Restricted Front Yard and Side Yard Parking Ordinance

“The City of Austin’s Restricted Front Yard and Side Yard Parking ordinance prohibits parking a motor vehicle in the front or side yard of a residence except in a driveway or a paved parking space.”

If that is what everyone wants in an area, or an overwhelming majority as decided by a democratic / inclusive process - then fine. I ask FAN consider advocating for a clause to be removed from the ordinance, and that council be asked to act as if it already had been removed in their March approval process. The clause is based on the assumption that “THE” Neighborhood Association’s position on an issue represents the view of those with a vested interest in the neighborhood, and we know that is not always the case. Here is the clause:

“If a neighborhood is not located within in an adopted planning area and not in the neighborhood planning process, a neighborhood association registered with the City of Austin may submit an application to prohibit parking in the front and side yard for their entire neighborhood in February of a given year, but only if it has been more than three years after the area was first added.”

In an eclectic environment the ordinance can be used to discourage the continued use of properties for affordable housing uses, and to encourage economic / social segregation, so is in direct conflict with 4 of the 5 FAN principle and goals statements.

Unfortunately we only have about a week to debate as applications are only accepted in February. Understand we debate more significant matters, and cars are not the answer, but 12 people should not be able to get in a room and decide what 12 others can do on their property without at least giving them the courtesy of debate, compromise effort, or a vote - and that is why we are here.

@Phil_Wiley This is an ordinance which characters in our NA have been trying to mislead our neighbors into adopting for a number of years. They intend to ram it through again this very evening. My October article on it here.

@ChadV, it appears you an expert on the subject!

It is so inconsistent to require 60% of the people on a block to agree to residential permit parking, and not a single person on a block would have to agree to having this restriction put in place - on their side of the curb!

We have a Co-op with 17 people, that get 4 permits for residential permit parking… JHCC is going to vote mid-month on whether we want to oppose this. You might consider the same then we could approach City officials together, hopefully with some air cover from FAN because this is a great example of what happens when “the neighborhood” is given too long of a leash…

Would removal of the clause I proposed help Dawson as well?

@Phil_Wiley I can’t call myself an expert, but I may be one of the few residents of my neighborhood who bothered to look up the language of the ordinance. Or ponder the consequences. The PT is certainly too small of a group to be empowered to apply to add us to the Restricted Parking Map. I think a petition and referendum is more appropriate. It seems possible to speak against the application to the City Council before they vote on it. They may be expected to defer to the advice of your neighborhood’s PT. In our case, the legacy NA controls the PT too. Speaking to CC as representative of an alternate NA might not make much difference. Perhaps FAN and alternate NA together could make a positive impact.

I don’t know yet whether our NA PT voted for it this evening, since I was unable to attend. My friend on the PT Board is being sort of evasive in answering, so I fear for the worst. I and the other neighbors may not know for sure for TWO MONTHS since that’s how long the NA sits on the minutes before release in the newsletter.

@Phil_Wiley Could you elaborate a little more on this? My neighborhood is currently debating the ordinance, and I’m having trouble understanding the POV that you express here:

How does restricting lawn parking discourage affordable housing, and how does it encourage segregation? Thanks.

Hi @ChadV. Interesting article. Where did you get the information about Code Enforcement vs. Police enforcement, and that yard parking is technically illegal citywide? Everything I can find refers to the Restricted Parking Area Map. Thanks.

@clay, re this:

“How does restricting lawn parking discourage affordable housing, and how does it encourage segregation?”

Although economic and racial segregation are both issues, with a fair amount of overlap, my comment is directed towards economic segregation - so when I answer the question it will answer both of yours as discouraging affordable housing encourages economic segregation.

Fortunately we are going to have some overlap from our prior discussion on occupancy restrictions…

Example - we have a Co-op. SF-3 zoned property. 17 residents, across the street from an other (“the other”) high occupancy SF-3 property. They walk, bike, bus much more than most neighborhood residents, but in Austin some need cars to get to work, and they are limited to 4 permits to park on the street. That means at times cars are parked on the yard. If you no longer allow that you are pressuring the property to move to another less dense use - it is the density that makes it affordable.

