Zoning Frequently Asked Questions

What are the allowed uses for each zoning district?

Subchapter A. Zoning Uses, Districts, and Map; District Designations; Subchapter 1: Zoning (Web) on MuniCode provides information on the following land use classifications:

  • Permitted Use 
  • Residential Use
  • Commercial Use
  • Industrial Use
  • Civic Use
  • Agricultural Use

You can use the Permitted Use Chart (Web) to find out what the zoning code of the designated property is. After opening the chart and cross-referencing it's zoning code, use this key to see if the property is permitted:

  • P: use is a permitted use.
  • C: use is a conditional use (meaning, a use that is allowed on a discretionary/ conditional basis in accordance with the conditional use process described in Chapter 25-5-Site Plans (Web))
  • -: use is not permitted in that zoning district
What is a Conditional Overlay (CO)?

Conditional overlays are combined with base zoning districts on specific properties to further restrict a zoning classification or land use. A conditional overlay is intended to provide flexible and adaptable use or site development regulations by requiring standards tailored to individual properties.

Conditional overlays may be applied to any base zoning district. A CO may be applied for the following purposes:

  • To prohibit permitted, conditional and/or accessory uses otherwise allowed in a base district
  • To make a permitted use a conditional use
  • To decrease the density that may be constructed
  • To decrease building heights
  • To increase minimum setback requirements
  • To decrease maximum impervious or building cover requirements
  • To restrict access to adjacent roads and require specific design features to minimize the effects of traffic
What are the deed restrictions on my property?

Real estate deed restrictions can restrict or limit the way a property can be used. Deed restrictions generally run with the land, regardless if the property is owned. These restrictions can take the form of conditions, covenants or restrictions.

To find out if a property has deed restrictions you can do the following:

Where can I view residential and commercial development standards?

Chapter 25-2-492- Site Development Regulations (Web) provides information on zoning site development standards.

Note: These tables are not a comprehensive list of ALL site related regulations within Austin's zoning/planning jurisdiction.

What is a FLUM (Future Land Use Map)?

A FLUM, short for Future Land Use Map, is a map that provides insights on a future developments type and location.

To depict the types of future developments, a FLUM uses different colors for each type. For example, single-family developments will be coded yellow, commercial developments will be coded red, and parks and open spaces will be coded green. 

Visit Neighborhood Plans and Resources (Web) to see FLUMs designated for each neighborhood. 

What are the requirements for food and alcohol businesses?

The following are the requirements to open a food or alcohol related business:

  1. Restaurant is an establishment engaged in the preparation and retail sale of food and beverages for on-premise consumption or in a ready-to-consume state. Restaurants are further classified as general or limited. Only a restaurant classified general can serve alcoholic beverages. At least 51% of gross income must be derived from the sale of prepared food. A restaurant use is permitted in the LR Neighborhood Commercial District.
  2. Cocktail Lounge is a business engaged in the preparation and retail sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. Uses such as billiard parlors, dance halls, and live music venues may be included in this category if alcohol sales exceed 49% of the gross revenue. A cocktail lounge is permitted in the CBD district, and conditional in the L, DMU, CS-1, AND CH districts. 
  3. Liquor Sales is an establishment engages in retail sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premise. A liquor sales use is permitted in the CBD, DMU, CS-1, and CH districts and conditional in the LI and MI districts.
  4. Alcoholic Beverage Permit is a permit issues by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages. 
  5. Late-hours Permit is a permit issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission authorizing a restaurant to serve alcohol between midnight and 2 AM. 

In some cases the requirements listed will preclude the issuance of a site plan exemption. In other cases, exemption may be granted. In that case, the applicant should be advised that other regulations must be met before the business can open. Refer to Land Development Code Sections 25-5-146(B), 25-2-587(D), 25-2-808 and 25-6-471(C).

What is a nonconforming use?

A nonconforming use is generally defined as a land use, building or structure that was legal when established but does not conform with the standards of the current applicable use regulations.

Specific requirements govern the discontinuance of nonconforming uses. Specific code requirements address the damages and the ability to make substantial changes to structures that are deemed nonconforming use. 

When are petition rights valid? How do I file a zoning petition?

Austin City Code limits valid petition rights to rezoning requests. Valid petition rights are not available to properties that have interim zoning and are in the process of establishing permanent zoning.

For more information on the initial zoning of a property and subsequent rezoning, please refer to Section  25-2-241 (Web) and 25-2-284 (Web) of the Austin Land Development Code (Web).

Section 25-2-241: Distinction/ On Between Zoning and Rezoning

  1. Zoning is the initial classification of property as a particular zoning base district. Zoning amends the zoning map to include property that was not previously in the zoning jurisdiction or that was not previously included in the boundaries of a base district.
  2. Rezoning amends the zoning map to change the base district classification of property that was previously zoned.

Source: Section 13-1-401; Ord. 990225-70; Ord. 031211-11

The protest provisions contained in Section 25-2-284 are commonly referred to as "petition rights." This provision generally provides that when the Land Use Commission has not recommended 1) an approval of a request for rezoning to a planned unit development (PUD) district, 2) when a written protest against a proposed rezoning is signed by 20% or more of either the area of the lots or land included in such proposed change, or 3) of the lots or land immediately adjoining the same and extending 200 feet--such rezoning shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of three-fourths of the Council.

This usually consists of nine votes; however, if a Council Member must recuse, it could require fewer votes to obtain a three-fourths majority. An absence or abstention does not reduce the number of votes required. In computing the percentage of land area, the area of streets and alleys shall be included in the computation.

Download the Zoning Petition here:

English - Zoning Petition (PDF)

Español - Como emitir una petición (PDF)

What is a Planned Unit Development (PUD)?

