Development-Environmental Services

2017 Year in Review


Development Services

Provides excellent customer in a high-quality, positive, timely and facilitative manner to the Austin community to build a better Austin.
  • Conducted first ever comprehensive review of Department’s fee structure and amounts, aligning them with true cost of service and contracted with a consultant to create a Cost Recovery Fee Calculator, an automated tool that can be used in future years to ensure proper cost recovery through fees.
  • Performed over 297,000 inspections ensuring compliance with code requirements and life safety regulations.
  • Issued over 60,000 building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing permits in the Service Center.
  • Deployed 119 new Panasonic tablets to DSD inspectors.
  • Added 13 application types available for Electronic Plan Review.
  • Began a program to distribute 4,500 trees to Austin residents, plant thousands of seedlings along banks of waterways, and provide tree care, safety, and stewardship training to City of Austin staff, landscape professionals, and community members. 
Austin skyline
Customer Service
  • Launched an online resource, PermittingATX.com, for homeowners as a user-friendly navigational tool for the most frequently used permitting services (sheds, interior remodels, and decks).
  • Launched the Expedited Plan Review process accelerating the building plan review and permitting process for qualified projects. 

Economic Development

The City of Austin Economic Development Department (EDD) develops and leads innovative programs that increase the prosperity of Austin’s citizens, our businesses, and our diverse neighborhoods.
Serving as a national urban mixed-income model, the 700-acre Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Redevelopment “Mueller” has completed more than 40% of its public-private partnership, including 2,579 homes (679 affordable); 1.86 million sq. ft. of commercial and retail, and 90 acres of public parks open to the public.
Mueller Mixed Use Neighborhood
  • Formed public-private partnership and performance-based investment agreement which will create 600 jobs over a 10-year period, with average salary wages of $84,586 a year, with Merck to land the pharmaceutical giant’s new US-based IT Hub that will be focused on digital health and information technology solutions.
  • Facilitated a public and stakeholder outreach process to more than 550 contacts plus 75 presentations that yielded more than 2,500 comments over a six-month period. The comments  were used to update the City’s Economic Development Policy.
  • First in the nation to host the Alibaba Real Time Pitch Session event that broadcasts 12 businesses into China. This outbound activity has already resulted in $52M in investment in Austin and 13,000 Alibaba shop owners scouting out Austin based consumer packaged goods companies.
  • First City department to launch Facebook Live outreach strategy, in partnership with ATXN, to more than 10,000 followers to promote resource awareness and industry-wide collaboration between the City, musicians, music industry professionals, and music related businesses. This example has set the stage to be replicated across the organization.
  • Provided a grand total of 7,402 hours of training and coaching to 1,150 individuals, achieving a 93.5 percent overall satisfaction rating, including one-on-one business coaching services and 143 business training classes.
  • Partnered with the University of Texas IC2 Institute to deliver FastForward, a ten-week small business accelerator program for established businesses seeking to grow.  A total of 33 small businesses participated in FastForward in 2017, of whom 85% were women- or minority-owned, with 28 graduating.
Cultural Arts
Cultural Arts
Awarded $11 million in cultural funding to more than 500 contractors, attracting nearly five million audience members and supporting nearly 3,000 full and part-time jobs within the arts community; these contracts leveraged a total of $83,897,594 in additional cash expenses, or over nine times the amount of City funding provided.

