Jun 06, 2018 - 03:37 pm CDT

At yesterday’s meeting, the City Council discussed topics and identified additional dates to continue the conversation about CodeNEXT. Council currently plans to meet on June 12 and 13. Meeting details including start times and agenda topics are being developed. Staff will update this blog and our social media pages once the agenda for each meeting is posted.

Miss the Council meeting? A recording of the Council meeting is available on ATXN.tv and on the City Council website.

Apr 24, 2018 - 04:15 pm CDT

Since the release of Draft 3 on February 12 2018, staff have continued to evaluate feedback received through venues such as CiviComment and the online mapping tool. This evaluation has led staff to create an Errata, Addendum, and Map Atlas to Draft 3.

Before taking a look at the Addendum, we strongly suggest users review the Addendum and Errata User Guide. This guide explains what to expect in each document and describes the layout

Below is a quick explanation of each new document:

  1. The Draft 3 Addendum consists of content updates made to Draft 3, like the addition of new text, changes to diagrams, and the deletion of text. Content was updated after staff evaluated feedback received through venues such as CiviComment and the online mapping tool. The Addendum Highlights document provides a summary of updates found in the addendum.
  2. The Draft 3 Errata consists of minor edits that do not alter content, like grammatical edits, formatting changes, and cross-reference updates. The Errata does not incorporate Addendum updates, and includes every page of Draft 3.
  3. The Map Atlas is a guide to understanding changes to the Draft 3 map. This atlas shows all Draft 3 map updates from a citywide, district, and small area scale. Map updates include corrections to data errors and refinements to reflect edits to the zones.

You can find the Errata, Addendum, and Map Atlas on the Draft 3 webpage.

Feb 07, 2018 - 11:19 am CST

During the month of January 2018, The CodeNEXT communications team, partnering with ATXN, held four Facebook Live shows to answer questions about CodeNEXT priorities. In the show, Aly Van Dyke with the Communications and Public Information Office sat down with CodeNEXT planners from various departments to interview them about their areas of expertise.

January 10 – Flooding: Matt Hollon, Watershed Protection Department

January 17 – Affordable Housing: Erica Leak, Neighborhood Housing & Community Development Department

January 24 – Community: Greg Dutton, Planning and Zoning Department

January 31 – Mobility: Danielle Morin, Austin Transportation Department

Before each show, the team created a list of commonly asked questions from each topic area to use as a guide for the show. During the show, viewers were encouraged to submit their own questions in the comments section. Viewers submitted between 2 and 10 comments during the show and continued to submit comments after the live show ended. If questions were left unanswered, staff responded to the remaining questions after the show concluded.

We would like to extend our appreciation to those who watched, shared, and asked questions on our live videos. These videos were meant to be informative and allow you to engage directly with our code experts without having to be present physically, and we’d like to know how effective they were. If you would like to provide feedback on what went well or what we can improve for next time, please send us an email at codenext@austintexas.gov or comment on our Facebook Live videos.

You can view the videos of the CodeNEXT Live show on the CodeNEXT Facebook page video feed. While the Live series has wrapped, the City of Austin’s main Facebook and Twitter pages, along with the CodeNEXT Facebook and Twitter pages, are sharing short videos on CodeNEXT topics until March 12.

Jan 17, 2018 - 02:07 pm CST

 

We know you have CodeNEXT questions. And while the CodeNEXT Team works furiously to get Draft 3 out by Feb. 12, we wanted to try to answer some of your outstanding questions.

At 12:15 p.m. every Wednesday in January (except Jan. 3), we'll be sitting down with a different subject-matter expert to take and answer those questions live. All you have to do is follow along on the CodeNEXT Facebook Page, and post your questions during the show.

We've logged three of our four CodeNEXT LIVE sessions so far.

The first, which went live Jan. 10, covered your questions about flooding. We interviewed Watershed Protection Department's Matt Hollon about green infrastructure, impervious cover, and how we're writing processes into CodeNEXT to help us better reduce the risk of flooding from redeveloping land. You can read more about how CodeNEXT can affect flooding and stormwater management in our blog.

The second live show, which aired Jan. 17 with Erica Leak from Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, covered affordable housing. We talked about the affordable housing bonus program and other options, outlined in our Strategic Housing Blueprint, to make housing more affordable in Austin.

The third, which went live Jan. 24, featured an interview with with Planning and Zoning's Greg Dutton about the CodeNEXT priority of community.

Our final installment, on Jan. 31, will be an interview with Transportation's Danielle Morin about CodeNEXT and mobility.

