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Planning Commission adopts recommendations on the occupancy limit ordinance

In February, 2014, the City Council adopted an occupancy ordinance which limits the number of unrelated individuals in duplexes and homes to four, down from six. This ordinance was limited to two years. As a part of the occupancy ordinance, the Austin Planning Commission was asked to study and make recommendations on Code enforcement and violations . At its February, 15, 2015 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously adopted recommendations on the occupancy limit ordinance to be sent to the City Council. The recommendations include: 1) newly permitted buildings with designs typical of over occupancy would have to agree to an inspection after one year. This inspection would ensure that buildings are in compliance with the occupancy limit ordinance; 2)grandfathered structures with repeat violations will lose their status that allows them to house six unrelated individuals; 3) Code Compliance can investigate a housing for over occupancy if there are violations of the Property Maintenance Code; 4)The Planning Commission also recommended that Code Compliance establish a system of escalating fines for repeat offenders, and coordinate communication between departments in order to track violations; 5) City Council institute civil proceedings for code violations, rather than resolve violation complaints through criminal proceedings; 6) Council extend the occupancy limit boundaries to neighborhoods outside the McMansion Ordinance boundaries. ( the properties under occupancy limit stretch from Research Blvd to William Cannon Drive and from Loop 360 to Ed Bluestein Blvd)

In an effort to stop the misuses of single-family zoned property, the Planning Commission recommended creating a new zoning category called “multi family lite” which would encompass duplexes, fourplexes. and sixplexes. The Planning Commission also recommended the Council review the effectiveness of the ordinance and to consider expanding it beyond its two year limit.

The City Council has already had one briefing on Stealth Dorms,and they will be discussed in more detail at the newly formed special Council committees.

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