Council Reduces ADU Restrictions – What’s Next?

December 3, 2015 by Kate Harrington

An ordinance that will make it easier to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) passed City Council in late November, potentially paving the way for more varied housing in the city.

Council voted 7-4 to adopt the amendments to the City’s Land Development Code that reduce restrictions on building ADUs.

Supporters of the changes, including groups from AURA to RECA and Mayor Steve Adler, said the changes will make it easier to have more housing types in Austin, and will lead to more affordable housing in the city.

“This is an important step toward allowing more abundant housing in the city of Austin,” Cory Brown, AURA member, said in a press release. “I’m hopeful that by allowing more housing options within reach of people with modest incomes, we can begin the process of making Austin neighborhoods more integrated and diverse.”

While it’s Austin’s new 10-1 council that ultimately voted on the changes, the looser restrictions for building ADUs were originally introduced by former Austin Council Members Mike Martinez and Chris Riley in 2014.

The new ordinance removes several restrictions that will allow buildings to be closer, will reduce the minimum lot size requirements in some zoning categories, and reduces the off-street parking requirement from two spaces to one, and in some cases none at all if the property is close to transit routes.

Addressing concerns that more ADUs would mean more short-term rentals, the ordinance also includes language that limits how property owners can rent the units.

How do you think the reduced restrictions on ADUs will affect the housing supply and overall affordability in Austin? Leave your comments below!

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.