NOVEMBER 9, 2017

Episode 1 – What is CodeNEXT?

Tom Visco from Glasshouse Policy

In the inaugural episode of Change The Rules, we interview Tom Visco, Co-Founder of Glasshouse Policy and CodeNEXT expert. What will we do with the 500,000 people people moving to Austin by 2024? What does CodeNEXT mean for Austin? When was the last time Austin edited the zoning laws?

Lisa Graham (00:00):
Welcome to the “Change the Rules” podcast, and we’re recording at ChezBoom Studio in Austin, Texas. I’m Lisa Graham, I’m founder at Notley, and I’m joined today by Dan Graham, another founder of Notley, and we’re a firm that provides capital resources to socially impactful businesses and organizations. What we like to say our overarching goal is, is to facilitate the expansion of social innovation ecosystems. And unlike traditional investors, we provide access to mentors, capital providers, and social innovation experts that work collaboratively to impact the world. And we are also sitting here today with Tom Visco, from Glasshouse Policy. I’m going to have him explain to you a little bit what Glasshouse does, but he is what we like to call a politics expert. He’s our resident policy expert. Hanging out with Tom is like being in a West Wing episode. So it’s always a very good time talking to him about what’s going on in the world. Very engaging and very informative. Can you tell us a little bit about what Glasshouse Policy does?

Thom Visco (00:58):
I can and I, I look forward to falling very short of that introduction, as well. I’m so glad.

Dan Graham (01:04):
You did forget to bring the keg of glory.

Thom Visco (01:06):
Uh yes. I’m not drinking from the keg of glory this morning. So Glasshouse Policy. I co-founded it three years ago at this point with my co-founder Francisco. Glasshouse was founded to bridge the divide between citizens and policymakers. So what we do is really act as sort of a think tank and community engagement organization that focuses on niche policy issues and trying to explain and engage the general public on those issues in a new and innovative way. So we do a lot of policy gamification, a lot of sort of different takes on a traditional town hall to try to shift sort of the traditional scope of folks who engage in nitty gritty policy conversations.

Lisa Graham (01:45):
Great. And the reason we have Tom here today is one of the biggest issues facing Austin right now is the issue of “Code Next”. And it’s, I feel like it’s kind of become a- a phrase that people are throwing around a bit, but it’s a really big deal for our city. And we really would love to talk to Tom today about what it is and what it means, and really, how did we get here is what we’re looking to talk about today.

Dan Graham (02:08):
I think before we jump into that, I just have to ask- I think when Tom and I first met, you were really engaged in, in doing things like block walking and a lot of grassroots stuff. And then you know, just a few short years later, you’re leading one of these kind of largest conversations going on in city politics today and and just collaborating with a ton of groups in town. And can you, can you briefly just like, how did you kind of get from here to there so quickly and what was sort of that journey like?

Thom Visco (02:37):
Um so it was a journey. I don’t think I have a very good answer for you. I think I- Francisco and I took all of the opportunities that were presented to us. I think when we first started at Glasshouse we were really solely focused at the statewide leve. Working with the Texas ledge and learned a great deal by working with a lot of the folks at the ledge who are of a certain competency. And, and really professional and really sort of knew what they were doing. And I think that was a really good learning environment for us. And then I think while we were at the ledge, what we sort of saw is, right, Texas is a weird state, you only have the legislature on session every two . And what can our impact be as relatively young and unmoneyed advocates in the ledge, especially in a state where there’s no campaign finance laws, right? And the way.

Dan Graham (03:22):
Unmoneyed- I like that.

Thom Visco (03:22):
Yeah. Right. I mean the politics works a certain way and I think we began to be attracted to the conversations that were happening at the municipal level in Austin. Because as we’ll get into more today talking about Code Next, Austin is sort of a city that is leading the pack of the second tier up and coming cities. And I think we saw a lot of the issues that Austin was dealing with as having really big national impact. And I think that’s why we became so focused on that specifically the, you know, the most pining issues in Austin for the past five years actually haven’t been affordability. As much as we talk about affordability, they’ve been mobility because all of a sudden Austinites discovered that traffic jams exist. And started freaking out because of that. And Francisco and I got deeply engaged with the mobility conversation that happened here in Austin over the past few years. And that interest quickly transitioned to a land use interest because what we realized was you really, you can’t talk about one without the other. And we had a lot of people in the city who wanted to talk about mobility and really simply in the context of why am I standing still on MoPac and I-35, this didn’t happen 10 years ago before all these Californians came. And we were trying to figure out a way to have a much broader conversation about what was causing that issue. It really is not just a mobility issue. So from there here, here we are working on Code Next.

