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Austin Housing Size Limits


Guest danax

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Guest danax

Article link here.

This is not new news but I just heard about it. Atlanta passed a similar ordinance but it was later overturned due to it being unfair to builders/property owners in the specific neighborhoods that the law covered, so the same thing could happen in Austin.

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I travel to Austin a few times a year and I must say that I miss the quaint charming Austin. The housing market has exploded there in the past few years and has drastically changed this city. While driving through the outskirts, I was amazed at the monstrosities that were being built to feed the the egos of the new home owner. Even here in Houston, while driving through West University I've seen several homes swallow up the next home/property just to have a bigger home with a huge playground/pool/backyard. Too many McMansions taking over IMO! Well, that's my two cents!

Article link here.

This is not new news but I just heard about it. Atlanta passed a similar ordinance but it was later overturned due to it being unfair to builders/property owners in the specific neighborhoods that the law covered, so the same thing could happen in Austin.

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Oh no! Shade being replaced by...more shade. Neighborhood outraged at the loss of...shade... :blink:

I guess I would prefer a tree hanging over my property as opposed to someone's three story monstrosity...i guess all i have to say is thank goodness for really tall bamboo which i will be planting if a mcmansion is built next to my little one story..

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Well, I guess anyone who wants a true McMansion can still move to the suburbs. :)

I'm always of two minds about these kind of things. I understand that people want to preserve the look and feel of their neighborhoods, but I think in some cases that may restrict neighborhood improvement. An example is West U, where huge houses have been shoved into small lots and loom over the remaining bungalows. On the other hand, Montrose I think is much improved by all the new townhouses. Maybe a compromise would be to allow neighborhoods to vote to implement zoning/deed restrictions. Since Houston already has legally defined super-neighborhoods, could this work at that level?

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I tend to think Montrose has been destroyed by the new townhomes. Not so much by the actual townhomes themselves but rather by the designs that are allowed to fly in Houston. Imposing front facing garages, large ten foot front fences, and massive driveways have replaced trees, front porches, and a built environment that encouraged neighborhood interaction.

While there are some great new townhome projects out there that were built to welcome the street, far too many were built like fortresses to keep folks OUT.

It's amazing to me to see that despite the increased housing density, the street life in most of the residential neighborhoods has virtually disappeared. I guess it's because most people just DRIVE right into their garage never to be seen again until they back out the next morning.

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I tend to think Montrose has been destroyed by the new townhomes. Not so much by the actual townhomes themselves but rather by the designs that are allowed to fly in Houston. Imposing front facing garages, large ten foot front fences, and massive driveways have replaced trees, front porches, and a built environment that encouraged neighborhood interaction.

While there are some great new townhome projects out there that were built to welcome the street, far too many were built like fortresses to keep folks OUT.

It's amazing to me to see that despite the increased housing density, the street life in most of the residential neighborhoods has virtually disappeared. I guess it's because most people just DRIVE right into their garage never to be seen again until they back out the next morning.

Have to agree wtih you on this. Montrose has definitely been affected negatively. Even just going to restaurants, now there are too many families with children. It is becoming more mainstream and its "eclecticness" is fading quickly unfortunately.

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Guest danax
Maybe a compromise would be to allow neighborhoods to vote to implement zoning/deed restrictions. Since Houston already has legally defined super-neighborhoods, could this work at that level?

Neighborhoods can impose deed restrictions that could restrict housing in many ways; height/number of stories, square footage, percentage of lot filled, architectural style...as far as I understand there is really no limit, other than existing laws, as to how a neighborhood can restrict change. It just takes a lot of grass-roots effort and time, and some money, to get the deed restrictions amended and even more of all of that if there were none to begin with. I know the original deed restrictions where I live, which have long expired, only mentioned the minimum square footage permitted, so there was more worry then about someone building a shack than a mansion.

The system in Houston has given the power to determine the future of a neighborhood to the people, and we can see by the local development patterns which neighborhoods have taken measures to preserve what they have and which ones haven't.