Tune into our Facebook Page during the live shows to ask your questions. Any questions we receive during the show that we aren't able to get to in the video will be answered in the comments below the video.

Dec 01, 2017 - 04:48 pm CST

The CodeNEXT Team received 193 questions during the six community open houses held in October 2017 to gather input about Draft 2 of CodeNEXT. Staff have reviewed and answered each of those questions, all of which can be viewed in this 23-page PDF document.

City staff developed a recap of the top five themes from the questions we received during the open houses and posted those to a separate blog entry. That entry can be viewed here.

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Nov 29, 2017 - 09:46 am CST

Most Austin residents don’t need to use the City’s land development code on a regular basis, but when they do want to remodel their homes, or perhaps build a new building, they find navigating the current code a difficult and complex process. Austin’s development community also experiences complexity, delays, and unpredictability in using the current code, adding costs and uncertainties to the construction and remodeling of buildings that accommodate new residential, retail, and commercial uses. These costs are passed onto the residents and businesses in higher rents and sales prices. To address these and other pressing issues, the City has undertaken CodeNEXT, a major rewrite of the land development code.

Austin’s land development code, written nearly 30 years ago, has been amended hundreds of times to address the deficiencies of the base zoning districts in our growing and changing city. Today, Austin has more than 400 possible combinations of various zoning districts, which makes review, interpretation, and decision-making a complex, lengthy, and unpredictable process for property owners, builders, and even City staff.

When the CodeNEXT team began its work, it conducted detailed research to pinpoint what was not working with the current code and how that was getting in the way of realizing the City’s goal of creating more compact, complete, and connected communities. We learned in our 2014 Code Diagnosis that Austin’s base zoning districts – the rules that regulate the use of land and what and how much can be built where – were out of date, didn’t address neighborhood residents’ desires for harmonious development, and didn’t meet the demands required by Austin’s growth. The zoning districts in the new code better match conditions in Austin and provide more tools to protect neighborhood character while implementing the vision of Imagine Austin.

We also found that information within the code is not easy to find or user-friendly, and sometimes different parts of the code contain conflicting information. The terminology is inconsistent, and permitting procedures are hard to follow, not only for the public but also for City staff.

New language in CodeNEXT makes regulations easier to understand and navigate for both property owners and officials. Graphics and illustrations visually explain regulations, and a new zone organization and naming convention improves the code’s clarity and readability.

CodeNEXT also revises aspects of the permitting process to address existing challenges. Under the current process, a property owner can seek a zoning change or a conditional overlay to change the entitlements on their property. The problem with a conditional overlay is that it is a transaction-based, highly negotiated, and time-consuming process that creates thousands of customized zones, no two of which are alike. This is not best practice in development regulations and is administratively unsustainable, especially in a city of Austin’s size.

The new base zones offer a broad palette of options that have been tailored and calibrated to meet Austin’s conditions, thereby reducing the need for conditional overlays. If a property owner of a large or complex development does have a specific circumstance in which none of the new zones works well, they can still apply for a planned unit development.

CodeNEXT also introduces a new approach to the permitting process to create more consistency and clarity. In addition to conditional use permits, the new code offers minor use permits. A conditional use permit goes to the land use commission (Planning Commission or Zoning and Platting Commission) for review, while a minor use permit goes to the Development Services Director. These permits make clear what can and can’t be done on a property, providing more equity and certainty in the process. The minor use permit can be appealed to the Land Use Commission, and noticing requirements are consistent with the current code.

Rewriting a long, complex code that’s more than 30 years old is a big undertaking. Public feedback has helped us identify mistakes and oversights we made in the drafting process. For example, community members told us that zoning change notification timelines in Draft 1 were not consistent. We reviewed all the timeframes, and now Draft 2 clarifies the notification process and ensures notification timeframes are not shortened.

The CodeNEXT Team continues to seek feedback on the code to improve the final product. We currently are evaluating all of the input from Draft 2 to develop the staff’s recommendation, which we anticipate will be released by Feb. 12, 2018.
 

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Nov 15, 2017 - 11:09 am CST

Draft 3 of CodeNEXT -- the Staff Recommendation -- will be released by Feb. 12, 2018, with an anticipated Council first reading in late April 2018. Draft 3 initially was slated for release Nov. 28.

The new release date will give staff the time needed to consider the comments and concerns we received to date regarding Draft 2.

