The City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department has been working on environmental code updates to Austin’s Land Development Code over the summer and fall. The code updates introduce critically important initiatives that will help Austin maintain its high standards of water quality resource protection, including increased use of Green Stormwater Infrastructure and expanded protections for wetlands on Lady Bird Lake.
The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on October 11. The Austin City Council conducted a public hearing and adopted the new code on October 27. An amendment related to water quality controls will go into effect on November 1, 2023, unless Watershed Protection brings forward other recommendations before then.
The first phase of updates to Austin’s Land Development Code are related to:
- Green Stormwater Infrastructure is now required as the primary method of stormwater pollution prevention for most site plans and subdivisions.
- Stormwater within parking lots is required to drain to parking lot islands and medians where feasible.
Natural Resource Protection
- In-channel detention and wet ponds are prohibited unless proposed as part of a public infrastructure project or public/private partnership.
- Wetlands are now protected everywhere on Lady Bird Lake, as they elsewhere in town outside of downtown.
Minor Code Amendments
- Additional changes that simplify and improve the clarity and organization of environmental regulations; and
- Minor code amendments that further policy goals.
The following changes will be brought forward during a later phase:
- Landscaping for highly urbanized developments, also known as Functional Green landscape requirements
- “Missing Middle” housing, which would hold small residential projects being built on single-family lots to the same environmental standards as a single-family home
- Expanded protections for the Colorado River downstream of the Longhorn Dam
- Requirements for urban slope protections; and
- Reducing flood risk by applying greenfield development standards to redevelopment projects
Staff will need additional time to conduct the necessary stakeholder engagement related to any proposed changes as well as consider options for additional entitlements to offset potential impacts to development. We will continue to send updates regarding the next phase of code amendments.
To learn more about the environmental code updates, visit austintexas.gov/department/environmental-code-updates.