Attorney General Ken Paxton today obtained approval from a state district court in Travis County to proceed with a quo warrant
action asking for the removal of all individuals who unlawfully hold positions on the city of Austin’s planning commission.
Currently, eight of the commission’s 13 members are directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development, in violation of an amendment to the city charter approved by voters in 1994.
The provision requires that a minimum of two-thirds of the commission’s city council-appointed members “shall be lay members and not directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development.”
The eight members who are alleged to unlawfully hold positions on the planning commission are: Karen McGraw, Trinity White, Fayez Kazi, James Shieh, James Schissler, Patricia Seeger, Greg Anderson and Tom Nuckols. The group includes four architects, two land use engineers, the director of operations for a housing nonprofit, and a lawyer with the Travis County attorney’s office who specializes in real estate law.
“It’s shameful that the city of Austin ignores the will of voters and its own city charter, allowing the planning commission to be controlled by eight real estate professionals who unlawfully hold seats on the board,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We’re seeking the court’s removal of all commission members whose appointments violate the two-thirds ‘lay member’ requirement of the city charter.”
Under the Austin city charter, the planning commission is tasked with responsibility to create a comprehensive city plan, advise the city council on all land development regulations, and control platting and subdividing land. The city council’s inaction on members who unlawfully hold positions on the commission comes as both work on a comprehensive rewrite of the city’s land-use code, a project known as CodeNext.