Public input on Draft 2 officially ended Oct. 31. Staff is working through the comments received to date to help inform Draft 3. All future comments on CodeNEXT will be gathered for the purpose of informing the commissions' and Council's policy discussions.

The updated timeline is outlined in a memo sent out to the Austin City Council Thursday, Nov. 16. The memo also includes a summary of the Draft 2 Community Open Houses and information about the Council Q&A webpage.

For more on the summary of Draft 2 Community Open Houses, see our blog.

Nov 09, 2017 - 06:01 pm CST

During the month of October 2017, the CodeNEXT Team held six community open houses to educate the public about changes to CodeNEXT Draft 2, provide an opportunity to ask questions, and share next steps. Each meeting included a staff presentation followed by a question and answer session, opportunities to review maps and other visuals, and opportunities to interact one-on-one with CodeNEXT staff to learn more about how individual parcels or neighborhoods would be affected by CodeNEXT revisions. The six open houses brought out nearly 400 attendees, with representation from all 10 council districts. Three of the six meetings offered language access services in Spanish, including one meeting that also offered language access services in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

Staff received a total of 193 questions from the community open houses. Due to time constraints, we could not answer all questions at the meetings. However, questions were documented with the goal of identifying recurring themes and providing responses to those theme concerns. Of the 193 questions submitted, the top five (5) theme inquiries related to affordable housing, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), parking, neighborhood plans, and flooding. Below, we’ve provided a response to each theme concern:

  • How does CodeNEXT address affordable housing in Austin? What affordable housing incentives can CodeNEXT provide to developers?

CodeNEXT alone will not solve the City’s affordability challenges. Working in tandem with other initiatives such as the Strategic Housing Blueprint and Affordable Housing Program, CodeNEXT is a critical tool that moves us the right direction. CodeNEXT allows more types of housing to be built for Austinites, at all stages of their lives. It increases the city’s capacity for housing in comparison to the current code and enables more housing to be located near amenities and transit, which can help reduce transportation costs (a typical household’s second largest expense). For more on affordability and CodeNEXT, see our blog on addressing affordable housing.

  • Are accessory dwelling units (ADUs) considered affordable housing? Why or why not?

ADUs are one of many options in the toolbox to help promote housing at all income levels and for all types of people. ADUs can help with affordability by helping a homeowner offset increases in property taxes by renting out the ADU for additional income and providing a more affordable housing choice than what is typically available in the neighborhood, due to their size relative to a single family home.

  • Why is parking being reduced to one space per residence?

Parking requirements included in CodeNEXT are minimum requirements. More parking spaces can be added to a property as long as other requirements of the code are being met. As we develop the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, the CodeNEXT minimum parking requirements reflect future opportunities to choose other modes of transportation and acknowledges that all Austinites may not rely solely on single-occupancy vehicles for their day-to-day needs. Click here if you would like to read more on mobility and CodeNEXT.

  • How is CodeNEXT taking into account Neighborhood Plans?

As Neighborhood Plans are Council-adopted policy, CodeNEXT is including them, along with Imagine Austin, existing conditions, and other Council policies when considering the appropriate zoning to apply to a property. In neighborhoods with adopted Neighborhood Plans and/or future land use maps, new zones have been mapped to match the intent of these programs as closely as possible. New zones have also been mapped in order to capture the intent of Conditional Overlays resulting from Neighborhood Plans as best as possible.

  • How does CodeNEXT address flooding issues related to impervious coverage?

By managing the amount of impervious cover on lots, encouraging or requiring the beneficial use of stormwater, and requiring or encouraging other flood mitigation efforts, CodeNEXT is seeking to improve how we manage localized flooding in Austin. Please see the Watershed Protection Department’s CodeNEXT Impervious Cover Analysis for more information on how CodeNEXT is addressing flood mitigation.

Given the multitude of questions received, staff will publish final responses to all theme concerns by Nov. 17.
 

Tagged:
Oct 31, 2017 - 01:55 pm CDT

The City of Austin has posted track changes versions of the changes made from Draft 1 to Draft 2 of CodeNEXT. The track change version of each chapter can be found at the top of the Draft 1 page.

Tagged:
Oct 24, 2017 - 06:04 pm CDT

Picture of bus next to bikes to illustrate multi-modal

 

Transportation affects our lives in many ways. Ask an Austinite about transportation, and you’ll usually hear a groan, a sigh, or a story of being stressed out from being stuck in traffic. When a transportation system works well, it is effective at moving people, goods, and services. But it also helps people access jobs and education, be safe and healthy, and create places people want to be. It also provides options for getting around in ways that are affordable, flexible, and match people’s different lifestyle choices.

