• Activity Center

    Concentrated areas of housing, services, and employment such as downtowns, town centers, or transit hubs.

  • Adaptive Re-Use

    Conversion of a building into a use other than that for which it was designed, such as changing a warehouse into a gallery space or housing.

  • Affordable Housing

    According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

  • Building Envelope

    The volume of space that may be occupied by a building, usually defined by a series of dimensional requirements such as setback, stepback, permitted maximum height, maximum permitted lot coverage.

  • Built Environment

    The human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings.

  • BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)

    Mass transportation that uses buses on existing roadways with dedicated rights of way or high occupancy vehicle lanes. The distance between stations is generally ¼ to 2 miles and the frequency is 8-20 minutes. See MetroRapid (Web) for more information.

  • Compact Development

    Development that uses less land than conventional development.

  • Compatibility

    The characteristics of different designs which, despite their differences allow them to be located near each other in harmony, such as scale, height, materials, fencing, landscaping and location of service areas.

  • Compatibility Standards

    City of Austin regulations that apply city wide which limit building height, scale of buildings and other requirements for development within 540 feet of single-family uses of single family zoned (SF-5 or more restrictive) property.  See Austin Land Development Code Chapter 25-2, Article 10 (Compatibility Standards) for the specific regulations.

  • Core Transit Corridors

    A roadway type designation for purposes of applying development requirements of the Austin Land Development Code, Chapter 25-2 Subchapter E (Design Standards and Mixed Use) (Web). Such roads exhibit a "population density, mix of users, and transit facilities to encourage and support transit use," i.e., the city's major thoroughfares. Examples include Riverside Dr, Guadalupe St, South Congress Ave, and Airport Blvd.

  • Density

    A standard measure of units per area (typically reported in dwelling units per acre or du/ac). High-density areas have more dwelling units (homes) per area of land than low-density areas. A typical lower-density development in Austin’s older neighborhoods (with 6,000 sq ft lots) may have a housing density of 8 units per acre, while a typical townhouse development (higher density) may have a housing density of 16 units per acre, and a typical apartment complex may have a housing density of 40 units per acre. The common means to measure and regulate density of development is by maximum units/acre.

  • Design Based Code (Form Based Code)

    A type of land development regulations that places primary emphasis on the physical form of buildings and site development with the end goal of producing a predictable built environment or specific type of 'place'. This sets them apart from conventional zoning, which focuses primarily on uses (commercial, residential, etc) and numerical standards (e.g. maximum building heights and density) whose physical outcomes in terms of what a development will look like are difficult to predict. By addressing physical form of development explicitly, Design Based Codes can provide more contextually sensitive and predictable results. For more information on Form Based Codes, visit the Form Based Code Institute (Web).

  • East Riverside Corridor

    For purposes of the planning process, the boundaries include properties near East Riverside Drive between I-35 and Highway 71/Ben White Boulevard. The specific parcels were refined through the Master Plan Process (Web), and the study area is located within the Montopolis and East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Planning Areas. See the East Riverside/ Oltorf Combined Boundary Map (Web) for more information. 

  • Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

    The ratio of gross floor area to gross site area. In other words, it is the proportional relationship between the total floor area of the buildings and the land on which they are built. A 1:1 FAR would allow as much square footage of building space to be built as the size of the property but the space could be built on one floor or multiple smaller floors.

  • Green Building

    "Green" building and sustainable design refers to the class of construction/design that involves energy-efficient practices, environmentally friendly materials, and practices that reduce negative impacts on the environment. Typical features of green building (Web) and sustainable design include energy conservation, water conservation, adaptive building reuse, and recycling of construction waste.

  • Greenfield Development

    Vacant, previously undeveloped land.

  • Hub

    See “Transit Hub”

  • Land Development Code

    The legal guidelines (Web) by which the city controls the uses of buildings or areas of land and also the rules about building size and height, setbacks from lot lines, and required open space. A Regulating Plan, once adopted, will be part of the City’s Land Development Code.

  • Market-Rate Housing

    Housing which does not include subsidized or government reduced rent or housing prices; in other words, housing in which the price or rent is determined by market price.

  • Master Plan

    A comprehensive long range plan intended to guide growth and development of a geographic area. It includes analysis, recommendations, and proposals for the community’s future, land use, housing, transportation and community facilities. Master Plans are often based on public input, surveys, planning initiatives, existing development, physical characteristics, and social and economic conditions.

  • Mixed-Income Housing

    Mixed-income housing includes both market rate and affordable homes within the same development. This delivers affordable housing choices in areas close to jobs that generate more modest incomes. Mixed-income housing is often financed through public-private partnerships. The subsidy is determined by a formula requiring a certain percentage of the housing mix to be allocated for affordable housing. Municipal government policies related to mixed-income housing are known as inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is not legal in the state of Texas.

