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Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism
 

Stories by Jonathan Lee

Setback controversy delays East Austin townhomes

A developer planning to build seven townhomes in the Chestnut neighborhood ran into opposition April 12, as neighbors and members of the Planning Commission opposed a request to build closer to single-family homes than allowed by city code.  Developer Urban…

Planning Commission prods developer to talk with tenants facing displacement

Tenants don’t often speak at public meetings on zoning cases that affect them. But when they do, people seem to listen. At least that was the case Tuesday when the Planning Commission heard from Andrew McKenna, a North Austin resident…

Statesman PUD wins initial approval

One of the most anticipated redevelopment projects in Austin’s history has moved one step closer to approval.  City Council Thursday unanimously approved Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning on the first of three readings for the former Austin-American Statesman site, whose…

ZAP divided on rezoning for neighborhood bar on Menchaca

The Zoning and Platting Commission disagreed Tuesday on a request to zone a South Austin property to allow liquor sales and commercial use amid concern from neighbors over noise and traffic. The rezoning concerns a 5-acre tract at 11530 Menchaca…

Staffers provide update on new equity-focused historic preservation plan

As Austin faces rapid change, the city is drafting a new equity-based preservation plan – replacing the existing plan from 1981 – in hopes of better preserving Austin’s cultural heritage.  “Much has changed in Austin over the past 40 years…

Historic zoning for Chrysler Air Temp house draws mixed opinions

An Allandale house that helped pioneer the use of air conditioning in middle-class homes is up for historic zoning against the owner’s wishes. The Zoning and Platting Commission was split Tuesday on whether to recommend historic zoning, as members wrestled…

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An inflexible code puts small landlord’s business at risk

Prospective salon tenants have been knocking on the door of Stephen Straus’ charming house-turned-office at 3402 Kerbey Lane for months, only to be turned away because of the city’s rigid land development rules.  Though a salon would be an ideal…

Proposed VMU changes stir compatibility controversy

The Planning Commission has recommended changes to the Vertical Mixed-Use density bonus program to let developers build taller in exchange for more affordable housing – but only after animated discussion about compatibility standards. The proposed change, if passed into ordinance…

Planning Commission weighs in on mobility plan updates

As the city works to update the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, a 20-year transportation plan adopted in 2019, the Planning Commission was the latest body to comment on the proposed changes March 8.  City staffers propose two sets of changes…

ZAP unable to mediate inter-church zoning dispute

The Zoning and Platting Commission couldn’t agree on a rezoning for an apartment project with up to 300 units, in part because of a disagreement between two churches about a restrictive covenant. After multiple failed motions on March 1, the commission…

Using neighborhood demographics might create deeply affordable housing. It might also be illegal.

As Austin’s housing affordability crisis deepens, public officials and advocates are looking for ways to create more income-restricted homes – especially those that are affordable to people at the lowest end of the income spectrum. One idea, floated by the…

Over 200 affordable homes planned on city-owned property in East Austin 

An affordable housing project called the Libertad is set to bring over 200 affordable homes to city-owned property in East Austin.  The project at 900 Gardner Road will be built on a vacant, 8.5-acre slice of a larger property that…

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