CodeNext and Non-conforming uses

Click below to see a comprehensive PowerPoint on how CodeNext’s proposed regulations for non-complying/non-conforming structures have the potential to drastically impact the older housing stock in Heritage.

Non-complying R2C CodeNEXT

Advertisements
Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

HNA president’s comments at CodeNext hearing

Heritage Neighborhood Association president Gretchen Flatau presented these comments at the public hearings before the Planning and Zoning and Platting commissions on May 1.

Hello and thank you for this opportunity to address you. My name is Gretchen Flatau and I am president of the Heritage Neighborhood Association. The Heritage Neighborhood, located in central Austin and bordered by 29th Street, 38th Street, Guadalupe, and North Lamar is a diverse, walkable, urban neighborhood.

Heritage is within walking distance of a variety of local businesses including restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and medical offices. The interior of the neighborhood has homes mostly built by the mid 1930s, some from the 1800s.  Many of these homes have been carefully maintained over the decades and many have been recently renovated with new additions and upgrades.

My neighborhood is the kind of great place that Imagine Austin encourages–the existing housing stock in Heritage includes many so-called “missing middle” residences, including duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, small apartment buildings, and condominiums. I personally live in a multifamily structure that is home to 16 households where originally 3 houses stood. And it was built under our current code and aligns with the Heritage Neighborhood plan.

While I recognize the need for a new code for Austin, I have been incredibly frustrated with the process. I have done office hours, attended hearings and submitted multiple resolutions from my neighborhood. And even with that level of involvement we are not feeling heard. I would be very surprised if any of the consultants or staff involved have actually stepped foot in my neighborhood.

The opportunity for real input in this process has been limited. The drafts come to us piecemeal, with parts posted at the very last minute with no time to respond to the hundreds of pages. The only deadlines in this process that have remained steadfast are the ones that control public input.

As a neighborhood our main issues are that CodeNEXT encourages too much density in the core of our neighborhood. It doesn’t protect older homes, many of which would be considered “nonconforming”. The Code should encourage affordability but what it does is encourage the demolition of older homes so that more expensive structures can take their place. Like our neighborhood plan, Imagine Austin encourages density on the corridors and that is what we would like to see—not destruction of the homes in the middle of the neighborhood.

CodeNEXT also lowers the parking requirements too much. We already have streets that emergency vehicles can’t navigate. CodeNEXT also doesn’t provide for adequate parking on main streets and in many cases doesn’t provide any handicapped assessible parking.

My neighbors and I want an Austin that is more affordable and diverse. CodeNEXT doesn’t get us there. Please look at our neighborhood plan and how it encourages density in places that make sense. Please read our resolutions on CodeNEXT for our specific suggestions. And please let the people that have made their homes in Heritage for many years stay there and not be pushed out by luxury homes we don’t really need.

Thank you.

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

HNA Passes CodeNEXT resolution

At its General Meeting on Monday, April 23rd the Heritage Neighborhood Association adopted a resolution concerning CodeNEXT. That resolution which has been sent to City officials is attached to this email. The resolution was unanimously supported by the members at the meeting.

 

The main message in the resolution is that the Heritage Neighborhood Association continues to have serious objections to CodeNEXT as presented in Draft 3.Neighborhood representatives have attended the staff office hours and the Neighborhood Association provided recommendations on both Draft 1 and Draft 2. With the exception of applying R2 zoning to many current SF-3 parcels in our neighborhood, none of the Association’s recommendations have been implemented. Without substantial revisions to address these many concerns, the Heritage NA finds Draft 3 unacceptable and inconsistent with our Neighborhood Plan and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. Please see below for our full resolution.

 

To express your thoughts on CodeNEXT personally, you can attend one of the public hearings that will be held in the next days and weeks. Here is the schedule:

 

Public Hearings on CodeNEXT

 

The joint land use commission (PC and ZAP) public hearings will be held on:

  • 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 28 at Dove Springs Recreation Center; 5801 Ainez Dr.
  • 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at Palmer Events Center; 900 Barton Springs Rd.

