The City has engaged Fregonese Associaties to refine its Envision Tomorrow scenario tool to assist with modelling for CodeNext. The goal, as I understand it, is for the EnvisionTomorrow tool, when fully refined, to give us a good idea of how different land-use rules will affect the built environment. The tool roughly predicts population, density, VMT, and a host of indicators that planners tend to get excited about.
I'm on the Citizens Advisory Group Working Group charged with vetting the Envision Tomorrow tool. We are receiving a surge of data, charts and maps in response to our requests for more detail.
No complaints here. On the contrary, the City's GIS department (at least I think it's the City's GIS department) has produced some spectaculor maps of late, to wit:
This maps shows where buildings are limited to 30' in height because of their proximity to single family homes. More precisely, it maps the height limits triggered by the "compatibility rules." The compatibility rules say that if a property is zoned SF-5 or more restrictive, or has a use permitted in an SF-5 or more restrictive district, then nearby properties must have their heightss capped, even if the base zoning allow more height. The theory is that single-family homes need all other buildings to be shrunk so they don't look out of place next to the single-family homes. At least I think that's the theory. Austin has a celebrated history of battling large, scary buildings; it could be the compatibility rules simply sprang from the same primal impulse.
The height limit for a structure is two stories and 30 feet, if the structure is 50 feet or less from property that is zoned SF-5 or more restrictive, or contains a single-family use, even if that use occurs in a commercial district. The vast areas shaded red in the map are all places where the buildings are limited to 30' height-- except for single-family homes, which are limited to 32' or 35'. (Does any other city actually require its commercial uses to be shorter than its single-family homes?)