Zoning

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.pdf

Revised HNA Zoning and Development Committee Meeting Agenda for October 12, 2015

HNA Zoning Agenda

October 12, 2015 

Time: 6:45pm         Location: Hancock Recreation Center

Agenda:

  1. Call meeting to order
  2. Action Item: Discuss and review the proposed HZ-D Committee and HNA process document
  3. Discuss and review Type 2 and Type Short Term Rentals amendments being proposed by Council Members Tovo /Pool
  4. Action Item: Discuss and review the Casar's McMansion rules regarding FAR on AUD’s
  5. Neighborhood Communication- three minutes to address any zoning concerns and items
  6. New Business- future agenda items
  7. Adjourn

https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/hna-z-d-agenda-151012-2docx
https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/hna-z-d-agenda-151012-2pdf

HNA Z-D agenda 151012-2.docx

October 7, 2015 HNA Executive and Zoning & Development Committees Letter Regarding Short Term Rentals

Mayor and Council:

Members of the Hancock Neighborhood Association's Executive Committee and Zoning and Development Committee urge the Mayor and Council members to support Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council member Leslie Pool's proposals for Type 2 and Type 3 short term rentals. Ours is a neighborhood which knows the negative impact of Type 2 short term rentals; it is not only the noise of gatherings or parking, it is about allowing our residential neighborhoods to be hospitality centers and encouraging investors to buy and/or build duplexes and residential housing for the purpose of short term Type 2 rentals. This type of investment activity will only increase if a high number of users--a proposed cap of 10 for a house, and as many as 20 for a duplex, as we understand it — are allowed in short term Type 2 rentals. This is outrageous.

The hospitality industry claims that no growing city in the U.S. has been able to regulate Type 2 STRs except by permitting them through licenses. We reject this argument. Austin’s Code Department has failed to enforce the rules that we have today. If they were to do so, the deterrent effect would become apparent.

But fundamentally Type 2 Short Term rentals should not be in residential areas.

As to Type 3 short term rentals, we find it incomprehensible that the Mayor and Council would continue to allow 25% of a multi family project to be used as Type 3 STRs while at the same time there is pressure to densify our neighborhoods.

Mark Harkrider, Pres. HNA
James Harkrider, Vice Pres. HNA
Mary Sanger, Sec. HNA
Bruce Fairchild, Tres. HNA
Linda Guerrero, Chair HNA Zoning Comm.
Carolyn Palaima, Past Pres. HNA, member HNA Zoning Comm.
Bart Whatley, member HNA Zoning Comm
Hugh Bender, member HNA Zoning Comm.

CodeUPDATE set for tomorrow night

CodeUPDATE set for tomorrow night

Join us tomorrow (Sept. 29) as we detail what to expect during our November workshop.

The CodeUPDATE kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Dougherty Arts Center (1110 Barton Springs Rd.). During the hour-long event, the CdeNEXT team will explain plans to test and refine draft development standards using focus areas that represent place types across Austin.

The November workshop, "CodeNEXT Sound Check," will take place Nov. 16-21. The data gained from the Sound Check will be used to complete the Administrative Draft Code (scheduled for Winter 2015) and the subsequent Public Draft Code (scheduled for Fall 2016).

See you tomorrow night!
Learn more at www.austintexas.gov/CodeNEXT

Copyright © 2014, All rights reserved.
City of Austin Planning and Development Review
One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Austin

A Note from the HNA President on Providing Input for Proposed Development

There are several routes available to residents of Hancock Neighborhood to protest and/or intervene in a proposed development: HNA's Executive Committee, HNA's Zoning and Development Committee and neighbors right to sign up "as interested parties" with the City's Permit Department.

If there is a request to demolish or remove a historic home ( 50 years plus), HNA and neighboring properties may become "interested parties" and challenge the permit request before the Historic Landmark Commission, and the option is always available to make comments at the Planning Commission and before the City Council.

Since January, 2015, one or more of these avenues have been used to question and/or protest developments. The Executive Committee and neighboring property owners protested the Liberty street developments, where we were able to force minor adjustments to one of the projects. Neighbors and the Executive Committee went before the the Historic Landmark Commission to protest the demolition of the historic home on Harris Park Avenue. Not winning that venue, the Executive Committee and neighbors went directly to the new buyer requesting them to preserve the home as much as possible and to rent to families. The owners responded favorably, but we have not seen the final building plans.

Kathie Tovo's aide, at the request of neighboring property owners, looked into the Beanna street duplex, and the Zoning and Development Committee has reviewed the Beanna Street project and the Duncan street permit. We have used the mechanisms available, but, regrettably,all these developments are legal.

There is not a neighborhood in Austin that is not faced with the demolition of historic homes, and the loss of single family homes to duplexes. Under current code, we can not prevent these developments. The occupancy reduction limits code, passed in March, 2014, which limits the number of unrelated people in a duplex, has greatly prevented the number of single family homes being replaced by duplexes.

But the code had a two year limit and this fall we will once again need to mount an all -out fight to make the occupancy limit code permanent. During the Code rewrite, we can, if we choose, fight to prevent duplexes in single family zoned neighborhoods.

As President of HNA, I personally, think residents of Hancock should be vocal about projects such as these above that raise significant concerns including using all avenues available and writing to all members of the Mayor and City Council to notify them to what is occurring.

Residents of HNA must continue to be hyper vigilant and to alert the HNA Executive Committee and the Zoning and Development committee about all permit requests and any questions you have regarding those permits.

Best regards, Mark Harkrider
President, HNA

Mark Harkrider
Harkrider Group, LLC
P O Box 11550
Austin, Texas 78711
o:512-322-9700

HNA Zoning Committee Minutes for September 8, 2015

HNA Zoning-Development Committee Minutes: September 8, 2015

  1. Approval of Minutes: N/A
  2. Mr. Yang presented his project proposal at 910 Duncan. The Z-D reviewed and discussed the site plan, design, and maps.

    Mr. Yang requested a Compatibility Waiver for setbacks. HNA’s FLUM is in alignment with the 910 Duncan project plans.

    Z-D Committee recommendation: support Compatibility Wavier for the project at 910 Duncan.

  3. UPDATE: HNA President sent out the Duplex Resolution endorsed by HNA to Council Members.
  4. UPDATE: 3206 Beanna project is in compliance with the COA code.
    No variance has been requested on the project. The COA staff has permitted the 3206 Beanna project. Contact: Shiloh B. Travis : 979-966-7126
  5. Meeting Adjourned at 7:57pm.

https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/september-2015-zc-minutesdocx
https://www.hancockna.org/www/content/september-2015-zc-minutespdf

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