 

The City Council public hearings will be held on:

  • 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 29 at Austin City Hall; 301 W. 2nd Street
  • 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 2 at Austin City Hall; 301 W. 2nd Street

 

 

Gretchen Flatau

President

Heritage Neighborhood Association

 

Heritage Neighborhood Resolution Regarding CodeNEXT Draft 3

The Heritage Neighborhood Association continues to have serious objections to CodeNEXT as presented in Draft 3. Neighborhood representatives have attended the staff office hours and the Neighborhood Association provided recommendations on both Draft 1 and Draft 2. With the exception of applying R2 zoning to many current SF-3 parcels in our neighborhood, none of the Association’s recommendations have been implemented.

The Heritage NA has reviewed each draft of CodeNEXT to ensure that the new land development code will meet the following objectives:

    1. Faithfully implement the intent of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan by preserving the character of Austin’s central neighborhoods while providing tools to manage growth and create a more compact, connected city;
    2. Preserve existing “missing middle” and affordable units in our neighborhood; ensure that people who live in Heritage now can remain in their homes.
    3. Ensure that the new code does not provide undue incentives to demolish and subdivide parcels without a clear community benefit;
    4. Encourage development consistent with the existing Central Austin Neighborhood Plan, which protects core residential neighborhoods, encourages growth on corridors, and provides for compatibility between them;
    5. Increase affordable housing options in our neighborhood;

We strongly oppose provisions of CodeNEXT that radically increase entitlements and incentives for redevelopment in the core residential areas of our neighborhood, while failing to provide for real affordable housing along the corridors.

We request that the land development code follow a process through which neighborhood plans will be revised, as provided for in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

We also have the following objections to the new code draft:

  • We object to the increased heights (up to 85’ in Main Street zones) and the decreased compatibility protections that are allowed with to be 100’ away from single family homes.
  • We object to reductions in allowed lots sizes in R2C as these encourage aggregation and re-subdivision (along with demolition and redevelopment of lots).
  • We object to the additional spot zoning of SF-3 properties with R4 zoning which will likely set a prescient for future zoning changes that will further destabilize the neighborhood.
  • We object to the rewording of the occupancy limits on unrelated adults which now refers to structures instead of properties.
  • We object to the elimination of parking requirements for businesses that are 2500 sq ft or smaller.
  • We object to Section 23-2G on Nonconformity which discourages “the long-term continuation of nonconformities by limiting investments in them.” This section unfairly penalizes property owners of older structures, and promotes the redevelopment of properties and buildings that give Heritage its distinctive character.
  • We object to the ADU preservation bonus which is completely unnecessary for homes that are only 10 years old and therefore is a tool to encourage more ADUs instead of encouraging preservation of the historic neighborhood character.
  • We object to the eleventh hour release of a 410 page addendum which is essentially Draft 4 of the code, along with revised maps when there is no time left to study and understand either one.

Without substantial revisions to address these many concerns, the Heritage NA finds Draft 3 unacceptable and inconsistent with our Neighborhood Plan and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

 

HNA RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CODENEXT FROM DRAFT 2

 

CodeNEXT Draft 2 and the Heritage Neighborhood

Reviewed & Supported Unanimously at the Heritage General Meeting held Monday, October 9, 2017

Heritage Exemplifies the Vision of Imagine Austin

The Heritage Neighborhood, located in central Austin and bordered by 29th Street, 38th Street, Guadalupe Street, and North Lamar Boulevard is a diverse, walkable, urban neighborhood.

Heritage includes and is within walking distance of a variety of local businesses including restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and medical offices. The interior of the neighborhood is comprised of a fabric of homes mostly built by the mid 1930s, some from the 1800s.  Many of these homes have been carefully maintained over the decades and/or recently renovated with additions, new foundations, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, energy efficient windows and other upgrades.

The existing housing stock in Heritage includes many so-called “missing middle” residences, including duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, row houses, small apartment buildings, and condominiums that together make up about 70% of the residential units in the neighborhood.