Lisa Graham (04:45):

Dan Graham (04:46):
I know, I noticed they finally have that at least the northbound lane of MoPac toll open. I noticed it the other day as I was zipping past all of the people stuck in that lane in a, in a parking lot on, I was using the break in the managed toll lanes. Yeah.

Thom Visco (04:59):
Yeah, people were in the managed toll lanes.

Dan Graham (05:00):
Yeah. They were just sitting there and I drove by them in the regular lanes.

Thom Visco (05:03):
Economics is hard, man. It’s hard to balance those managed toll lanes.

Lisa Graham (05:07):
Trying to figure out how much to charge people so that fewer people will use it. I think everyone was just so excited it opened. I think every time I saw it, even when there was no traffic, I wanted to drive in it just because.

Thom Visco (05:16):
It’s funny cause MoPac is just something that sort of exists out of my experience. Like I don’t really know MoPac or know those problems, but good for y’all with that managed toll lane.

Lisa Graham (05:26):
Congratulations. So yeah, I mean really let’s kind of start- I wanted to start kind of at a 101 level so that people can get an idea of, you know, what is Code Next? So when people say, “Code Next, I’m upset about it.” What are they talking about? And then also, why is this even coming up now?

Thom Visco (05:45):
Yep. So I will answer your second question, first. Five years ago in 2012, the city of Austin’s City Council, as one of their blast big policy tasks before transitioning to the 10-1 council, which happened in 2014, passed a comprehensive plan called Imagine Austin, every city in the state of Texas is required to have a comprehensive plan. If you’re a home rule city, you have to have one. It’s just like one of the requirements. It’s just like a state law. It’s in the Texas government code: if you’re home rule city, one of the things that you do is a comprehensive plan. Those plans can be, I mean, anywhere from five pages long to 500 pages long. I would say that Imagine Austin, when you look at other peer cities, Imagine Austin is a normal comprehensive plan. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s about a 350 page document, which delves into the big issues that the city of Austin faces and how we want to solve those issues. Two of the major issues that Imagine Austin identified for as challenges for the city’s future was mobility and affordability. And Imagine Austin is actually- has a very good exegesis on why those are issues in Austin, how they’ve gotten to the point of being much larger issues than they used to be, and how all of this sort of revolves around Austin’s rapid population growth, right? I mean, I think a lot of- well, you guys know this because you’re from here- but people like me, who’ve only been here for four or five years, don’t really know that Austin 10 years ago was just a sleepy college town. There was some tech here. There were some new people coming here, but we’ve really experienced the boom right in the past 10 years.

Dan Graham (07:21):
Yeah, I’ve read, there’s like 165 people a day moving here.

Thom Visco (07:24):
Yeah. Everyone always throws around those numbers and what we know from the city demographers that by 2042, there’s going to be another 500,000 people coming to Austin. Right. Either moving here or born here and growing up here. So the city has this, this rapidly growing population, but the infrastructure and the city planning, frankly, of a city that was, you know, supposed to be 500,000 people, right, and here we are at a million. So Imagine Austin identified those issues and basically said, there’s no way that we’re going to solve these issues in a comprehensive way without rewriting our land use and development code. The last time we rewrote our land use and development code was in 1985. Austin was a much different city in 1985, A different set of challenges and the process that it named to rewrite the land use and development code is Code Next. Right? So Code Next as a process was invented five years ago with the passage of the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan.

Dan Graham (08:21):
And when you say land use and development code, what are the big things that are buckets in that- that impact how we deal with this massive population growth?

Thom Visco (08:30):
So a land use code is- it’s the underlying DNA of a city. It fundamentally governs how we as people and the buildings that we live in and work in, etcetera, relate to one another, right? So you can have your- your land use code can do a lot of different things. I think the best way to visualize how different a land use code can impact the city is think about downtown and what downtown Austin looks like and think about Manhattan and what Manhattan looks like. Right? The fundamental way that these cities have developed is governed by its land use code. So the reason why on South First Street, we only have one story buildings. Whereas if you go four blocks to the West on Lamar, you can have three story buildings is because of our land use code, right?

