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Council Moves Toward Small-Lot Rules

Limiting largeness

At its regular meeting last Thursday, the Austin City Council took steps toward more stringently regulating development on small lots, reports the Austin Business Journal.

The city recently took a look at its "small lot amnesty" rules, which allow building or rebuilding on lots that measure less than 5,750 square feet, the current legal minimum for a standard lot. The amnesty option exists only where allowed in neighborhood plans.

While the original intent was to allow building or demolition and rebuilding of modest homes on the lots, there have been some unintended consequences from the loosening of regulations. One is that it allows demolition and rebuilding of much larger homes than were originally on the lots—that includes allowing more impervious cover, smaller setbacks, and other land uses not available on lots larger than the "substandard" ones.

In addition, some developers have purchased adjacent small lots and in some cases demolished one or more small structures there and combined the lots to build one larger house.

Council focused on the latter issue at its last meeting, reports the Journal, with a close vote on first and second readings in favor of prohibiting demolition on adjacent small lots with the intent of combining them and building on the resulting larger lot.

A third reading and vote are needed before the proposal can become part of city law.