Imagine Austin and the Neighborhood Plan.

CodeNEXT Draft 2 fails to follow the existing Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, which calls for retaining single-family uses and intensifying pedestrian-friendly development along the corridors. The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan specifies that changes to neighborhood plans will require input from stakeholders and follow the plan amendments process.

Given the extent of the changes in the second CodeNEXT draft, the lack of a red-lined document, and the incompatibility of much of the proposed zoning with the Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, six weeks is an insufficient period for a complete evaluation.

The Heritage Neighborhood Association requests that the Draft 2 public input period be extended to allow CodeNEXT to be reconciled with the existing Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan.

Zoning Recommendations to Reconcile CodeNEXT with the Neighborhood Plan

  1. Floor Area Ratios: FAR limits are essential to preventing the extensive demolition of residences in Heritage. The FAR limits added to Draft 2 of CodeNEXT are an improvement from Draft 1 and should be retained.
  2. Occupancy Limits: Clarified occupancy limits of four unrelated adults in a single family dwelling, and an additional two unrelated adults in an Accessory Dwelling Unit, should be retained.
  3. Residential Zoning: We believe that increasing the number of residential units allowed on current SF-3 properties from 2 to 3 (R3C allows Duplex and ADU) and decreasing the minimum lot size will encourage redevelopment and the removal of residents. This is exacerbated by the allowed increase to 0.57 FAR for Duplexes on large lots, currently prohibited in the SF-3 zone by LDC Subchapter F. We object to this change without stakeholder consideration and input as part of a Neighborhood Plan amendment process. Residential zoned parcels in Heritage and similar neighborhoods currently zoned SF-3, should be zoned R2C.
  4. Infrastructure Capacity: We are concerned that Heritage and many other areas of the city have insufficient infrastructural capacity (water, wastewater, gas, storm water drainage, and roads )for the proposed density increases. Zoning changes should not occur without an evaluation of these resources.
  5. Site Development Standards: The Heritage Neighborhood objects to the elimination of Subchapter E standards to create pedestrian-friendly environments in CodeNEXT. We recommend that the current Subchapter E sidewalk requirements be maintained and be spelled out.
  6. 34th and 29th Streets: Heritage Neighborhood includes both Main Street and Mixed Use (MU1A, MU1B, MU1C, and MU1D) zones on 34th Street.  As the front setbacks of these two types of zones are radically different, we recommend that all Main Street zones be changed to Mixed Use zones on 34th Street, which is more appropriate to the interior of the neighborhood. Similarly on 29th Street, between Salado and Rio Grande, the zone should be Mixed Use zoning instead of Main Street .
  7. Min. Lot Sizes in Residential Zones: Footnote 1 should be revised to reference a concrete date that precedes code adoption. The current language “at the time of adoption of this Land Development Code” provides a loophole that could be exploited to modify parcels during the code adoption process.

Incompatible Uses & Recommended Changes

  1. Drive Through Uses: Main Street and Mixed Use zones proposed for Heritage allow (without a conditional use permit) drive-through restaurants. In order to maintain a safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists, drive-through uses were prohibited in our 2004 Neighborhood Plan except where “grandfathered”. As recently as January 2017, the HNA successfully opposed the construction of a new drive-through. The Heritage Neighborhood continues to oppose any new drive-through uses in the neighborhood and recommends that these uses be prohibited in all MS zones.
  2. Telecommunications uses are according to 23-4D-2030, permitted without use permits in all residential zones (except LA), but restricted by 23-4E-6370 in “Residential House Scale Zones.” The Heritage Neighborhood recommends that telecommunications uses be Not Allowed in Residential House Scale Zones and that those uses require a conditional use permit in mixed-use, multi-family residential, and main street zones.
  3. Poorly Defined Uses: CodeNEXT allows for uses within Heritage Neighborhood that are either not defined, or defined too broadly.  All of the following uses, which are permitted without use permit, should be clearly defined:
      • Accessory Uses (category is far too broad)
      • Food Sales (unclear what is meant by “on and off site”)
      • Retail in residential zones (clarify and limit)
      • Medical Services (should limit sizes and prohibit surgery centers)
      • Outdoor Formal and Outdoor Informal (not defined in the code)

