HOME article, examples, stats

are there any existing missing middle developments in austin? have we been building housing? what is the rush to implement HOME across the entire city if we already have neighborhood plans that were developed to address most of these issues? why not start by redefining multi-family zoning limits first? at least until you have a very solid and fully baked idea of how an average middle income homeowner, who has found themselves living in what is now a high dollar area, can reasonably participate in any of the proposed changes. and… how we are going to make sure that those who do not participate are not punished by property tax increases that will reflect the new value of a 2,500sqft lot with 3 units on it versus their old 7,500sqft lot with a 1,000sqft 50yr old bungalow on it. certainly tcad will see an increase in value on all land given that more land can be developed for housing. this is already the case where the vast majority of the value of appraisals is in the land alone.

ryan alter’s missing middle development: not much on the green space.
ryan alter condos

“A parking-free, 30-unit apartment building that gained attention as one of the first attempts to bring ‘missing middle’ housing downtown (on Nueces Street near 12th Street) has been turned over to its lender after failing to generate enough occupancy to operate successfully.” - where is the green space for all these tenants?
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it looks like they rely on the adjacent properties not being developed in a similar fashion in order for there to be any trees in the vicinity. where is the dog park for all the dog owners in the building? there isn’t even space for a tree anywhere on the property. i’m not sure how appealing it would be to have all the neighboring properties built out in this fashion.


“Between 2010 and 2020, Austin added more housing units than ever before, expanding by over 90,000 units. New York and Houston, the only cities to add more units than Austin during this period, have populations that are at least twice as large and added units at a slower rate than Austin.”

“This is the same group of folks who insist that the HOME initiative will work and often portray anyone who disagrees as old, selfish and racist.” - sound familiar?


Are you really not seeing that as a hit piece that is just trying to obstruct doing anything? This author has stood against anything the city has tried to do to manage growth on any front.

I thought about why I find your posts so incoherent. And it’s because you never state what you’re for. You want to “cool off” and “take time” and not do it city wide. So I guess my read is you think everything is perfect as is? But you keep citing examples of what was built under EXISTING code to argue against CHANGING the code.

So, what is likely going before council, is a very small step. This is moving slow. This is not being rammed down peoples throats. Or any other false narrative you want to sling. To review again:

  • Three units: Bumping the number of units “by right” allowed on a single-family lot to three

So you’re saying you are against legalizing triplexes on conforming lots?

  • Tiny Homes: Patching loopholes in Austin’s land development code to more easily allow for tiny homes to be considered a unit on a lot zoned as single-family

You’re against legalizing the ability for people to build smaller homes on smaller lots?

  • Preserving existing homes: Part of the HOME initiative creates a bonus program that encourages the preservation of houses already on lots

You’re against incentivizing preserving existing homes, like this one on Garner, and forcing developers to tear down existing structures to build anything new?

  • House Size Limits: Setting “size constraints” to force smaller units

Finally you’re against down zoning McMansion style larger homes in favor of smaller ones?

As I’ve said before it’s fine to disagree, but don’t just sling mud and launch ad hominem attacks against our elected officials and people serving the city - often who are educated in urban planning.

And yes, a big reason to do this city wide, is doing it neighborhood by neighborhood is the definition of exclusionary zoning.

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Hi JP, I respectfully disagree. They are slow rolling the enablement of corporate housing. I am a libertarian and I am very concerned.

Please watch this: https://youtu.be/r2xqSuuSdns?si=VEkwDfBxwt3viVf9

That video was already posted and there was a lengthy discussion. TLDR; the video is full of misinformation by people who essentially don’t want the land development code to change. If you’re a libertarian then you should be against any zoning so I’d think you’d support legalizing housing even in small steps.

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I would love to learn how restrictive government regulations on the rights of a property owner that lead supply constraints and interfere with the housing market line up with your libertarian ideals.

I may be misunderstanding libertarianism though.

I thought it was all about rights and free market.

