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Austin unveils new zoning maps

New zoning maps are out for Austin development. In a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler said this is one step to managing growth and making Austin more affordable. (Image courtesy: City of Austin)

New zoning maps are out for Austin development. In a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler said this is one step to managing growth and making Austin more affordable.

Mayor Adler said he hopes zoning changes will also mean simple answers for home repairs.

Changes will be subtle for most people in Austin, which is why the mayor asked everyone to 'chill out.'

The city building codes have not been re-written in 30-years. City planners hope this re-write will make things simpler.

"We're going to work on supply in the corridors and the centers," said Adler.

According to zoning maps, the biggest changes will be central Austin. Neighborhoods just outside downtown, like east Austin and south Austin neighborhoods, like Bouldin. These new 'transect zones' will allow for greater density.

"There are going to be some transition areas that we need to work our way through," said Adler.

In the last 8 years, neighbor George Sarris says his neighborhood, just west of South Congress Street, has changed drastically.

"It's insane," said Sarris. "It's already overcrowded as it is."

Sarris' neighborhood will go from a single family housing zoned neighborhood, to one zoned for multi-family housing, like 'quadplexes' and condos.

"We've seen a lot of the flavor of this neighborhood just disappear," said Sarris.

Sarris blames rising property taxes and more development along South 1st and South Congress streets. He says rezoning his neighborhood for multi-family housing won't help.

"No one on a minimum wage, or even above minimum wage, can live in this neighborhood anymore," said Sarris. "Even if you cut it into fours. You could cut it into sixes, eighths, it doesn't matter. It's just going to add more congestion."

For those that do not live in central Austin, there may not be as many recognizable changes to the neighborhood. However, the new code will streamline the permitting process, a known log jam for anyone who's tried to do some work in their home.

"It's a code that will help with the permitting process, so things move on more quickly and don't cost as much," said Adler. "So that it's easier to add a bathroom to your home."

There will be a year of community input before changes are locked in. Adler and city council members urge community members to speak up if they have concerns.

Wednesday night is the first public meeting about the proposed changes.

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