Commercial Parking Changes in CodeNEXT

It’s complicated. Like everything in CodeNEXT. But there may be some good news for local businesses depending on where you are located and how your property is zoned. It will take a bit of research on your part to find what your new parking rules will be but here are some links and information to help you.
CodeNEXT’s changes to parking can be summarized as requiring less parking yet prescriptive in the location of parking spaces.  Some of the specifics, however, are not as straightforward as in today’s code.
Number of Parking Spaces
• Parking requirements are determined by zoning category (check your zoning), size of the retail space, as well as by use.  In contrast, today’s parking is determined by use only.
• Main Street (MS), for example:  Restaurants, retail, offices and bars require no parking if a business (not structure) is smaller than 2,500 sq. ft.  Zilker Neighborhood Association has compiled a helpful chart for all zones.
• If a property lies within a Regional Center zone, it will require no parking.  Regional Centers are indicated on the Imagine Austin map and include downtown.
• In addition, there are maximum parking restrictions for some zones, including developments over 10,000 sf in Main Street (MS).
• Commercial uses are eligible for additional cumulative reductions of up to 40% for reasons such as location in the “urban core,” providing a shower at work or providing additional bicycle parking.
Parking Placement
Placement of parking spaces is very prescriptive.
• Creates requirements for setbacks
• If parking does not meet these requirements then parking is possibly nonconforming although this is not clear like with structures and uses
• Below is an example from the requirements for MS2C.
ADA Parking
If no parking is required, such as for businesses less than 2,500 sf, then ADA parking is not required.  This fact was affirmed by the city’s Legal Department.
This is the third article in a series to help you better understand CodeNEXT.

CodeNEXT Eliminates Grandfathering for Your Business (mostly*)

This is the second in a continuing series on how CodeNEXT might affect your business. Te see how your property is zoned, please see the first article: CodeNEXT will affect local businesses. Here’s what you can do. Austin’s current code includes “safe harbor” provisions that allow structures and uses to be grandfathered even if the new code disallows them. This allows older buildings developed before setback and other requirements to be legal. These “safe harbor” provisions are not included in CodeNEXT.
Instead, CodeNEXT includes:
  • Language that explains how and why structures and uses will become nonconforming.
  • Minimums and sometimes maximums in setbacks, height, parking placement etc.
  • New commercial zones that do not match uses currently on the ground, such as many existing auto-related businesses not allowed in the proposed Main Street (MS) zones.
Below is an example of prescriptive setbacks in Main Street 2B (MS2B) (mapped for parts of South Congress, Lamar and Burnet, among other places)
For instance, if your MS2B zoned property is less than 5’ or more than 10’ from the front property line, it will be nonconforming under CodeNEXT.
In order to figure out if your property will be nonconforming:
1. Look up on the map what the proposed zoning will be under CodeNEXT
2. Examine the corresponding section of the code to find the requirements for setbacks, height, impervious cover, uses, etc.
3. Look at another section of CodeNEXT, 23-4D-5050*, that applies to “narrow interior lots less than 65’ wide” to see if your property is exempt from the setback requirements (so therefore would be grandfathered in setbacks)
4. Measure your property to see if it meets the requirements of the new zoning
The impact of being nonconforming 
  • CodeNEXT itself states that the intent is to “discourage the long-term continuation of nonconformities by limiting investments in them and restricting expansions and alterations”
  • Cannot do additions unless bring entire building into compliance
  • May be more difficult to get loans
We all know local business is, by nature, nonconforming and it’s a good thing. But this nonconforming is not a good thing. Shaping how our city looks and functions is an important and crucial endeavor. Getting rid of local business properties because they don’t conform to new ideas is an unfolding tragedy. Added to the alreay in full swing unaffordable Austin and we’re making it harder and harder for local business to just survive.
Please take the time to see how this affects your business and communicate your concerns with the City Council directly by email (http://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members).

CodeNEXT will affect local businesses. Here’s what you can do

CodeNEXT has been much debated. AIBA has not taken a position on this but we do think there are a few things you should know about. City Council plans to vote on first reading on June 13th, with second and third readings in August.  Please take the time to see how this affects your business and communicate your concerns with the City Council directly by email (http://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members). CodeNEXT will affect local businesses although the changes to residential have overshadowed the impact Austin’s code rewrite will have on commercial properties.
Top Six Changes in CodeNEXT

1. No “safe harbor” provision for structures and uses, meaning a number of commercial properties will become nonconforming. This meand your property won’t be “Grandfathered” in under existing code.  (More on this in an upcoming blog)

2. No direct translation from current zoning to proposed zoning

3. CodeNEXT is more complex and less intuitive with 58 zoning categories as compared to our current 39. (See map link below)

5. More discretion given to city staff. This means city staff will be determining seciding factors instead of the code.

6. Parking requirements
• Decreased (for the most part), eliminated and sometimes assigned maximums
• ADA parking not mandatory if parking not required
• Placement of parking is prescriptive. (More on this in an upcoming blog)

What does this mean for our local businesses?

1. Businesses could become nonconforming and expected to be redeveloped
2. Increased property taxes through increased entitlements (More on this in an upcoming blog)
3. More time-consuming
     • Understanding the CodeNEXT zoning applied to your business and your commercial district is complicated
     • Interpreting new categories and rules that are not straightforward
4. Unpredictability and confusion
To find out what is proposed for your business, look at this map for zoning then look at this uses chart for what will be allowed.  Also see this unrevised* table for building dimensions that includes a comparison with current zoning. This is complicated but understand that grandfathering will no longer protect your business. It also enables substantial new developement as existing businesses that no longer comply with the new code may not be able to repair or grow without coming into full compliance. In many cases this will be financially impossible.
*Does not include changes made after draft 3 released.