The City's Neighborhood Planning Process

In 1977 the City adopted the Austin Tomorrow Plan as our comprehensive plan; then in 1997 the City Council began the neighborhood planning (NP) process to update the comprehensive plan for the urban core, neighborhood by neighborhood. The NP process brings together neighborhood residents, businesses, institutions, and the city staff in an inclusive effort to create a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood. The City has completed 23 neighborhood plans to date, and no two plans are the same. The Zilker area will start neighborhood planning this winter.

To learn what our community wants, the City will be inviting you to various workshops and focus groups throughout 2005 and sending you its own standard survey form. ZNA urges you to watch for these opportunities to learn about neighborhood planning and to help shape our future. Your participation is critically important to the success of the plan. If you would like to get an early start, contact Lorraine Atherton and join the ZNA neighborhood planning committee.

ZNA Neighborhood Planning Survey

The Zilker Neighborhood Association (ZNA) is a group of about 200 residents who have organized to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. In our bylaws, this encompasses "land use, environmental protection, public services, consumer protection, preservation of historic and unique character of the community; to provide support in other matters of neighborhood concern; and to promote and participate in the civic life of the city." To fulfill this charge and to be an effective advocate for the neighborhood's future, our association needs to know what your hopes are for the neighborhood and your vision of our future.

We need to hear from you.

The following survey is intended to help us define some crucial neighborhood characteristics and to find out what the neighbors think about them before the formal planning process begins. We also hope to conduct surveys on other planning topics (such as transportation and walkability) in 2005. This survey is being distributed with the ZNA quarterly newsletter to more than 2,500 households, and the responses to this survey will be used to inform our position on these important topics. Your input is very important. We hope you will take a few minutes to answer these questions and return the survey.

Survey Instructions

The following survey contains nine questions focusing on land use, density, and the future of South Lamar. You may answer as many or as few questions as you like; all your responses will be counted. There is space at the end of the survey for your own comments. For more information, send your questions to, or phone Lorraine Atherton (447-7681).

Please bring your completed survey with you to the ZNA meeting on October 25, or mail it to the association at: ZNA, P.O. Box 33546, Austin TX 78764-0546. To mail the survey, remove it from the newsletter, fold it so that the ZNA address appears on the outside, staple, and affix a postage stamp in the corner indicated.

Thanks for your participation
ZNA Executive Committee
[or it could be signed by ZNA Neighborhood Planning Committee]

Neighborhood Character

The character of our neighborhood is the result of many factors. The types of housing, the kinds of streets, the trees and other natural features, all play a part in defining what the Zilker neighborhood is. Land use and density (people per acre) are important elements of neighborhood character, and they are central to the city's formal planning process. The area of the neighborhood is 745 acres, and in the 2000 Census our total population is 5,936, including all residents of single and multifamily housing, for a density of approximately 8 people per acre. The citywide density for Austin is approximately 4 people per acre; of the neighborhoods that have completed the formal planning process, the densest is Hyde Park, with approximately 10 people per acre.

1. Proportion of neighborhood zoning.

In our neighborhood 63% of the land area is zoned residential (single family and multifamily). The remainder, 37%, is commercial or other zoning. As we consider the mix of residential and commercial uses over the next 20 years,
A. should the residential percentage be increased?
B. should the residential percentage remain the same?
C. should the residential percentage be reduced?
D. Don't know.

2. Proportion of types of residential zoning.

Of the residentially zoned areas of our neighborhood, 83% (52% of the total area) is zoned single family and 17% is zoned for multifamily. As we consider the mix of single-family and multifamily housing over the next 20 years,
A. should the amount of single-family zoning be reduced and multifamily increased?
B. should the proportion of single-family to multifamily zoning remain the same?
C. should the amount of single-family zoning be increased and multifamily reduced?
D. Don't know.

3. What aspects of neighborhood character would you be willing to change to allow more people to live here?

4. Capacity of current zoning.

It is estimated that if all residential properties in the neighborhood were fully utilized at their current zoning, we could accommodate about 3,000 more people in the neighborhood. Although it is unlikely that all properties would be built out to their maximum, the resulting density would be just over 12 people per acre, or an increase of 50%. If you had the opportunity to change the neighborhood's zoning, would you
A. allow for more intense zoning (single family to multifamily, commercial to mixed use, etc.) to increase our density?
B. limit the additional density that can be accommodated in the neighborhood to that which is possible within our current zoning and focus on better utilization of our current zoning capacity?
C. reduce the potential additional density of the neighborhood by implementing zoning changes (down zoning) that would limit further density in the neighborhood?
D. Other

5. If density is added beyond the extra 3,000 people,

how would you prefer to add it?