  • Mixed-Use Development

    Mixed-use development, sometimes referred to as live/work/play communities, refers to development that includes a mixture of complementary land uses. The most common mix of land uses include housing, retail, office, commercial services, and civic uses.

  • New Urbanism

    New Urbanism is the movement in favor of the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of an area's built legacy.

  • Open Space

    According to the City of Austin Land Development Code (Web), open space means an outdoor or unenclosed area, located on the ground or on a roof, balcony, deck, porch or terrace, designed and accessible for outdoor living, recreation, pedestrian access, or landscaping, excluding parking facilities, driveways, utility, and service areas. Examples include parks, plazas, playscapes, outdoor dining. Open space is not always “green space.” A paved courtyard with a fountain offers great value for relaxing, gathering, or getting to a destination. Open space contributes directly both to quality of life and to the kind of outdoor lifestyle needed if people are to drive less. See also: Public Realm

  • Pervious Surfaces

    Pervious surfaces allow water to filter into the ground, which enables natural groundwater to recharge, helps with filtration of pollutants, and reduces erosion and flooding. The City of Austin limits the amount of a site that can be covered with impervious surfaces.

  • Parkland Dedication

     A City of Austin ordinance that requires developers of residential housing to set aside a certain amount of land for park space, or contribute a “fee-in-lieu” to the Parks Department to pay for parkland in the area. See Austin Land Development Code Chapter 25-1, Article 14 (Parkland Dedication).

  • Public Realm

    The shared environment within cities and towns such as sidewalks, streets, squares, open spaces, parks plazas, and waterfronts. Well-designed public realm spaces encourage and enable human interaction. Public spaces should be comfortable, climate sensitive, and walkable. See also: Open Space

  • Rail Transit

    Commuter Rail:  Operates between a central city and adjacent suburbs and generally built on existing tracks with at-grade street crossings. Stations are generally 2-5 miles apart with 20-30 minute frequency. Travels 30-60 MPH.

    LRT, or Light Rail Transit:  A regional, urban system that can operate in mixed traffic or with a separate right of way. The distance between stations is usually approximately one mile and the frequency is 5-30 minutes Travels 20-30 MPH.

    Streetcar: Runs on streets providing local urban circulation. The distance between stations is usually approximately ¼ mile and the frequency is 8-15 minutes. Travels 8-12 MPH.

    Urban Rail System: Hybrid between streetcars and light rail that can operate in city streets with traffic and can be a catalyst for economic development with permanent infrastructure.

  • Regulating Plan

    A document that includes design-based code development standards for properties within a specific geographical area. The Regulating Plan presents the development standards in both words and diagrams and includes a map designating the locations where different standards apply. This creates a more predictable built environment based on clear community intentions regarding the physical character of the area.

  • Scale

    A general design term used to describe the size and proportions of a building and its components, such as stairways, windows, doorways, cornices, and ornamentation.

  • Smart Growth

    An approach to growth that focuses on developing urban (metropolitan) communities that are more hospitable, productive, and fiscally and environmentally responsible than most communities developed in the last century. The principles of smart growth are based on compact and multiuse development, infill and redevelopment, expansion of infrastructure, enhanced livability, expanded mobility, and conservation of open space. While some parties focus on one aspect of development over another, smart growth seeks to identify a common ground where developers, environmentalists, public officials, citizens, and others can all find ways to accommodate growth.

  • Stormwater Management

    The process of controlling and processing runoff from rain and storms so it does not harm the environment or human health.

  • Street Edge

    A term often used to describe the line to which the front walls of buildings on a particular street are built. For example: If a new store is built with its front wall back twenty feet from the front of all the other buildings on the block to provide off-street parking spaces, that building can be said to have not maintained the street edge.

  • Streetscape

    The elements within and along the street right-of-way that define its appearance, identity, and functionality, including street furniture, landscaping, trees, sidewalks, and pavement treatments.

  • Transit Hub

    Term indicating locations where connections between multiple transit modes are facilitated. Transit hubs usually include higher density, mixed-use development, and other features to encourage pedestrian activity.

  • Transit-Oriented Development

    Also known as TOD (Web), is the functional integration of land use & transit via the creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use communities within walking distance of a transit stop or station (generally ¼ to ½ mile). A TOD brings together people, jobs, and services and is designed in a way that makes it efficient, safe, and convenient to travel on foot or by bicycle, transit, or car.

  • Urban Design

    The aspect of architecture and city planning that deals with the design of urban structures and spaces.

  • Zoning Variances

    The legal remedies by which property owners may obtain permission to build structures that do not fully correspond to the existing zoning (Web) codes.