Small lot amnesty tool : evaluating potential population growth benefits and costs in Austin, Texas




Garner, Brianna

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This study examines the Small Lot Amnesty tool, an infill tool option for single-family neighborhoods in Austin, Texas. After the tool’s misuse and a heated public discussion, City Council chose to close the developer loophole that many argued did not meet the tool’s original intent. The study quantifies potential population growth benefits and costs if the City Council voted the other way, allowing the tool to disaggregate small lots and build multiple homes on what was once only one house. The findings reveal many population growth benefits, such as increased children enrollment into the local school system, but also expose the challenges of such growth, including increased water runoff due to increased impervious cover. Recommendations are made for the City of Austin and City Council to consider, including a public dialogue and outreach participatory program to gather citizen’s input, future research opportunities to better understand the tool’s potential and issues, and reducing the minimum lot size standards for Single-Family development in Austin.


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