Austin seeks public input before rewriting land-use rules


City of Austin planners want to hear from the public before they begin overhauling the land development code, an 800-page document that shapes what gets built and where in Austin.

This is the first time in nearly 30 years that the city has done a full-scale revision of the code, said George Zapalac, a division manager in the Planning and Development Review Department. The department will hold meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to gather public input.

The City Council last year adopted a long-term plan called Imagine Austin that will guide growth in Austin for the next 30 years. The plan took two years to craft and touches on issues ranging from housing to transportation to jobs.

For example, Imagine Austin calls for a relatively dense mix of homes and businesses along corridors serviced by robust bus and rail lines, including along Airport and North Lamar boulevards. It also encourages growth in the north and south parts of town to happen in clusters of housing and commerce, rather than separating residences from retail.

Now the city needs to revise its land-use rules to carry out the vision in Imagine Austin, Zapalac said.

The code “covers what can be built, where it can be built, how much can be built and how land can be used,” Zapalac said. “It covers the different development processes that people have to go through to get approval (from the city) and spells out some of the technical requirements that people have to address related to land use, transportation, the environment and drainage and building standards.”

The rewrite is expected to take three years and cost as much as $2 million.

The current code was written in 1984 and pieces of it have been revised, but there has been no comprehensive rewrite until now, Zapalac said.

Neighborhood activists have expressed concern that the rewrite will unravel compromises over development rules that took years to craft. Zapalac said the intent is not to start from scratch, but to take a fresh look at the whole document and consider “the stories behind” the compromises.

“There are parts of it that we will keep intact and others that we might want to significantly revise and repeal,” he said. “We’re not throwing the whole thing out, by any means.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Trump poses a 2018 puzzle for Republican governors
Trump poses a 2018 puzzle for Republican governors

For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments.  But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin...
How Congress plays by different rules on sexual harassment and misconduct
How Congress plays by different rules on sexual harassment and misconduct

Briony Whitehouse was a 19-year-old intern in 2003 when she boarded an elevator in the Russell Senate Office Building with a Republican senator who, she said, groped her until the doors reopened.  She never reported the incident to her bosses for fear of jeopardizing her career. But she recently tweeted about her experience on Twitter as part...
White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe
White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe

Six months into a special counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, White House aides and others in President Donald Trump's close orbit are increasingly divided in their assessments of the expanding probe and how worried administration officials and campaign aides should be about their potential legal peril...
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

President Donald Trump's budget director said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the Republican tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move that would fundamentally reshape the effort in the Senate.  In a television interview, Office of Management and Budget...
Former Franken female staffers speak out: ‘He treated us with the utmost respect’
Former Franken female staffers speak out: ‘He treated us with the utmost respect’

Some former female staffers of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., spoke out on Friday in his defense, saying that he had treated women with respect while they worked in his office.  The statement came on the same day that Leeann Tweeden, the Los Angeles radio news anchor who accused Franken of kissing and groping her against her will, said that she had...
More Stories