Phil, with all due respect, Co-ops are a special case, and a tiny fraction of the housing in the city. For cases like yours, I could definitely see room for some kind of variance policy for lawn parking. But building a neighborhood- or city-wide parking policy around such an edge case doesn’t really serve the majority of residents. But I hear you, and that sounds like a crappy situation for the drivers who live in the co-op. Though, if the co-op managers had put down gravel for parking, your co-op would be grandfathered in, anyway.

@clay The shaded areas in the article are quotes from City officials and APD which are my main sources. They directly address your question. :slight_smile:

To connect some dots however, understand that the RFYSY parking ordinance has been in effect since at least 2009. The City is offering PT and NA a path to changing enforcement of that ordinance via means that potentially exclude the actual citizens there. NA/PT need only apply to City Council to have their territory added to a map. APD is therefore empowered to ticket for offenses instead of sending out Austin’s extremely reasonable Code Enforcement reps.

I see above in the newsfeed that our NA VP and PT Board Member Chad Cosper (AKA chadio) was here earlier but withdrew his comment- Welcome to the discourse!

@clay This was how we felt about the occupancy limit ordinance… :smiley: We don’t need a city-wide ordinance for a few “Stealth Dorms” that only happen in your neighborhood.

That said, this is pretty widely used in my neighborhood where we’ll have 4-6 men living in a duplex. We also have a case with adult children taking care of aging parents. I think you’d find this is pretty common in 78741 and 78744. It has been brought up, and no one in my neighborhood was interested in pursuing the issue.

@clay, It is encouraging that you see room for a variance policy - thank you for that - but we do not have one today, so we either oppose implementation or not. I do not think that when my “THE neighborhood” voted to opt into the RFYSY ordinance, that it had supporting a variance in mind, because there is only one “offender” - the Co-op. This ordinance would make it difficult for another “offender” to slip in though, so the effect would be to help cap, through “eternity” neighborhood density. In the same NA minutes a resolution also passed that includes: “no further condominium or apartment complex developments and no further offices”. Apparently that includes in the blocks adjacent to major transit corridors - so please put all these people moving here in your backyard.

We have three other SF-3 “rental” properties that have paved over their front yards. As far as being “grandfathered” there is no guarantee. Our neighbors in condominiums and apartments were grandfathered in when the residential permit parking rules were changed to preclude them from participating, but they also lost that a year ago.

When I started this string I thought RFYSY may not be that important, but was a great example of “THE neighborhood” vs. basic rights in a democracy. I now see the error in that thinking - it is one of many examples of “NOT-IN” that one by one have to be addressed because it is designed to be a package deal supporting the status quo: not in my backyard, not in front of my curb, not in your front yard, not on your side yard, not in your yard. This Council inherited many ordinances, written by bright talented hard working staff, that no longer fit the model of how we need to operate, as a City, to move forward in support of Imagine Austin.

@tthomas48 Maybe nobody in your neighborhood has shown interest in pursuing, it only takes one - set up a NA - raise one hand - send in the form. Presto chango.

@ChadV, the wording I proposed does not fix your problem as you have a “Planning Team” and I do not - so would need to be more generic - that is if anyone on the Board thinks it should be pursued. RFYSY can be forced on people even when no single resident or property owner on a block voted in favor of it, and no single resident or property owner on that block is guaranteed a vote. There are Council members who may not think that is a good situation.

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@Phil_Wiley My PT reps will emphatically downplay this point, but RFYSY could be a component of a push by the City to make folks pave their drives. If you currently have a “grandfathered” parking area, you may never make any changes to it. Else, you must get a permit, and end up with a property improvement that affects your tax.

I also see an issue with the wording of the ordinance in that your unpaved parking space may not qualify for grandfathering unless it is “depicted on an approved site plan”. If it never has been depicted, then you might find that the space where you have parked for decades is off-limits, until you get a permit and pave it! Could be that many citizens didn’t oppose the RFYSY because they were misled into believing they were grandfathered. I believe our PT is that clever.

