Missing Middle

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:22 PM

This section applies to the construction or expansion of three to eight residential units that are located on a platted residential lot

On site plan for 3-8 lots it requires a platted residential lot. In 1-2 it simply requires a legal lot. Both should require just a legal lot. Limiting to platted lots will reduce the usefulness of transition zones. Also lots without deed restrictions are frequently not platted.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:19 PM

(2) This section does not apply to development that: (a) Includes a boat dock, bulkhead, or shoreline access; (b) Exceeds 50 percent impervious cover; (c) Is on a lot that was not originally part of a residential subdivision; or (d) Requires a variance from the Land Use Commission.

I believe 2b should be removed. Impervious cover limits in all zones should be in line with allowing for a limited site plan review, particularly in allowing for more missing middle housing. 2c is also unclear without a map as to what was originally platted as residential and when.

Posted by ki Oct 06th 10:56 PM

MULTI-FAMILY. A residential building containing three or more dwelling units within a single building, with one or more multi-unit buildings per site, and includes, but is not limited to, triplex, quadplex, bungalow court apartments, and multi-unit apartment complexes.

If you are R4 and above you cannot do detached structures (3-4 separate adu type units).

In r4 you can only do duplex and multi-family. Multifamily is defined on page 278 as a building with 3 units or more.

So if your deed restrictions say you can only do single family structures you can do effectively nothing on these lots (with the exception of rebuilding a house). Unless you want to get sued and not get clear title.

Once you get to anything above rm1 (rm2, rm3 etc) you can’t do anything but triplexes.

The number of lots with deed restrictions that allow triplexes is effectively zero.

This restriction will greatly greatly decrease the unit yield from this code rewrite.

Posted by tannerblair Oct 05th 10:04 PM


It seems counter-intuitive that R3 would allow for a new single family home.

Posted by tannerblair Oct 05th 10:03 PM


Glad to see more duplexes allowed throughout, but I would also like to see an allowance for triplexes and quadplexes for zones that allow larger single-family homes. Enfield is a great example of an existing neighborhood where large single family and some multi-family of the same scale co-exist.

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:44 PM

If the parking structure is less than 20 feet behind the building facade, the width of the parking structure may not exceed 50 percent of the width of the building facade, measured parallel to the front lot line

Allow one garage space in all cases. So the code would be “the greater of the width of 50 of the building facade or 12 feet”. This encourages small narrow houses. Also takes into account possibility of a tree limiting the width of the primary dwelling.

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:09 PM

(2) Accessory Dwelling Unit. (a) The floor area of an accessory dwelling unit counts against the FAR limit for the principal use on the lot.

Not sure of the logistics of this, but would it be possible to encourage missing middle housing by not having Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) count against a lots Floor Area Ration (FAR), at least in certain circumstances that create negative effects for safety or environmental impacts?

Posted by ki Oct 06th 10:29 PM

The total number of dwelling units otherwise allowed in the zone may be exceeded by one.

Unless you can build 2 adu’s you can run into a problem. If there are two separate structures (house and adu) currently on the lot how would you add a third. Tear one down and build a duplex. It would be better to simply allow a third adu. Forcing one to tear down a structure to take advantage of the preservation incentive is strange.

Posted by ki Oct 06th 10:17 PM

The total number of dwelling units otherwise allowed in the zone may be exceeded by one.

Can we state explicitly that if we keep the existing unit 2 adu’s can be built. Currently its confusing if a only a duplex can be built. If that is true this would not be possible on a large number of lots due to deed restrictions that do not allow duplexes.

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:37 PM

Page 297 - 3

Preserving existing housing stock while encouraging the addition of dwelling units seems to be a win-win!

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:36 PM

Page 297 - 2

Does “new dwelling units” apply to ADUs?

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:34 PM

Page 297 - 1

If we’re trying to encourage more housing units across the city, why are we being so prescriptive about how much adding more habitable space can cost here?

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:22 PM

Residential 1 (R1) Zone (A) Purpose. Residential 1 (R1) zone is intended to allow detached housing on small lots throughout the city.