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan looked closely at the importance of aligning land use – what we build and where we build it – with the variety of policies, projects, and programs to improve mobility for everyone. Central to the vision for a livable Austin is are compact, connected, and complete communities, where people can more easily walk, bike, and take transit, and where services and amenities are accessible to nearby neighborhoods. While the Land Development Code can’t solve Austin’s transportation challenges on its own, it’s an important tool to shape development and foster more opportunities for mobility choices.

The first thing to consider is that we all start our trips as pedestrians. For some, that may mean going from the front door to the car in our driveway, or walking to a bus stop. Making it easier, safer, and more comfortable to move around our communities -- especially for children, seniors, and people with disabilities -- is essential to a better quality of life. CodeNEXT offers improvements to the way new developments support walkability by requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street, as well as encouraging links to urban trails. In addition, the new draft of the code has added street tree requirements for new roadways and sites, which will require the placement of trees between the road and the sidewalk along both sides of the road. This will provide shade and a safety buffer for pedestrians.

The new code also makes it safer and more comfortable to walk along roads with stores and other commercial services. CodeNEXT strengthens driveway closing and curb reconstruction guidelines, so  redeveloped sites must improve safety by limiting the number of driveways and curb cuts when there is an adverse impact on pedestrian safety and traffic.

To make new developPicture of traffic congestionments more walkable and connected, block lengths and street layouts will be context-sensitive, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach currently used in the code. This will apply not just to major subdivisions, but also to site plans for projects like commercial developments and apartment buildings. Dead end streets will be limited, and subdivisions will be required to have points of access onto at least two different streets. This will help stop every vehicle from funneling out to just one major road, which increases congestion.
 

Another meaningful change in the new code is capturing more opportunities to mitigate strains on our transportation system caused by new developments. Unlike the current code, which only requires mitigation measures from new developments that generate 2,000 trips per day, the new code lowers that number to 1,000 trips per day. This will help offset the transportation impacts of more new developments by requiring transportation enhancements, like new sidewalks, upgraded infrastructure to connect to nearby transit stops, additional signals, restriping of roadways, etc. The improvement and mitigation requirements in CodeNEXT support other modes of transportation, which will help improve safety and reliability of these alternatives and increase people’s options in getting around.

In addition to the new requirements and regulations outlined above, CodeNEXT will update the zoning maps across the city. Draft 2 allows certain areas that were formerly commercial-only to build residential units as well. These new Mixed-Use zones were former commercial zones that allowed residential only if the property obtained a mixed-use overlay through a City process. This change can help increase accessibility to transit and create housing in close proximity to places where people can meet their daily needs without needing a car for every trip.

Beyond the specific changes to the land development code, there are numerous interconnected efforts underway at the City to improve mobility. The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan is being developed, and it will provide the policies, projects, and programs that will guide Austin's transportation investments for the next 10+ years. It will be an integrated transportation plan that incorporates existing plans and policies, such as the Sidewalk Master Plan and Vision Zero Action Plan. It also will bring attention to new programs that can help spread the heavier rush-hour demand out throughout the day. In addition, the City’s Transportation Criteria Manual, Roadway Table and Street Design Guidelines will be updPicture of bikes parkedated and modernized with a multi-modal and context-sensitive approach.

CodeNEXT addresses the demand on our roadway system by focusing growth along corridors and fine-tuning parking requirements. Austin’s current approach to parking is out-of-date, because it sets different parking standards for individual uses and contradicts Imagine Austin and other City policy objectives. The new code cleaned up and consolidated the use table, presenting an opportunity to also reexamine the parking standards for individual uses and see where parking standards could be made more consistent across various land uses.

In addition, the parking standards and reductions were reviewed to see where standards could be brought into alignment with what other cities are doing in the region with similar connectivity and transportation challenges. This led to recommendations on generally lowering parking minimums and providing parking reductions based on proximity to transit corridors or based on specific features or amenities provided on site that support other modes of transportation. These lower minimums can allow for new housing and retail uses that emphasize the use of transit and other active modes. This also reduces the required area dedicated to parking that can result in lower impervious cover and decrease the cost to build, a cost that is passed on to end users.

Austin’s transportation challenges have been years in the making, and there is no single effort, policy, or strategy that will solve them. But through a wide range of efforts, we can shift the course we’re on and create more choices for people to get around Austin while making it safer, healthier, and more about people’s everyday lives. CodeNEXT provides an updated set of tools to help align how transportation and land use work together to create a more livable Austin.

