Preservation Ordinance Changes

Council Approves Changes to Preservation Ordinance

On August 6, 2009 the Austin City Council approved Preservation Ordinance Revisions that will adjust the criteria to apply for Local Historic District status to be more in line with Austin's peer cities. Preservation Austin thanks the entire City Council for its unanimous support of the revisions to the preservation ordinance. This is a huge victory for Austin -- for preservation, for sustainability and for economic development. This completes a major initiative by our new Mayor and Council, as Austin prepares for the honor of hosting the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Annual Conference in 2010.

These revisions bring Austin in line with our peer cities on historic districts, establishes a tailored demolition by neglect process, and melds our Austin values by incorporating sustainability into the district process in a manner unmatched in Texas and likely nationally. Preservation Austin thanks the broad coalition who supported and assisted in this effort.

Background

In December 2004, the Austin City Council authorized the establishment of local historic districts. These districts will be the most powerful tool to protect the character of our historic neighborhoods.
Since adoption, the revised program has inspired a dramatic increase in the number of Austinites involved enthusiastically in the study of their neighborhoods' heritage with the goal of establishing districts.   Yet, despite the fact that at least nine neighborhoods have been working intently on establishing districts, only one subgroup has been able to complete an application for a scaled down, albeit significant, single district of only one block.

Preservation Austin appreciates the time and consideration given by the City and its citizens in crafting the Local Historic District ordinance.   However, the requirements for research and property owner sign-off far exceed that of our peer cities in Texas and the nation, and have created an unnecessary burden that is inconsistent with the Council established criteria. We share in the conviction of the neighborhoods seeking district status that the ordinance needs to be amended if it is to accomplish its intended purpose.

We respectfully request that City Council support amendments to the ordinance to address these issues