Neighborhood Housing & Community Development

Provides housing, community and small business development services to benefit eligible residents so they can have access to livable neighborhoods and increase their opportunities for self-sufficiency.
  • Developed Austin’s Strategic Housing Blueprint, which was adopted by City Council and sets a goal to create 60,000 housing units over the next 10 years for households earning less than 80 percent of the median family income. The Blueprint establishes five community values and includes more than 50 policy initiatives and community partnerships to improve affordable housing.
  • Launched the Resources for Renters website as a central location for multiple tools and programs to help renters find safe, fair, and affordable housing. The site addresses clients’ needs to find rental housing, work with landlords, obtain assistance with utilities, know their legal rights as renters, and secure transitional housing assistance.
  • Expanded the City’s Community Land Trust program to enable eligible Austin residents to purchase a home and lease the land. Fifteen homes have been purchased thus far through this crucial tool in providing long-term affordable housing in Austin, particularly in gentrifying areas.
  • Created a new www.HousingOurSurvivors.com website to connect Hurricane Harvey survivors in need of housing with available apartments in the Austin area. The partnership with the Austin Apartment Association, Austin 3-1-1, and Communications and Technology Management also assisted in locating temporary housing for people at the FEMA mega-shelter.
  • Named by U.S. Conference of Mayors for effectively using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for housing. CDBG Works: How Mayors Put CDBG to Work noted that Austin administered $7.3 million in CDBG funding for services, including emergency home repairs and affordable housing for low-income families and persons with disabilities.
  • Exceeded the Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA) program goals by 25 percent through completion of three 9 percent tax credit developments—one targeting individuals at risk of homelessness, and two assisting low-income working families.  Leveraging City resources meant that each dollar of RHDA funding (federal or non-federal) helped secure seven dollars in other funding.
  • Fostered collaboration among public, nonprofit, and private sector partners to create or preserve 274 affordable rental units, provide 609 repair services, assist 421 potential home buyers with financial empowerment; and provide assistance with child care, elderly services and youth services to 709 eligible households. This information is included in the City’s Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER).
  • Continued developing the Affordable Housing Inventory (AHI) to track key outcomes of City of Austin programs, incentives, and regulations to create and preserve affordable housing. The inventory is posted to the City’s Open Data Portal and includes information about income-restricted housing units subsidized or incentivized by the City. The department also created an online map and list with contact information for people to locate affordable rental housing opportunities.

Planning and Zoning

Provide planning, preservation and design services to make Austin the most livable city in the country. The City of Austin is committed to improving the experience of residents, small businesses, developers and other stakeholders needing these services.

Open Data

Launched the web-based Imagine Austin Indicator Dashboard through the City’s Open Data Portal to share the results and analysis of the 41 Imagine Austin indicators, which measure progress towards the outcomes defined by the community in the comprehensive plan.
  • Developed the Imagine Austin Year Five Progress Report demonstrating progress made, challenges faced, and lessons learned from the eight interdepartmental priority programs since the comprehensive plan’s adoption in 2012 and presented it to the city manager’s executive team, land use commissions, and City Council.
  • Released the 2016 Small Area Plan Implementation Annual Report in April 2017, for areas in neighborhood plans, master plans, station area plans, and corridor plans. Of the 5,032 adopted small area plan recommendations as of December 2017, 2,036 were completed or are on-going.
  • Completed construction of Great Streets improvements for 21.5 downtown block faces within the Great Streets Development Program boundaries.
  • Released the first draft of text for the new land development code (CodeNEXT) in January 2017, released the initial draft zoning map in April 2017, released a second draft of the text and map in September 2017 and released the third draft of the text and map in February 2018. Hosted more than 20 significant outreach events in the community to inform on various elements of the draft map.  Provided one-on-one support to individual stakeholders through staff office hours, and solicited additional public input through interactive web-based commenting tools on specific text language and properties keyed to an interactive map.  Coordinated with multiple commissions and the City Council to keep them informed and support their review of the draft land development code and map.
  • Facilitated the annexation of 1,238 acres and 3,300 people into the City limits.
  • Processed 145 zoning cases and presented them to various City commissions and the City Council.
  • The Historic Preservation Office recommended designation for 10 historic landmarks, including the Driskill Hotel.
2017 AWARDS
  • South Central Waterfront
    • American Society of Landscape Architects-Texas Chapter: 2017 Honor Award for Planning and Analysis
    • American Planning Association: 2017 National Excellence in Sustainability for Urban Design Plan
CodeNEXT LIVE
During the month of January 2018, The CodeNEXT communications team, partnering with ATXN, held four Facebook Live shows to answer questions about CodeNEXT priorities. In the show, Aly Van Dyke with the Communications and Public Information Office sat down with CodeNEXT planners from various departments to interview them about their areas of expertise.
Shot from CodeNEXT live

Real Estate Services

Practices exceptional stewardship on behalf of the citizens of the City of Austin. We achieve this by exercising diligence and expertise, and ensuring that all capital matters with real estate interests are conducted with the utmost efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism.  Our goal is to provide quality real estate services including the acquisition of real property in fee simple and easement interest, appraisal services, leasing and property management services, land management and flood buyouts.
  • Created an innovative way to replace aging facilities which is significantly cheaper and faster with the coordination of Financial Services and Building Services. This methodology is already being adopted by other government entities.  
  • Relocated 15 tenants of the Orchard Plaza to ensure tenants of an apartment complex with multiple code violations were relocated to safe and sanitary replacement housing.  
  • Facilitated the MegaShelter at 7000 Metropolis Drive lease and sublease of approximately 160,000 square feet to provide a temporary shelter facility for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The lease and sublease were negotiated, approved by Council and executed within five days. Staff assisted with setting-up and maintaining the property.