This seems to be the last bastion of strictly single-family zoning in the code. Is there room to advocate for doing away with this zoning category and merging it into the proposed “Residential 2C” (R2C) Zone (see page 311) so that, by default, people can at least build single-family attached and duplex structures anywhere in Austin that is zoned residential (except Rural Residential and Lake Austin, I guess) ? They may choose to build single-family structures, but at least there’s the option for more density.

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:27 PM

Residential 2A (R2A) Zone (A) Purpose. Residential 2A (R2A) zone is intended to allow detached housing with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or duplexes in a more suburban setting.

Yes! More affordable housing everywhere also means the ‘burbs. Making current areas of sprawl denser can prevent further sprawl and may make those areas more suited to self-sustaining public transportation infrastructure that could be tied into a regional network.

Posted by robert.sotolar Oct 05th 10:59 PM

23-3C-3110 Residential 2C (R2C) Zone (A) Purpose. Residential 2C (R2C) zone is intended to allow detached housing with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or duplexes on small lots throughout the city.

I’m curious if Council Staff can articulate a rationale for why certain areas would be zoned the more restrictive “Residential 1” (R1) - see page 305 - vs. this “Residential 2C” (R2C) zoning. If the reasoning for leaving areas in the more restrictive R1 zoning is neighborhood sensitivity, perhaps we can push City Council to be bold and stay faithful to their stated intent with this code of a more affordable Austin?

Posted by tannerblair Oct 05th 10:37 PM

Duplex 4 +4

Wouldn’t the base standard for a duplex be 2?

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:20 PM

Cottage Court

Why are cottage courts not allowed in all rm zones? They are currently only allowed in rm1.

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:32 PM

Cottage Court

Why are cottage courts not allowed in all rm zones? They are currently only allowed in rm1.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:21 PM

Table 23-3C-4040(A) Parking Requirements for Residential Multi-Unit Zones

There should be no minimum parking requirements for residential uses. Parking spaces can cost between 20,000 and 50,000 each to build and not only does that drive up the cost of housing, but it eats into impervious cover. If a builder wants to provide them then that is fine, but they should not be required.

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:29 PM

A pedestrian entrance must face and connect directly to the primary street, or for corner lots, to the primary or side street.

Make it clear that one pedestrian entrance must face and connect to the primary street. Obviously in a multiunit develop (with multiple buildings it would not make sense or be practical to require every pedestrian entrance to face the street.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:20 PM

Page 335 - 3

Minimum area in all zones for multifamily should be reduced to 2500SF and minimum width should be reduced to 25’. With the number set higher you are encouraging less missing middle housing and promoting more large-scale apartments to be built.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:18 PM

Page 335 - 2

The base FAR for all multi-unit zones should be 1.0, if not closer to 1.5. This will encourage family-size units to be built (2 to 3 bedrooms).

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:12 PM

Table 23-3C-4070(A) Lot Size and Intensity

The minimum lot size is too high to be able to build missing middle housing. Coupled with the low max intensity, the only thing that can be built on 5,000SF lots appears to be duplexes.

Posted by ki Oct 05th 10:26 PM

(2) Compatibility Setbacks

For lots over 75 feet wide there is compatibility of 20 feet on the side and 30 feet at the rear. Compatibility does not allow anything in this area. Driveways and 1 story buildings should be allowed in this compatibility area. Not allowing in this area seems excessive.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:28 PM

Page 340 - 1

Maximum density is too low, minimum lot size is too high, FAR is too low, combine all those and all you will get are townhomes at most.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:49 PM

Page 376 - 1

Minimum area for development is too high and maximum FAR is too low.

Posted by dan.keshet Oct 04th 10:25 PM

Page 424 - 1

Townhouse not a permitted use in DC - This is probably not worth pursuing but it’s unclear why townhouse would not be a permitted use in DC. It’s unlikely somebody would want to pursue one, but downtown has some narrow parcels that could fit townhouses but no other housing type.

Posted by ki Oct 07th 10:15 PM

Only one ADU may be built per site, and the total dwelling units per lot shall not exceed the density permitted by the base zone . (a) Exception . Additional units may be allowed in compliance with the Preservation Incentive if permitted by the base zone .

