CodeNEXT: All Forms of Neighborhood-Scale Housing in All Neighborhoods?


#1

FANs interested in CodeNEXT met Saturday, August 12 to discuss recommendations that FAN could make to City Council, Planning Commission, Zoning and Platting Commission (ZAP), staff, and consultants. In the near future, FAN members will have an opportunity to vote on whether to support each possible recommendation. In keeping with FAN’s openness, transparency, and use of technology to include more people in the conversation, we are inviting discussion here on the forum about each recommendation before it is put to a vote.

1. What do you think of this recommendation?
2. What would you change, if anything?
3. What do you think of the rationale?
4. Do you have specific examples from staff’s existing CodeNEXT proposals that you believe must change to satisfy this recommendation?

RECOMMENDATION 1

The land development code should allow all forms of neighborhood-scale housing (including small apartment complexes, single family homes on small lots, duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, co-ops, and tiny homes) in all neighborhoods.

Rationale

  • Imagine Austin calls repeatedly for a diversity of housing types throughout the city, not just in select neighborhoods.
  • FAN embraces a greater abundance and diversity of housing as an opportunity to include more and different people in our neighborhoods.
  • The Obama White House Housing Development Toolkit calls for allowing more multi-family buildings to enable more families to live where they want.

#2

Clarification: is this saying all forms in all places in all neighborhoods? Or just: all neighborhoods should allow these forms somewhere?


#3

I think the intent was everywhere in all neighborhoods, consistent with the general principle that we should not be drawing lines - even within a neighborhood - around where different types of people are allowed to live.


#4

Let’s make that clear then.


#5

How about:

The land development code should allow all forms of neighborhood-scale housing (including small apartment complexes, single family homes on small lots, duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, co-ops, and tiny homes) in throughout all neighborhoods.


#6

Yes, that’s clearer.


#7

Is this proposing consolidating all of the residential-only zones into a single zone for “neighborhood-scale housing” that encompasses all of the above forms of housing?

If not (and I assume not), should we give a suggestion for a different, better way to design multiple residential-only zones with different intensities? For example:

Residential zones should only differ by FAR and height limits, but not on type of housing. All residential zones should allow small apartment complexes, single family homes on small lots, duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, co-ops, and tiny homes if they comply with the FAR and height limits for the zone.


#8

@sidharthkapur1 I like that suggestion and it provides a way to accomplish the recommendation. I like the idea of getting rid of different housing type prescriptions in the code itself and simply regulating form through whatever form based way - height and FAR, etc. It would make for a far easier code to understand and allow all housing types by default, instead of a bunch of different housing types to select from that have a bunch of different setbacks or other requirements that vary by housing type within the same zone.


#9

You will never get ALL forms of housing in ALL areas of neighborhoods, especially in Austin’s primarily single family yard house neighborhoods. There will be too much opposition and frankly I don’t think its appropriate. You should consider asking for various types of mid density / multi-family housing along the edge conditions, specifically along the one or two streets adjacent to any commercial corridors ( Lamar and 35th, etc), along major roads ( Westover, Jefferson, 45th St, etc) and where any residential is existing within 100’ of existing commercial zoning ( 34th st) but still zoned SF-3. These lots should be upzoned to SF-4 or Sf-6 and units allowed based on sf of lot. I agree that limiting construction by height, FAR and impervious cover makes more sense than the form based footprint given in CodeNext.


#10

Why even have the “form” concept? Just have R3 mean 3 units on the lot and have form regulations and get rid of the unnecessary layer of wide house, long house, multiplex, cottage court, etc.


#11

Support the concept, not sure how you map it though. Perhaps it means T4NC on every lot?


#12

Missed the last several comments before responding. As much as T4NC everywhere is fine with me, we did not need to spend years and $M to get there. I also want to caution, like others, on just having some of the good stuff in every 'Neighborhood" as borders of same are already suspect and gerrymandered for political advantage.


#13

One of the premises behind these proposed recommendations is that we don’t want to get in the box of assuming any particular set of zoning categories such as T4NC. It is up to staff and consultants - not neighbors in FAN - to determine the set of zoning categories and mapping to fulfill our recommendations. As we’ve already seen, the zoning categories may change, anyway.


