City council will discuss ‘stealth dorms’ Thursday

Amanda Voeller

Austin City Council will discuss decreasing the number of unrelated adults who may live in a single-family residence from six to four at its meeting Thursday. 

The council has received various complaints from families in areas near these types of houses, mainly north of UT campus, which opponents refer to as “stealth dorms,” councilman Chris Riley said in November.

Riley said the city’s rising housing costs are an overall trend, which hurts permanent residents as well as students.

“Vacancy rates are at historic lows, and we see continued growth pressures, and we need to find ways to accommodate that growth in ways that are convenient and affordable,” Riley said. “The answer isn’t to ignore current zoning and change the character of existing neighborhoods.”

Riley said the city will work to address Austin’s rapid student growth without relying on single-family houses.

“We absolutely need to find ways to accommodate the student population, so we’re going to continue to work on providing good options like we see in West Campus and along Guadalupe,” Riley said. “But the answer to accommodating our student growth is not to take out the single-family homes in single-family zone neighborhoods and replace them with dormitories.”

In November, the council directed the city manager to begin working on a code amendment to address the issue of stealth dorms. The council will hold a public hearing and possibly vote on approving this change to the city code at its meeting Thursday at Austin City Hall, which begins at 10 a.m.