Zoning

HNA Z-D agenda 151102.pdf

HNA Z-D agenda 151102.docx

Neighborhood Stakeholder Meeting Saturday, October 17

Please share & encourage others to attend – and RSVP if they can go to either of the meetings:

http://www.austintexas.gov/event/neighborhood-stakeholder-meeting

Carol Gibbs, Neighborhood Advisor http://www.austintexas.gov/neighbor
Neighborhood Assistance Center
Planning & Zoning Department
512-974-7219

HNA Zoning Committee Minutes for October 12, 2015

HNA Zoning Committee Minutes: October 12, 2015

  1. Approval of Minutes from September 7, 2015. Vote: 6-0
  2. Action Item #2: HNA Z-D Mission and Process document draft was reviewed and discussed. The final draft will be vote on at the Nov. meeting.
  3. Action Item #3: Reviewed the Mc Mansion rules regarding FAR on ADU’s .The Z-D Committee recommends enforcement of existing code. COA staff is required to enforce code with heavy fines /remove illegal structure when project is in violation of current code Vote 6-0
  4. Z-D Committee discussed the Type1/2 Short Term Rental amendments. Our HNA President sent a letter (10/7/15) to Councilmembers regarding our concerns of negative impact to HNA residents.
  5. No citizen communication
  6. Meeting Adjourned at 7:56 pm.

https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/zc-minutes-october-2015docx
https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/zc-minutes-october-2015pdf

ZC-minutes-October-2015.pdf

ZC-minutes-October-2015.docx

October 10, 2015 Barbara Epstein Open Letter to Mayor and Council Regarding Duplexes

October 10, 2015

Dear Mayor Adler and Councilmembers:

The original sit-in movement in India was called a dharna; a claimant sat, fasting and blocking the doorstep of the offending person, sometimes threatening to commit suicide, until their demand for justice was met. Will it take a dharna to convince the City Council to stop the destruction of our city’s historic neighborhoods in the name of densification and affordable housing?

It is time for the Council to help Austinites who live and pay high taxes in older neighborhoods, not the absentee landlords who build whatever housing the market will bear. I ask you to revise Sections 25-2-555 and 25-2-556 of the city code so that “duplexes” must be built to a compatible design and scale to the single-family houses around them, including occupancy limits and parking spaces.

Based on my reading of the city code and conversations with city staff, if a lot is 10,000 sq. ft. or larger, a “duplex” can be constructed with a floor-to-area ratio up to 0.57 to 1, an impervious cover limit up to 55%, while the total number of bedrooms and baths depends on the lot size and parking restrictions. The code states that a duplex on a lot smaller than 10,000 sq. ft. is limited to 4,000 sq. ft. and 6 bedrooms/6 baths if the residents are unrelated. If the duplex is on a 10,000 sq. ft. or larger lot, it is limited to 6 bedrooms/6 baths and 8,000 sq. ft., if the residents are unrelated.

However, if applicants tell the city that the residents will be related, (a completely unenforceable standard), the number of permitted bedrooms and baths can be increased. Apparently, the project size only begins to look unattractive to owners when the duplex exceeds 10 bedrooms and 10 baths, because that is when one parking space per bedroom is required. These structures are NOT duplexes, they are apartments, and the city should end this fiction. Good urban planning would dictate that these large structures are only appropriate on corridor streets, as apartments.

The city core, say, the Austin map of 1930, especially around UT, is already densely populated. These neighborhoods are never “affordable” when new housing is built. I asked a tenant what his rent is in a new utilitarian six unit two-building complex (3400 sq. ft. and 9800 sq. ft. buildings respectively) and was shocked to learn that his smaller unit costs $3600 per month. The owner on county tax records lists a Los Angeles address, so clearly their only interest in this neighborhood is the income that can be generated from it, not its impact on the community.

Past City councils promised UT neighborhoods that if they didn’t protest the development of West Campus, they would get neighborhood preservation through neighborhood plans. But neighborhood associations have no legal standing (unless they incorporate) and neighborhood plans have no legal standing, so these were hollow promises. Plus, a neighborhood only learns of a permit once it is filed, and a developer can work out any problematic details privately with city staff before they ever file a permit. Despite the PR about neighborhood clout, they have little say about what gets built. Unlike subdivisions, our neighborhoods have no HOAs to impose order on what is built; our only protection is what is in Austin’s zoning code.

The McMansion ordinance doesn’t protect our neighborhoods because absentee owners have figured out that “stealth dorm duplexes” provide maximum returns. Right now, on Beanna Street, a tiny residential street, a “duplex” is being legally built with 10 bedrooms/10 baths and 8,000 square feet. Nearby, on Liberty Street, an absentee owner legally subdivided a lot, then built a 3498 sq. ft. 6 bedroom/6 bath “duplex” along the alley, and a 4 bedroom/3 bath 3694 sq. ft. duplex in front of it. Ask yourselves if you would want to live next door to these massive structures? I doubt it.

Neighbors like me, who spent their nest eggs on their houses are left helplessly watching as their streets crumble house by house at the hands of these greedy, absentee owners. Zoning is supposed to provide orderly development and stability in a city, not a chaotic building boom that benefits only absentee landlords and discourages both property maintenance and owner occupancy.

Please don’t perpetuate the lie that Austin’s old neighborhoods matter if you are not willing to protect them with sensible and effective zoning laws. I ask you to take decisive action to revise the duplex ordinances now.

Sincerely,

Barbara Epstein
Hancock Neighborhood

HNA Z-D agenda 151012-2.docx

HNA Z-D agenda 151012-2.pdf

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