Friend of Zilker CodeNEXT Draft 3 Position Paper

This is a DRAFT of the Friend of Zilker CodeNEXT Draft 3 Position Paper. Once we have comments on this draft the board will integrate the comments into the draft and all of the Friends of Zilker will get to vote on if they support the position paper, or not. Most of the position paper is a carry forward of the positions voted on previously. The zoning nomenclature has been updated to reflect what is being used in the most recent draft.

Friends of Zilker supports CodeNEXT Draft 3. CodeNEXT includes modest improvements to allow for more housing density, reduce parking infrastructure, and is more organized and usable for a layperson than the current code.

Friends of Zilker supports changes to ADUs in R2C (23-4D-2120)

  • ADUs are allowed on lots 3500 sqft +
  • ADUs can be placed in front of primary structure
  • Preservation incentive : ADU does not count toward FAR limit when existing house (at least 10 years old) is preserved
  • No parking requirement for ADUs

Friends of Zilker supports changes to Duplexes in R2C (23-4D-2120)

  • Duplexes allowed on lots 5000 sqft +
  • Duplexes can be configured front/back, up/down, left/right
  • Duplexes require 1 parking spot per unit

Friends of Zilker supports maintaining status quo on setbacks (23-4D-2120-B) and 23-4E-7070

  • Allowing setback averaging gives move development options while maintaining neighborhood character, ie - many streets have average setback of 15’ now which is less than the 25’ standard.
  • Removing setback maximum from CodeNEXT allows for more house placement to be most sympathetic to other lot characteristics.

Friends of Zilker supports CodeNEXT reductions in parking requirements for both commercial and residential. (23-4D-2040)

Friends of Zilker does not support the height restrictions in CodeNEXT for R2C (23-4D-2120D)

  • Friends of Zilker recommends increasing the maximum height to top plate from 22’ (allows for 2 stories) to 30’ (allows for 3 stories).

Friends of Zilker does not support the FAR in CodeNEXT for R2C (23-4D-2120 A)

  • Friends of Zilker recommends increasing FAR from .4 FAR to .5 FAR
  • This will resolve the “garage door issue” so people can put doors on carports
  • This will allow for all duplexes to have family sized living units (1250 sqft+)
  • This will allow for more housing units (ADU’s) on existing lots

Friends of Zilker does not support changes to environmental requirements proposed.

  • CodeNEXT should not require residential projects that fall within the standard requirements to undergo drainage review and meet “no adverse impact”

  • Requiring an engineer to stamp a “no adverse impact” shifts the liability for negligence from the City to the engineer and home owner

  • “No adverse impact” is not currently required for residential development under 45% impervious cover and under .4 FAR

  • “No adverse impact” study in Zilker for a residential lot was quoted by multiple engineering firms as costing between $5k-50k with the average being $25k. Requiring this type of review increasing housing cost, and provides very little benefit aside from keeping engineers employed.

  • Requiring commercial re-development to return to “greenfield” is a dramatic change from the status quo and should not be required for the Lamar Corridor.

  • Requiring commercial developments to return to “greenfield” will increase the number and size of retention ponds which is a poor use of very valuable real estate, and will very likely stall re-development of prime commercial properties.

Friends of Zilker does not support setting the maximum occupancy of a duplex being nore more than three unrelated adults. (23-4E-7040)

Friends of Zilker believes the goal of CodeNEXT is to increase the number of affordable housing options. A maximum of 3 unrelated adults in a two family use is too few. Additionally, no city government, especially Austin’s, should be in the business of determining what constitutes a “family”. (The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of your type of family.)

Friends of Zilker supports CodeNEXT maintaining the status quo of 45% impervious cover for R2C. (23-40-2120 G)

Flooding is a problem in Zilker, but a reduction of impervious cover on sites as they redevelop will only marginally reduce the risk over the time. Friends of Zilker believes the better solution to resolving flooding is to immediately improve drainage infrastructure for both the North and South Zilker drainage systems by completing Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the 1804 S Lamar Caliber Collision Storm Drain Project ID 20001. (see below)

Stormwater retention to reduce localized flooding can be more efficiently accomodated by regional detention systems and common infrastructure at the point of runoff through green streets and rain gardens in the ROW.

Friends of Zilker would like for following things to be amended in CodeNEXT

Height for R2C (23-4D-2120D)
Increase To Top Plate (max) to 30’ and Overall (max) to 40’

FAR in for R2C (23-4D-2120 A)
Increase max FAR from .4 FAR to .5 FAR

Duplex Occupancy Limit (23-4E-7040)
Change to the lesser of 2 per bedroom or 8 between both dwelling units


I’m only a little uncomfortable with the Occupancy Limit still. If a 3-bedroom unit and a 2 bedroom unit are joined, that could be 10 adults in a duplex. That would exceed the 8 adult limit as proposed by FoZ. Now I admit that I’m sure 10 adults in a duplex potentially poses parking challenges but for the reasons stated in the objection, shouldn’t we let the accommodations limit the occupancy (adult persons per sleeping quarters) and not have an overall dwelling limit? Adult, I assume means persons 18 and above. Otherwise I have no issues with the position.

