces housing options, contains competing regulations, increases motor vehicle dependence, and makes securing permits difficult. The new drafts look to offer additional options with transportation and housing while supporting walk-able communities. Goals also include streamlining regulations to ease site permits and planning.
Changes are expected to encourage development and bring Austin into a new modern age. Its supporters see a new land development code as a way to increase livability in new vibrant communities.
Critics are wary of the redevelopment that could result from CodeNEXT. They claim that CodeNEXT dramatically restructures working class neighborhoods to reduce the number of single-family homes and challenge housing affordability. Inner city neighborhoods will absorb most of the impacts which will displace vulnerable people who will not be able to afford the new higher rents and property taxes.
The new code does not affect outer neighborhoods which are better positioned socioeconomically to absorb large changes. There is fear that the inner city will basically be punished to create this playground of inequality that is only accessible to the upper middle class.
These concerns are being addressed with strong advocacy for the inner city areas. At this point, there is cautious optimism about CodeNEXT and active parties keeping an eye on its development to assure the worst-case scenarios do not occur.
CodeNEXT is currently in its second draft which will be reviewed in February 2018. It will come to a vote in April which still allows time to make adjustments and consider impacts in more detail.
As CodeNEXT materializes, traffic safety issues arise. These will start with new development and continue into the newly remodeled neighborhoods.
The first possible danger is construction. When new code that streamlines the permit process and increases density, roads may close and detours will become a fact of life in Austin. Accidents can be a natural impact as drivers adjust to the new layouts around their neighborhoods. Sudden lane changes when a road ends or road debris can lead to sudden maneuvers and crashes.
Higher density housing is a realistic expectation to arise from CodeNEXT. The maps shows expands areas suitable for multi-family housing and mixed-use for commercial and residential properties. This packs more people into smaller areas and where there are people, there will also be more cars and foot traffic. Fears about traffic congestion are not unfounded in this scenario.
Also, with plans to expand public transportation, bike paths, and walking areas, there is a higher chance of car-pedestrian and car-bicycle encounters. Roads may narrow to accommodate transportation that does not involve automobiles which can also add to congestion and increase the chances of accidents.
The best course of action is awareness. Know where projects will occur in your neighborhood and follow the progress of CodeNEXT. You may have to divert routes or consider alternative ways to commute. It could be easier to use mass transportation which will actually help your auto expenses and insurance rates, although it will be a challenging lifestyle adjustment.
You must learn to watch for bicycles, mopeds, and other non-automobile modes of transportation as you drive. Many accidents occur because motorists are not accustomed to these smaller vehicles and fail to watch blind spots for them. Car doors opened in front of bicyclists and errant lane changes cause accidents and injuries.
Fatal accidents do not need to be an inevitable result from these changes. However, there is a greater likelihood of car accidents occurring and that often means injuries and insurance claims. Rather than navigate these scenarios alone, hire The Cagle Law Firm to represent you so we can pursue compensation while you focus on recovery. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.