The City of Austin City Council voted to approve a resolution that would allow development of more homes on smaller lots. But don't start filing your subdivision documents yet.
What does this actually mean?
The resolution directs the city manager to propose amendments to the existing code to reduce the minimum lot size for single family lots to 2,500 square feet and increase the number of units allowed to at least three units per lot. Currently the minimum lot size needed for development on most single family zoning districts is 5,750 square feet, although there are some exceptions (Click here to read about small lot subdivision).
Does that mean that I can have 4 lots if I own a 10,000 square foot lot?
Not necessarily. A lot will depend on the development standards that the City adopts on the final ordinance document. It is very likely that the number of units will be restricted by development standards like Impervious Cover, Building Coverage, FAR, that already impact development on City lots. Other determining factors could be front lot width requirements, developers would have to make sure that when creating these smaller lots they all have ingress and egress which will take away area that would otherwise be used for development. Also, you have to consider any easements to allow for placement of utilities and many other factors, its really not that simple.
When will I actually be able to subdivide my lot?
The process could take months, years, or never actually happen. City Council's directive is for City Staff to work on code amendments. These code amendments would need to be brought to public hearings, be heard by Planning Commission, and then eventually approved by City Council before these changes officially become codified. Again, this may never happen, lets not forget Code Next (RIP).
Why is this so controversial?
There is a lot of public opposition to these proposed changes because residents in Austin have expressed that they do not want to see higher density in the City. They don't believe that increasing the number of housing units will result in more affordable housing options.
Disclaimer, these are my personal thoughts based on my planning and personal experiences.
Not all density is bad. It creates walkable neighborhoods, a sense of community, and less pollution if we create work live spaces. We can look at plenty of countries were density has created beautiful cityscapes (the one below from Europe). However, more density doesn't always mean affordable and we have plenty examples of that in our own country as well. If we are going to increase density, we also have to think about things like, public transportation, local natural resources, infrastructure and anything else that will need to be address before we add more housing that might not be supported by the current environment.
Author: Jennifer Smith
Edited 8/2/23 @ 8: 30 p.m..