City Council delays vote on group housing ordinance

Bobby Blanchard

The Austin City Council delayed a vote Thursday on an amendment ordinance that would make it more difficult to build cooperatives or Greek homes in areas near campus. The vote will now take place on September 27.

A group called “Save the Coops,” which opposes the ordinance, pushed to have the August 16 vote delayed until the University is in session so students would have a better chance of participating in debate on the ordinance.

The amendment ordinance would make group housing conditional on properties with a zoning designation of MF-4, meaning builders would be required to seek a permit from the city’s planning commission before constructing a cooperative or a Greek home. It would affect the Hancock, Heritage Hills and Shoal Crest neighborhoods, and part of West Campus.

The Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee, or CANPAC, proposed this amendment ordinance to Austin City Council. Members of CANPAC have expressed concern that group housing brings down the property value of single-family homes nearby.

But members of the “Save the Coops” movement have said the cooperatives offer both a community and affordable housing options to students and that this amendment ordinance would discourage any future expansion.

The movement has a website, a Facebook group and a petition that hit 500 signatures on August 14. Joshua Sabik, a Texas State student and member of the movement, manages both the Facebook page and the petition.

Sabik said the movement aims to inform people about the ordinance amendment through social media and outreach.

“We want to get people in contact with their elected officials,” Sabik said. “Each time someone signs that petition, it emails all the members of city council.”

Sabik said there will be a teach-in about the issue at City Hall on September 27 at 3 p.m., before the vote.

“It will kind of be a rallying point before going into the council chamber,” Sabik said. “That way our supporters will be adequately informed on the issue so they can speak to city council and tell their stories.”