Dan Graham (09:17):
So where you can go, you know, high with multiple floors or have a lot more units or anything kind of zoning where you can put hotels, restaurants, all of that stuff-

Thom Visco (09:25):
All of that stuff is in the zoning code, but also what all of those buildings, restaurants, etc. have to look like as well. So there’s a reason that we don’t have like five story residential houses in single family neighborhoods, right? In most single family neighborhoods in Austin, the rules are, you can build to two and two and a half stories- that’s as high as you can go. And it also governs depending on your lot, how much of your lot you can take up with your built form- with your structure. So it does a lot of things…How it relates to all of these other problems like affordability and mobility is complicated, as you can imagine. But fundamentally the core trade-offs are choices that you have to make when thinking about a land use code and its relation to mobility for instance, is what do you want your mobility portfolio to look like? Right. So we have a hundred percent of the people here in Austin- 100% of them need to go places and do things. How are 100% of them doing those things, right? Right now in the city of Austin, about 75% of people who commute to work, take a single occupancy vehicle. So, if you have roadways that are built for half a million people, and all of a sudden you have a million people and the percentage of people who are driving single occupancy vehicles stays the same, all of a sudden you have twice as many people on your roadways, right? And that’s traffic. I have a lot of fun talking about this in the reverse way, because I went to college in Pittsburgh, which was a city built for about a million people. And then the population crashed dramatically because of the steel collapse and all of a sudden had the infrastructure of a city for a million people, but not that many people. There’s never traffic in Pittsburgh. And affordability is not a problem because there’s an oversupply of housing… So the land use code conversation is really about how do we, as a city, comprehend the changes that are happening to the city and then plan around those changes.

Dan Graham (11:19):
Just a second. You just went from talking about how and where people live and the land use code to talking about traffic problems. And so, how is it that the land use code or this Code Next piece- what’s the direct link there to traffic? Like how is, how is building more or differently in different areas going to help traffic?

Thom Visco (11:39):
So the way that it helps traffic is by changing that mobility portfolio. Right? So, I mean, ultimately if you want to decrease traffic, you need to get more people out of single occupancy vehicles. Traffic is fundamentally a geometric problem, right? It’s about how many people are you fitting in these set things of, of space, right? Cars are big, right? And if you have a bus- 60 people can fit in the same amount of space as 60 people in 60 cars. Right? Think about how much bigger all of those cars are compared to the bus. Right. So the way that the land use code relates to mobility is by making it easier to have alternative modes, right? So if people live in denser communities like apartment complexes, for instance or apartment buildings, it would be easier to serve them via mass transit. Right. Which potentially gets people out of single occupancy vehicles.

Dan Graham (12:32):
Got you. So if you add density in areas, then that creates viability for these mass transportation options.

Thom Visco (12:38):
Absolutely. Right. There’s a reason, again, New York, like Manhattan has subways for a reason that Austin doesn’t right. And it’s because of the density. We know from basic literature reviews of studies about what means success for transit and what doesn’t mean success for transit, that if you have 17 housing units or jobs per gross acre next to corridors… Think of Lamar or Guadalupe. These big transportation corridor that will be supportive of high capacity transit. If you have less than 17 people or jobs per gross acre along transit routes you’re going to have less successful transit. That’s sort of like the event horizon of good transit, but it’s all- it’s not just about transit. Right? It’s about- it’s about all of these other ways that people get around. When I went to college, I rode my bike to school because I lived in a place that was close enough to my campus, that I was able to ride a bike. It was more convenient for me to ride a bike. When you think about the city of Austin… I mean, how many people do you know who work downtown, right? A ton.How many people do you know who live and work downtown? Not that many. Right? And that’s one of the fundamental challenges that we have in Austin is we have a land use code that has sort of encouraged people to live in different places than where they work or where they play for that matter. I’ve never seen a city with so many parking spots next to bars than the city of Austin, right. We actually, in our land use code right now have more parking spots required for bars than any other type of structure, which is just sort of this backwards way of thinking about how we want to grow as a city and think about public safety.

Dan Graham (14:15):
Well, you need to make sure all those visitors to bars have ways to get home.

