Daniel Reese for KUT News

A fight pitting affordable housing against neighborhood quality is headed to the Austin City Council.

Austin’s Planning Commission is recommending a reduction in the number of unrelated adults allowed to live together in single-family homes: the maximum would fall from six down to four.

Last night’s action was in response to complaints that neighborhoods were suffering from what opponents call “stealth dorms.”

Seattle Department of Planning & Development

Micro-units – apartments of 500 square feet or less – might be Austin's next big building trend.

As the city's population continues to climb, troubles have mounted with providing affordable housing. To address the issue, the Austin City Council is asking the city manager to study the feasibility of micro-unit projects.

"Micro-units will allow people to live closer to downtown at a more affordable cost," says council member Bill Spelman.

A City of Austin employee is suspected of taking bribes to expedite permit requests.

The Austin American-Statesman reports a city employee, Edward D. Vigil, is suspected of taking $200 payments from parties seeking to have their construction permits approved, in the midst of a months-long backlog at the city. The backlog was finally cleared in April of this year.


The City Council adopted the Downtown Austin Plan in late 2011. With it, the council OK’d what’s called the Downtown Density Bonus Program. It basically says that developers who want to build more densely than the standards allow would have to offer certain community benefits: things like on-site affordable housing or a paying into a fund for affordable housing elsewhere.

But nearly a year and a half later, Austin’s still waiting on specific guidelines for the Density Bonus Program.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

An admittedly wonky but far-reaching undertaking at the City of Austin is getting started – and the question of lobbyists’ roles in what happens next is putting pressure on the Austin City Council.

All development in Austin is governed by city code – zoning, land uses and just about everything conceivable in the built environment. The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan – the recently-passed blueprint for the city’s long-term growth – calls for a revision of the city’s dense, endlessly-amended development code, and in December the council obliged. Late last year, it passed a resolution calling for an 11-member advisory group to craft changes and revisions to the code.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

At a marathon meeting that stretched early into Wednesday morning, Austin’s Planning Commission recommended new regulations for short-term rentals – properties that homeowners offer for rent on sites like HomeAway and VRBO.com.

Short-term rentals are increasingly popular over events like South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, with Austin visitors choosing to rent area homes instead of staying in hotels. But the growth in short-term rentals hasn’t been applauded by all.

Those pushing to regulate short-term rentals argue they can be detrimental to neighborhoods, and have considered regulating them as commercial rather than residential properties. Homeowners that rent out their homes and companies that depend on their business – like Austin-based HomeAway – argue too much regulation will drive the market underground, giving aggrieved neighbors even less options for dealing with bad actors.