Direction for a Heritage Tree Preservation Bonus

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Julie Montgomery
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:26 pm

Direction for a Heritage Tree Preservation Bonus

Post by Julie Montgomery » Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:59 pm

Posted on behalf of Council Member Ellis:

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you all for the great discussion at today's work session. I look forward to continuing it tomorrow!

Since the topic of a Heritage Tree Preservation Bonus Program came up today (thank you, Council Member Harper-Madison!), I want to share some potential policy direction that my office has drafted with the support of the City Arborist and other LDC staff, which would call for such a bonus program to be added to the proposed LDC. The draft policy direction for first reading is as follows, and I welcome your feedback:

“The new code should create a Heritage Tree Preservation Bonus program for developments in Imagine Austin Centers and along Imagine Austin Corridors and the Transit Priority Network. The bonus program should offer a well-calibrated incentive of flexibility in development standards (e.g. an additional floor of building height) in exchange for the preservation of an existing, healthy heritage tree. The bonus should be administratively approved, and the heritage tree preservation bonus program should not negatively impact the viability of an applicable affordable housing bonus program."

The intent of such a bonus program is to help us get the housing we need in our centers and corridors while also saving our precious heritage trees. Generally, I would suggest that if a development can reduce its footprint to save a heritage tree, we should let it shift those entitlements upwards to maintain the same number of units. That said, I am happy to leave the exact details of the program, including the incentive calibration, up to staff to develop for our consideration at second reading.

I also want to note this is intended to complement our affordable housing bonus programs, not compete with them. I imagine this might mean two height bonuses, for example, could be stacked if a center or corridor development is participating in both programs. Again, I would defer to staff to help us navigate the particulars.

I hope you all will consider supporting this policy direction at first reading, and again, I welcome your thoughts and input.

Policy Director
Office of Council Member Paige Ellis, District 8

Jimmy Flannigan
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:44 am

Re: Direction for a Heritage Tree Preservation Bonus

Post by Jimmy Flannigan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:24 pm

Thanks CM Ellis for this!

I think this is great direction and would be interested in seeing this concept applied to more of our city's goals. If we are more context-sensitive like we want, then we should be able to improve multiple metrics AND get the units we need. And hopefully we can do this in a way where we define how this could be done administratively.
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6

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