City Council of Austin Proposes Density Bonus


The Austin City Council voted on Thursday June 8th,  to create a density bonus program that would allow developers to build more homes on single-family lots, as long as some of the homes are priced affordably.

Opportunity Unlocked

The program, dubbed Opportunity Unlocked by Council and ‘the Austin density program’ by others, would allow home owners and developers to build up to two additional homes on a single-family lot if they set aside one of the homes for affordable housing. The affordable home would be restricted to households earning no more than 120% of the area median income, a dramatic increase on previous allowances of 80% MFI.

The Austin density bonus program would be administered by the city’s Planning and Development Department. Developers would need to apply for the program and demonstrate that they have the financial resources to build the affordable home.

Vote on Development Bonuses

The Council’s vote was 8-1-2, with Council Member Mackenzie Kelly voting against the measure and Council Members Alison Alter and Leslie Pool abstaining.

Council Member Ryan Alter, who sponsored the proposal, said that the program would help to increase the supply of affordable housing in Austin. He noted that the city’s current zoning regulations make it difficult to build affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods.

Austin Density Bonus Program

“This program will allow us to create more affordable housing in our neighborhoods without having to change our zoning regulations,” Alter said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The density bonus program is one of several recent proposals by the City Council to address the city’s housing crisis. In April, the Council voted to reduce or eliminate compatibility, a rule that limits the height of buildings near single-family homes. The Council is also considering a proposal to allow duplexes and triplexes to be built in all residential zoning districts.

The Council’s vote on the Austin density bonus program is a significant step forward in the city’s efforts to address the housing crisis. The program has the potential to create hundreds of new affordable homes as part of a new framework for guaranteeing development bonuses in Austin.

Development Bonuses in Austin

However, it is important to note that the program is still in its early stages. The Planning and Development Department will need to develop detailed regulations for the program before it can be implemented.

The Council’s vote on the density bonus program is a positive development, but it is only one step in the long process of addressing the city’s housing crisis. The Council will need to take additional steps in the years to come to ensure that all current and future residents of Austin have access to affordable housing in the city.

Coverage of the Austin Density Program

How did Austinites react to the news that Austin could be giving local OZ developers the ability to build affordable. homes with higher larger bedroom counts for families?

Austin Monitor had some great coverage by Joe Clifton including a larger analysis of the votes and reasoning of the council members. Also from the Monitor, Jonathan Lee breaks down how staff might approach the proposal regulations. And for the legal side of things, read the analysis by Bukowski Law Firm.

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Reactions to the Density Program 

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