Lengthy-awaited modifications to the Downtown Density Bonus Program are again on monitor after Metropolis Council handed a decision Thursday aimed toward maximizing the inexpensive housing charges generated by means of this system.  

“I’m very assured that the modifications that we’ve initiated, together with and particularly the charges, are going to yield extra inexpensive housing {dollars},” mentioned Council Member Kathie Tovo, who sponsored the resolution.

The decision is Council’s first substantial effort to handle Austin’s housing disaster since a choose struck down the Land Growth Code rewrite final yr.

The Downtown Density Bonus Program gives builders higher flooring space ratio (translating to denser, taller buildings) in change for group advantages – on-site inexpensive housing and/or in-lieu charges towards inexpensive housing along with adherence to inexperienced constructing and concrete design requirements. 

This system is certainly one of a number of the town makes use of to generate on-site inexpensive housing or fees-in-lieu in areas the place the market doesn’t provide inexpensive housing.

The decision, handed unanimously, does two issues. First, it directs metropolis workers to replace inexpensive housing charges that builders pay as a substitute of offering on-site inexpensive housing. The charges had been final calibrated in 2013. Second, it begins a dialog about tips on how to seize extra group advantages from builders that ask Council for permission to exceed flooring space ratio limits.

Metropolis staffers have till late August to recalibrate the charges, a course of that includes updating 2019 calculations to suit present market circumstances. Council will vote to determine non permanent charges on Might 22. 

Although the interim charges is probably not calibrated completely, staffers deemed the danger that poorly calibrated charges might jeopardize participation in this system “considerably restricted.”

“Even when they’re not precisely proper, they’ll solely be in place for a brief time period,” mentioned Erica Leak with the Housing and Planning Division.

Everybody on the dais supported the recalibration of charges, although some opposed altering the necessities for initiatives that exceed the FAR cap. Mayor Professional Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, echoing housing advocates, urbanists and actual property teams, made a movement to strike that a part of the decision. Her movement failed 4-7. 

Tovo mentioned she’d prefer to see builders present much more group advantages for the constructing space above the FAR restrict, together with requiring on-site inexpensive housing. The dialogue is ready to happen over the approaching weeks, first on the Planning Fee, then at Council.

Some Council members took challenge with Tovo’s piecemeal strategy, preferring a complete replace in a single go.

“I’m undecided that I’d have chosen to do it this manner,” Mayor Steve Adler mentioned, “as a result of it has our workers doing (the work) twice.”

Tovo mentioned, “I don’t suppose that broader physique of labor ought to forestall us from shifting ahead with these modifications at this time, that are a lot wanted.” 

Having handed the decision, Council is now set to comprehensively replace different density bonuses across the metropolis. Tovo mentioned she plans to convey one other decision this week to provoke that work.

Picture made obtainable by means of a Creative Commons license.

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