Austin inches closer to allowing more density along major streets

City council must navigate court rulings and internal dissent to hammer out new rules

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (Twitter via Mayor Adler, iStock)
Austin Mayor Steve Adler (Twitter via Mayor Adler, iStock)

In the face of an affordable housing crisis, the Austin City Council is pursuing a raft of measures aimed at allowing increased housing density in the mostly low-rise city.

Among the policies is a proposal to reduce restrictions on higher-density housing along major streets, as reported by the Austin Monitor.

The Council voted to begin hammering out reforms to parking requirements for new developments along busy streets — rules which housing advocates say keeps new developments smaller than they need to be as the city has increased public transit options along major corridors.

“I think it’s more critical now than it has ever been to increase density and housing on these corridors,” said Mayor Steve Adler in a statement.

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Under these proposed changes, compatibility rules — which limit new buildings heights by their proximity to single-family homes — would apply within 300 feet from a property, and the rule’s height limits would increase by 5 feet, with parking requirements reduced depending on the street.

The Council resolution approved last week directs staff to prepare a draft ordinance for consideration by September.

Separately last week, the Council endorsed a citywide update of compatibility rules that will allow mixed-use properties to be built up to an additional 30 feet in proximity to single family homes, so long as 10 to 12 percent of the residential units rent below market rate to people making below that area’s median income.

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Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin (David Hume Kennerly/Public domain-via Wikimedia Commons, iStock)
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[Austin Monitor] — James Bell