Please specify in the exception that 2 adus can be built using the preservation incentive. Otherwise you can’t do this on lots that don’t allow duplexes. And if two detached houses exist you can’t do this without tearing down at least one house.

Posted by ki Oct 06th 10:26 PM

(b) Parking must be clustered and may not be provided adjacent to or attached to an individual unit .

The group parking is not ideal for people with health issues (for instance lowered immune systems that want to stay out of freezing rain in the winter). Or people that can’t carry heavy objects father distances. I think the cottage court could be ideal for elderly residents. But not with these restrictions. Allowing two areas of clustered parking (one on left, one on right) would be better.

Posted by lwimberley Oct 05th 10:44 PM

23-3D-1180 Duplex (A) Configuration. (1) The two units must be attached;

Thank you for getting rid of the zipper wall. That was an wholly unnecessary restriction.

Posted by agh Oct 05th 10:12 PM

Tuck-under Parking.

Given the low FAR and low impervious cover limits in addition to the parking requirements, preventing tuck-under makes missing middle infeasible.

Posted by ryanmnill Oct 05th 10:34 AM

23-3D-10040 Dwelling Unit Occupancy Limit (A) Except as otherwise provided by this section or by another requirement of this Title, not more than six unrelated adults may reside in a dwelling unit. (B) In approving an application for a conditional use permit, the Land Use Commission may approve an occupancy above the limit imposed in this section. (C) In no case may the number of occupants exceed limitations established in the Property Maintenance Code, Section 404 (Occupancy Limitations).

The current code has provision allowing seniors to be exempt from occupancy limits. That section is 25-2-511 (B), which is not here the new draft LDC.

Also we would like to see the occupancy limits raised in general. According to council direction to increase housing capacity.

Posted by atalbert Oct 05th 10:03 PM

) A development application on property zoned R2A, R2B, R2C, or R3 may count keystone trees towards tree planting or mitigation requirements.

We need to be working to maximize the value, effectiveness of our new transition zones to help deliver as many missing middle units as we can to address affordability, sustainability and equity issues, so prioritizing or helping smaller scaled zones, which have much more flexibility to squeeze in the lower units over the transition-zoned categories undercuts the stated AHBP and council direction goals.

Posted by atalbert Oct 05th 10:59 PM

(4) The tree prevents reasonable use of the property; or

In regards to protected trees, how to we balance our desire to get more affordable and market affordable missing middle units in the new R4/RM1 zones vs. preserving a tree that negatively impacts building placement/unit yield on a lot?

Is it reasonable for a protected tree to keep a transit accesible, high opportunity lot from delivering 10 units, when say it could only fit 4?

Posted by atalbert Oct 05th 10:55 PM

(4) Removal of the tree cannot be avoided through minor changes to a development, such as grading, access, parking, or landscape island configuration, that would not change building layout or number of units; or

Does this mean that “keystone trees” will be approved for removal/impact if their placement is on the site where a building will be going?

Posted by atalbert Oct 05th 10:53 PM

(B) An application proposing to remove or impact a keystone tree associated with a development application is not required if the property is zoned R2A, R2B, R2C, or R3. (C) A development application on property zoned R2A, R2B, R2C, or R3 may count keystone trees towards tree planting or mitigation requirements.

Why carve out residential house scaled zones up to R3 from enforcement of new smaller tree regs and not exempt small-scaled missing middle which we want to help get built in R4 and RM1? By adding this new regulation on the small residential lots in transition zones where we want to see missing middle units built, this increases the complexity, cost and feasibility, making the units harder to fit into these old established lots and, even where they can be, will result in more expensive, more complex to design and build structures that directly increase the rent/price of those units.

Posted by mike_nahas Oct 05th 10:57 PM

Single-Family Construction. Construction or alteration of a single-family residential land use structure, single-family attached land use or duplex residential land use structure, an accessory dwelling unit, or an accessory structure

I’d suggest changing the bold text for 23-6B-1030.D.1 from “Single-Family Construction” to “Residential Construction of One to Two Units”. On the previous page, 23-6B-1030.C.2.l mentions “Residential Construction of Three to Eight Units.”. As the bold text reads now, it’s unclear where duplexes are covered.