Address the Unintended Consequences of Increased Density

  1. Parking: The Heritage Neighborhood currently suffers from over-parking on many residential streets making it difficult and dangerous for emergency responders, school buses, utility trucks, cars and pedestrians to navigate. We recommend that reductions in required parking should be moderated and sensitive to development pressures as follows:
    1. On-site Duplex parking should be reduced to 1.5 spaces per unit, not 1 (which is a 50% reduction) for a total of 3 spaces per Duplex.
    2. Elimination of required parking for Accessory Dwelling Units should be allowed only as a preservation bonus (see below).
  2. Affordability Housing Bonus Program: CodeNEXT includes an Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP).  While we support the desire to provide affordable housing in Austin, we object to the bonus applying in R4 zones. As a result of the “spot-zoning” of multi-family parcels in Heritage, the bonus allows a floor to area ratio (FAR) of 0.8 despite being adjacent to R3C zones with FAR that is half as large. This can result in incompatible buildings in the house scale zones. In addition, we object to the Additional Affordable Housing Incentives in Section 23-3E-5010 that allow for reduced parking requirements and impervious cover up to 65% in R3C zones. The Housing Bonus Program would be better utilized on the activity corridors. The Heritage Neighborhood recommends that the AHBP should apply in the MS2B zones on Guadalupe, Lamar and 38th Street.
  3. Preservation: Preservation incentives added to Draft 2, such as restricting heights of ADUs for new developments, are a positive step and one tool to avoid extensive demolitions in Heritage. We recommend that these incentives be expanded and strengthened as follows:
    1. Require (1) parking space for new ADUs unless existing home is preserved.
    2. Relax development limits more than 80’ from the front property line only if existing home is preserved.
    3. Provide clear requirements for the preservation bonus including the minimum age of the existing house, how much must be preserved, and for how long.

Additional Special Consideration in Heritage

  1. The Old Firehouse at 3002 Guadalupe has historic zoning and is owned by the City of Austin. We recommend that the property be zoned P-H.

Despite the limited time frame which made a comprehensive evaluation of the proposed code impossible, we trust that staff will find these recommendations useful and consider our request to extend the timeline for further study.

Sincerely,

Gretchen Flatau                                                                                  Date: Oct. 9, 2017

President, Heritage Neighborhood Association

                                                                 

 

 

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

Membership Special/HNA Community Meeting

 

Topic: Heritage Response to CodeNEXT

7 pm, Monday, April 23, 2018

Pioneer Bank Community Room

623 N. 38th Street*

Please join your neighbors on Monday night to discuss the 3rd Draft of CodeNEXT & Heritage’s response! You live here, let’s make sure you can keep living in Heritage!

It’s a great time to join Heritage Neighborhood Association

Heritage Neighborhood Association is offering a sign-up special for any new or re-upping members! Residents of the Heritage neighborhood can join anytime from now until the HNA general meeting on Mon. April 23rd for $10 per household or $5 for an individual. As always, financial aid is available as well.

Membership brings voting rights on important issues like CodeNEXT and unified, vote-based representation to the city on the issues that impact our neighborhood. Dues go towards:

  • Signage, materials, and flyers for meetings
  • Refreshments
  • Fees for the HNA website
  • Supplies for National Night Out and other neighborhood-wide events

There’s lots of ways to join!

  • Via Paypal by sending payment to HeritageNA@gmail.com (instructions on our website)
  • Drop a check with your name, email and address by 3200 Grandview, Unit 7, Austin 78705 (there is a box on the patio)
  • Sign up at the meeting at 7 PM on Mon. April 23rd at Pioneer Bank’s Community Room (bring your checkbook or cash)

Join the Heritage email group! Send an email to:  HeritageNA-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

heritageaustin.org

heritagena@yahoogroups.com

facebook.com/heritageaustin/

 

*The Pioneer Bank Community Room entrance is on the back of the building off of Ronson Street, adjacent to the parking garage. We appreciate Pioneer Bank giving us access to this great meeting space.