Our APD Liaison stated that they can’t/don’t have to check to see if you’re “grandfathered” anyway. You could lose a day at the courthouse getting it straightened out. This is at least a potential nuisance, and I fear the possibility of PT figures composing a great list of targets for CoA/APD to focus on.

let’s see if the wording below gets us close to something all can agree with - @chadv, @tthomas48, @chadio - and anyone else interested - which hopefully will also include Northfield as their voice is important to the cause because it helps us find middle common ground - @swren, - I’d appreciate the chance to talk (

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods supports mass transit, improved bike infrastructure, and walk able urban environments, but recognizes that today cars still have a role in the transportation network, and that they need to be parked.

The “Restricted Front Yard and Side Yard Parking Ordinance” may be used as a tool to effectively support legitimate neighborhood interests, or to target and penalize reasonable affordable housing uses in an unfair and undemocratic manner. We ask that you carefully evaluate contested applications to understand which scenario is being presented to you.

The bar for submitting a contested application is too low today. A scenario can, and does, exist where nobody on a block is allowed to vote, or every person on the block voted against it, and it is still accepted for that block. Not all neighborhood associations are inclusive, not all neighborhoods are uniform throughout their borders, nor should they be. We support complete communities, where families and people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds can live together.

regrets @clay, meant to include you…

@Phil_Wiley I admire your excellent work!

A few points that might inspire revisions to the resolution:

RFYSY is routinely applied to an entire Neighborhood Plan area, which may encompass part of one or more neighborhoods. It also crosses Council Districts. There is/was a fragment of language in the City’s application guidance which suggests that blocks can opt-out, but while the City did not flat out state they will not do this, they did reach out to me to …adjust my expectations.

I wonder if a commercial and/or rental property isn’t already required to depict it’s parking on the site plan, and even pave it’s parking as part of a package of improvements which for-profit venues must make? If so, then it may be moot to appeal for grandfathering concessions for certain high-concentration habitations, regardless of how beneficial they would be.

I agree that the context by which the RFYSY application is approved should be carefully evaluated by the City. So does the process by which it is offered. You might consider language to address the nature by which the City’s annual reminder letter [.pdf], sent in mid-October, is demonstrably misconstrued by PT as a request to bring the matter to an annual vote (our PT does this). This appearance of obligation, however minor, and the nuisance of being repeatedly asked to reaffirm one’s position in the matter, constitutes pressure. Pressure which none of the City’s hundreds of other opt-able ordinances seems to enjoy.

The fact is, the privilege of applying to be placed on the Restricted Parking Map [.pdf] is currently granted to NA or PT with only the honor system standing in the way of abuse. We see a minuscule, well-co-ordinated group of associates holding a little vote with minimal fanfare and much misinformation. We would have far better assurance of our citizen’s wishes if this matter were decided by public petition. I would like to see that RFYSY application revised to involve a requirement of a minimum number of signatures attached.

Confirmation has been received from City staff that the map of what areas are included in the subject restriction will not be changing this year - as no new applications were submitted.

@ChadV, @clay, @tthomas48, thank you for participating in this discussion. Perhaps in doing so, and offering different perspectives, it helped others reflect on whether trying to opt in is really the best thing for all parts of Austin. A small, but hopeful, step towards world peace.

@Phil_Wiley Yes, AFAIK, there was one RPM addition in Austin last year. In previous years, the City left an older-dated map posted (2013?), with a note saying they hadn’t needed to update it!

I was quite pleased that our neighbors again voted against addition to the Restricted Parking Map. This is what happens when people are informed and able to participate! Now if we can get our PT to stop pressuring us to vote on it annually.

Phil, did you write the City about the language of their October “reminder letter” as I have? They revised it for this year, partly due to my correspondence last year, but I feel they were still careful to word it so that the same mis-interpretation could happen.