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Joint public hearing on zoning likely to be Oct. 26

Tuesday, September 26, 2023 by Jo Clifton

Last Thursday, City Council agreed to set a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission to consider new zoning regulations designed to make it easier to build affordable housing. Specifically, the hearing will be on proposals to allow three units per lot in single-family residential districts, to allow tiny homes and recreational vehicles to serve as accessory dwelling units and to eliminate the dwelling unit occupancy limit for residential uses. In an email to supporters, Council Member Leslie Pool, who has championed such changes, said that at its next meeting Council will be considering setting the date for the joint hearing on Oct. 26. There is no Council meeting this week, and the item is expected to be on the Oct. 5 agenda. (After that hearing, the Planning Commission will hold a separate hearing on the same items, and Council will hold yet another hearing after the Planning Commission consideration.) Some neighborhood advocates have criticized Council, specifically Pool, for changing their position on what happens in single-family zoned neighborhoods. In her email, Pool defended her actions, explaining that many people – including city employees – can’t afford to buy a home in Austin. She cited as one example an EMS employee who ended up buying a home in San Antonio and commuting to Austin for her job. As Pool noted, the commute has become tiresome for that employee and others. Pool explained that her position on changes to the city’s zoning regulations had changed as a result of hearing stories like the one from the EMS employee.

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