Apr 24, 2018 - 04:15 pm CDT

Since the release of Draft 3 on February 12 2018, staff have continued to evaluate feedback received through venues such as CiviComment and the online mapping tool. This evaluation has led staff to create an Errata, Addendum, and Map Atlas to Draft 3.

Before taking a look at the Addendum, we strongly suggest users review the Addendum and Errata User Guide. This guide explains what to expect in each document and describes the layout

Below is a quick explanation of each new document:

  1. The Draft 3 Addendum consists of content updates made to Draft 3, like the addition of new text, changes to diagrams, and the deletion of text. Content was updated after staff evaluated feedback received through venues such as CiviComment and the online mapping tool. The Addendum Highlights document provides a summary of updates found in the addendum.
  2. The Draft 3 Errata consists of minor edits that do not alter content, like grammatical edits, formatting changes, and cross-reference updates. The Errata does not incorporate Addendum updates, and includes every page of Draft 3.
  3. The Map Atlas is a guide to understanding changes to the Draft 3 map. This atlas shows all Draft 3 map updates from a citywide, district, and small area scale. Map updates include corrections to data errors and refinements to reflect edits to the zones.

You can find the Errata, Addendum, and Map Atlas on the Draft 3 webpage.

CodeNEXT Blog
Feb 07, 2018 - 11:19 am CST

During the month of January 2018, The CodeNEXT communications team, partnering with ATXN, held four Facebook Live shows to answer questions about CodeNEXT priorities. In the show, Aly Van Dyke with the Communications and Public Information Office sat down with CodeNEXT planners from various departments to interview them about their areas of expertise.

January 10 – Flooding: Matt Hollon, Watershed Protection Department

January 17 – Affordable Housing: Erica Leak, Neighborhood Housing & Community Development Department

January 24 – Community: Greg Dutton, Planning and Zoning Department

January 31 – Mobility: Danielle Morin, Austin Transportation Department

Before each show, the team created a list of commonly asked questions from each topic area to use as a guide for the show. During the show, viewers were encouraged to submit their own questions in the comments section. Viewers submitted between 2 and 10 comments during the show and continued to submit comments after the live show ended. If questions were left unanswered, staff responded to the remaining questions after the show concluded.

We would like to extend our appreciation to those who watched, shared, and asked questions on our live videos. These videos were meant to be informative and allow you to engage directly with our code experts without having to be present physically, and we’d like to know how effective they were. If you would like to provide feedback on what went well or what we can improve for next time, please send us an email at codenext@austintexas.gov or comment on our Facebook Live videos.

You can view the videos of the CodeNEXT Live show on the CodeNEXT Facebook page video feed. While the Live series has wrapped, the City of Austin’s main Facebook and Twitter pages, along with the CodeNEXT Facebook and Twitter pages, are sharing short videos on CodeNEXT topics until March 12.

CodeNEXT Blog
Jan 17, 2018 - 02:07 pm CST

 

We know you have CodeNEXT questions. And while the CodeNEXT Team works furiously to get Draft 3 out by Feb. 12, we wanted to try to answer some of your outstanding questions.

At 12:15 p.m. every Wednesday in January (except Jan. 3), we'll be sitting down with a different subject-matter expert to take and answer those questions live. All you have to do is follow along on the CodeNEXT Facebook Page, and post your questions during the show.

We've logged three of our four CodeNEXT LIVE sessions so far.

The first, which went live Jan. 10, covered your questions about flooding. We interviewed Watershed Protection Department's Matt Hollon about green infrastructure, impervious cover, and how we're writing processes into CodeNEXT to help us better reduce the risk of flooding from redeveloping land. You can read more about how CodeNEXT can affect flooding and stormwater management in our blog.

The second live show, which aired Jan. 17 with Erica Leak from Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, covered affordable housing. We talked about the affordable housing bonus program and other options, outlined in our Strategic Housing Blueprint, to make housing more affordable in Austin.

The third, which went live Jan. 24, featured an interview with with Planning and Zoning's Greg Dutton about the CodeNEXT priority of community.

Our final installment, on Jan. 31, will be an interview with Transportation's Danielle Morin about CodeNEXT and mobility.

Tune into our Facebook Page during the live shows to ask your questions. Any questions we receive during the show that we aren't able to get to in the video will be answered in the comments below the video.