A. Convert some single-family zones to multifamily.
Don't know

B. Convert some commercial zones to residential.
Don't know

C. Add residential uses to existing commercial property (mixed use zoning).
Don't know

D. Increase the capacity of existing low-density multifamily (max. height of 40 ft. with max. impervious cover of 55%) to higher-density multifamily (max. height of 50 ft. and max. impervious cover of 80%).
Don't know

E. Allow more housing units in our existing single-family areas by, for instance, relaxing setbacks, increasing impervious cover, permitting higher buildings, or creating smaller lots.
Don't know

F. Other/comment.

6. Covenants and zoning.

Our neighborhood is a collection of about 175 different subdivisions, each of which may have separate covenants defining the limitations on development of the lots in that subdivision. These covenants are attached to deeds as part of the contract between the seller and buyer. They may contain provisions such as limiting the lot to one residence, additional setback requirements, and prohibition of certain uses. Sometimes, however, the City of Austin zoning is in conflict with a covenant (for instance, the zoning allows three stories but the covenant limits structures to two stories). Since the City does not enforce covenants, if a violation of a covenant occurs, the only remedy is a lawsuit between neighbors.
Should conflicts between proposed zoning and legal covenants be noted in our neighborhood plan?
No comment

Neighborhood Infrastructure

Development and density in our neighborhood are limited by our infrastructure, elements of the built environment such as streets, the water and wastewater system, and the drainage utility. Parts of that infrastructure are nearing their capacity in the Zilker area. For example: The city's estimates of sewer capacity in our neighborhood would indicate that our existing sewer system can handle about 2500 more people, which is close to the projected population increase of 3000 people mentioned in earlier questions. The system, however, is divided into six separate service areas, and the areas with unused sewer capacity do not match the high-density zoning areas. In fact, our largest service area (west of South Lamar from Barton Skyway to Hether), is operating at 99% capacity and, theoretically, can handle only 60 more people.

7. How would you approach the question of infrastructure capacity?

Directing new population into parts of the neighborhood that have available infrastructure capacity is
Very Important
Moderately Important
Low Priority
Not important at all
Don't know(need more information)

Updating our aging infrastructure now (rather than waiting for it to reach full capacity) is
Very Important
Moderately Important
Low Priority
Not important at all
Don't know(need more information)

8. Cost of infrastructure improvements.

Additional development and density may require improvements to our streets, sewer, and drainage capacity, which would require additional funding to build. If our infrastructure needs to be augmented to handle growth, how should it be funded?
A. Taxpayers (through capital improvement bonds, property taxes, and utility rates)
B. Developers (through capital recovery fees)
C. combination of A and B

9. Character of South Lamar.

South Lamar Boulevard is designated a MAD-4 (4-lane divided arterial, as it is now) in the City of Austin's long-range transportation plan. CAMPO, our regional planning agency, has designated it a MAD-6, which would add a lane in each direction and a center median or turn lane. The right-of-way would have to be increased to 130 feet, which would mean tearing down more than 35 buildings and removing the front parking from another 97 businesses.
Should South Lamar be widened?

What do you like most about the neighborhood?

What do you like least about the neighborhood?

Respondent information

[needs better heading]

1. Please indicate all that apply.

Type of Resident:
Resident: HomeOwner
Resident: Rent
nonResident: Own_property
nonResident: Work in Neighborhood

Tenure of Resident:
less than 5 years
5 to 10 years
10 to 25 years
more than 25 years

Type of Business Ownership:
If you are responding for a business, do you
own business and building
Own business, lease building
Manage the business
Work in the business

Distance Home to Work:
For Residents and Business Workers:
0-work at homes
5- less than five miles(8km)
6 to 15 miles
more than 15 miles
unknownable - does not apply How far do you commute to your business from your home?
Please indicate your approximate location on the neighborhood map to the right.
A1 A2 A3
B1 B2 B3
C1 C2 C3
D1 D2 D3