🏠 4 big zoning changes?
City of Austin
- 6 min read

🏠 4 big zoning changes?

Plus, what Austin's roadways looked like at 1:30 p.m. during the eclipse.

Advertisement

On this page
Introduction

☀️ Hey hey, Austin.

"Land zoning" sounds scary, but it really just means how the city dictates what can be built on what land and how it's done. We break down four proposals for Austin's zoning laws that City Council will consider at a special meeting this Thursday.

Then, what to do now that the eclipse is over, and peep what Austin's roadways looked like at 1:30 p.m. during totality.


Big things for Austin development

It’s not your typical City Council meeting week, but City Council will be meeting this week to consider some major changes to the Land Development Code (you know, the thing that dictates what can be built, where and how). 

Warning: Today’s breakdown is going to be a little dense, but the decisions made on these issues will affect the way this city is built, and that can impact all our lives. 

HOME Phase 2

You probably remember all the hoo-ha around the council’s passage of HOME Phase 1 late last year. That amendment to the city code allows for up to three homes to be built on a single-family lot. Now, the council is tackling Phase 2. 

What’s the goal? Similar to Phase 1, the council is hoping to increase housing supply, especially for middle-income earners, create walkable neighborhoods with a  variety of housing types and support Project Connect transit investment. 

A visualization of the different types of constructions that typically exist now, are allowed under HOME Phase 1 and would be allowed under HOME Phase 2.
City of Austin

What’s being proposed? 

  • Big picture: Phase 2 would reduce the minimum lot size for one unit from 5,750 square feet to 2,000 square feet in hopes of better facilitating ownership of one home on a smaller lot. 
  • The proposal also includes a number of design and lot size requirements, including: 
    • Requiring street-facing entrances 
    • Restrictions on garages and carports that are not set back behind the facade
    • Limiting front yard impervious cover to 50%
    • Requiring lots to be a minimum of 30 feet wide for those with an individual driveway and 20 feet for lots with a shared driveway, alley or side street access or no driveway 
  • The proposal would also make it easier to subdivide “flag lots” (you know, the lots with a house up front and a long driveway — which looks a bit like a flagpole — leading to a back unity). 

Read more here.

Compatibility standards

First, let’s break down the jargon. "Compatibility standards" just refers to zoning regulations that limit building heights, design and proximity to single-family areas in the city. 

Current standards: The city has varying restrictions that apply up to 540 feet from a single-family property, although the current rules are not applied uniformly across the city.

A graphic visualizing the current 540' setback requirements and the proposed 75' set back requirements.
City of Austin Planning Department

What’s being proposed? 

  • There would be no compatibility requirements after 75 feet, while more height and flexibility would be allowed within 75 feet. 
  • A 25-foot buffer would be required between the single-family property and the new construct. This would include a 10-foot-wide buffer zone with trees or large shrubs. 
  • Certain screening standards would be required, including shielding exterior lights from neighboring properties and keeping noise under 70 decibels. 

Read more here.

Electric Vehicle Charging Land Use 

Goal of the changes: The City Council passed a resolution to reconsider EV charging land use rules last year in an effort to keep charging stations from being concentrated in specific areas, especially residential areas.  

What’s being proposed: 

  • Permitting charging use in a variety of zoning districts in areas that meet certain conditions, such as proximity to certain highways and core-transit corridors 
  • Prohibiting the use of charging stations underground 

Read more here.

Remember our recent discussion of transit-oriented development? Well, the city is now moving forward with a number of Equitable Transit-Oriented Development  and density-bonus proposals for areas around the proposed light rail.

Why now? The city wants to make sure the new regulations can be considered as part of an application for federal funding that will be submitted later this summer. 

A map showing the proposed light rail line and stations with the the ETOD overlay recommendations.
City of Austin

What’s being proposed? 

  • A new zoning district would prohibit or make conditional land uses that are not transit-supportive. 
  • A new density-bonus program would allow for max height to increase by up to 60 feet (capped at 120 feet total), but would require affordable rental or ownership housing or fees-in-lieu in return. 
  • The program would also provide an incentive to preserve existing commercial uses and housing that is already attainable to households that cannot afford the market rate. 

The changes would be applied to certain lots within a half-mile of the proposed light rail and its priority extensions.

Read more here.

Have thoughts? Besides this Thursday's council meeting at 9 a.m. there are another opportunities to hear about the plans and share your thoughts.
April 17: Open House at Austin Central Library, 6-8 p.m.
April 20: Open House via Zoom, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
April 23: Planning Commission meeting
May 16: City Council meeting

Do you have questions about the proposed changes? Send them our way and we'll hunt down the answers for you.

— Cat DeLaura, Reporter


Temperature: 76 | Sun:  Making a comeback | What to Expect: Gusty north winds

Today we'll all have “Here Comes the Sun" stuck in our heads. A cold front will move through with a few morning showers, but then cooler and drier air takes over with lots of sunshine by the afternoon.

Mary’s Tip: It’s “Wine Down Wednesday,” so how about heading to one of my all-time favorites, House Wine on Josephine Street.


a dice with the 3 side showing

3 things you should do now that the eclipse is over

  1. Recycle those glasses. If you're not keeping them for your memento box (surely some of y'all have those too, right?), don't throw them away! Austin will have collection bins at all Austin Parks and Recreation facilities and public libraries through April 26. The glasses will be shipped to Astronomers Without Borders, which will use them for future eclipse viewing. Someday someone from Iceland could be using your glasses to take in the eclipse!
  2. Mark your calendars. If you're like me and you can't stop thinking about those 1 to 4 plus minutes of totality, circle Aug. 12, 2026, in your calendars. That's the Earth's next total solar eclipse. It'll be visible in Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia and a small area of Portugal. I've always wanted a reason to visit Greenland (although, to be fair, I think "visiting Greenland" is reason enough to persuade me to go). If you're looking for something closer to home, the next total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. is Aug. 22, 2044, but it'll only be visible in North Dakota and Montana.
  3. Tell us about your experience. If the celestial event inspired you to write about it, we'd love to read it. Send us your thoughts, poetry or narration of the day's events for a chance to be featured in a future Austin Daily newsletter. The only requirement is to keep it to 100 words or less.

Post of the day: The eclipse cleared Austin’s highways for once

I know we were all geared up for some nightmare-level traffic on Monday, thanks to the eclipse and everyone who came into town for it.

And it may have been at other times of the day. But at 1:30 p.m. right before the time of totality, according to a Redditor, time stood still. I-35 and Mopac were empty (sorry @EvilMoPac). All was right with the world.

Check it out:

Jaylop97/Reddit

We should have historic celestial events more often, eh?


🌡️ Degree Commencement

Today's clue is for 2 Down: what Licha's on East Sixth has the best of, complete with pumpkin seeds.


Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura and Mary Wasson.