Austin loosens decades-old height restrictions to increase housing density

Long-sought changes come as city struggles with housing crisis

Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin (David Hume Kennerly/Public domain-via Wikimedia Commons, iStock)
Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin (David Hume Kennerly/Public domain-via Wikimedia Commons, iStock)

Buildings across Austin may soon be on rise — literally.

As the city continues to struggle in the face of soaring housing costs and limited supply, the Austin City Council is moving to ease building height restrictions in place since the mid-1980s, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The council voted late Thursday to loosen the decades-old rules in the hopes of encouraging more multifamily projects, allowing taller buildings to go up closer to single family homes, and also easing onsite parking requirements.

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The new rules are expected to come into effect in September.

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Mayor Steven Adler said he’s glad for the progress, but said the changes don’t go far enough, according to the publication.

“I would like to see us go further on relaxing compatibility and parking requirements,” he said.

The incremental changes come after years of council gridlock over updating the city’s so-called “compatibility rules.” Even within the past year, the court has shot down efforts at major overhauls to the city’s land development code, stalling any big steps forward.

The council also voted on a companion measure that will expand affordable housing by allowing mixed-use properties to be built up to an additional 30 feet, as long as 10 to 12 percent of these units would rent below market rate to people making below that area’s median income.

[Austin American-Statesman] — James Bell