Lake Austin residents face new building restrictions

Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and the Colorado River downstream of Longhorn Dam are closed until Wednesday, June 1 at noon. (KXAN File Photo)
Police searching for lake-goers boating while intoxicated (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — New ordinances are in the works for building or remodeling along Lake Austin. Austin’s city council could put new restrictions in place to prevent erosion along the shore.

One ordinance clarifies existing rules for docks and limits the size of new docks to less than 1,200 square feet to remove navigation hazards on the lake.

The other aims to cut back on impervious cover on properties up to 1,000 feet from the shore.

“Impervious cover is anything that’s going to keep rainwater from going into the ground,” said Chris Herrington, engineer with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department. “So patios, sidewalks, swimming pools, homes, all of that is impervious cover.”

The revised ordinance will extend current zoning rules further inland and prevent property owners from being able to change their zoning to avoid environmental stipulations.

The changes come based on recommendations from the Lake Austin Task Force. The group is looking to curb erosion along Lake Austin’s shores.

“You can actually see areas of the lake where huge sections of the land have actually sloughed off because of erosion,” said Herrington. “We do want to keep the shoreline where it is so we’re not putting suspended sediments in the lake or even reducing the volume of the lake.”

The City of Austin draws its water from Lake Austin.

Contractor Dustin Seymore says building ordinance changes don’t surprise him because the permitting process is already cumbersome.

“I think it’s going to really restrict what those people are going to be able to do on those properties adjacent to the lake, and I think in the long term it’s going to affect the property values,” said Seymore. “I wish we could find a balance between managing our natural resources and allowing people to expand, to do the things they want to do with their property.”

You can weigh in on the changes at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the One Texas Center on Barton Springs Road. Two more public hearings are scheduled in the coming month.

Austin’s Watershed Department hopes to have the ordinances ready for city council approval by April. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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