SF-3 Land Development Code

All homes within BrykerWoods are zoned as SF-3 “Family Residence”. The City’s Land Development Code (LDC) calls for no more than 45% impervious cover on residential lots zoned as SF-3. This number includes house “foot print”, garage and driveway. In addition, by Ordinance, trees greater than 19″ in diameter (measured 4.5 feet from the ground) are considered “protected”. Removing trees in this category requires a permit from the Watershed Protection Department and requires replacement by a comparable diameter of smaller trees.

The location of fences and the heights of fences also must meeting SF-3 zoning requirements. Fences constructed along a property line may not exceed an average height of six feet or a maximum height of seven feet and fences must be set back from the front street so that city easements are not traversed. Central Austin neighborhoods have experienced the recent phenomena of privacy fences being built to separate front yards and in some extreme cases, fences being constructed to enclose the entire front yard from the street and neighboring yards. While permissible (assuming city zoning has been followed), many believe the practice of front yard privacy fencing destroys neighborhood character and encourages isolation from the BrykerWoods community.

Other aspects of Land Development Code involve property lines, city easements, “setbacks”, and building height . Right-of-way (ROW) refers to land dedicated or reserved for streets, utilities or other public facilities such as sidewalks. Most ROWs are the first 10 ft. in from a curb or street and are maintained by the homeowner. A ROW is not on your property, however, an easement is. Easements are where public utilities, such as power lines, can be run. In Austin, easements vary from 5 ft to 50 ft and you may not build in them unless you obtain permission from the easement owner. For example, for power lines that would be Austin Energy. Setbacks govern the placement of structures on a piece of property.The outside wall of a structure must be 25 ft from the front property line, 5 ft. from the side property lines, and 10 ft. from the rear property line for properties zoned as SF-3. Note that speculative developers have considerable incentives to “push the envelope” on property setbacks, building height and impervious cover.

A new and especially effective tactic developers are using to exploit the SF-3 zoning restrictions is a building arrangement called “super twos”. This term applies to either massive duplexes or two buildings – one larger, usually with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, and one smaller, usually a garage apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Developers are using this method to maximize profit while staying within (barely) the limitations of SF-3 zoning. And all to the neighborhood’s detriment because of the jarring note these structures strike anmoung the traditional BrykerWoods cottages.

Please note – the BrykerWoods Neighborhood Association strictly protects and preserves the neighborhood’s quality of life and historical integrity. The BrykerWoods neighborhood is now part of the official Old West Austin Historical District. Realtors, developers and future homeowners are advised to review potential restrictions associated with demolition, construction, and modification of homes within the BrykerWoods neighborhood. Please see the Old West Austin Historic District website (http://www.OWAHD.org) for details.