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Frequently Asked Questions

CodeNEXT is the City of Austin initiative to rewrite our outdated and complicated Land Development Code. The Land Development Code sets requirements for what, where, and how much can be built in Austin.

About CodeNEXT

The new code applies best practices and contemporary tools to help maintain the aspects of Austin we love, while positioning Austin to better address our challenges. The new code provides an alternative to issues brought up in the Code Diagnosis, such as: complicated and inefficient processes and procedures, affordable housing challenges, and regulations that increase car dependency; while carrying forward parts of the old code that work, such as: standards that maintain neighborhood character as well as nationally recognized environmental protections.

Property owners can find and research the new code online, or visit staff in the Development Assistance Center (DAC) at One Texas Center for help regarding specific development questions. However, regulations under the new code will not be effective until after the adoption process.

The criteria manuals are tools that help implement the code and will need to be updated after adoption outside of the CodeNEXT process.

The CodeNEXT project team consists of several City Departments, an Advisory Group made up of community members (CAG), and a consultant team selected by City Council. Visit "Meet the Team." For those with specific questions during the mapping phase, CodeNEXT staff will be hosting weekly office hours. The office hours will allow individuals to sit down with staff members and ask questions or provide comments on the map. In addition, questions can be emailed to codenext@austintexas.gov.

Code 101

Article 10 Compatibility standards and setbacks are incorporated into the individual zoning regulations. Other standards, such as screening, have been incorporated into the overall code. This increases ease of use and predictability by putting all of a particular zone district’s regulations into one place.

CodeNEXT aims to right-size development standards through improved zoning districts. This will help all property owners know and understand what development standards apply not only to their property, but also surrounding properties.

For over 30 years, Austin has protected its natural resources through a number of regulatory measures including stream setbacks, sensitive feature protection, tree protection, stormwater controls, and impervious cover limits. The new code will build upon this solid foundation with measures to enhance the environmental function and resiliency of sites. Current provisions do a good job of cleaning up polluted runoff, but they do not significantly address other important goals such as enhancing creek baseflow and promoting water conservation. The new code will request for sites to reuse their stormwater, which is a big opportunity to do more with rainfall, create more sustainable developments, and take pressure off our water supply lakes. In addition, the new code will require sites performing grading to either protect soils from compaction during construction or restore compacted soils post-construction.

The new code will ask all developments to contribute their fair share to solutions that address threats to public safety and property. This could be achieved through a variety of options including on-site detention, off-site conveyance improvements, and payment-in lieu of drainage improvements. While this will not solve all of Austin’s flooding problems, requiring existing development to provide flood mitigation for redevelopment will reduce flood hazards associated with large storm events and address longstanding problems due to development built without sufficient flood controls and/or drainage conveyance.

Austin’s green infrastructure network includes our parks, the urban forest, urban trails, greenways, rivers, creeks, lakes, gardens, urban agriculture, open spaces, wildlife habitat, and stormwater features that mimic natural hydrology. In addition to protecting this existing network, the new code will work to promote additional green infrastructure and further integrate nature into the city. The new code will distribute landscape elements throughout a site, enhance ecosystem service benefits, foster the beneficial use of stormwater, and capitalize on existing vegetation, trees, soils, and other natural features. In addition, the new Functional Green tool will offer highly urbanized sites a weighted menu of landscape elements that address issues such as urban heat island, stormwater management, habitat loss, and potable water use.

There are no changes proposed to the mobile food vending regulations under the new code.

The new hybrid Land Development Code integrates two types of zoning: Euclidean or use-based zoning, and Transect Zones, which implement form-based standards.

Subchapter F (McMansion) design standards are incorporated into the individual zoning regulations. This increases ease of use and predictability by putting all zoning regulations into one place. Subchapter E (Commercial Design Standards) are incorporated throughout the code. For example, sidewalk standards are moving to the Transportation chapter, while building placement is incorporated into zoning regulations.

Areas that are already zoned with the NCCD overlay will keep their overlay designation. However, the process of creating new NCCDs will not be carried forward or applied to new zoning districts.

Parkland dedication will continue to be required under the ordinance adopted by Council in February of 2016 for areas within the City limits and Limited Purpose areas as well as under Title 30 for areas in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). The Code seeks to improve open spaces in development by requiring larger sites to make the spaces more prominent and user-friendly. These spaces may count toward parkland dedication if they meet the new parkland dedication ordinance standards.

The intent of CodeNEXT is not to upzone properties, but to right-size zoning entitlements based on context and existing policies.

CodeNEXT will maintain Austin’s historic watershed regulations, such as the Save Our Springs Ordinance, as well as the improvements of the Watershed Protection Ordinance adopted by City Council on August 8, 1992.