Everything you need to know about the Land Development Code (LDC) special called meeting

Yesterday, the Austin City Council held a Special Called Meeting regarding the Land Development Code Rewrite. The issues of discussion included transition area methodology, downtown, and parking. 

Transition areas are where Missing Middle zones would be applied in order to create a transition from the corridor to lower density residential neighborhoods. Missing Middle was a popular term during CodeNEXT referring to housing with two to 50 units, including duplexes, townhomes and small apartment complexes. Current code doesn’t account for transition areas or opportunity for missing middle housing. 

Due to Austin’s varied property patterns, the rewrite takes two approaches to define the methodology of two to five lot depth. A cumulative approach is the standard methodology for clearly defined lots, and a contextual approach will require individualized plans to account for impacting factors. Click here to see the presentation with example transition zones. Currently, staff does not have the inclusions in each zone category finalized, but cited CodeNEXT Draft 3 as an example of what these zones may include. Zones may not be finalized until after the map is released in October.

Staff stated there would be transition zones exceeding five (5) lots, exceeding up to 850 feet into a neighborhood. This raised great concern among a few council members regarding specific neighborhoods that were less than 850 feet deep. Staff clarified that most zones would only be 700 feet and that no entire neighborhood would be a transition zone. 

This Special Called Meeting focused on the overall methodology of the transition zones rather than providing specific examples. A map of the transition zones will be publicly available on October 4th. At the end of September, Council will see an exclusive preview of transition zones map prior to public release. See the picture below for the full schedule for the rewrite. 

Many council members raised concerns regarding flooding, but the staff was not prepared to discuss flood plans at this meeting. Current plans consider the Atlas 14 maps, but plans only consider current flood maps, not any new maps that may expand floodplains.  

Other concerns included impervious cover, height limits, affordability bonuses and downtown density bonuses. Many of these concerns regarded more specific examples rather than the macro focus on methodology that staff directed this meeting towards.

Another concern raised by Council Member Alter was the variability between corridors, such as number of lanes, presence of sidewalks, and direction of lane(s). These factors could influence depth of their required transition zones, which staff will take into consideration.

(Source: City of Austin)

(Source: City of Austin)