Good news, bad news for transit & housing at the Lege
State gets smart on housing, stays stupid on transit.
Whew...a lot going on in the housing and transit world, for better and worse. I'm not even going to get to the big news about Austin's parking requirements until tomorrow!
Good news: One big housing bill poised to pass! Potentially others...
A bill that will do away with Austin's horrible compatibility standards is very likely to become law. (Here's an earlier explainer on compatibility standards)
The legislation, which would prohibit cities from imposing height restrictions based on a building's proximity to a lot that is more than 50 feet away, has now passed through committees in the House and Senate. There are relatively few obstacles left between now and the end of the session on May 27.
I believe the compatibility bill is the most impactful housing policy, at least for Austin, proposed this session. It could very well enable hundreds of housing units on lots that would never developed into housing under Austin's existing regs. It is absolutely key, not only to increasing housing opportunities in Austin's best neighborhoods, but to creating walkable neighborhoods and supporting transit. It will go a long way, I believe, to transforming our many ugly stroads into vibrant boulevards.
There are two other good housing bills that will hopefully pass but are at risk of dying in committee. The first would put a cap on minimum lot sizes. The bill text available online still has the proposed cap at 1,400 sq ft, the size in Houston, but I've heard rumors about a compromise at a larger size. Whatever passes, it will be better than the current minimum in Austin: a whopping 5,750 sq ft.