#14

Good question regarding the “form” in form-based code. Which “form” of a building matters, and why?

Yet I would also suggest that limiting the number of units on a lot is arbitrary and ill advised. “Scale” in this recommendation was not intended to refer to the number of units but to the height and possibly other aspects of the physical form.


#15

Within any given transect the form requirements should be the same for each type - e.g. small apartment complexes and single family homes in the same transect should have the same envelope, instead of having different setbacks, cover limits etc for each like they had it in the first draft.

Not really relevant to this proposal now that I reread it.


#16

@Shawn_Shillington Does adding the following help clarify from what people have said or is it not needed? If so, is this too close to the other recommendation of “CodeNEXT: Apply Only Form-Based Code?”

Residential zones should only differ by FAR, height limits or other aspects of the physical form, but not on type of housing. Form requirements should be standardized where building type or number of dwelling units does not need to be specified - e.g. small apartment complexes and single family homes in the same zone should have the same envelope, instead of having different requirements such as setbacks, impervious cover limits, and other requirements. All residential zones should allow small apartment complexes, single family homes on small lots, duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, co-ops, and tiny homes if they comply with the FAR and height limits for the zone.


#17

@rcauvin, trying to translate words here into the end products = code and map. Whether we call it T4NC or something different, the idea here seems to be multiple forms with a full menu variety. In V1 that translates roughly to T4NC. like @betty, I don’t see that being accepted as a blanket statement throughout urban core neighborhoods in 2018, it will need to be done in phases over time. We have to be careful, a set of recommendations that yield, say, 500,000 units at this point in the process will not be viewed as a compromise position, just one wing holding firm.


#18

Just a note that, in my opinion, we should not embrace floor area ratio (FAR) maximums in our recommendations. Criticisms of FAR in Wikipedia include:

  • Abdicating to floor area ratios (market forces) is the opposite of aiming a community toward something more than the sum of its parts.
  • FAR, a poor predictor of physical form, should not be used when the objective is to conserve and enhance neighborhood character; whereas traditional design standards (height, lot coverage and setbacks or build-to lines) enable anyone to make reasonably accurate predictions, recognize violations, and feel secure in their investment decisions.
  • If FAR is carelessly combined with traditional setbacks, assembled lots have a considerable advantage over individual lots, which has a negative effect on fine-grained cities and the diversity of ownership.

Though, in a literal sense, floor area ratio does regulate the form of a building, FAR maximums encourage sprawl and are not a favored tool of form-based code advocates.

I mentioned in the thread on neighborhood-scale housing that we need to define “scale”. I don’t think we should do so in terms of the number of units or in terms of FAR. Height is an obvious component of “scale” that form-based code advocates typically embrace.


#19

We plan on putting these recommendations to a vote starting sometime tomorrow. If you have any further specific recommendations for wording changes or examples that can be used in the “rationale” section such as links to specific research or articles, please let post here sometime today! I’ve included what I believe to be the latest wording for this recommendation below based on what everyone has said here, but if I missed something, please let us know.


RECOMMENDATION 1

The land development code should allow all forms of neighborhood-scale housing (including small apartment complexes, single family homes on small lots, duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, co-ops, and tiny homes) throughout all neighborhoods.

Rationale

  • Imagine Austin calls repeatedly for a diversity of housing types throughout the city, not just in select neighborhoods.
  • FAN embraces a greater abundance and diversity of housing as an opportunity to include more and different people in our neighborhoods.
  • The Obama White House Housing Development Toolkit calls for allowing more multi-family buildings to enable more families to live where they want. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Housing_Development_Toolkit%20f.2.pdf

#20

I think each neighborhood with a neighborhood plan should be asked be revise their plans, showing a 100% increase in density and let them decide if corridor density or neighborhood wide density is best for them. No excuses about that not being possible
I don’t think we will achieve a Houston type lack of zoning solution that puts mid rise apts in the middle of a yard house neighborhood. What we should get is increased density along collector and arterial streets and on corner lots. Increased height and density along more trafficked neighborhood streets. Exposition and Windsor are examples of where single family is no longer the most appropriate use of land. Density should be added exactly where neighborhoods have wanted to limit development based on " commercial " creep. Well that creep was actually the most appropriate use of land and should have been planned and controlled, not eliminated.