A Planned Unit Development (PUD) is intended for large/ complex developments under unified control that are planned as a single, continuous project. PUDs allow single or multiuse projects within its boundaries and provide a greater design flexibility for proposed developments.

Use of a PUD district should result in a development superior to that which would occur using conventional zoning regulations. PUD zoning is appropriate if it enhances the preservation of the natural environment, encourages high quality and innovative design, and ensures adequate public facilities/ services within it. 

The minimum and generally appropriate size of a PUD is ten acres. With the exception of unique, special topographic constrainst, or other exceptional circumstances affecting the property, creation of a PUD on a tract less than 10 acres shall not be justified. Please refer to Chapter 25-2, Division 5 (Subpart A, B, C, and D). 

For additional details download the PUD Ordinance (Web) as approved by City Council on June 18, 2008. 

What is Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA)?

A Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) provides information on the projected traffic expected from a proposed development. The TIA also evaluates the impact of proposed development on the roadways in the immediate proximity of the proposed development.

The TIA should:

  1. Identify any potential traffic operational problems or concerns
  2. Recommended appropriate actions to address them

A traffic impact analysis shall be consistent with code requirements and the Transportation Criteria Manual. The geographic area to be considered in the TIA shall be established by the director. The TIA should consider and account for the potential traffic to be generated by other undeveloped sites within the established study boundaries.

Neighborhood Traffic Analysis

A neighborhood traffic analysis is a simplified TIA that assesses the impact of a proposed project on residential streets. A neighborhood TIA is limited to an evaluation of existing and projected operating levels of residential streets and an identification of mitigation measures needed to minimize traffic impacts.

TIA requirements apply to each individual lot when an application is made to zone or rezone the lot or for site plan approval to develop the lot.

Generally, modifications to an application may include but are not limited to:

  • A reduction in the number of projected vehicle trips per day
  • Dedication of additional right-of-way

Vehicle Trip Thresholds

A local or collector street means any roadway not designated as an arterial street. A residential local or collector street is one along which 50% or more of the frontage within 1,500 feet of the proposed project's property lines (or the nearest arterial, whichever distance is less) is zoned SF-5 or more restrictive uses.

A TIA is required if the expected number of trips generated by the project exceeds 2,000 vehicle trips per day. A neighborhood traffic analysis is required if the project has access only to a residential local or collector street and the expected number of vehicle trips generated by the project exceeds 300 vehicle trips per day over the existing uses.

  • Rerouting of traffic and of proposed access and egress points serving the proposed project;
  • Participation in the funding of traffic signal and /or intersection improvements.
What is a zoning change notification?

Upon filing for a zoning change, applicants and their designated agents will be mailed an initial notice of filing within 14 days of application submittal.

The following groups, located within 500 feet of the zoning change, will also be mailed the initial notice of filing within the fourteen days:

  • Property owners
  • Renters
  • Utility account holders
  • Registered neighborhood associations
  • Community groups
  • Environmental interest groups

The notice includes the applicant's contact information, descriptions of the existing and proposed zoning, and staff contact information. Subsequent notices identifying the date and time of the Land Use Commission and City Council meetings are also mailed prior to these public hearings. Signs which identify the case number are also posted on all properties under zoning review. 

How do I determine the zoning on my property?

Zoning establishes the types of land uses permitted on a parcel of land within the full or limited purpose jurisdiction of the City of Austin. Zoning also sets the development standards for a site, such as building height, setbacks, floor-to-area ratio, neighborhood compatibility, screening, landscaping, and impervious cover limits.

The zoning on your property can be found using the Zoning Profile Report Tool (Web) by typing in the address you want to search for.

For official legal verification of the zoning on a particular property, please call Land Development Information Services at (512) 974-6370.

Please have the Geographic ID (10-14 digit number) ready prior to calling the Development Assistance Center.  This number is available online at the Travis Central Appraisal District (Web)

What is the zoning/rezoning process?

View this step-by-step break down of the Zoning/Rezoning Process(PDF).

Section §25-2-241 of the City of Austin Land Development Code (LDC) defines the distinction between zoning and rezoning.

Zoning is the initial classification of property as a particular zoning base district. Zoning amends the zoning map to include property that was not previously in the zoning jurisdiction or that was not previously included in the boundaries of a base district. Rezoning amends the zoning map to change the base district classification of property that was previously zoned.

In an area with a neighborhood plan (Web), a zoning or rezoning within a neighborhood planning area (Web) follows the same procedure as cases outside of the planning areas as long as the application is not amending the neighborhood plan or the Future Land Use Map for that area. You would need to file a neighborhood plan amendment case if you are seeking a land use designation that is different from the Future Land Use Map for the neighborhood plan where the subject property is located. To determine if you need a neighborhood plan amendment, please follow the instructions on the Plan Amendment Process application (PDF).

The process begins with submitting an application (PDF) through the Zoning Permit Application web form.  Each zoning application is assigned to a Case Manager and a review team. Once your application has been submitted, any questions, problems, conflicts, etc. should be directed to the Case Manager, who will serve as the liaison between you and the City of Austin and be your main point of contact. If you need to see your Case Manager, it is suggested an appointment be made in advance. A written report from staff will be available to the applicant and the public several days before the item is scheduled for review by the Land Use Commission.

Zoning requests are typically heard by the assigned Land Use Commission on the fourth or fifth Tuesday of the month following the date of submittal (approximately 6 to 7 weeks), and by the City Council on the fourth Thursday following the Commission’s recommendation. City Council approvals or approvals with conditions result in a city ordinance which must be voted on and approved by the City Council in three readings (2nd and 3rd readings can be combined). Adopted city ordinances are available at the Public Records Search (Web).