Right. I agree. The libertarian in me certainly sees no reason for un-needed regulations. The simpler the better.

Obviously we have our differences, but I am happy to see this draft. Does anyone have a good way to define “preservation” of existing houses? Sometimes they get taken down to a few studs which are eventually consumed in entirely new construction.

Dave Piper

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Thanks for posting Mary, I think this does a good job of summarizing a lot of the disparate zoning and codenext conversations we’ve had through various FOZ channels over the past couple of years.

Dave makes a great point, many of the “remodels” are a mockery of the term. I know its a slippery slope but I think retaining 50% of an original structure should be a minimum. I’ll do some digging for other examples on how to better define this.

I think the multiple unrelated adults rule exists to avoid the creation of boarding houses full of transients.

Boarding houses are either great for affordability and the young or brothels and slumlike depending on your view of them, but I see and understand the concern.

What I don’t see addressed, and havent seen addressed elsewhere is how do the mcmansion rules play into code next? Is it still an overlay of rules for central austin, or is the idea that the zoning rules are now self contained? Can we propose anything to improve the rules governing FAR calculations into something more sensical than what we have now?

The rules for occupancy in STR’s is 2 per bedroom plus 2 with a max of 10 in a living unit, if I’m thinking correctly. Why can’t these criteria be used for each side of a duplex?

Only see 1 typo in:

> Is it still an overlay of rules for central austin, or is the idea that the zoning rules are now self contained? Can we propose anything to improve the rules governing FAR calculations into something more sensical than what we have now?

CodeNEXT uses FAR, impervious cover, height restrictions, and placement on a lot in each zoning type and gets rid of McMansion / Subchapter F tent rules.

Friends of Zilker, to date, has recommended an increase in SF-3 (CodeNEXT R2C) from .4 FAR to .5 FAR. The increased FAR would resolve the “garage door” issue for a number of our neighbors. This draft includes that recommendation.

That seemingly exceeds a 2 adults per sleeping quarters limit albeit not knowing for sure that they don’t have 10 bedrooms in the apartment. :slight_smile:

seems reasonable to me

The rules for occupancy in STR’s is 2 per bedroom plus 2 with a max of 10 in a living unit, if I’m thinking correctly. Why can’t these criteria be used for each side of a duplex? THIS SEEMS REASONABLE TO ME

By the way just a cool fun fact - if you highlight any text on this thread a little “quote” popup will appear. Clicking on it will start a new thread with the text inserted as a quote for you to respond to :slight_smile:

Have there been any studies that conclude an increase in impervious coverage % has a direct impact on the possible increase of localized flooding? I wasn’t aware that Zilker floods often and I suspect many homeowners are limited, including myself, in terms of what they can do with their property based on the current impervious cover guidelines.

Speaking of impervious cover what is the definition? I remember having a discussion about materials that could be used for driveways which had tubes that penetrated the top clay layer providing for better water absorption, but they were still counted toward impervious cover when in reality they are better for water absorption. Is there anything contemplated in the code for these types of green builds where the homeowner gets credit toward impervious cover vs. penalized?

Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s not be racist on this thread. Okay?

Also, I just had spent a weekend in an AirBnB with lots of adults and too many kids. It was actually quieter than my regular house because we were trying not to piss each other off.


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I would like to see a statute of limitations on any non-life-threatening code violations: if no one cares enough to call something in within 3 years, it’s time-vetted, time-bared from becoming a financial nuke upon a neighbor ala Fairview (where 60 some-odd neighbors got violations for garage conversions that were decades old…).

Also, having dealt with the Development Assistance Center a fair amount, I would like to see something that limits their ability to interpret against a project that otherwise meets all requirements. Similarly, a limit on their ability to require things not in the Code. Limit discretion where minimums are met basically.

Am I misreading that: 20 people on a duplex property as a max (if 10 per living unit x each side)? Seems like a lot of people to me…

@jackolbean I agree that number is high. The FoZ board was not in agreement on an ideal number so this item is being voted on seperately from the other points in the paper.

For whatever it is worth I lobbied just to have “occupancy limit is too low” and let the planning commission or council pick something more reasonable than the current 6 per duplex (3 per side), but I didn’t win. :slight_smile:

I live on a street off duplexes and I would guess most every duplex violates the occupancy requirement. But no one reports them bc they’re nice and no one cares if they are good neighbors. I would say 4-5 total for a duplex would be more reasonable. I think that the idea of the limit isn’t to go and police everyone but to have a way to do something about it if there are obnoxious neighbors throwing parties regularly or just that are bad neighbors ( trash in yard, fill street with cars so no parking for anyone but them, dog outside barking all the time , etc).
I’d like to see some very clear rules about what it means to maintain old house to get exemption too. I can just imagine developers finding a way around it but keeping just a garage or something.