Best Managed

Managed the acquisition and relocation of more than 56 residential properties in the 25-year and 100-year floodplains as part of the Onion Creek and Williamson Creek Floodplain Buyout Projects.
  • Negotiation of property and improvements to provide office space for Development related departments, to house a “one stop shop”-the new Planning Development Center, for all of the City’s development-related regulatory functions. The building will have the first water mining sewer system in Austin.  
  • Processed 237 applications for use of right-of-way under License Agreements, Encroachment Agreements, Easement Releases and Vacations. Completed 182 of the 237 applications. 
  • Acquired the HealthSouth property at 1215 Red River Street, which includes a 62 space parking garage at 606 East 12th Street.  Acquired the property to allow the City to repurpose or redevelop the combined site and share in the future development of the Northeast District of Downtown. 
  • Selected by Austin Independent School District, through their surplus real estate Request for Proposal, for two properties which have closed and been transferred to Austin Housing Finance Corporation and are slated for affordable housing projects overseen by Neighborhood Housing & Community Development.

Sustainability Office

Provides leadership, influences positive action through engagement, and creates measurable benefits for Austin by achieving net-zero communitywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a healthy and just local food system, resource efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, a resilient and adaptive city.
  • Collaborated with a diverse team of asset and facilities managers, engineers, and planners from multiple departments to develop a Climate Resilience Assessment and Action Plan for City of Austin Assets and Operations that is designed to increase the City’s resilience to extreme weather events and climate change.
  • Added 39 companies to the Austin Green Business Leaders program, bringing the total to 214 member businesses that represent nearly 40,000 employees and more than 15,000,000 square feet of office space.
  • Published the 2017 Sustainability Key Performance Indicators Report Card for municipal operations which showed that performance goals for City of Austin operations were met or exceeded in six out of ten sustainability categories. The data continues to be reported on the City’s Open Data Portal.
  • Formed a partnership with the Center for Good Food Purchasing, Austin Independent School District, University of Texas Office of Sustainability, and Austin Convention Center to pilot the Good Food Purchasing Program, which leverages large-scale institutional food purchasing to increase demand for local food that is produced sustainably.
  • Unveiled a self-guided audio walking tour of the Seaholm EcoDistrict as part of the TravelStorys mobile app, which highlights key sustainability points of interest such as Electric Drive, Soofa Solar Benches, the Shoal Creek Restoration and Trail, and the new Central Library.
  • Reached 14,028 people at community events with educational information about sustainability and climate change, as well as 696,797 individuals through web-based communications channels.
2017 AWARDS
  • Farm-to-Plate Sustainable Food Changemaker Award, Sustainable Food Center
  • Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, Special Mention Award for Social and Economic Equity for the Austin Healthy Food Access Initiative
  • MarCom Platinum Award for the Climate Change in Austin Video
  • AVA Digital Platinum Award for the Climate Change in Austin Video
  • Austin Green Awards, Electric Drive Solar Kiosk and Charging Stations Project in the Seaholm EcoDistrict (project led by Austin Energy)
  • Architectural Digest, Austin is #1 Greenest City in America (https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/greenest-cities-in-america-are-models-for-cleaner-future)

Student Showcase

Awarded 47 Bright Green Future grants to elementary, middle, and high school sustainability projects. 14,150 students implemented these projects, which saved 310,000 gallons of water, produced 9,100 pounds of vegetables, diverted 41% of campus waste from landfills, and resulted in 31,653 miles traveled by bicycle instead of by car.
Mayor poses with Bright Green Future students

Watershed Protection

Protects lives, property and the environment of the community by reducing the impact of flooding, erosion and water pollution.
Emma Long Stabilization
Stabilization
Constructed 5,304 feet of streambank stabilization projects exceeding annual goals by 25%. These projects included one at Emma Long Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin and an emergency repair at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.
 2017 AWARDS
By The Numbers
  • Responded to approximately 2,000 service requests from the 3-1-1 system
  • Inspected more than 2,800 stormwater facilities and 11,958 inlets
  • Repaired and stabilized 3,525 feet of channel
  • Cleared 8,085 inlets and 804 bridges of debris; and
  • Removed 32 tons of debris from Lady Bird Lake.

La Loma Trail Clean Up

Before
Debris on La Loma Trail
After
Cleaned La Loma Trail