Austin City Council to vote on second draft of controversial land code

On Thursday, Austin City Council will vote on the second draft of a controversial land code that hasn't been updated in nearly three decades. 

Karen Piper has a home that was built in the 1930s in the Hancock neighborhood. She recognizes her neighborhood is crowded and growing. “We are a very dense neighborhood in Hancock. We have UT traffic, we also have Lee Elementary,” said Piper.
She said the narrow streets make it hard for traffic to get through and she fears with the proposed land development code, density will get worse. “It seems the incentives are demolishing and creating density but I don't the density is being produced in affordable ways,” said Piper.

RELATED: FOX 7 Discussion: Mayor Pro Tem Garza on land development code revisions
She testified in front of the city council about these concerns and she's not alone. Many members of the community are not only unhappy with the code but feel it's being rushed.

“There were only 15 of us this morning. I was disappointed and we were limited to one minute. My friend who spoke on Tuesday had two minutes. I don’t understand it's like they are in a hurry,” said Pemberton Heights resident Brad Laughlin.

Laughlin is concerned about "transition zones,” areas prone to development. “You’re starting to erode neighborhoods when you do that,” he said.

RELATED: FOX 7 Discussion: Council member Alison Alter on land development code revisions

Council is taking up a vote on draft number two for the code.

Councilmember Greg Casar said the overhaul is long overdue, three decades overdue.

“This document dictates how things get built in the city. Too often our rules have made it so that the main thing that gets built are huge apartment buildings or scraping up a little house and replacing it with a “McMansion,” said Casar.


Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!

Download for iOS or Android


Many fear the character of their single-family home neighborhoods will be lost.

“There has been some misinformation spread about how this is going to cause the end of single-family housing in the city and that's just not true,” said Casar. 

RELATED: FOX 7 Discussion: Proposal to overhaul land development codes

One of the biggest changes from draft one to draft two has been the reduction of transition zones, especially on the Eastside, and areas prone to gentrification.

Casar said the new code will allow for a more diverse group of housing to pop up around town, “What this does is on some parts on the edges of some neighborhoods, there will be the ability for somebody to add a third unit or somebody have the ability to have a fourplex." 

RELATED: Council begins review of land development code rewrite

By spring, Austin could have a rewritten code, but there are still hundreds in the city who feel the council needs to slow things down.

“They need to back up, slow down and look at individual neighborhoods, and let neighborhoods say this is what we can handle, this is what we want to do,” said Laughlin.

The second of three votes is expected on Thursday, Feb. 13.