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ABoR’S Core Principles on the Land Development Code Revision Process

  1. Protecting property rights, removing regulatory obstacles, and advocating for maximum flexibility for homeowner’s entitlements
  2. Supporting a rich and diverse supply of housing
  3. Embracing development that meets smart growth principles
  4. Promoting a streamlined and predictable development review process
  5. Increasing geographically distributed workforce housing options for all residents

The Austin Board of REALTORS® has long supported healthy, sustainable, and responsible development that plans appropriately for growth while protecting private property rights. ABoR supports current efforts to create more housing for people of all backgrounds, lifestyles, and incomes levels.

Development patterns caused by the current Land Development Code complicate efforts to provide infrastructure needed by a fast-growing city and impede the building of a functional multi-mode transit system, forcing continued urban sprawl and longer and costlier commutes. Unless strong measures are taken, current growth patterns will impact quality of life and solidify the trend of Austin becoming more and more unaffordable for residents and families.

For these reasons, ABoR supports the land development code refresh process. The result must be a cleaner, simpler code that allows for more types of housing in more places across our city.

All that said, the current iteration of the draft new code is not perfect, and the Austin Board of REALTORS® continues to advocate on behalf of homeowners throughout the city. Though ABoR has adopted general positions on Austin’s outdated code, specific aspects—such as transition zones and the impact on neighborhoods—are still being examined by our Board of Directors. We encourage others to contact their own city council member to express any concerns you may have about the current draft version of a new land code.

YOUR LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE RESOURCE HUB

We’ve made it incredibly easy for you to learn more about the Land Development Code AND share bite-sized content with your clients.


Whether you want to nerd out and read over 1,300 pages of the new LDC draft or just read the Cliff’s Notes version in the form of city staff reports, visit AustinTexas.gov/LDC to find everything you need to know!
Downloads: Facebook Image, Instagram Image
Bonus Content: ABoR’s Land Development Code 101 Presentation; FAQs PDF


Have a property you are curious about? Check out the current zoning a proposed future zoning with this cool interactive map.
Downloads:
Facebook Infographic, Instagram Infographic


You’ve probably heard lots of rumors on the street and in your NextDoor… Do your own research and find information from educated and unbiased sources, such as the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Downloads: Facebook Image, Instagram Image


We need a Land Development Code that can provide housing options for all current and future Austinites.
Downloads: Facebook Image 1, Instagram Image 1

You wouldn’t keep using a computer with outdated code from 1984… So, why should our Land Development Code be any different?
Downloads: Facebook Image 2, Instagram Image 2


In 2012, the Austin City Council unanimously passed the Imagine Austin plan with broad community support. It called for a more compact and connected community-–and also directed the city to write a new Land Development Code. Seven years later, we still don’t have one. Since 2012 the median home price in the City of Austin jumped 57% to reach $390,000. We can’t afford to wait anymore.
Downloads: Facebook Infographic, Instagram Infographic

KEY DATES

ABoR will be monitoring these upcoming City Council meetings. We encourage you to follow along by watching the Austin Council discussions, which will be streaming at AustinTexas.gov/ATXN.

Tuesday, December 3, 1:00 PM
City Council Work Session

Wednesday, December 4, 12:00 PM
City Council Work Session

Saturday, December 7, 10:00 AM
Public Hearing at City Council

Monday, December 9, 10:00 AM
City Council Special Called Meeting

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Land Development Code 101

Want a PowerPoint presentation you can share with your employees, colleagues, and clients? We've created a concise presentation about the history leading up to the Land Development Code revision, and everything you need to know moving forward.

 

DO YOU AND YOUR CLIENTS HAVE QUESTIONS?

We’ve Got Answers

Want this Q&A at your fingertips? Click here to download a handy conversation guide with these FAQs!

What is the Land Development Code?
The Land Development Code (LDC) is a section of the Code of the City of Austin that determines how land can be used throughout the city, what can be built where, and how much can or cannot be built.

Why is the City revising its Land Development Code?
The City’s current LDC was written back in the mid-’80s, when Austin had half the population it has now. Since the city’s population has a history of doubling every 20 years and is on track to do so again, it is imperative that our code keeps up with the times. The current LDC has become overly burdensome and complicated since it has been amended and re-amended over the last 35 years. If we want to manage our growth and plan for the future, we need a code that is straightforward and simple to understand for residents and homeowners.

