One of my responsibilities as a member of the Citizens' Advisory Group for the Land Development Code rewrite is to gather public input to share with other CAG members, staff and the consultants. One topic in which I'm particularly interested is garage apartments and alley flats -- "secondary apartments" or "two-family residential use" in Code parlance.
I'd like to hear about the obstacles experienced by homeowners and developers who have tried to build them. It can be hard to tell just by reading the LDC what the real barriers are to a particular form of development. For example, I've heard from a number of people that the requirement that the secondary unit be served by a paved driveway can be a real problem, and not just because of the added expense -- sometimes there's no way to squeeze a driveway between the principal dwelling and the lot line. I've heard the parking requirement can be a problem, particularly when the principal dwelling lacks off-street parking and staff requires the owner to add off-street parking for both the secondary unit and the principal dwelling. Austin Water apparently sometimes requires the owner to replace the service line to the principal dwelling before a certificate of occupancy can be issued for the secondary unit. These sorts of obstacles aren't immediately obvious just by reading the Code. And the LDC rewrite consultants can't recommend solutions to problems they don't know about.
So if you've recently added or tried to add a secondary unit, please shoot me an email and copy email@example.com. Give me a brief idea of where your property is, your lot size, what you were trying to build, whether you were successful, and a brief summary of the problems you faced. Please be aware, however, that I'm not seeking to embroil myself, the CAG or the consultants in a live dispute with city staff. Accordingly, I'm limiting this request to people who have either (i) completed their garage apartments/alley flats or (ii) tried but given up after concluding they faced insurmountable expenses or obstacles.