ANC PUD Resolution

The Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) is voting on this resolution at its upcoming general membership meeting:

It calls for a moratorium on planned unit developments (PUDs) and for a task force to ban the use of PUDs for upzoning once the city lifts the moratorium.

What do FANs think of this idea?

I’d like to see the use of PUDs expanded. If we’re going to have a resolution on small lot amnesty, we could vote on a resolution dealing with PUDs at the same time.


Horrible idea.

I’m sad that certain rezoning cases have turned PUD into a bad word. We need tools like this in Austin. I almost feel like any land developed above a certain acreage should be an automatic PUD because the ordinance has some great ways of holding the developers to higher standards.

Speaking of…

Would we want to say the use of PUDs is fine the way it is or would we want to go a different way and say specifics on how they could be expanded?

Who knows the most about PUDs and would want to craft a draft resolution?

I know Girard was particular interested in this topic. He doesn’t yet have an account on these forums, however. Does someone want to reach out to him via email and encourage him to join (or otherwise see if he wants to draft a resolution)?

I’ll email him and ask him if he’d be interested and hopefully get him on the forums too.

I never heard anything from Girard, if someone else wants to create the resolution!

I think someone already did! (Find + Replace ADU>> PUD)

I’m not quite sure what you mean, @NatalieGauldin. Do you mean that we could resolve that the city should refrain from modifying its PUD policies until and except as part of the CodeNEXT land development code rewrite?

I would be happy to write a resolution, but I think we need to brainstorm the key bullets. And we should keep in mind the FAN vision as we deliberate on them.

What are some of those bullets?

I should add that I myself have a lot of concerns about PUDs. To me, they are an unfortunate necessity given the current land development code. In that sense, what I think @NatalieGauldin is suggesting may be one of our key points: we need PUDs at this time, but we can reconsider them as we revise the land development code and perhaps render the need for PUDs to be much less common.

I would prefer to see a situation where we take these large tracts of land, have the city create a street grid with relatively small lots, give the lots mixed use zoning, and auction off parcels to a diverse set of developers. That way they develop organically, without excessive top-down planning.

I agree, @rcauvin. Given the current onerous land development code, PUDs are a necessity. But the huge top-down planning process they require brings all of the NIMBYs out of the woodwork and we end up with watered down plans that end up costing way more than they would’ve if the city had just upzoned the property and sold it off in lots.

Perhaps we could put together a resolution on how the city should deal with large lots?

The other issue to consider is the use of PUDs on small tracts of land. I’m not very well versed in the history or how PUDs work, but my understanding is that some people are concerned about the “improper” use of PUDs just to up-zone a small tract of land. Is that what happened with the Barton Springs PUD?

This article on the newly unveiled East Austin mixed used project is relevant. Here’t the important quote:

“He told the development team to figure out what could be built on the 2.2-acre site without any zoning changes, variances or incentives.”

And by doing so the project is built much faster and there aren’t all of the costs associated with fighting for the variances.

Yes, I believe PUDs should stick around until we present solutions through the CodeNEXT rewrite. Hopefully those solutions would also address the extensive list of variances required for a typical PUD zoning change.

It is my opinion that the PUD ordinance supports FAN’s vision and fills some of the gaps that exist within the City code. Fan states:

A diverse array of housing options not currently available are compatible with existing neighborhoods, can help make our city affordable, and can contribute to the vitality of our neighborhoods.

Also remember, PUD zoning requirements go beyond, “put a lot of stuff on a large chunk of land.”

PUD zoning is appropriate if the PUD enhances preservation of the natural environment; encourages high quality and innovative design and ensures adequate public facilities and services for development within the PUD.

The ordinance and ANC’s resolution include very subjective statements. I would be supportive of efforts to clarify portions of the ordinance, but do not see this as an urgent matter.

@rcauvin, Tier 1 requirements include a 10 acre minimum or some sort of hardship with the land.

If you are really interested in working to change the PUD ordinance, here’s an opportunity…
Planned Unit Development Density Bonus: Stakeholder Workshop on Implementation Recommendations
By aviolil on Jul 27, 2015 09:04 am

Join Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD) on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 11:30 am for a collaborative work session related to draft proposed amendments to the City of Austin Land Development Code related to the Planned Unit Development Density Bonus Program.

This work session is an opportunity for stakeholders to collaborate with each other and NHCD staff to develop a draft framework for how the fee-in-lieu request process could be implemented if the City Council were to codify the proposed staff recommendations. We ask that participants come to the meeting prepared to draft recommendations in small groups and then put forth final recommendations as a full group.

In response to City Council Resolution 20140925-090, NHCD has prepared draft recommendations for potential code amendments to the Planned Unit Development Density Bonus Program specifically related to the sections regulating the requirement for on-site affordable housing units and the potential for developers to pay a fee in lieu of this requirement.

You can find information from the first stakeholder meeting as well as the draft staff recommended amendments on the NHCD Community Matters blog.

Meeting Information

PUD Stakeholder Meeting #2
Stakeholder Workshop – Implementation Plan for the proposed PUD code amendments
Thursday, July 30th, 11:30 am - 1 pm
1000 East 11th Street, Room 400A

There will be an additional stakeholder meeting August 12th to discuss general recommendations for Planned Unit Developments. We anticipate that the proposed code amendments will move forward to the Planning Commission at the end of August.

Please RSVP to Jessi Koch at or 512-974-3100, and feel free to contact me by email or phone with any questions.

Thanks for this tip, @NatalieGauldin. It concerns me that this group seeks to expand the use of conditional density programs, which are de facto inclusionary zoning. Conditioning density on the inclusion of below market-rate units actually undermines affordability, as this paper argues:

“The Economics of Inclusionary Zoning Reclaimed: How Effective Are Price Controls?”
by Benjamin Powell and Edward Stringham

Key excerpts:

“Economics shows that all income levels benefit even when new construction is high-priced. The reason is . . . the interaction between the various housing markets, which includes the market for new housing and the market for existing housing.”

“[P]olicies that restrict the supply of new market-rate housing make all income levels worse off.”

[I]nclusionary zoning is . . . a price control that leads to a decrease in the amount of housing."

“Offsetting benefits, such as density bonuses, does not eliminate the costs imposed by inclusionary zoning . . . . Builders do not simply absorb this tax as a cost of doing business, nor do they continue to provide the same number of homes.”