What is Imagine Austin?

The Austin City Council adopted the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan unanimously in 2012 with broad community support. It called for a compact and connected community and dictated that the City rewrite its Land Development Code as part of the implementation framework.

How is the community being involved in the process?
The community conversation around the Land Development Code revision has been going on since Imagine Austin was adopted. An earlier rewrite process known as CodeNEXT started in 2014 but had several stops and starts. All of the community input from earlier efforts carried over into this current conversation. In the current iteration, there have been open houses, office hours, and direct opportunities for feedback and ideas from anyone who has something to contribute. The Planning Commission voted on the draft in November, and the City Council is expected to take up the draft on first reading in December 2019.

Is Single-Family Zoning being eliminated?
No, but the current “SF” zoning classifications will be known as “Residential”, and the maximum number of units that can be built on any given lot by right will be designated as “R2” for 2 residential units by right, “R4” for 4 residential units by right and so on. Under the new code, some residential zoning classifications would also allow additional residential units if the property owner participates in the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP), meaning the property owner would have to provide some onsite affordable units or financially contribute to the City’s affordable housing fund in exchange for the additional entitlements. Most single-family properties today already have the ability to build a second unit on the same lot and those entitlements will carry over.

Will my property taxes go up if my home is in a transition zone?
No. Texas law prohibits raising property taxes on a property based on zoning, if there’s a homestead exemption. Property taxes are based on use, not zoning, so you won’t see any property tax increase if your property is zoned for multiple units and you are using it as single family. In addition, the value of your property can only be compared against other single-family homes for their taxable values.
“By law if it’s a single-family residence used as a residence and has the protection of a homestead exemption, we must always consider that the highest and best use is as a single-family residence. So we will always compare that to other single-family residences, even though the underlying zoning underneath it may be something different.” – Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler

Will I be prohibited from remodeling, expanding my single-family house?
No. There might be some restrictions to size or updates to floodplain regulations, but in most cases single-family property owners will still be able to remodel in addition to being allowed to build at least one additional dwelling unit if you so choose.

Would the LDC override deed restrictions or HOA rules?
No. In fact, deed restrictions and HOA rules would trump the LDC. Deed restrictions that are enforceable today should continue to be enforceable, regardless of changes to City zoning regulations.

Will the new Code promote the demolition of existing homes?
No. In fact, a key tenet of the proposed code is the “preservation bonus”, which incentivizes homeowners to remodel their existing home rather than demolish it. If a homeowner preserves the original home, they would then also be allowed to build up to two additional units on their property.

Will the LDC only benefit developers?
All property owners will be treated equally. The intent is not to benefit developers, but to increase housing options for Austinites.

How will transition zones affect neighborhoods?
It depends. The City Council set a policy goal of creating transition zones that are generally two to five lots deep off of major corridors. The goal is to keep density in appropriate areas—-on busier streets-–while easing up on the density in surrounding neighborhoods. However, some neighborhoods, such as Bouldin or Hyde Park, might have narrower residential areas between the corridors, so those transition areas would not be as deep. This is because of City Council direction that a majority of an existing single-family neighborhood should not be in a transition zone.

How many new housing units will be built under the proposed Code?
The Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint calls for an additional 135,000 housing units to be built in the next 10 years to help balance out the market. The City Council called for a housing capacity of 405,000 units, which is the maximum allowable number of units that could be built on existing land. The actual yield of housing units is expected to come close to meeting the 135,000.

Will this create more affordable housing?
Yes, the draft code has created a new city-wide Affordable Housing Bonus Program to incentivize more affordable units.

What are the proposed new parking requirements?
Minimum on-site parking requirements per property would be reduced, but a property owner would still be allowed to include as many spaces as they’d like or as the market demands.

How will the Code help with traffic congestion?
One of the main Council-stated policy goals of the LDC is to support the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, which calls for a 50/50 mode share by 2039. This means that in the next 20 years, half of the trips in and around the city should be car-based and the other half would be alternatives such as transit, bikes, pedestrian, etc.

When will the new Code be adopted?
The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote on the LDC on first reading in December. Three readings are required, so the second and third readings will likely come in early 2020.

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