CodeNEXT Blog
Dec 01, 2017 - 04:48 pm CST

The CodeNEXT Team received 193 questions during the six community open houses held in October 2017 to gather input about Draft 2 of CodeNEXT. Staff have reviewed and answered each of those questions, all of which can be viewed in this 23-page PDF document.

City staff developed a recap of the top five themes from the questions we received during the open houses and posted those to a separate blog entry. That entry can be viewed here.

Tagged:
CodeNEXT Blog
Nov 29, 2017 - 09:46 am CST

Most Austin residents don’t need to use the City’s land development code on a regular basis, but when they do want to remodel their homes, or perhaps build a new building, they find navigating the current code a difficult and complex process. Austin’s development community also experiences complexity, delays, and unpredictability in using the current code, adding costs and uncertainties to the construction and remodeling of buildings that accommodate new residential, retail, and commercial uses. These costs are passed onto the residents and businesses in higher rents and sales prices. To address these and other pressing issues, the City has undertaken CodeNEXT, a major rewrite of the land development code.

Austin’s land development code, written nearly 30 years ago, has been amended hundreds of times to address the deficiencies of the base zoning districts in our growing and changing city. Today, Austin has more than 400 possible combinations of various zoning districts, which makes review, interpretation, and decision-making a complex, lengthy, and unpredictable process for property owners, builders, and even City staff.

When the CodeNEXT team began its work, it conducted detailed research to pinpoint what was not working with the current code and how that was getting in the way of realizing the City’s goal of creating more compact, complete, and connected communities. We learned in our 2014 Code Diagnosis that Austin’s base zoning districts – the rules that regulate the use of land and what and how much can be built where – were out of date, didn’t address neighborhood residents’ desires for harmonious development, and didn’t meet the demands required by Austin’s growth. The zoning districts in the new code better match conditions in Austin and provide more tools to protect neighborhood character while implementing the vision of Imagine Austin.

We also found that information within the code is not easy to find or user-friendly, and sometimes different parts of the code contain conflicting information. The terminology is inconsistent, and permitting procedures are hard to follow, not only for the public but also for City staff.

New language in CodeNEXT makes regulations easier to understand and navigate for both property owners and officials. Graphics and illustrations visually explain regulations, and a new zone organization and naming convention improves the code’s clarity and readability.

CodeNEXT also revises aspects of the permitting process to address existing challenges. Under the current process, a property owner can seek a zoning change or a conditional overlay to change the entitlements on their property. The problem with a conditional overlay is that it is a transaction-based, highly negotiated, and time-consuming process that creates thousands of customized zones, no two of which are alike. This is not best practice in development regulations and is administratively unsustainable, especially in a city of Austin’s size.

The new base zones offer a broad palette of options that have been tailored and calibrated to meet Austin’s conditions, thereby reducing the need for conditional overlays. If a property owner of a large or complex development does have a specific circumstance in which none of the new zones works well, they can still apply for a planned unit development.

CodeNEXT also introduces a new approach to the permitting process to create more consistency and clarity. In addition to conditional use permits, the new code offers minor use permits. A conditional use permit goes to the land use commission (Planning Commission or Zoning and Platting Commission) for review, while a minor use permit goes to the Development Services Director. These permits make clear what can and can’t be done on a property, providing more equity and certainty in the process. The minor use permit can be appealed to the Land Use Commission, and noticing requirements are consistent with the current code.

Rewriting a long, complex code that’s more than 30 years old is a big undertaking. Public feedback has helped us identify mistakes and oversights we made in the drafting process. For example, community members told us that zoning change notification timelines in Draft 1 were not consistent. We reviewed all the timeframes, and now Draft 2 clarifies the notification process and ensures notification timeframes are not shortened.

The CodeNEXT Team continues to seek feedback on the code to improve the final product. We currently are evaluating all of the input from Draft 2 to develop the staff’s recommendation, which we anticipate will be released by Feb. 12, 2018.
 

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CodeNEXT Blog
Nov 15, 2017 - 11:09 am CST

Draft 3 of CodeNEXT -- the Staff Recommendation -- will be released by Feb. 12, 2018, with an anticipated Council first reading in late April 2018. Draft 3 initially was slated for release Nov. 28.

The new release date will give staff the time needed to consider the comments and concerns we received to date regarding Draft 2.

Public input on Draft 2 officially ended Oct. 31. Staff is working through the comments received to date to help inform Draft 3. All future comments on CodeNEXT will be gathered for the purpose of informing the commissions' and Council's policy discussions.

