Evolve Austin Releases Planning Commission Scorecard


The Planning Commission, a citizen-led board of volunteer community members, was tasked with amending the staff recommended version of the new code to ensure it aligned with the vision established in Imagine Austin. To that end, Evolve Austin convened a volunteer group of technical experts, architects, engineers, and development experts to provide Planning Commission with all the tools it needed to produce such a code. Below is a list of all of the steps Planning Commission took toward realizing the vision established in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan of a more equitable, affordable, and mobile city.

Selected Wins by Issue Area


  • Raised occupancy limits across residential zones to provide for cheaper, more accessible living arrangements

  • Created new mapping categories to reduce gentrification pressure in the Eastern Crescent.

  • Allowed triplexes in all R3 zones. Such “Missing Middle” housing options are critical to ensuring we have diverse housing types that can accommodate residents of more diverse income levels.

  • New family friendly “bedroom bonus” of +150sf to allowed Floor to Area Ratio (FAR) for each three bedroom unit within 500' of public school. This provides more family-friendly housing options close to schools.

  • Housing cooperatives allowed in most every zone by right.

  • Expanded preservation incentive: Accessory Dwelling Unit does not count toward FAR limit when existing house (at least 10 years old) is preserved in R2-R4 zones.

  • A new anti-McMansion ordinance that provides incentives to build multiple smaller units on a lot (as opposed to one huge single family McMansion).


  • Established transition zones along our major corridors to ensure city-wide missing middle housing options and effective corridor development. Transition zones are critical because they function to both “step up” to higher density development along our corridors and waive compatibility, which is a huge limiter of unit yield and transit-supportive density.

  • Changed the Growth Concept Map in Imagine Austin to include Southpark Meadows as a Regional Center.

  • Amended the zoning map to ensure Imagine Austin Corridors and Core Transit Corridors can provide transit-supportive density. As noted in the guidance paper on transit supportive density released by the Puget Sound Regional Council, minimum densities are recommended to support high capacity transit options (e.g. BRT and light rail).

  • No parking minimums required in UNO. We should encourage more public transit options, and fewer single occupancy vehicle trips, in one of Austin’s most high density areas.

  • Exempts Transit Oriented Development from compatibility restrictions that would otherwise limit housing yield.

  • Map the areas adjacent to Imagine Austin corridors using the new zoning tools in CodeNEXT such that compatibility is not triggered on at least 90% of the properties along these corridors

Mixed-use, Quality of Life

  • Small daycares now allowed by right in residential zones. Medium sized daycares allowed with a Minor Use Permit (MUP). Large daycares allowed with a conditional use permit (CUP).

  • Increased by-right height and FAR downtown and simplified regulations while honoring the downtown plan. Downtown is Austin’s core hub of activity that supports residents, transits, and jobs. We should let downtown be downtown.

  • Relaxed duplex rules to allow more flexibility, including detached units (such as up to 12' of separation)

  • UC (Urban Center zone) mapped in all Imagine Austin Centers

  • Increased dwelling units per acre by 20% across all zones.

  • Remapped shallow lots along IA corridors to allow for effective development along our corridors.

Remaining Asks for City Council

High Level Must-Have Items:

  • Take up Planning Commission version of CodeNEXT

  • Fix the nonzoning sections of the Code through a working group.

    • This working group should be comprised of technical experts and should include modeling of the code, as recommended by Planning Commission.

  • Treat Planning Commission amendments that passed on 7-6 votes the same as any other amendments.

Additional Amendments to Advocate for at Council

Amendments that were introduced at Planning Commission, but were not taken up or did not pass

  • Smaller minimum lot sizes (original motion #63)

    • "Add a "Small Lot Single Family Use" as a permitted use in R2C, R2D, and R2E zones with the following development standards

      • Min. lot size: 2500 sf.

      • Max lot size: 4999sf

      • Min. lot width: 36’

      • Building Size (max) for all Small Lot uses: the greater of .4 FAR or 1500 sf

      • Building Placement add Small Lot Setbacks: Front 15', Side St. 10', Side 3.5', Rear 10'.

      • Building Form (1) Building Articulation New Construction add "Building Articulation is not required for Small Lot uses."

      • Impervious Cover add "(2) Small Lot Impervious Cover 65% max, 55% building cover max"

  • Occupancy limits set to at least two per bedroom

  • Site plan requirements waived for developments ≤10 units

  • Residential Heavy permit for 3-10 units with full Watershed Review option to increase environmental protection and allow IC to 50/60%

  • Direction to city staff to rewrite transportation section to move from Level of Service model of traffic mitigation to VMT model.

  • Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP) amendment establishing participation targets, removing Review Board approval for fee in lieu, etc.

  • Failed to remove Parking setbacks, 10’ curb cut limits, and other associated parking restrictions for R3 and R4 zones.