- The City of Austin sent a letter to more than 200,000 households announcing it will consider changes to compatibility standards and parking requirements on “certain” roadways
- The Planning Commission’s first hearing on the matter is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Election Day (November 8), before polls close
- In a recent interview, Mayor Steve Adler announced his desire to make the proposed changes more dramatic
On October 28, City of Austin officials sent this half-page letter to more than 200,000 addresses across our community, announcing it will consider amendments to “modify compatibility standards and parking requirements on certain roadways.” Compatibility standards govern the height and setback of big buildings near residential areas, and they’ve been in place in Austin for decades. The letter didn’t specify which roadways may be affected.
Unbelievably, the city’s letter invited concerned residents to a public hearing scheduled for 6:00 PM on Election Day (November 8), when many Austinites will be waiting in line to vote or engaged in other election activities. Even worse, City Hall’s proposed ordinance is still marked as a “working draft – subject to change,” with blanks accompanied by the notation “[s]taff is still considering ideas about what can be placed in this area.”
If passed, the council’s draft ordinance will weaken compatibility standards on rail corridors and a yet-to-be-determined list of large- and medium-sized roads. It could allow the construction of new developments closer to existing homes than ever before, but the potential height of those buildings and their minimum distance from nearby neighborhoods remains unknown.
The draft ordinance also proposes to weaken parking requirements in the same areas. Austin’s current parking requirements force developers to provide adequate parking for new residents and businesses, helping to ease congestion on neighborhood streets.
Our current compatibility standards require buildings 60-90 feet in height to be built no closer than 540 feet from existing homes. City staff has indicated that it favors ending compatibility protections at 100 feet of distance, an 80% reduction. Last week, the mayor told The Austin Chronicle he would “personally prefer” the same.
ABOVE: Mayor Adler told the local media he wants to allow buildings 60-90 feet tall within 100 feet of Austin’s existing homes, an 80% reduction in our decades-old compatibility standards.
After the demise of CodeNEXT and the landmark court decisions ending City Hall’s last rezoning attempt, council members promised future efforts to rework our Land Development Code would be firmly based in community consensus. Instead we are presented with a half-baked draft ordinance, public testimony scheduled for Election Day, and a mayor and staff who would prefer to dial back compatibility even more than the initial proposal.
Please contact Mayor Adler and your representative on the city council using the information below and let them know your voice matters! Tell them compatibility standards are the foundation of a livable city, and fair and transparent processes are indispensable to a heathy democracy. Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!
You may send a single email to the mayor and all council members using this form.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lawns/3203876918/