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The system in Houston has given the power to determine the future of a neighborhood to the people, and we can see by the local development patterns which neighborhoods have taken measures to preserve what they have and which ones haven't.
Are you referring to deed restrictions? Can they be re-created after they have expired? Do neighborhoods define themselves for this? I'm curious as to why, say, the Heights wouldn't take advantage of this.
I tend to think Montrose has been destroyed by the new townhomes. Not so much by the actual townhomes themselves but rather by the designs that are allowed to fly in Houston. Imposing front facing garages, large ten foot front fences, and massive driveways have replaced trees, front porches, and a built environment that encouraged neighborhood interaction.

While there are some great new townhome projects out there that were built to welcome the street, far too many were built like fortresses to keep folks OUT.

It's amazing to me to see that despite the increased housing density, the street life in most of the residential neighborhoods has virtually disappeared. I guess it's because most people just DRIVE right into their garage never to be seen again until they back out the next morning.

I guess it is a question of whether people really want street life and neighborhood interaction. I'm not sure they do. I think in the Montrose they want to keep street life/crime out and maintain a fortress appearance. Under the circumstances it may be a rational choice.

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Are you referring to deed restrictions? Can they be re-created after they have expired? Do neighborhoods define themselves for this? I'm curious as to why, say, the Heights wouldn't take advantage of this.

I guess it is a question of whether people really want street life and neighborhood interaction. I'm not sure they do. I think in the Montrose they want to keep street life/crime out and maintain a fortress appearance. Under the circumstances it may be a rational choice.

Deed restrictions are the only protection a neighborhood can have with respect to what is built in the area. Deed restrictions can be reenacted in areas where they have lapsed. But it takes a LOT of work and you only have one yr to do it once you've filed paperwork saying that you are starting the process. You have to get each property owner to sign. NO renters, leasers, etc. Depending on the percentage you're going for (all the specifics are definited in the texas property code) and the process you're using, different things must be completed within the yrs time frame. Also depending on the percentage, properties can opt out as well.

any neighborhood can take advantage but it is a tedious process esp when you have a lot of residents who don't care. You have to go door to door and get signatures from home/property owners in the neighborhood. My old neighborhood successful completed the transition but it took a lot of work and only a relatively few people helped. That is why most neighborhood's efforts are not successful. The smaller the neighborhood the better cause there are less signatures required.

Of course you ahve to be careful at what you put in the restrictions as well. We actually increased side setbacks cause people were complaining that new, large houses were too close to property lines. We went from 5 to 10 ft. The old restrictions actually had a minimum cubic ft which was NOT useful and we added minimum square ft instead.

One thing that many neighborhoods try and do is make civc club/association dues mandatory in the updated deed restrictions. It CAN be done, but with existing neighborhoods it is usually too difficult to get the neighborhood's support. I can think of 3 neighborhoods who tried that tactic and failed.

another thing that is essential, having enough notary publics. Each signature you obtain has to be certified on the spot.

also make sure and put a perpetual clause in the updated restrictions so that yours will never lapse.

I'll bet just filing paper work cost us at least 2000 and that was 10 yrs ago. Most small neighborhoods dont have the money necessary either.

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I guess it is a question of whether people really want street life and neighborhood interaction. I'm not sure they do. I think in the Montrose they want to keep street life/crime out and maintain a fortress appearance. Under the circumstances it may be a rational choice.

I can't speak to the rationality, but I'd definitely think that there's something to this theory.

When you don't have a yard to keep, afterall, where's the motivation to ever descend from your three-story stucco-clad bunker if not to drive to the Starbucks around the corner?

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http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headli...ro/3995687.html

Sure, it's not 100% perfect, but it at least shows someone is paying attention.

To answer question.. NO this will not happen in Houston. A subdividision using deep restrictions can and will happen. A city with no commercial zoning most likely is not going down this path.

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