Our growing city has to address many environmental issues: Not just preserving open spaces and natural habitats, but also providing responsible water stewardship and flood mitigation. The new regulations in the code can help us be smarter and more resilient as we protect our natural resources.

Environmental goals addressed in CodeNEXT include:

  • Promoting Water Stewardship

  • Encouraging Flood Mitigation

  • Emphasizing Tree Protections

  • Increasing Open Spaces & Parks

  • Enhancing Nature in the City

Challenges with the current code:

  • As the urban core becomes denser, fewer residents have their own backyards. Existing parks and open spaces face additional pressure from a growing population.

  • Natural habitats for plants and wildlife in Austin have been lost as the city has grown.

  • Tree protection standards in the existing code are spread out between sections and are not clear about which provisions take precedence in case of conflicts.

  • In recent years, the cycles and intensity of drought and rain events have been changing. To be a more resilient city, Austin needs new ways to use water creatively.

  • Not all new development projects are required to provide flood mitigation, even if the site contributes to flooding downstream. This can perpetuate flooding problems.


Proposed solutions in the new code:

  • CodeNEXT will carry forward Austin’s historic watershed regulations, like the Save Our Springs Ordinance, as well as the improvements of the 2013 Watershed Protection Ordinance.

  • New standards for large developments, and new methods for calculating open space, providing greater diversity and prominence of open space and parks, and promoting expansion of trail networks and protected waterways.

  • A new palette of tools that incorporates nature into the city using green roofs, green walls, stormwater collection and re-use, pervious pavement, and rain gardens to maximize the benefits of high-functioning landscapes.

  • Urban forest protection and replenishment standards that are consolidated and located more prominently. Greater emphasis is given to tree and soil quality, preserving smaller trees, and tree survey and protection requirements for greenfield and urban sites.

  • The new code will require sites to beneficially use their stormwater on-site for smaller storms, which is a big opportunity to do more with rainfall, create more sustainable developments, and take pressure off our water supply lakes.

  • The new code will ask development projects to contribute their fair share to solutions that address threats to public safety and property. Providing flood mitigation for redevelopment reduces flooding and addresses longstanding problems due to insufficient flood controls or drainage.


WATCH: CodeTALK on the environment (March 29, 2017)



Panelists' presentations (PDF)          Staff presentation (PDF)