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  • Writer's pictureJulie Nelson

City of Austin proposed changes to ADU regulations


The City of Austin is proposing significant changes to its Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations as part of its HOME Initiative. Key modifications include reducing the minimum lot size for single-family homes from 5,750 square feet to 2,500 square feet, which will enable more properties to qualify for ADU construction. The initiative also allows up to three units on a single-family property, expanding the possibilities for housing density.


Additionally, tiny homes can now be classified as ADUs, making it easier to add these smaller dwellings to properties. Occupancy restrictions will be removed, allowing anyone to live in ADUs, which is expected to increase their construction. The city is also exploring pre-approved blueprints for ADUs to streamline the building process and reduce costs.


These changes aim to provide more affordable housing options and support sustainable urban development, while also addressing concerns about preserving neighborhood character and managing housing density.


Next Steps for Austin's Proposed ADU Regulation Changes

Here are the key next steps and updates:


  • Phase Implementation: The process will roll out in multiple phases, starting with the "site plan lite" initiative. This first phase aims to exempt developments with four or fewer units from the extensive site plan review, which is currently required for any project with more than two units. The City Council is expected to vote on this change before its summer break in June.

  • Further Council Action: The second phase, scheduled for the fall, will address streamlined site plan review requirements for projects with five to 16 units. This phase is more complex due to the need to balance rapid permitting with regulations that manage the impacts of larger projects.

  • Prioritization of ADU Rules: Given the new Council members and the potential passage of a related ADU bill in the Texas Legislature, city staff will seek guidance from the Council on which ADU rules to prioritize. This discussion is scheduled for the Housing and Planning Committee meeting on May 23.

  • Additional Code Amendments: The City Council may pursue further code amendments aimed at making ADUs easier to build. Potential changes could include reducing or eliminating parking and driveway requirements and allowing ADUs on smaller lots.

  • Short-Term Rental Regulations: There is ongoing consideration of stricter regulations on using ADUs as short-term rentals to ensure they contribute to the housing stock rather than being used primarily for vacation rentals.


For more information, you can visit the City of Austin ADU website, Austin Monitor and Maxable.

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