Thom Visco (14:18):
Exactly. Right. Which, which in Austin is you’ve got to drive your car. And I think there’s- so this issue is complicated. I also think that one of the things that’s really hard about Code Next and land use planning generally. And I think we see this in a lot of politics and policy issues nationally as well right now- is it’s really hard for people to understand historic trends and sort of where we’ve been and how that relates to where we are now. Zoning in the United States was invented for two reasons. The first reason was born out of the industrial revolution in Chicago. And you had- Chicago was the pig packing capital of the world, right? That’s like- that’s why Chicago is a major city now is because of the meatpacking industry. And people figured out very quickly that although we have a lot of these, you know, poor unwashed masses who need to work in these pig type packing plants it’s probably not for the best that they live right next door to them. Right? Because we get health problems because of that. And those are burdens on the community. So how do we physically separate people from these nasty industrial processes, right? And that is what was born- that’s how you use based codes were born, right? Which is what we have now in the city of Austin. When you look at a zoning map in Austin, there’s residential areas, there’s commercial areas, and there’s industrial areas. That paradigm was invented in the turn of the century- in the 20th century. The second reason that land use codes were invented were to separate people, right? Especially when you think about Southern cities. I’m from Montgomery, Alabama, there’s an East side of Montgomery and a West side of Montgomery. I’ll let you guys figure out what the difference between those two things are. And it’s the same way in Austin with I-35 as well. This sort of physical separation of the city zoning has been used to keep people who the people in power don’t want around from being around. And I think in the South that’s namely people of color.

Dan Graham (16:19):
So I’ve heard people say that our current land use code is racist and that’s, you know, obviously one of many reasons we need to change things. How is it racist and what is it that they’re actually talking about when they say that?

Thom Visco (16:35):
I’m going to stay away from, “the land use code is racist.” Right. I think that the land use code is certainly kind of a tool in the toolbox especially, you know, of institutional racism. That’s for sure.

Lisa Graham (16:50):
Yeah, yeah. I was just gonna say, I guess another way to phrase it as maybe this is what you were getting at. Could you talk about what happened in Austin? How people, why people are living where they’re living right now?

Thom Visco (17:02):
So yes, in 1928, Austin passed its first set of zoning rules. And these are the much maligned, 1928 master plan of the city, which famously red line certain districts like Clarksville…

Dan Graham (17:16):
What does red lining mean?

Thom Visco (17:18):
Redlining… this is not an academic definition, but red lining is essentially saying we’re going to move all of the people of color out of this district. And we’re going to move them to a different district.
Dan Graham (17:29):
By law.

Thom Visco (17:29):
Yes. So there’s an Austin- Tarrytown; in Hyde Park- there are houses with deed restrictions on them that actually say that this property cannot be purchased by a black person. Cheryl Cole, who was a city council member actually famously sort of said that on the diet side, you know, she bought a house- I forget where she was living- but her house, when she looked through the paperwork of it, it was technically illegal for that house to be sold to her because she’s a woman of color. So this sort of institutional systemic racism in Austin was very much sort of put in place in 1928. And that’s where it all kind of got started. In 1928 there was no Interstate 35, right? There was just sort of a major road that actually kind of borders… That was basically the edge of Austin. There wasn’t a lot of stuff East of what used to be I-35 and in a lot of cities, especially across the South, the interstate highways were used to solidify this red lining, right? So in the city of Austin, you can very much look back historically at population trends. And you notice that all the white people are West of 35 and everyone else’s East of 35. And that was very much sort of an intentional thing that was done leveraging both sort of highway construction, as well as city planning to fundamentally separate people. Nowadays I don’t think that there are people in the planning department who are saying, how do we separate people based on race. That being said the way that we do housing in this country is problematic because it’s fundamentally like a pure free market. Which means that you’re ultimately sort of playing musical chairs for where you’re going to live. Right. If there’s, if there’s more people than there is housing, which kind of is the case in a city like Austin, when it’s rapidly growing- someone’s going to get left out of getting access to good housing, right? Because there’s such a rush on the market. There’s so many people coming here. There’s so many people who have means to actually purchase the house. And in the housing market, if you have money, you get to go kind of ahead of everyone else who doesn’t have money. Which is why we sort of see rampant unaffordability spiking, because all of a sudden you have communities, neighborhoods, which are sort of used to be not great neighborhoods, right? So the property values are lower than in other places. And that creates a sort of rush on that neighborhood because if you’ve got new people moving here and [they say], “I’m going to- I could either buy a $700,000 house in West Austin, or I could buy a $200,000 house in East Austin, tear it down and put up a new $200,000 house, I still saved myself $300,000.” Right? And that’s now I think a lot of the- the racial dynamics and tensions that we see in the housing market in Austin and… The the gentrification of the East side goes back to that fundamental problem. Where are we going to put the people who are moving here? And we really need to figure that out because if those people have more money than other people, they’re going to start moving people out.

Dan Graham (20:29):
Well, it’s interesting because a lot of the friends that I have in West Austin who want to kind of keep the their zoning the way that it is so that they don’t end up with a sixplex next door. I mean, what they’re really arguing for is anti-free market. They’re looking for the government to come in and force their neighbors to keep things the way that they are, as opposed to using the land in terms of whatever they think the best use would be.