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I am a librarian and I have concerns… about overdue books. Return them!


I work for a company that has been contracted to poison pill any rational debate on this matter.

On it :slight_smile:

I also noticed (hate to admit this) that there is A LOT of chatter on nextdoor about this- its the same stuff though so still not sure what to think or how to support or who to talk with because it does not seem like it has a lot of support from folks that already live here -

How can one make a rational decision when both sides seems to be so right! AGHHHHHHHH!!!

This is painful.

I definitely want more people in this hood- I would also like to see more diversity in the hood-

Is it truly possible and if HOME is NOT IT- then what could be a better solution? I pose that question not to stir a hornets nest but simply I want to learn from educated people- how do we get what we really need here?

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

Dear Spy

Can you also help us get some darn grass or turf installed at Zilker Elementary???!!! We have raised over $200K and now the city wants to get involved and further delay this (its been 3 years now… no CAP)

Im not sure if we need a poison pill but perhaps an Ass-fire lighting?

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

I kind of look at it like this… and this is 100% obviously just my own rationale. You either support more affordable housing and more density and policies that promote it, or you don’t. We don’t have many opportunities in this city we call home, in this world even, to make a small difference for folks that have less than us. Any major proposals are shot down through dishonest campaigns, so any opportunity to take a pro-housing, pro-affordable stance is a good one.

I don’t denigrate people on the opposite side of the issue, but I do dislike dishonest discourse. Look at the evidence, look at the proposal. Does it spell impending doom, or does it simply allow Austin land owners better tools to manage their own property, while also allowing new folks to come in at different economic levels and become owners themselves? If you can answer that for yourself, then I think you know which side to support :slight_smile:

Also… I love the spy. And I also support more turf! Go spy!

Sorry we only work for NIMBY causes. Since you want something done ‘in your back yard’ you would need to find a YIMBY.

oops, my bad. another article by a person who knows nothing, posted by someone who doesn’t ask the right questions. me try harder next time!

HOME hasn’t existed for more than a few months so i’m unclear as to how it is moving slowly. you say none of these changes will have an immediate impact and that the rollout will take years but you have no patience for dialogue. now now now! jp, are you going to build a unit on your property as soon as this passes?

y’all claim this won’t impact property taxes but that is hardly believable and doesn’t not jive with my experience at ARB protests.

you say setbacks, IC, trees, and existing code will keep lots from being scraped as of you have no idea phase 2 already exists. it’s a pretty shady way to push this forward. i’d even say disingenuous. all those codes are already being talked about being changed. staff today recommended reduced front setbacks. some of you even make the argument that the urban core is no place for nature… it can be found in the burbs! more units! who cares if there is no new parkland in the urban core? we already can’t use the existing neighborhood park without having to fight with people over what is a legal use there. wink wink let the free market decide if nature has value!

it’s a good thing developers value trees more than square footage they can sell or else i’d say any setback changes would result in less tree canopy. where are the trade offs?

i can’t wait to see the first 6 pack of 800sqft $650,000 missing middle condos in zilker! i can almost smell the affordability.

is everything perfect as is? no. i have said this before. does that mean i’m gonna jump on the next flimsy idea that strolls by? nope. this is a poor and messy solution that doesn’t actually further many of your walkability or mass transit goals.

@razortiger I obviously have strong opinions on this, but my take is that a lot of people are going to blindly do what ZNA / SOS / CnC say. For whatever reason the suspicion of corruption lies on the city and not on these organizations. So, they get to be the moral outrage when in reality if you look at what they support / oppose it is always against any change especially change in Zilker neighborhood. Also, these organizations (ZNA aside) thrive on the outrage. Donations go up. Executive directors get pay raises. Their interest is 100% served by this. I don’t think you’ll find a single policy that accomplishes anything you say you want that they will not oppose.

I do often feel like the kid yelling that the emperor wears no clothes though!

@ggggarret you’re contradicting yourself.

