HB 3167 "Shot Clock" Bill Changes Impact Austin's Land Development Code

On August 22, the Austin City Council amended Titles 25 and 30 of the Land Development Code (LDC) in response to House Bill 3167, known as the “shot clock” bill due to the quick timelines imposed on the subdivision application process. Changes will be effective for all subdivision applications submitted for review after September 1, 2019.

HB 3167 requires cities and counties to respond to subdivision applications within 30 calendar days and to respond to subsequent updates within 15 days. There is no process that provides for additional review or approval/denial time beyond the 30 days. If the application is not formally approved or denied, it is approved. Staff is also prohibited from providing new review comments after the initial 30-day review period.

In response to HB 3167, staff has made changes to expedite the process.

  • Project Assessments and many non-code compliance reviews will be prerequisite to subdivision applications submitted for completeness check after September 1, 2019.  . For example, appropriate zoning must be in place as verified through submission of the City’s zoning verification form before formal submittal of a subdivision application.

  • Staff will publish an application calendar (aligned with commission schedules) of when applications can be submitted. This will be especially important during the holiday season since applications may not be accepted during December due to holidays that would prevent completion of the review process within the timeline.

  • Subdivisions of 4 lots or fewer will now be administratively approved, and not sent to Commission for approval. Administrative applications will be approved with conditions since only the Land Use Commissions can deny applications.

  • Applications can be submitted to either City Land Use Commission, that is: either the Zoning and Platting Commission or Planning Commission, without limitation to adopted neighborhood plan or geographic location.

  • Staff recommendations and agenda backup will not be available prior to Land Use Commission meetings due to the expedited timeline, but staff will present recommendations at the meeting.

  • Subdivision application life will now be 90 days for Preliminary Plans and Plats and 1 year for associated Subdivision Construction Plans. Subdivision applications should be seen 3 times by the commission within 90 days.

  • Changes made to original submittals/applications that are not in response to staff comments on the original submittal  will be rejected, and the City will require that the application process be restarted.

The most controversial aspect related to the changes was the dispute over site plan inclusion. The changes only apply to subdivision applications reviewed and approved under Sections 212 and 232 of the Local Government Code. The Texas Municipal League (TML) has advised the City that excluding site plans is within the City’s legal right because of the ambiguity of the term “site plan” in the bill. Other cities, such as Houston, have arrived at different interpretations.

Travis County’s process mirrors Austin’s proposed changes.

For the complete code changes, click here.

//Julie Pottrykus, Associate

Upcoming Meetings:

The City of Austin is conducting another stakeholder meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 3:30-5 p.m., at One Texas Center in Room 325. Those interested in attending can RSVP here.

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