Thom Visco (20:53):
Sure. Yeah. I think that’s like a private property, like “rights” sort of argument. I mean, I think the challenge right now is in a lot of single family neighborhoods, they ARE single family neighborhoods. You can’t put up a fourplex or a sixplex, even if people didn’t want you to, you couldn’t do it right now by law. There’s a lot of, again… it’s a complicated conversation. There’s a lot of intricacies to Austin’s land use code that are different than a lot of other places. And again, in my experience, there’s a lot of Southern cities too, has a lot of these quirks. One of the things that Austin has that no other city that I’ve really seen has is minimum lot size, right? Which has sort of this kind of crazy rule, which basically says, if you want to, you know, have a residential use on a lot in a single family neighborhood, it has to be 5,750 square feet, or you can’t put a house on it. Right. You can’t have a 3000 square foot lot. Right. Which is fundamentally like this weird economic regulation, which basically says, unless you can buy almost 6,000 square feet of property in this neighborhood, you can’t live here. Right. Which is, again, Think people think that it’s sort of normal, but that’s really not a normal thing. Right. You’re basically- it’s basically the city mandating sort of like a homeowners association agreement. Right. You have to be this wealthy if you want to access into this neighborhood. Right? And you see those more stringent lot sizes much more frequently in West Austin land use uses than in East Austin, right. East Austin. We have a lot of smaller lots, and that’s because it was a different type of person was living in East Austin who couldn’t afford all of that land. So that’s that. Again, there’s so much sort of underlying this Code Next conversation, but, you know, I think what’s so interesting about it is that it really is, I mean, Code Next is a process to be engaged with. Right? And I think that’s something that’s kind of interesting and so befuddling about how hectic and heated the conversation is now is at the end of the day, it’s a citywide planning process. It is an opportunity to sort of come together and say, what do we want to be as a community? And I think that’s one of the things that’s sort of so revealing about the argument is that basically everyone who’s on all of these different sides around Code Next, they all say they want the same thing, which is an integrated Austin; an affordable Austin; an Austin, that’s more mobile. The distinction between all these different groups is how they think they’re going to get that future. And that’s what’s so problematic about the conversation is you can’t really get people on the same page about how we want to get to this future, that we all have a shared desire for…

Lisa Graham (23:28):
Is there even, you know, a lot of this conversation to Austin does have very unique challenges based on the way we were built, the fact that we’re built for a much smaller population, incredibly rapid growth, like, are there, how are other cities dealing with this? And are there even any peers that we can look at, or is that what’s contributing to the fact that we’re kind of on our own really trying to figure out how to do this?

Thom Visco (23:49):
Sure. There’s definitely, right off the bat, never a direct one-to-one, “Let’s go see what this other city did.” Austin has certain geographic, cultural, environmental- we have all these things that a lot of other cities have, but they have them in different ways. “Save our Springs” for instance. And Austin is one of those big things that we have that makes- that gives us some sort of… They’re not challenges, but they’re things that we have to build around. We’ve decided, as a city, to protect the environment… We should have much less development in West and Southwest Austin. Right? Which is probably a good thing, right, if there are environmental concerns. Yeah, absolutely. There are, again, as I said at the beginning, Austin is sort of leading the pack of these second-tier up-and-coming cities and the way that I think about those cities as cities that weren’t big cities before 1950, right? Cities, that weren’t big cities before we had highways and the mass use of the automobile and these cities are Charlotte, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, San Diego. There’s a lot of cities who are facing the challenges that Austin has in terms of rapid growth; in terms of shifting demographic; in terms of new economies coming to the city Seattle just had, I don’t know the exact number, but it was something around a $50 billion bond to support transit. I mean, you could never imagine something like that happening in Austin. But, so yeah, there are cities that are doing big, bold things to handle massive population growth. Seattle has been gripped by gridlock in downtown Seattle for many, many years, and they decided to make a big, bold move to try to fundamentally change the paradigm in their city because it wasn’t working for the city anymore. And it wasn’t working for what the city wanted to become. I think Charlottesville- a very similar thing the mayor of Charlottesville. Am I thinking right? So I’m thinking the one in North Carolina- is it Charlotte or Charlottesville? It’s Charlotte- that’s what it is. Yeah. the Mayor of Charlotte was actually he foresaw a lot of these sort of massive growth changes, much more ahead of anyone else and actually went and became the Secretary of the Department of Transportation for President Obama. Because again, he did some transit planning and some mobility planning that was multi-tiered and thought about this multimodal portfolio, not just relying on single occupancy vehicles. And I think San Antonio- we’re probably going to see them make some changes now too. A new mayor who was just elected down there, Mayor Nirenberg, a very progressive person who basically ran a campaign focused on transit in the downtown core and density in the downtown core to try to direct as much growth as possible into central San Antonio. Because that’s the problem that Austin has had is so much of our growth has gone outside of central Austin. That’s why we have so much traffic from people coming into Austin.

