West Austin Neighborhood Group

Preserving and Protecting West Austin

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    Protest Rights Lawsuit Filed at 11 am this morning

    December 12th, 2019
    by admin

    Press Release- For Immediate Release on December 12, 2019

     

    Contact: Doug Becker, Gray and Becker,  512-482-0061,

         Austinites Sue Mayor and Council to Recognize Their Rezoning Protest Rights

    Today, December 12, 2019, 19 Austin property owners, from all areas of the City and backgrounds, sued the City asking the Travis County District Courts to order the City to recognize Austinites’ protest rights under state law. (Lawsuit attached). Plaintiffs are represented by the Austin firm of Gray and Becker. Lead plaintiff, Frances Acuna of Dove Springs in Southeast Austin, states: “I’m suing to prevent my home from being up-zoned against my wishes.  The proposed code will not only displace me but also low income homeowners and renters in Dove Springs.  In addition, proposed increased impervious cover without updated infrastructure will cause loss of our homes or lives.”

    The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that Austin property owners, residential and commercial, have state-mandated protest rights under the City’s proposed comprehensive revision of the land development code. These protest rights require a 3/4th vote of the entire Council (9 of 11 votes) to rezone an owner’s or nearby property if the owner files a valid protest petition. Over 8,000? protests and growing have been filed to date. The lawsuit also asks for a declaration that the City failed to give proper hearing notice, voiding the Planning Commission’s recommendations and the City Council’s vote on the proposed Code. The suit seeks an injunction that the City must recognize protest rights, must stop misinforming Austinites that they don’t have protest rights, and must  provide notice to all Austinites that they have protest rights.

    Doug Becker, of Gray and Becker, states: “Many Austinites have not filed their protest rights because of the City Council’s and staff’s repeated misinformation that they have no protest rights. We fear that if a Court recognizes protest rights, that the City then will contend that residents that didn’t file protests in reliance on the City’s misstatements have lost their protest rights. Our City government should be better than that.”

    He further says: “The City Legal Department cites no Texas cases to support their position that there are no protest rights when the City enacts a comprehensive vision of the land development code and there is no such express exception in the state law. The City has imagined an exception that does not exist so that it can ignore Austinites’ property rights.”

    The Texas law in question is Texas Local Government Code, Section 211.006 (d): “If a proposed change to a [zoning] regulation or boundary is protested in accordance with this subsection, the proposed change must receive, in order to take effect, the affirmative vote of at least three- fourths of all members of the governing body.” Change is defined very broadly and “includes the amendment, repeal, or other change of a [zoning] regulation or boundary.” Texas Local Government Code Section 211.002.

    PetitionProtest12.12.19 – This document is the actual lawsuit filed

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