CodeNEXT: All Neighborhoods Eligible for "Density Bonuses"?

#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 3

All zones should be eligible for conditional density programs (“density bonuses”) that would embrace below-market affordable homes and doubling of density.

Rationale

  • Designating some neighborhoods as eligible for such programs, while excluding others, perpetuates income segregation.
#2

Should we be more specific about the doubling of density like the following? Is the second sentence under “Rationale” that I added redundant?


RECOMMENDATION 3

  • All zones should be eligible for conditional density programs (“density bonuses”) that would embrace below-market affordable homes. The density bonus program should allow double the amount of density in that zone under base zoning, if utilized.

Rationale

  • Designating some neighborhoods as eligible for such programs, while excluding others, perpetuates income segregation.
  • Austinites of all incomes levels should have access to high opportunity areas such as the interiors of our neighborhoods. We should not be segregating lower income individuals and families to only be allowed along high traffic major roads or corridors.
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#3

How does this work? Does that mean an R3 becomes an R6 in the same same envelope? Trying to reconcile how this fits with other by right proposals, and what causes below market housing stock.

#4

I would think something like the following when talking about transects (I don’t know what the R zones will look like yet). The density bonus that staff proposed for T4 was it would go from 4 dwellings to 8 dwellings, so we could just propose the same for all of the other zones, which is double the density. We might want to say that the density bonus should also allow additional height, impervious cover, etc, which might end up turning it into a similar higher zoning like what you were saying without actually requiring a rezoning.

T3 = 3 dwellings with base zoning, with density bonus = 6 dwellings
T4 = 4 dwellings with base zoning, with density bonus = 8 dwellings

#5

Folks, in connection with all of the proposed FAN recommendations that were posted following Saturday’s CodeNEXT meeting, please consider the following:

This organization was founded on the general idea that our neighborhoods should be affordable and inclusive, and that people who believe in this general idea were not getting their voices heard at city hall. This general idea, expressed in our Vision Statement, is one we have all said we enthusiastically support.

Both our mayor and one of our primary CodeNEXT consultants have admitted that so far the proposed development code has included nothing that would meaningfully change the affordability and inclusivity of our neighborhoods. They are in fact blatantly advocating against any meaningful change. It is time for us to stop reacting to these bad faith proposals, and to insist on the city’s proving to us that the next code proposal creates and maintains affordability, and to insist that the city show in detail how it does so.

I was in a private meeting with one of our council members on Monday. In her opinion, those of us who believe in affordability in our neighborhoods have allowed our voices to be drowned out by the NIMBYs. It is time for that to change. It is time for us to stop debating amongst ourselves about T4 or R3 or R6 or anything else of that nature. It is time to publicly and forcefully insist that ALL neighborhood scale housing be made legal throughout Austin, particularly in the central city neighborhoods.

The TCAD records prove that the following densities provide approximately the following land costs per housing unit.

Density Land cost/ Housing unit Total cost/ Housing unit

5-10 units/acre $500,000 $1,500,000

20 units/acre $111,000 +/- $350,000

40 units/acre $51,000 +/- $150,000

That’s the real world. I intend to present the underlying data and the associated proof of the foregoing assertion at tonight’s board meeting. I will have real life examples from real life Austin neighborhoods. It is time to insist that the city make all of the above price points available throughout all of our neighborhoods. That’s what FAN was created to advocate for. And I personally do not care how much “resistance” we face. We are the ones with 100% of the moral high ground on this issue. Frank

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#6

As I have mentioned repeatedly, I think it is fundamentally misguided to limit the number of dwellings. There should be no direct limits on the number of units per lot or per acre; the “doubling of density” should come from relaxing regulations on form (especially height).

#7

@harren, agree that the type of examples you are talking about can be powerful. Please re check the header with the examples below and align sequence .

This type of work is impottant in strategic planning. I may respectfully disagree if you think that is sufficient at this point - with months to go in an exercise at least as much focus needs to be on the operational plan - a code and map will soon be up for discussion on adoption. If we are not focused at that level and conversant on same we may have held the high road but are left with what amounts to platitudes at end of the day.

#8

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 3

  • All zones should be eligible for conditional density programs (“density bonuses”) that would embrace below-market affordable homes. The density bonus program should allow double the amount of density in that zone under base zoning, if utilized.

Rationale

  • Designating some neighborhoods as eligible for such programs, while excluding others, perpetuates income segregation.
  • Austinites of all incomes levels should have access to high opportunity areas such as the interiors of our neighborhoods. We should not be segregating lower income individuals and families to only be allowed along high traffic major roads or corridors.
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