“McMansion” endurance trials

At one o’clock this morning (Friday), Austin city council agenda item 122, regarding implementing an ordinance governing residential compatibility standards, reached the point in the public hearing where actual testimony was to begin. Mayor Wynn at that time estimated that, if everyone signed up to speak were to do so, there’d be about ten hours of testimony. Leading off was a representative of the West Austin Neighborhood Group. Speakers arrived armed with PowerPoint presentations and photographs depicting new structures springing up in older neighborhoods. Channel 6 will stream this meeting again starting at seven o’clock in the evening on Saturday. Shortly before 1:30 am, those in favor of the compatibility ordinances agreed to limit their total testimony to a total of 45 minutes, including testimony already offered. Testimony in favor concluded at 1:45 am. At two o’clock, the builders were still holding forth against the proposed ordinance.

Upshot: The city council approved an ordinance on first and second readings, based on the recommendations of the task force on single-family regulations. The effective date approved is October 1. The council removed provisions that would have created a residential design review commission. The council is scheduled to consider the third and final reading on June 22. The public hearing is considered to be closed. The City’s site on this subject has been updated to reflect last night’s events.

9 Comments so far

  1. Donut (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 8:14 am

    Screw the rest of you – I got mine! Moved from Hyde park (1200 sq ft) to Circle C (3600 sq ft), and made money on the deal. Down here, my kids don’t have to dodge drunk UT students, there are no winos haunting the parks, and I don’t have to see 6 year old Gore stickers.

  2. Constance Reader (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    No, screw YOU Donut, because the rest of us love our city more than our own selfish, materitalistic selves and want to preserve it for future generations to love and enjoy as much as we do.

    Enjoy that new toll road about to pass outside your front gate. Start saving your change now.

  3. M1EK (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 8:50 am

    I don’t want a Circle C-sized house; but I’d sure like to be able to build a garage apartment and a second floor someday like many people in my neighborhood already have (including several folks on this task force).

  4. M1EK (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 9:12 am

    I’ve gone nuclear, and named names, here:


  5. Ruralist (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    You just nuked your own credibility and any further chance of anyone ever taking you seriously.

  6. M1EK (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 9:40 am


    Shut the hell up. The day I take advice from a pseudonymous jackass with no link is the day I check into the old folks’ home with dementia.

  7. Constance Reader (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    So, M1EK, this is all about your own compulsion to keep up with your neighbors by increasing the size of your home well-beyond your needs, in order to fit in with the crowd and display your material wealth?

  8. Edward (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    This ordinance *rewards* those people that have already built “McMansions” by allowing them to raise their families in quality close in neighborhoods and their resale value will go through the roof due to the limited availability of inner city family housing. Families that can’t afford it will be forced to either sprawl out to the burbs or squeeze mom, pop and the kids into 1000 sqft “bungalows”. Bravo city council well done.

    A compromise could have been to allow current property owners to operate under the rules in place when they purchased their property and apply the new rules to any property purchased after the new rules have gone in effect. This would allow current home owners to realize the use and value that they expected when they originally purchased their property and potential new property owners would have the luxury of considering the impact of the new rules when making a purchasing decision which existing owners did not.

    Constance, what do you say to the couple that bought a bungalow a few years ago with the hopes of adding on in the future to make room for a familiy?

  9. M1EK (unregistered) on June 11th, 2006 @ 9:49 am


    I want a standard two-story Hyde Park-style home, and I want a garage apartment. I recognize that these are wants, for my family. They’re not excessive wants – the largest home I would ever want to build would be along the lines of 2400 square feet; and a garage apartment isn’t exactly for “wealth display” – it’s to help pay the property taxes.

    My next-door neighbors currently have a family of 4 living in a 1010 square foot main house. The kids’ aunt lives in a garage apartment in back. Their 3rd kid is on the way any week now. They _need_ a second floor, wouldn’t you say? The new rules prevent them from doing so, unless they tear down the garage and apartment. Hooray.

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