contrbuted by Chris Allen [Email address: chris #AT# somearchitect.com - replace #AT# with @ ]
The work of the Single Family Development Regulations Task
Force is coming to an end, and this will be a big week. The draft ordinance goes to Planning Commission on Tuesday night and to City Council on
Thursday. Below is a summary of the highlights of the changes to the Land
Development Code we’re recommending. Take a look at it, think about how it all affects you and your neighborhood and COME TO THE HEARING ON THURSDAY!!
Since February, I’ve had the distinct privilege of working
with some of the best and brightest people
made up of 16 citizens representing neighborhoods, builders,
developers, the real estate industry, and architects. This group has done an incredible amount of work: first to understand what the nature of
Austin’s scale and compatibility problems is, and then to find ways to mitigate
the problem without severely hampering reasonable infill or remodeling
projects. Coming at the problem from so many diverse angles and perspectives
meant that we had to learn a lot from each other, and the results speak
volumes about the level of cooperation we achieved. Our recommendation is the result of near unanimous consensus among the group (we had one dissenting
vote out of 16). (Remember, we’re talking about developers and neighborhood
activists here, so this is big news!)
This week, all of our hard work will be put through a fiery
test. The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin is waging a campaign
to defeat the proposed changes, and they will be very effective at getting
their message to the media this week. Over the next few days, you’ll be hearing that the new rules will cause the Sky to Fall!
I’m pretty sure the Sky will be okay. In fact, with the new regulations, you’ll have a better chance of seeing it, without having a
Super Sized house or duplex built on the lot next door to you. The proposed regulations still allow for a lot of house, but concentrate the height of a
new or remodeled home toward the center of the lot, keeping the new structure
from looming over the house next door.
The HBA wants you to think that you won’t be able to build a
decent sized home in
if this is adopted, but I can show you how to get 3,500-3,700 s.f. of living space on a 7,000 s.f. lot and meet the
regulations. That’s a lot of house in anyone’s book, isn’t it?
Roughly 97% of the houses in this area would comply with the
new regulations, but some of the houses many of you have
complained about over the last couple of years would have to be built differently
under these rules. One good
in the future.
Please take a little time to get familiar with the proposed
regulations. Feel free to ask questions on the neighborhood listserves,
and mark your calendar for Thursday night.
Task Force Member
Single Family Development Regulations Task Force
Highlights of Recommendations
June 6: Planning Commission (Continuation of Public Hearing)
June 8: City Council Public Hearing & Possible ActionManaging Mass/Bulk/Scale
* Build within
‘setback envelope’ (15′ high at property line, then angling in at 45 degrees)
* Traditional 2 story
house fits within the envelope on side setback line. Heights greater than that would need to be moved away from
* Dormers, gables,
etc. may protrude from the envelope
Total Square Footage
* Greater of .4 FAR
or 2300 sq ft
* This allows FAR
> .4 on lots less than 5750 sq ft (the minimum SF-3 lot size)
inclusions/exclusions from FAR calculation, see Task Force website (URL below).
Articulation to Avoid "Billboard" Effect
* Articulate long
(>32′ in length) walls taller than 1-story if less than 15′ side setback.
* At a minimum, jog
4′ inward for 10′
* Neighborhoods may
customize (increase or decrease) the above regulations
* A Residential
Design Review body may grant up to 25% increase
* Task Force to
reconvene in 6 months to review impacts and recommend adjustments as necessary
* Leave impervious
cover limits in place
* Fund program to
educate public about ways to mitigate nuisance drainage problems for neighbors
Height: Maximum of 32ft
* All properties
zoned SF-2 and SF-3 (including duplexes); SF-4A when adjacent to SF-2 or SF-3
* Boundaries: East –
183; south – Ben White; West – (moving north)
Mopac/Lake/360 to 183; North – 183 (includes N. Shoal Creek,
Neighborhood Planning AreasInterpretation and Enforcement Issues
Height Measurements: reference natural grade to remove
Demolition Permits: Clarify that a remodeling permit does
not authorize demolition.
Noncomplying Structures: Eliminate loopholes and clarify
modification and restoration allowances.
More details available at