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

Rats!

You’ve probably had an infestation or at least seem them climbing along the roof edges and fence tops.  Rattus rattus are commonly called climbing rats or roof rats.  Though originally from Asia they have spread around the world along with human colonization.  They have been in the US for hundreds of years.  You might say they are “naturalized” rats. 

These rats have been very successful in colonizing Central Texas and our Heritage neighborhood.  They have raised many generations of rat babies in our garage I am sorry to say.  Their smell drives our dog crazy but since he doesn’t climb very well he can’t do much other than bark at them.  However, our home is well sealed with steel mesh at the bottom of the walls and the attic vents, a relatively easy fix.  The garage remains a problem. But our rat zapper works well and makes for easy disposal. 

If you have a rat problem please do not use poison.  These poisons generally contain blood thinner. Wildlife and pets are at risk of illness or death from eating a rat that has ingested poison. Six dead animals recently found on or just off streets included 3 birds.  These have been found along King St. between 31st and 32nd (Screech Owl, rat and jay), Kings Lane in the Buckingham parking lot (Great Horn Owl), and at the traffic circle (2 rats). While no one misses the rats the collateral damage is a lot to sacrifice.

“Safe alternatives include single- and multiple-entrance snap traps, electrocuting traps, glue traps (provided you use them only indoors and frequently dispatch stuck rodents)”. Place any trap along the rat highways which you can usually tell by the brown, greasy appearance of a trail. Or where there are signs of feeding.  The electric traps or “zappers” are not recommended for outdoors.

The following article from the January-February 2013 issue of Audubon provides a detailed summary of the poisons, dangers, and alternate treatments. This is just one article out of hundreds out there.

http://www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2013/poisons-use

Its the 2nd generation rodenticides that are so lethal. Look for Brodafacoum on the label.  Common products using this bait include Hot Shot and d-Con.  Other baits include, Bromadiolone, Difethialone, Difenacoum.  Please avoid all of these in our neighborhood.

Author: Dana Anthony, January 2018 on behalf of the Heritage Neighborhood Association

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

HNA meets Jan. 29!

Mark your calendar! The Heritage Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting and Social will be held Monday, Jan. 29th at 7pm in the Pioneer Bank Community Room. Join your neighbors for this Social (cookies & sweets!!!) and our annual election of officers and steering committee members as well as updates on CodeNEXT and other issues of concern. And don’t forget, it’s membership renewal time! Join the Heritage Neighborhood association today for $15/household or $10/individual. You can bring your membership check to the meeting or pay it ahead of time via Paypal at heritageaustin.org/membership/.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Gretchen Flatau President Heritage Neighborhood Association

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment

City hosts meeting on West Campus move in/out

From the City of Austin:

As you may know, a significant amount of material is discarded each year in West Campus during student move-out and move-in from single-family homes and apartments. The City of Austin is working on a collaborative pilot to reduce material discarded in July/August. After several public brainstorming meetings, Austin Resource Recovery is hosting the first working group meeting.

What? First working group meeting for West Campus move-out diversion pilot

Who? Anyone interested in helping develop or taking part in the pilot

When? Thursday, Dec. 14, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Where? Lamar Senior Center (2874 Shoal Crest Avenue)

How? RSVP here

Meeting Objectives

· Provide brief overview of stakeholder meetings and major takeaways

· Based on the meeting takeaways, we will present 3-5 high-level options

· Split into small groups to brainstorm logistics, challenges, benefits, resources etc.

· Contribute any additional ideas or suggestions

We hope to see you next week, even if you’re only able to attend half of the meeting.

Maddie Morgan

Planner III, Recycling & Economic Development

Austin Resource Recovery | City of Austin

Email Madelyn.Morgan@austintexas.gov

Phone 512-974-7964

AustinRecycles.com

Posted in Local Info | Leave a comment