big changes, tiny homes
Austin can have more starter and tiny homes with new zoning amendments
Austinites will soon be sharing more spaces, thanks to the approval of the hotly debated "Home Options for Middle-income Empowerment" (HOME) Initiative. (Cue angry Nextdoor users.) The code amendments, allowing for more housing types and supply in single-family zones around Austin, passed 9-2 on December 7.
Current homeowners need not fret about their property; These changes are optional. However, as neighbors start taking these building options, the views around the neighborhood may be very different.
The changes, specifically, also include updates to Austin's Land Development Code (LDC), in several areas.
Up to three units will now be allowed on single-family lots. City Council city council says this will help homeowners "provide on-site housing options to family members, a caregiver, or earn additional income." One commonly cited concern was greater density potentially changing Austin's character.
The three-unit limit would include tiny homes, which the Council defines as "a small, efficient space, typically under 400 square feet, that often enables homeowners to live a more environmentally conscious, financially stable, and minimalist lifestyle." It pointed out a lower ecological footprint and also classified them as recreational vehicles (RVs).
Similarly, smaller homes in general will now be more profitable to build; Instead of constructing one huge house to maximize profit where only one can be built, smaller houses may now be just as profitable. City Council points out that this will provide options to first-time homebuyers.
In addition to these new possibilities, there is some balance with the ways of old. Homeowners will be offered bonuses for preservation and sustainability to keep neighborhoods from changing too much with new construction.
The number of unrelated adults who can live in one home is eliminated, giving greater options for roommates — and splitting the rent. There will still be a square-footage-per-person occupancy limit.
Despite the popularity reflected in the supermajority vote, the Austin Chronicle noted a generational divide at a community feedback session in October. It recorded that many supporters were young and hoping for affordability above all.
The Council shared an online tool for homeowners to determine how their property is zoned at austintexas.gov.