The updated timeline is outlined in a memo sent out to the Austin City Council Thursday, Nov. 16. The memo also includes a summary of the Draft 2 Community Open Houses and information about the Council Q&A webpage.

For more on the summary of Draft 2 Community Open Houses, see our blog.

CodeNEXT Blog
Nov 09, 2017 - 06:01 pm CST

During the month of October 2017, the CodeNEXT Team held six community open houses to educate the public about changes to CodeNEXT Draft 2, provide an opportunity to ask questions, and share next steps. Each meeting included a staff presentation followed by a question and answer session, opportunities to review maps and other visuals, and opportunities to interact one-on-one with CodeNEXT staff to learn more about how individual parcels or neighborhoods would be affected by CodeNEXT revisions. The six open houses brought out nearly 400 attendees, with representation from all 10 council districts. Three of the six meetings offered language access services in Spanish, including one meeting that also offered language access services in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

Staff received a total of 193 questions from the community open houses. Due to time constraints, we could not answer all questions at the meetings. However, questions were documented with the goal of identifying recurring themes and providing responses to those theme concerns. Of the 193 questions submitted, the top five (5) theme inquiries related to affordable housing, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), parking, neighborhood plans, and flooding. Below, we’ve provided a response to each theme concern:

  • How does CodeNEXT address affordable housing in Austin? What affordable housing incentives can CodeNEXT provide to developers?

CodeNEXT alone will not solve the City’s affordability challenges. Working in tandem with other initiatives such as the Strategic Housing Blueprint and Affordable Housing Program, CodeNEXT is a critical tool that moves us the right direction. CodeNEXT allows more types of housing to be built for Austinites, at all stages of their lives. It increases the city’s capacity for housing in comparison to the current code and enables more housing to be located near amenities and transit, which can help reduce transportation costs (a typical household’s second largest expense). For more on affordability and CodeNEXT, see our blog on addressing affordable housing.

  • Are accessory dwelling units (ADUs) considered affordable housing? Why or why not?

ADUs are one of many options in the toolbox to help promote housing at all income levels and for all types of people. ADUs can help with affordability by helping a homeowner offset increases in property taxes by renting out the ADU for additional income and providing a more affordable housing choice than what is typically available in the neighborhood, due to their size relative to a single family home.

  • Why is parking being reduced to one space per residence?

Parking requirements included in CodeNEXT are minimum requirements. More parking spaces can be added to a property as long as other requirements of the code are being met. As we develop the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, the CodeNEXT minimum parking requirements reflect future opportunities to choose other modes of transportation and acknowledges that all Austinites may not rely solely on single-occupancy vehicles for their day-to-day needs. Click here if you would like to read more on mobility and CodeNEXT.

  • How is CodeNEXT taking into account Neighborhood Plans?

As Neighborhood Plans are Council-adopted policy, CodeNEXT is including them, along with Imagine Austin, existing conditions, and other Council policies when considering the appropriate zoning to apply to a property. In neighborhoods with adopted Neighborhood Plans and/or future land use maps, new zones have been mapped to match the intent of these programs as closely as possible. New zones have also been mapped in order to capture the intent of Conditional Overlays resulting from Neighborhood Plans as best as possible.

  • How does CodeNEXT address flooding issues related to impervious coverage?

By managing the amount of impervious cover on lots, encouraging or requiring the beneficial use of stormwater, and requiring or encouraging other flood mitigation efforts, CodeNEXT is seeking to improve how we manage localized flooding in Austin. Please see the Watershed Protection Department’s CodeNEXT Impervious Cover Analysis for more information on how CodeNEXT is addressing flood mitigation.

Given the multitude of questions received, staff will publish final responses to all theme concerns by Nov. 17.
 

Tagged:
CodeNEXT Blog
Oct 31, 2017 - 01:55 pm CDT

The City of Austin has posted track changes versions of the changes made from Draft 1 to Draft 2 of CodeNEXT. The track change version of each chapter can be found at the top of the Draft 1 page.

Tagged:
CodeNEXT Blog
Oct 24, 2017 - 06:04 pm CDT

Picture of bus next to bikes to illustrate multi-modal

 

Transportation affects our lives in many ways. Ask an Austinite about transportation, and you’ll usually hear a groan, a sigh, or a story of being stressed out from being stuck in traffic. When a transportation system works well, it is effective at moving people, goods, and services. But it also helps people access jobs and education, be safe and healthy, and create places people want to be. It also provides options for getting around in ways that are affordable, flexible, and match people’s different lifestyle choices.

