ABoR Advocacy Win: Street Impact Fees

Have a client looking to build their own home? Know of a friend wanting to add a back house on their property for their in-laws? ABoR’s got their back! As a direct result of ABoR Advocacy, the Austin City Council included four out of five of ABoR’s recommended changes to the City’s new Street Impact Fee program, potentially saving your clients and friends a few thousand dollars in city fees.

On December 10, The Austin City Council approved two ordinances establishing a Street Impact Fee (SIF) program. The SIF Program will fund needed capital improvement projects for Austin’s transportation network by assessing a fee for new development: a Street Impact Fee. The fees will be added to development projects to help pay for roadway capacity improvements, including the construction or expansion of roads in Austin. The adopted ordinances take effect on December 21, but fees will not be collected for the first 18 months.

Prior to the Council’s adoption of the final ordinances, ABoR staff, in partnership with the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin, worked with city staff and council offices to address concerns regarding the impact on housing costs. ABoR staff was pleased that Council heard our requests and adopted four of five of our recommended changes. As a direct result of our advocacy work, Council adopted:

  • An exemption for small projects (including individual single-family homes, ADUs, and duplexes) that is not just a one-time fee exemption but a cumulative fee exemption for the property as long as the additional units do not collectively increase the property’s vehicle trips over a qualifying cap;
    • This is a savings of more than $2,400 for a new single-family home in Austin.
  • Removed a requirement that would have placed the “burden of qualification” for the small project’s exemption on the applicant;
    • As a result of this change, the small projects exemption can be an automatic administrative exemption that is part of an administrative review process implemented by city staff, instead of requiring property owners to hire an engineer to show proof that the property qualifies for the small project’s exemption.
  • An additional six-month delayed implementation;
    • City staff originally only proposed a one-year grace period for the Street Impact Fee, which is statutorily required by State law. Through ABoR’s Advocacy, Council extended the grace-period by an additional six months.
    • As a result, the Street Impact Fee ordinances take effect on December 21, 2020, but fees will not be collected from new developments for 18 months.
  • And direction to the City Manager to develop a routine public reporting process, including a publicly accessible online tracking tool of revenues, expenditures, and balances by service area throughout the City.

In addition, ABoR was successful at minimizing the financial impact to new housing by advocating for the lowest fee rate possible for new residential developments. We’re proud to get this advocacy win for our members and their clients, but none of the work could have been done without the support of TREPAC. Please consider supporting our advocacy by making an investment in TREPAC today!