Austin leaders consider overhauling land development codes

(Juan Rodriguez/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city leaders are considering options to make development easier, and possibly more abundant. The initiative is called “CodeNEXT,” and would change land development codes in the city. Council discussed the plan Thursday that would overhaul Austin’s land development codes — but to what extent is the question.

“Our code is such a mess right now,” said council member Chris Riley. “Our own staff have trouble applying it, and no one can really have any certainty about the results that are going to come from it.”

CodeNext’s varying options range from just tweaking land codes to totally rewriting them.

Riley supports more extreme changes. “Part of what creates the housing shortage that we have right now is that it’s so very difficult to get housing in place.”

Another change council is considering would allow Austin to become more dense. The city is considering loosening the rules for what are considered secondary dwellings, like garage apartments or granny flats, as some have come to be known.

“A lot of people in the Hyde Park neighborhood, especially, are still going to school — graduates and masters — and financing a house isn’t the best option, but they’re looking to get some peace and quiet to study and get through the nights,” said Jeffrey Sanchez, who lives in a garage apartment in Hyde Park.

He says it allows him to live in an area he wants, affordably. Those who oppose cutting regulatory measures for such secondary dwellings say it would create more parking problems. They also worry about packing too many people into a neighborhood, degrading its appeal.

The city council did not make an decision Thursday on the plan. They expect a vote to come at a future council meeting in November.

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