So here’s my hypothesis: the State of Texas prohibiting Austin from regulating tree removal will be more impactful to increasing residential density than CodeNEXT… by an order of magnitude.
There are countless lots in Central Austin with only one dwelling, entirely because of trees. There are many reasons for the lack of density, but trees are one of them. Lots zoned SF-3 that are large enough for ADUs or duplexes are often written off as infeasible by owners and builders when they discover there is a tree or critical root zone complicating the process.
RT if you agree. pic.twitter.com/VDKZQpo0En
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) July 3, 2017
To be clear, I’m not advocating chopping down trees in any way, so kindly put your shirt back on. Trees are paramount in Austin’s history. The image of scorched earth development – clear cutting fields of trees – to create room for sprawl should make reasonable people flinch.
Even if Abbott is successful, Austin can craft new policies to mitigate the State’s rebuke. Pragmatic city leaders have power to incentivize tree preservation, and certain incentives could even lead to greater density in Central Austin. Here are four ideas to start with:
For example, Austin could permit you to build a few feet taller, or allow additional area for an ADU, etc, on the condition that you agree to preserve the trees on your lot.
The State might have the power to remove the City’s sticks, but the City still has an infinite supply of carrots.
p.s. Checkout Defend Texas Trees if you’d like to learn more about protecting local tree ordinances.