WATCH: CodeTALK on the environment (March 29, 2017)
Challenge: The cycles and intensity of drought and rain events are changing. In order to be a resilient city, Austin needs new ways to use water creatively.
Solution: The new code encourages smarter use of water. For instance, developments can be more resilient by taking advantage of stormwater for irrigation, reducing pressure on Austin’s water supply.
Challenge: Projects that do not increase impervious cover are generally not required to provide flood mitigation, even if the site contributes to flooding downstream. This can perpetuate flooding problems.
Solution: Projects are required to contribute solutions to address downstream flooding. Providing flood mitigation for redevelopment reduces flooding and addresses longstanding problems due to insufficient flood controls or drainage.
Urban Forest Preservation
Challenge: Tree protection standards in the existing code are spread out between sections and are unclear about what to do in cases of conflicting rules.
Solution: Urban forest protection and replenishment standards are consolidated and located more prominently. Greater emphasis is given to tree and soil quality, preserving smaller trees, and tree survey and protection requirements for greenfield and urban sites.
Open Space and Parks
Challenge: As the city expands to meet the demands of a growing population, existing parks and open spaces face additional pressure to perform esssential natural functions.
Solution: New standards for large developments and a new method for calculating open space, provide greater diversity and prominence of open space and parks, and promote expansion of trail networks, increased landscaping, and protected waterways.
Nature in the City
Challenge: As the city expands, nature’s ability to perform essential natural functions diminishes.
Solution: The new code promotes resilience by expanding overall planting requirements and planting areas, and complementing watershed and tree regulations. These provisions optimize urban nature’s ability to improve air quality, reduce temperatures, provide habitat, and enhance hydrologic balance.