Here it is. I will be posting my comments here for what they're worth. At 1,160 pages, the draft will take a while to work through.
This is a "hybrid" code. The suburban parts of the city will continue to be regulated by traditional Euclidian zoning. The urban core will be regulated by a form-based code -- that is, parcels will be assigned to different "transects," each of which has a specific suite of permitted building types, lot sizes, building frontage types, yard setbacks, and other form regulations.
We are in for a contentious few months. This draft has some obvious problems. The form regulations are too specific and too complicated. The downtown regulations are a mess. The draft defers unconditionally to neighborhood plans. It's unclear which of the new regulations will apply within neighborhood planning areas, which is a big deal since most of the urban core lies within a neighborhood planning area.
One of the draft's undeniably good proposals, though, is to open up almost all land within the urban core to residential development of some sort. I count twenty-one transect zones, including "sub-zones." All but one of these -- Transect Zone T-4 Main Street -- allow residential dwellings of some sort as a matter of right.
That's what Austin's zoning regulations used to allow. Until 1984, Austin had cumulative zoning, which allows single-family in multi-family zones and multi-family in commercial zones. Some of our housing supply problems can be traced back to 1984, when we switched to non-cumulative zoning for commercial properties. This put most commercially-zoned land off limits for residential development. This forced multi-family developers either to max out multi-family lots or seek time-consuming and costly zoning changes.
The last few years' explosion in development on our transit corridors is mostly due to the mixed-use and vertical mixed-use rezonings the city has adopted over the last ten years (as well as the University Neighborhood Overlay). Most of what is being built today is now being built as a matter of right rather than as a consequence of a specific zoning change. There is still is a lot of land zoned purely for commercial uses in the urban core, so we can do a lot of for our multi-family housing market good just by re-opening up this land to by-right development.