City of Austin releases first draft of new land development code and revised zoning maps

Brent Lloyd and Annick Beaudet, center, speak about a new draft of the land development code at an Oct. 4 press conference.

Brent Lloyd and Annick Beaudet, center, speak about a new draft of the land development code at an Oct. 4 press conference.

After years of development, the city of Austin released its latest draft of a new land development code, including revised zoning maps, at a press conference Oct. 4.

Proposed changes include the creation of transition zones, which are geared to provide missing middle housing in high-opportunity areas that are well connected to transit; fewer parking requirements; improved environmental protections; an expansion of the city’s density bonus program; and a more user-friendly format.

“We’ve taken this opportunity to substantially remodel,” said Development Officer Brent Lloyd.

The rewrite process began in 2012 and has been mired in controversy, including the six-year, $8.5 million effort called CodeNEXT, which City Council voted to abandon and start anew in August 2018.

This new version aims to be more accessible and user-friendly than previous drafts and the current code, staff said, and to improve the city’s permitting process by scaling application requirements to the size of the proposed project.

“With this code, we are looking to simplify how we’re growing and guide growth where it can do the most good,” said Annick Beaudet, assistant director of the city’s transportation department.

Two issues of contention in past drafts have been single-family zoning and the ability to build accessory-dwelling units.

Despite a previous proposal released by city staff Aug. 13 that would have prohibited single-family homeowners from demolishing their existing structure to build a new single-family structure, this latest proposal allows broader rights for homeowners based on feedback from the public.

“We expect this to be an item for discussion in the public process,” Lloyd said.

Additionally, accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, are allowed in all residential zones under this proposal, a change from previous versions.

"There's a lot that we like about this," Mayor Steve Adler said of the new draft in a Facebook video posted Oct. 4.

City residents interested in learning more about the proposed code and how changes might affect individual sites can use an interactive map prepared by the rewrite team. The tool provides side-by-side comparisons of the proposal and the current code as well as zoom and address search functions.

Following this release, the city will host a series of open houses to educate and inform the public about the proposed changes.

The planning commission will also hold a public hearing on the topic on Oct. 26, before making recommendations to City Council on Nov. 12.

Council is scheduled to consider the proposal for the first time on Dec. 5.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


MOST RECENT

Pharmacist Emily Smith opens a cooler for a patient to place their self-swab coronavirus test at a Walmart drive-thru testing site in McKinney on June 29. (Shelby Tauber/The Texas Tribune)
Poll says Texans' hopes for quick return to pre-coronavirus life are fading

Texans remain focused on the coronavirus pandemic and are less optimistic about returning the state to normal quickly, according to polling by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recently backed a movement calling for the reopening of winery and distillery tasting rooms and brewery and brewpub taprooms. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Agriculture Commissioner joins voices calling for reopening of tasting rooms, taprooms

In a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said demand from distilleries and breweries provides an important revenue stream to the state's farmers.

Volunteers help load food at an event hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank at Del Valle High School in April. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food bank announces four drives in July

Families in need can pick up free produce, milk, protein and shelf-stable items, as available, on four dates.

Travis County added 670 new coronavirus cases July 4-5.
Austin metro COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to 446 after holiday weekend

Travis County added 670 new coronavirus cases July 4-5.

The project is one of six that Travis County Commissioners Court on June 30 approved bond funding to support. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Cascades at Onion Creek Apartments to bring affordable housing to South Austin

The development, partially financed by Travis County multifamily housing revenue bonds, will have over 200 income-restricted units.

Overall in Travis County there has been a total of 10,695 cases since mid-March.. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Travis County adds 571 COVID-19 cases; new restriction put in place ahead of holiday weekend

Overall in Travis County there has been a total of 10,695 cases since mid-March.

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

A photo of a person wearing a medical mask
Travis County Judge supports state masking order, says county will enforce

After Gov. Greg Abbot's statewise mandate to wear masks that cover mouth and nose, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe voiced his support.

A statue of Willie Nelson sits in front of ACL Live at the Moody Theater at the corner of Lavaca and Second streets.
Austin police will no longer arrest for low-level marijuana possession

Austin police will no longer arrest or issue citations for most marijuana possession offenses under 4 ounces.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott: Texans must wear masks in public starting July 3

"COVID-19 is not going away," Gov. Abbott said. "In fact, it is getting worse."

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

Episcopal Health Foundation
Survey: Texans support emphasis on improving economy, safety, pollution to address overall health

“COVID-19 is clearly showing what Texans already know: the state needs to address underlying, non-medical conditions that have a dramatic impact on their health,” Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks said.