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan looked closely at the importance of aligning land use – what we build and where we build it – with the variety of policies, projects, and programs to improve mobility for everyone. Central to the vision for a livable Austin is are compact, connected, and complete communities, where people can more easily walk, bike, and take transit, and where services and amenities are accessible to nearby neighborhoods. While the Land Development Code can’t solve Austin’s transportation challenges on its own, it’s an important tool to shape development and foster more opportunities for mobility choices.

The first thing to consider is that we all start our trips as pedestrians. For some, that may mean going from the front door to the car in our driveway, or walking to a bus stop. Making it easier, safer, and more comfortable to move around our communities -- especially for children, seniors, and people with disabilities -- is essential to a better quality of life. CodeNEXT offers improvements to the way new developments support walkability by requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street, as well as encouraging links to urban trails. In addition, the new draft of the code has added street tree requirements for new roadways and sites, which will require the placement of trees between the road and the sidewalk along both sides of the road. This will provide shade and a safety buffer for pedestrians.

The new code also makes it safer and more comfortable to walk along roads with stores and other commercial services. CodeNEXT strengthens driveway closing and curb reconstruction guidelines, so  redeveloped sites must improve safety by limiting the number of driveways and curb cuts when there is an adverse impact on pedestrian safety and traffic.

To make new developPicture of traffic congestionments more walkable and connected, block lengths and street layouts will be context-sensitive, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach currently used in the code. This will apply not just to major subdivisions, but also to site plans for projects like commercial developments and apartment buildings. Dead end streets will be limited, and subdivisions will be required to have points of access onto at least two different streets. This will help stop every vehicle from funneling out to just one major road, which increases congestion.
 

Another meaningful change in the new code is capturing more opportunities to mitigate strains on our transportation system caused by new developments. Unlike the current code, which only requires mitigation measures from new developments that generate 2,000 trips per day, the new code lowers that number to 1,000 trips per day. This will help offset the transportation impacts of more new developments by requiring transportation enhancements, like new sidewalks, upgraded infrastructure to connect to nearby transit stops, additional signals, restriping of roadways, etc. The improvement and mitigation requirements in CodeNEXT support other modes of transportation, which will help improve safety and reliability of these alternatives and increase people’s options in getting around.

In addition to the new requirements and regulations outlined above, CodeNEXT will update the zoning maps across the city. Draft 2 allows certain areas that were formerly commercial-only to build residential units as well. These new Mixed-Use zones were former commercial zones that allowed residential only if the property obtained a mixed-use overlay through a City process. This change can help increase accessibility to transit and create housing in close proximity to places where people can meet their daily needs without needing a car for every trip.

Beyond the specific changes to the land development code, there are numerous interconnected efforts underway at the City to improve mobility. The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan is being developed, and it will provide the policies, projects, and programs that will guide Austin's transportation investments for the next 10+ years. It will be an integrated transportation plan that incorporates existing plans and policies, such as the Sidewalk Master Plan and Vision Zero Action Plan. It also will bring attention to new programs that can help spread the heavier rush-hour demand out throughout the day. In addition, the City’s Transportation Criteria Manual, Roadway Table and Street Design Guidelines will be updPicture of bikes parkedated and modernized with a multi-modal and context-sensitive approach.

CodeNEXT addresses the demand on our roadway system by focusing growth along corridors and fine-tuning parking requirements. Austin’s current approach to parking is out-of-date, because it sets different parking standards for individual uses and contradicts Imagine Austin and other City policy objectives. The new code cleaned up and consolidated the use table, presenting an opportunity to also reexamine the parking standards for individual uses and see where parking standards could be made more consistent across various land uses.

In addition, the parking standards and reductions were reviewed to see where standards could be brought into alignment with what other cities are doing in the region with similar connectivity and transportation challenges. This led to recommendations on generally lowering parking minimums and providing parking reductions based on proximity to transit corridors or based on specific features or amenities provided on site that support other modes of transportation. These lower minimums can allow for new housing and retail uses that emphasize the use of transit and other active modes. This also reduces the required area dedicated to parking that can result in lower impervious cover and decrease the cost to build, a cost that is passed on to end users.

Austin’s transportation challenges have been years in the making, and there is no single effort, policy, or strategy that will solve them. But through a wide range of efforts, we can shift the course we’re on and create more choices for people to get around Austin while making it safer, healthier, and more about people’s everyday lives. CodeNEXT provides an updated set of tools to help align how transportation and land use work together to create a more livable Austin.

CodeNEXT Blog