Many of you are aware that a proposed "Lobby Reform" resolution is making it way to City Council. The current resolution language would effectively categorize Architects and any staff within an architects office as a "lobbyist" and would prohibit our profession from public service on boards, commissions, taskforces and advisory groups. It would also require the same professionals currently serving to recuse their current positions. This is not a mistake - but by the author's design.

AIA Austin is taking this matter very seriously and has joined a coalition of 11 organizations representing the professional design and development community. The coalition has retained our own legal council to advise us through this process. Last week, our coalition released a letter to the Mayor and City Council expressing our concern of the proposed resolution (see below)

Please know that AIA Austin is at the table representing your interests and while we won't tell you not to "lobby" your council member individually, we would ask that you stand with us as we engage this as part of a larger group.

We will be updating you on this issue as it progresses. As we move thru the process and eventually to City Council, we will need our members to testify. If you are interested, please email ingrid@aiaaustin.org

Stuart Sampley, AIA
2015 AIA Austin President

October 20, 2015
Dear Mayor Adler, Council Members and Council Staff:

The design, development, and building community, who are tasked with compliance with the Austin City ordinances and codes, have joined together to review the proposed changes to the lobbying ordinance, and would like to share with you our concerns with the current proposal.

The draft lobbying resolution in review by the Ethics Committee seeks to require anyone who speaks to city staff on a “discretionary” matter to register as a lobbyist. Hundreds of design professionals, craftsmen, and administrators must interact and communicate with City staff in order to do their job, as it is nearly impossible to take a public (City, County, State, or Federal) or private project through the City of Austin permitting system without speaking to City staff at length. Having those professionals register as lobbyists would not provide any community benefits or more transparency. In fact, such information about who is working with city staff on a project is readily available to the public on the city’s AMANDA database website.

We have reviewed the lobbying ordinances of large and growing municipalities both in Texas and across the country. None of these cities, nor the state, have adopted the broad and far-reaching definition of lobbying and lobbyists that is currently being proposed.

Additionally, because lobbyists may not sit on boards and commissions, the draft resolution will ban Austin’s design professionals from civic service. Austin has dozens of boards and commissions that depend on the professional resources of volunteer architects, landscape architects, engineers, interior designers, surveyors, and a long list of other professionals who have answered the call of civic service. Trained and experienced professionals help navigate the rising complexity of a growing Austin by educating our community on complex topics including land code and permitting, urban planning, sustainability, resilience, and design for public health. Our current ethics rules for boards and commissions, when effectively enforced, already prohibit any conflicts of interest by design professionals serving on boards and commissions.

We will continue to engage during each step in this process, and would like to meet and discuss ethics reform options centered on healthy, transparent processes for both individuals and groups to participate meaningfully in public policy. We thank you in advance for meeting with our collaborative group.


Stuart Sampley, AIA, President, American Institute of Architects Austin (AIA Austin)
Steven Spears, PLA, AICP, Central Texas Chair American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
Josh Tompkins, President, Associated Builders & Contractors, Austin (ABC)
Phil Thoden, CAE, President and CEO, Austin Chapter Associated General Contractors (AGC)
Amy Casto, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering Companies Texas (ACEC)
Michele Yule, Executive Director, Greater Austin Contractors & Engineers Association (ACEA)
Tony Buonodono, PE, PMP, Stakeholder Committee Chair American Society of Civil Engineers, Austin Branch (ASCE)
Walter Elias, President, Home Builders Association of Greater Austin (HBA)
Ward Tisdale, President, Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA)
Jonathan L. Poole, Ph.D, PE, President, Austin Chapter Structural Engineers Association of Texas (SEAoT)
Brian Everett, PE, President, Travis Chapter Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE)