There are many zoning categories in Austin’s current Land Development Code all of which dictate what can be built on a property. Vertical Mixed-Use (VMU) is a zoning category that allows a ‘mix’ of different uses within the same building. A common example seen in Austin is a building with a business (i.e., restaurants, retail shops, or offices) on the ground level and residential units (i.e., apartments or condos) on the second floor and up.
VMU buildings maximize land use by building up instead of out. Having different land uses like residential and commercial near one another can support communities where people can access the things they need in their daily lives within a short trip of where they live and work. VMU buildings are also by code located on core transit corridors, which means that people who live, work, and visit them have access to transportation options that don’t rely on cars. This supports mobility choice, Austin’s climate goals, and can improve household affordability.
The VMU zoning category is one of several voluntary programs in Austin that offers development incentives such as building height in exchange for more community benefits like housing in transit-rich areas and housing that is reserved specifically for people with low incomes.
A proposed change to Austin’s current Land Development Code would add a new category—tentatively called VMU2—which would offer a height bonus of 30 feet in exchange for even greater community benefits, such as more affordability.
- What’s happening?
In November 2021, the Austin City Council directed an expansion of the VMU program through the creation of a new tier with a height bonus (VMU2). This proposal was intended to bolster the effectiveness of this voluntary affordable housing program.
City staff and members of the Planning Commission developed a draft of the new proposal, however, these changes must go through a public hearing process and be approved by the City Council before they are added to the city’s code.
The public hearing at City Council is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, 2022.
- Why is this happening?
Austin is still growing, and the problems related to growth along with it. One of these issues is affordability, and while the changes to VMU alone won’t solve the problem, they could help. Not only does this program require more affordable rents or sales prices than would otherwise be provided by the private market, but by locating more housing, businesses, and services near public transit it increases access to the things people need in their daily lives.
- What else should I know?
The following resources provide a deeper understanding of the current and new VMU tiers.
Resolution No. 20211118-052 (PDF) – This resolution was passed by Council and directed the changes to the VMU program.
The video above is from a Mar. 8, 2022, Planning Commission Meeting. Starting at 1:44:20, city staff provides a history of the project and an overview of the proposed code amendment.
Other documents related to the proposed changes are available below:
- How can I provide feedback?
The public can provide feedback to City Council during the June 9, 2022, Council meeting.
There may be additional opportunities to provide feedback before June 9. This website will be updated with that information when it is available.
How do I find my Council Representative?
You can find your Council representative by typing your address into an interactive map. Start by clicking on the ‘I want to…’ button, then select the top-most option, ‘Find My Council District’.
Enter your street address starting with house number and click, ‘Submit’. The map then provides your Council District number and a link to the right Council District website.
How can I contact my Council Member?
Once you know your Council representative, you can visit your district’s website for a phone number and email address.
Alternatively, you can send an email to all Council members through this contact form.
How can I sign-up to speak at the Council public hearing?
Public comment is allowed in-person or remotely by telephone. Speakers may only register to speak on an item once either in-person or remotely.
For more information on registering online, visit the City Clerk web page or call the Clerk’s Office at 512-974-2210.
Want to learn more?
Chat with us! Sign up for office hours—a phone, virtual, or other appointment methods—or email Sam Tedford with the City of Austin Housing and Planning Department to ask your questions and learn more about the proposed changes.