Parkland Dedication is a local government requirement imposed on subdivision and site plan applications mandating the dedication of land for a park and/or the payment of a fee to be used by the governmental entity to acquire land and/or develop park facilities. The City of Austin passed its first Parkland Dedication Ordinance in 1985, updated in 2007 and again in 2016.
Parkland Dedication Ordinance
In response to Council Resolution No. 20140807-093 the Department issued the Parkland Fee Methodology Report ('Report") on November 19, 2014, which concluded that the existing PLD fee and the formula for determining the amount of land required were insufficient to maintain the current quality of life. On December 11, 2014 the City Council approved Resolution No. 20141211-219 directing the Department to develop a proposed ordinance implementing Report's recommendations. A new Ordinance No. 20160128-86 was adopted on January 28, 2016. For more information on parkland dedication ordinances in general please see the 2010 John Crompton Report.
All Parkland Dedication ordinances must meet the following criteria:
- A calculation to determine dedication requirements and;
- Adherence to the Nexus Principal and;
- Limitations on expending fees in lieu.
The principle relates to the establishment of an “essential connection” between the demand generated by a development and the park or park improvement being constructed with the resources provided by the developer. Land or fees must be used to benefit those who will live in the development. The City of Austin expends fees within 2 miles of a development to ensure the fees benefit those residents. The funds, then, can only be spent on new facilities and not maintenance.
Limitations on Expending Fees
A reasonable time frame for fund expenditure must be stated. The Austin ordinance states that the fees must be expended within five years from the date they were received, unless less than 50% of the residential units in the subdivision have been constructed. In that case, the period for expenditure is extended another five years. See the timeframe for expenditure. A refund may be requested in writing for any units not constructed not later than 180 days after the expiration of the five years, or 10 years, as applicable. See process for refund.
Commercial Parkland Dedication Requirements
Beginning January 1st, 2023, new commercial developments within the Austin Full Purpose jurisdiction, including office, retail, industrial, and hotel uses, will be required to dedicate parkland or pay fee-in-lieu of dedication in proportion to their impact on the park level of service. This will ensure that the City’s park system will keep pace with the rapid growth in its workforce, maintaining a high-quality of life for residents and workers alike. A new development’s impact is based on the number of workers expected to occupy the new commercial space discounted by their relative opportunity to access parkland, representing the full-time equivalent population of the new development and referred to as the ‘Functional Population.’ The variables used in determining the functional population vary by the use category of the new development and may be subject to annual update similar to the variables used in the residential parkland dedication requirements.
Additional information and resources related to the Commercial Parkland Dedication Ordinance can be found at AustinTexas.gov/New-PLD.