CodeNEXT Draft 2.0 previewed for Austin City Council at meeting Wednesday

Austin City Council on Wednesday received a preview of what to expect in the newest version of CodeNEXT, due out Friday, Sept. 15.

Austin City Council on Wednesday received a preview of what to expect in the newest version of CodeNEXT, due out Friday, Sept. 15.

With the second draft of CodeNEXT—the overhaul of the city’s land development code—arriving in less than two weeks, Austin City Council on Wednesday received a preview of what to expect in the revised version.

The new code, scheduled for release Friday, Sept. 15, will boost the city’s housing capacity from 148,000 to nearly 180,000, which is attributed to new zoning standards and placements, according to CodeNEXT consultant John Miki of Opticos Design. Housing capacity and affordability are two of the major issues that CodeNEXT was tasked to address.

While the city’s housing capacity in the second draft is marked at roughly 180,000 units, the CodeNEXT consultants said their realistic forecast for what will be built is 135,000 units. The number attributed to housing capacity is calculated by assuming all parcels are built out to their maximum zoning entitlement, whereas the forecast looks deeper into realistic on-the-ground conditions.

The first draft also had a forecast of 135,000 new units. However, the standards implemented in the second draft produce a different mix of housing types. Consultants predict a greater number of missing middle housing—townhomes, duplexes and triplexes—and small lot single-family, and less multi-family and large lot single-family structures. John Fregonese of Fregonese & Associates said the city has nearly met its capacity of new large lot single-family structures.

Miki said the new code would allow mixed-use housing structures—typically buildings topped with apartments and trunked with commercial uses—in formerly commercial-only zones. Form and placement standards in residential zones will also be more flexible.

The other major change the city can expect to see in the second draft is the new categorization of the zones. The much-criticized first draft had transect zones—zones that are strict on physical character and lenient on use—and nontransect zones, and people found it confusing. In the draft due out on Sept. 15, the residential zones will be a continuous spectrum of zones, organized by category, group and zone.

Residential zones will be cited as R zones; residential multifamily zones will be RM zones and mixed-use zones will be MU zones. The consultants said the use-tables would be cleaned up to create a more streamlined experience.


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