Austin’s ‘Affordability Unlocked’ Initiative Faces Lawsuit

A group of 18 plaintiffs is suing to overturn the city of Austin’s “Affordability Unlocked” planning initiative.

2 minute read

August 30, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Colorful "atx" sign in front of Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas

GalinaSt / Adobe Stock

The same group that won a 2020 legal case against the city of Austin’s rewriting of the Land Development code recently launched a lawsuit against the city’s Affordability Unlocked initiative.

“Led by Frances Acuña, the group’s members have asked that a Travis County district judge throw out four ordinances that they believe were passed without sufficient notice to the public,” reports Jo Clifton in an article for the Austin Monitor.

“At issue are the Affordability Unlocked ordinance, the Vertical Mixed Use 2 (VMU2) ordinance, the ordinance allowing residential use in commercial zones and the compatibility ordinance,” according to the article.

Clifton also reports that the city “did not go through the process of notifying neighbors that rules were changing for development of nearby properties, arguing that such notice requirements do not apply in these cases, because the zoning classifications are not changing.”

Though the effort to achieve a new planning vision for Austin through zoning obviously has it detractors, a group of about 50 advocates rallied in support of Affordability Unlocked earlier this week.

The Urban Institute published a report earlier this month comparing local and state affordability initiatives, including Affordability Unlocked. The study “found that in strong housing markets, those incentives can make affordable housing projects more appealing to developers and can lead to a modest increase in housing supply, especially at the higher end of the income spectrum,” according to a separate article by Chad Swiatecki.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023 in Austin Monitor

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