Take the New CodeNEXT Survey

The city’s CodeNEXT team is inviting neighbors to complete a survey on the draft of the new land development code.

How do you think the new code measures up in allowing an abundance and diversity of people and housing in our neighborhoods? Visit the survey and share your perspective!

In my responses, I was critical of the code’s progress on housing type diversity and challenged the social equity implications of continuing to have zones that exclude people from our neighborhoods.

I filled it out! Here were the suggestions that I could think of when filling out the comment section at the end. What are other people’s suggestions so far?

The survey says there are no “opt-in, opt-out” options in CodeNET and the solution is “standards in the new code have been applied on a city-wide basis,” which is not true. CodeNEXT keeps NCCDs, which are overlays that override the base zoning and doesn’t allow CodeNEXT to apply to neighborhoods like Hyde Park. NCCDs override the following, which makes CodeNEXT not apply at all in Hyde Park, which is 487 acres of central Austin.

The NCCD in Hyde Park means:
-Guadalupe from 29th St to 51st St would be restricted in height from 30 to 40 feet in some areas along with excessive parking requirements, making this section of the activity corridor off limits to most new housing and amenities.
-45th St, 38th St, 51st St, as well as sections of Duval St and Red River St would be limited in height (30 feet) and density in the same way as the interior neighborhoods, making these major roads off limits to new housing and amenities.
-All property within 1/2 mile of the Guadalupe St activity corridor would be off limits to new housing.
-5,750 minimum lot size for entire neighborhood
-7,000 sqft lots required for duplexes
-7,000 sqft lot required for ADUs, among other onerous restrictions
-8,000 sqft lot required for more than 2 units
-Require 2 parking spaces for every 1 dwelling unit
-Require 1 parking space for each bedroom when more than 3 units (multifamily)
-Co-ops and co-housing uses are not permitted - “group residential use is prohibited” - This is restricted to commercially zoned properties, with a conditional use permit in some cases.
-Complex setbacks, driveway, curb cuts, FAR, and impervious cover requirements that can change per property

Other CodeNEXT suggestions:

There is almost no missing middle included in CodeNEXT. There are no triplexes, 4-plexes, and townhomes. These should be allowed. The “Units Per Building (max.)” column could be eliminated to allow missing middle.

Minimum lot size should be 3,500 sqft or under. At the current 4,000 minimum that’s still too much to make a difference and would only apply in large undeveloped tracts.

Parking being reduced to 1 unit in CodeNEXT is great, but still doesn’t go far enough. Parking should be reduced to 0 for dwelling units at a minimum within 1/2 mile or activity corridors, bus transit, and activity centers.

Front and back duplexes should be permitted on corner lots and allowed to face either street. There are lots of these in the city already.

ADUs shouldn’t be restricted to being smaller than the main home. This will encourage the tear down of older homes to be replaced with larger ones, when someone could have just built a larger ADU and kept the original home.

A homeowner should not be required to sign a restrictive covenant in order to build an ADU.

Cottage courts and corners probably won’t be built and may not even be allowed in most cases. Reducing the 125’ depth to match the other housing types at 100’ would be a huge help - it would also standardize the lots more across types leading to a more simplified code. Another way to encourage cottage corners is slightly reduce the width and depth of the lot sizes to 40’ for corners and 80’ for courts. Larger than that and it applies to less areas.

Why would someone build a cottage court or corner when they could just build a duplex with an ADU? There should be an incentive to build a cottage court or corner by allowing 1 more dwelling unit in each category (4 on cottage corners and 8 on cottage courts).

There should be more flexibility where the court goes in the cottage courts. Otherwise, this may prevent these from being used. It might be better to simply have a minimum area for a court that can be placed anywhere on the property as shared space.

Deep lot requirements of 100’ to 125’ should be eliminated entirely and replaced with a minimum lot size to account for irregular lot sizes and allow more flexibility. Otherwise, the depth requirement itself is going to be a huge problem.

Lot widths should be reduced to 40’ for all housing categories in T3 and T4 to allow more flexibility and standardize the code so all housing types are the same.

Restaurant parking should mirror office and retail parking with zero parking required up to 2500 sqft. It makes it difficult to have walkable neighborhood restaurants with the large parking minimums being carried over from the old code. Restaurants (that serve alcohol or not) could be split out from the category and bars could become their own category, if that would help separate parking requirements.

The strict setback requirements will create boxy, ugly homes to be the only thing that’s built in Austin. The setbacks should be reduced and then a maximum buildable area should be allowed within the lot area in order to allow more flexibility to shape the homes to bring more character to neighborhoods like the character that already exists. This would also allow more flexibility for homes to be built around trees or other obstacles and encourage more housing to be built in areas that might not be buildable under the current strict draft.