  1. It is moving slowly by only doing a few things.
  2. You’re not supporting it because it’s flimsy and doesn’t do enough.

I am not setting the timeline - the items I outlined ( triplexes, small homes, preservation incentives ) are going up for a vote at council.

Yet, you inaccurately quote ‘6 pack’ - your posts are full of lies and alarmist propaganda - as you just ask questions.

I asked you how you felt about each of the items actually going before council and you didn’t respond to that. So you don’t answer questions asked to you. You ask questions with false information in the question. And you stomp your feet all gruff and tumble shaking your fist shouting get off my lawn and out of my neighborhood. True to form.

Oh and as I told you before I have no ability living in a condo to put a house on my lot. So NO to that ‘question’ which I guess is designed to make it seem like I have some self serving motive here.

Thank you.

That was well put

Dr. Nicholas Vaughan

phase 1… phase 2.
that is not misinformation. i don’t make that up. pool made it up but wants to pretend they are not one large reform. there are phases/steps to baking a cake also. your aim is the cake, not a bowl of whipped eggs.

the examples given in the article are real world examples. not misinformation because they exist and fall in the category of missing middle dense development.

here is some commentary on those developments by a person you love to hate:

“For me, the main thing about the 5912 Harold Court project is that it provides a real-world example of what investors actually build when they are free of single-family regulations. The project was built on cheap, vacant, treeless, commercially zoned property within an approved neighborhood plan (no demolition expense, no rezoning, no variances, no compatibility setbacks, no affordable housing commitments, no neighbors to displace, no neighbors to protest), with a 60-foot height limit, 90% impervious cover limit, 1:1 FAR, and flexibility to build between 12 and 35 residential units (equivalent 19-54 dwelling units per acre). The owners chose to build only 18 units (or 27 units per acre), 40 feet high, 74% impervious cover. To build more units, they would have to go taller and make each unit smaller, but that would have ballooned the construction costs–which is why density beyond certain limits is not affordable.

The foreclosure on 5912 Harold Court demonstrates that even 27 units per acre is not viable in Austin’s market.
The density proposed in the HOME ordinance is 52 units per acre.

At 5912 Harold Court, the investors chose to build to only half the density allowed under current multifamily zoning. If 27 units per acre is the most that a commercial builder is willing to squeeze onto a lot with 74% impervious cover, and those projects are ending up in foreclosure, why would Austin even consider encouraging investors to try to build 52 units per acre in an area limited to 45% impervious cover with infrastructure capacity for less than 20 units per acre? As the developers always say, it just doesn’t pencil out.

Yes, figure out how to assist low-income homeowners who need to repair or add on to existing housing.
Yes, encourage commercial property owners to build modest townhomes on underused commercially-zoned lots.
No, don’t rezone the entire city for structures that are economically and physically impossible to build.”

One note I would add is what is happening here is not unique to Austin. Simple facts are housing prices continue to rise across the US, demand is high, and supply is low (despite the rate increases). I recently read that the fed was throwing significant money at the problem - article is below.

They specifically call out “Local land use laws and zoning regulations limit where, and how densely, housing can be built. This constrains housing supply, perpetuates historical patterns of segregation, prevents workers from accessing jobs, and increases energy costs and climate risk.”

Apologies if I missed it and all of this is related - they call one of their programs HOME also…

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You are making it up and lying. Council passed an ordinance to look into a variety of possibilities to create more middle income affordable housing. That’s it.

Now the first measure is coming up which - as I’ve said so many times - is just triplexes (one additional unit to what is currently allowed), small homes, adu’s, preservation bonuses, and home size limits. That’s it. And nothing else you have typed in your message applies to that, so it’s a randomly selected development that made some random decision and causation and correlation are drawn where none exist.

Also that property you list in the middle of nowhere - density ↔ transit ↔ walkability are all related.

Thank you @john1 for bringing some facts to the matter :slight_smile: