Austin City Council Meeting: ‘Granny flats’ approved

KXAN (Austin) – With Austin City Council poised to take on its largest agenda yet, with 98 items, here’s a look at a few topics to keep an eye out for:

Final vote on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — Item approved with amendments
A final decision is expected to be made regarding small rental homes or garage apartments in many Austin neighborhoods.

When asked earlier this week what stands out as one of the top agenda items in today’s City Council meeting, Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN ADUs are a big item to be decided upon.

Wednesday, District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar held a press conference to voice his support for ADUs, saying, “Thursday’s vote on backyard cottages is one small step in a much longer process of expanding housing availability for Austinites of all income levels, in all parts of town.”

Opponents argue that ADUs are not likely to lower rent and will increase neighborhood traffic.

In June 2014, a City Council resolution initiated amendments to a city code to develop an ordinance that “reduces regulatory barriers to make accessory dwelling units easier to build.” Namely, eliminating parking and driveway requirements.

The proposed amendment will:
1) Reduce building separation from 15 feet to 10 feet.
2) Allow an entrance within 10 feet of a property line.
3) Remove driveway placement requirement.
4) Change parking requirement to 1 off street space for all secondary units.
5) Prohibit use as Type 2 Short Term Rental
6) Apply the ordinance citywide, i.e., to all properties throughout the city that can currently build an ADU.

Keep in mind, as KXAN reported Tuesday, a recent city audit revealed Austin does not have an effective strategy to meet affordable housing needs. In fact, among the findings, the audit uncovered flaws in how the city counts its affordable housing production, which resulted in significantly overstating the numbers. Out of the near 3,000 units reported as affordable housing, more than half are not.

Funding for downtown public safety needs during “Spring Festival Season,” including SXSW – Item approved

Tuesday, Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday sent out a message to its members, stating that as a result of meeting with the mayor and every city council member, a resolution is set for today’s agenda to “ask the city manager to allocate money to staff SXSW with overtime officers first; before moving officers from their regular duties and assignments.”

Intersection improvements to I-35 Southbound Frontage Road at 51st Street Intersection and Remp Reconfiguration Project – Item approved

Monday, at the meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Mayor Adler voted to approve traffic improvement projects on IH-35.

Included in the City Council agenda, from the Transportation Department:
“The purpose of this Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) is to authorize $9,200,000 of 2012 Bond funds to supplement construction funds provided by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to complete construction of the I-35 Southbound Frontage Road at 51st Street Intersection and Ramp Reconfiguration Project.”

Construction will begin next year.

For a look at the full agenda, click here.

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