Lisa Graham (26:38):
Really kind of then looking forward, we know why this is a big deal. I think because we all experience it every day, and like you said, everybody agrees on what we need to do. And so I guess the other thing to think about too- I think if we get into too much of each side and what their arguments are, it could- it gets interesting, but it also gets a little messy, but so once these decisions are made- so what are the next steps with Code Next? Like, is there an election? Do you talk to your City Council? What do you do? And then what does it mean once-

Dan Graham (27:13):
And will it result in electronic billboards?

Thom Visco (27:14):
Potentially is the answer to that question, Dan. So Code Next is not- it’s not an election- it’s a very complicated, very nuanced policy making process that’s happening in the city right now. Right now the city’s planning commission is currently looking and studying Code Next and they’re going to provide recommendations. Those recommendations will come out probably sometime in February or March. And then ultimately it’s council’s job to pass Code Next. I would say that final passage of something called Code Next is slated for sometime in April to June-ish because at the end of the day, next year- I don’t know if you all have heard is an election year. And Code Next is a fraught political topic in the city of Austin. So I doubt that there’ll be a lot of council members who want to be talking about something as controversial as Code Next in the middle of running for reelection. So I anticipate the conversation being wrapped up by June as far as engaging your council members, the best way to engage… Ultimately, again, this is a super complicated process and the science and the policy underneath this is very complicated and multi-layered as well. So engaging with your council member and, frankly, just reading up about zoning would probably be the most useful way to get-

Lisa Graham (28:34):
That sounds really fun.

Thom Visco (28:35):
I mean I know that’s what’s on my bed side table.

Lisa Graham (28:36):
Oh zoning code! But I mean, once this decision’s made, and for lack of a better word… how long are we stuck with it? And is this going to- is this a major decision that we will all be living with for the next 10 years? Or is this like children who are young and will be going to UT- what is this going to look like for them?

Thom Visco (28:56):
Last time that we rewrote our land use and development code was 1985. Yeah. I think cities across the country, if they want to be better, which I think a lot of cities do- part of transitioning into being a 21st century, modern city is going to be rewriting and thinking critically about land use and mobility more often that being said, Austin says that it wants to do a lot of things that never really happen. So yeah, I think this is ultimately a generational policy conversation that will impact the growth and the future of the city and all of the people who live here literally for decades. And a perfect example of this: I didn’t have a car when I moved to Austin. Right? And it became: with the job that I have and the places that I had the ability to live totally untenable to live in the city of Austin without a car. I did it for about a year. It was great. Capital Metro is pretty decent if you’re on the bus routes. The fact that I had to do that- there’s no reason that I had to do that other than the 1985 land use code. We could line 10 people up in this room and go through all of the problems that they see in Austin. And I’m pretty sure for nine out of the 10, I’d be able to point back to the land use code about why those problems exist. So yeah, this is ultimately the most important policy conversation that Austin’s having right now. And we’ll probably have for the next decade.

Lisa Graham (30:13):
Yeah. I think for me in this conversation, that’s one of the biggest things that’s always resonated with me is this is potentially something that is going to be affecting us for the next 25 years and seeing the change that’s happened just in the last five it’s-

Thom Visco (30:25):

Lisa Graham (30:25):
It’s startling. Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming.

Thom Visco (30:30):

Lisa Graham (30:30):
It’s been great having you here, and I’m glad Dan got to ask you the questions too, about how you got to where you are, because it’s really impressive. So thank you.
Dan Graham (30:38):
Thanks guys.

Lisa Graham (30:38):
We want to thank Tom from Glasshouse Policy for coming and talking to us today. I think having friends doing amazingly meaningful and interesting work in the community is the reason that we feel driven to even start this podcast in the first place. So thank you so much, Tom. And if you guys want to learn more about Code Next, please visit Austin, Texas.gov/Code Next, and to check out Glasshousepolicy.org, for more information on what Tom and Francisco are doing.

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