City staff: Only 2% of new home construction in Austin over last 10 years was ‘missing-middle’ housing

City staff will release a new draft of the land development code and citywide zoning maps Jan. 31. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
City staff will release a new draft of the land development code and citywide zoning maps Jan. 31. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

City staff will release a new draft of the land development code and citywide zoning maps Jan. 31. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

City staff will release a new draft of the proposed rewrite of the city’s land development code and zoning maps Jan. 31. With the release, city staff said they will highlight some data trends they have found, such as the scarcity of new "missing-middle" housing.

During Austin City Council’s Housing and Planning Committee meeting Jan. 28, staff told elected officials they found only 2% of housing built in the last 10 years was considered missing-middle housing. Missing-middle housing offers between two and eight units—typically in the form of duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes or townhomes.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar said the new data proved why the housing type was called missing middle: It is missing from the city’s new housing construction, he said. Casar said although some missing middle currently exists in the city, the statistic offered by staff shows most of it was built years ago.

The proliferation of more housing types, such as missing middle, has been a central goal of the community’s effort to rewrite the land development code, which governs what can be built in the city and where. City housing experts have posited that increasing the supply of missing-middle housing, as opposed to large-lot, single-family homes, would work to meet skyrocketing housing demand with less expensive housing types, thus slowing the rising unaffordability of Austin’s real estate market.

Laura Keating, an urban planner with the city, said the new land development code is working to make it easier for developers with projects of three to 10 dwelling units to get through the development review process. Keating said the current code’s strenuous development review process for such projects poses a major obstacle for developers.

What to expect with the new code and maps

City staff will publish the new code text, zoning maps and a staff report Jan. 31. The following week, on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5, City Council will host special work sessions to comb through the changes.

Approximately 199 amendments were offered by City Council during its December deliberations, 90% of which were implemented into the updated drafts, according to staff.

Keating told the housing and planning committee that the new draft would show a reduction in the city’s “base” housing capacity because City Council directed staff to reduce the size of missing-middle zones, which allowed for greater housing density through construction of missing-middle housing along the city’s transit corridors.

However, staff said this reduction would be offset by an increase in the “bonus” housing capacity. Base housing capacity is the amount of housing that the code can produce without any zoning or entitlement adjustments. The bonus capacity refers to the amount of housing that could be produced through the city’s incentive “density bonus” program. The density bonus program offers greater building entitlements, such as increased height or building cover, in exchange for guarantees from the developer they will build or finance the construction of subsidized housing.

Mayor Steve Adler said he wanted the community to remember that when the new drafts of the code and maps are released Jan. 31, it means City Council is not even halfway through the approval process, and many changes can still be made to what staff publishes this week.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


Virginia Waldrup watches her UT Dell Medical School graduation ceremony from her laptop on May 21. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact)
From academic to pandemic: UT Dell Medical School's inaugural class graduates into historic moment

The Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin graduated its first class May 21.

May 25 specifically saw 86 new coronavirus cases, the single largest one-day jump in the county during the pandemic. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper)
172 new COVID-19 cases in Travis County, two new deaths over Memorial Day weekend

May 25 specifically saw 86 new coronavirus cases, the single largest one-day jump in the county during the pandemic.

Iconic Austin Brands, which operates stores such as Toy Joy, is offering shoppers who donate to the Austin Fun   Learning program a 15% discount. (Courtesy Iconic Austin Brands)
Community updates: Iconic Austin Brands offering discount for items donated to Austin children, Nixta Taqueria joins pop-up grocery project and more

The YMCA of Austin is launching an employee relief fund, and eight women-owned Austin businesses received $10,000 grants to help them survive through the pandemic.

Renderings show plans for a transit station as part of Capital Metro's Project Connect. (Rendering courtesy Capital Metro)
Changes to Project Connect plan add $60 million to local cost estimate

Capital Metro Board Chair Wade Cooper called the upcoming June 10 meeting to finalize the technical aspects of the plan "one of the most consequential votes this board has taken in its history."

A new partnership between Capital Metro and Austin B-Cycle could rebrand the bikeshare service as Metro Bike and allow residents to purchase passes to use public transit and the bicycles together. (Courtesy Austin B-Cycle)
Capital Metro staff present plan to bring Austin B-Cycle underneath public transit agency’s umbrella

If the city of Austin and Capital Metro come to an agreement, users could buy a one-day pass to use both public transit and the city-owned bicycles

Members of the Dawoodi Bohra community have sewn more than 100 masks for essential workers and have donated them to The Mask Brigade of Williamson County. (Courtesy Mubaraka Malbari)
Austin Islamic community Dawoodi Bohra provides financial assistance, face masks during pandemic

The Dawoodi Bohra community of Austin has worked to provide financial assistance and offered support to first responders and essential personnel during the health crisis.

LIST: What is open, closed in Texas and how businesses can operate

Texas openings are staggered with different opening dates and operating limits.

New Braunfels is the third-fastest-growing city in the U.S. from 2010-19, according to the latest census numbers. (Community Impact staff)
These 5 Central Texas cities are among the fastest-growing in the U.S.

Four of the five cities represent notable growth in Williamson County.

Lost Creek Limited District will begin charging a fee to enter at its entrance to the Barton Creek greenbelt. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lost Creek board explains decision to charge fee for access to its entrance at Barton Creek greenbelt

Following a May 13 meeting during which Lost Creek Limited District officials voted unanimously to begin charging nonresidents to access the greenbelt from the Barton Creek low water crossing entrance point, board members have put out information further explaining their decision.

High 5 locations in Austin and Lakeway will open slightly later than was originally planned. (Courtesy High 5 Entertainment, LLC)
High 5 locations in Lakeway, Austin delay opening to June 1

High 5 Family Entertainment Center locations in Austin and Lakeway will reopen to guests slightly later than initially planned.

On a nearly empty South Congress Avenue, a resident plays guitar March 25. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment rate in Travis County shoots to 12.4% in April; Austin metro jumps to 12.2%

The local unemployment rate remains below the statewide and national rates.

Vic and Al's opened at 2406 Manor Road, Austin, on May 22. (Courtesy Vic and Al's)
Vic and Al's, new spot from Patrizi's team, opens May 22

The team had previously used the brick-and-mortar spot on Manor Road as a spot to make community meals for those in need this spring.