The ZNA Zoning Committee has been reviewing the draft of CodeNext3 and has so far identified the following concerns:
- Bars/Nightclubs - CodeNext3 has dramatically increased the number of locations where bars and nightclubs can be located. Bars and nightclubs do not have to serve any food, distinguishing them from restaurants that serve alcohol. Under current code, bars and nightclubs can only be located in CS-1 zoning. There are currently just a few CS-1 zoning areas in the Zilker neighborhood. Under Codenext3, the entirety of South Lamar Blvd and Barton Springs Rd is proposed to allow bars and nightclubs. The concern is that South Lamar Blvd and Barton Springs Rd could come to resemble 6th Street or Rainey Street. See this document for a comparison of bar locations in CodeNext 3 vs. Current Code.
- Building Height - CodeNext3 has dramatically increased the height of buildings allowed along South Lamar Blvd and Barton Springs. This could lead to a "canyon" effect along these two roads. In addition, it could block views that many homeowners in the neighborhood now enjoy. See this document for a comparison of building heights in CodeNext 3 vs. Current Code.
- Residential Parking Requirements - CodeNext3 has dramatically decreased the off-street parking required in both residential and commercial areas. Current code requires two off-street parking places for each house-scale residential unit. CodeNext3 reduces this requirement to one. Multi-residential building are required to have 1.5 spaces for each one-bedroom unit. CodeNext3 reduces this requirement to one. See this document for a comparison of parking requirements in CodeNext 3 vs. Current Code.
- Commercial Parking Requirements - For many commercial establishments, providing parking is no longer required for uses under 2500 sf, and the parking requirements for larger uses has been reduced by as much as 75%. For example, the off-street parking for a restaurant <2500 sf has been reduced by 40% and for a bar >10000 sf has been reduced by 75%. The concern is that reduced off-street parking requirements for residential units will lead to increased residential parking on streets, more restricted traffic flow (as we now experience along Kinney Ave), and unsafe pedestrian conditions (because few sidewalks exist in the neighborhood). Reduced off-street parking requirements for commercial uses will result in more customer parking along residential streets and the need to extend the RPP parking zones (with its attendant cost to residents). See this document for a comparison of parking requirements in CodeNext 3 vs. Current Code.
- Commericial Parking Reductions - CodeNext3 has dramatically increased the allowable parking reductions to allow even further decreases to the off-street parking requirements of Item #4 above. Parking reductions are granted for various reasons including urban core adjustment, tree protection, shower/changing facilities, and Car2Go spaces. Current code allows these various parking reductions to be combined up to a maximum of 40%. CodeNext3 increases this maximum to 60%. The concern is that reduced off-street parking requirements for commercial uses will result in more customer parking along residential streets and the need to extend the RPP parking zones (with its attendant cost to residents).
- House Size - CodeNext3 has increased the size of houses that will be allowed. Although the floor-to-area ratio (FAR) remains the same at 40%, the calculation of FAR has been changed to allow additional area to be excluded from the FAR calculations. Under the current code, part of some garages, carports, attics, and porches count toward FAR. Under Codenext3, all garages, carports, attics, and porches are now excluded from the FAR calculations. The concern is that larger houses will further erode the character of the neighborhood.
- House Density - CodeNext3 has dramatically decreased the legal lot size. The lot size for single-family houses has been reduced from 5,750 sf to 5,000 sf. Single-family attached houses can now be built on lots as small as 2,500 sf. This concern is that these smaller lots will result in increased density that promotes increased residential traffic and on-street parking issues and strains the current wastewater infrastructure.
- Preservation Incentive - Although the goal of preserving older homes is admirable, the proposed preservation incentative does little to promote this goal. The Preservation Incentive for R2C residential zoning states "Accessory Dwelling Unit does not count toward FAR limit when existing house (at least 10 years old) is preserved.” If one is trying to preserve older and smaller houses, this isn’t going to do anything in reality. Most older houses are only one-story and not much larger than the largest allowed ADU (975 sf). Even if the FAR of the ADU were counted, it probably would not cause the overall FAR to exceed 40%. Example: Take an existing 1400 sf house on a 7000 sf lot. If one adds a 975 sf ADU, the FAR would still be only 34% including the FAR of the ADU. This provision is not providing any incentive to preserve smaller, older homes. However, because of the relatively short 10-year limit, all of the McMansions built between 2000 and 2008 that have already maxed out the FAR at 40% can now build ADUs and substantially exceed the 40% FAR. Within 10 years, all of the McMansion being built today will be able to increase FAR above 40%. The concern is that the primary purpose of this “Preservation Incentive” seems to be to allow McMansions to eventually exceed the 40% overall FAR limit.