Thursday, May 12, 2022

Parks and Recreation Department Seeks Community Input for Development of Commercial Use Parkland Dedication Ordinance

On April 7, 2022, Austin City Council initiated code amendments to require parkland dedication for commercial development that will complement the existing ordinance and provide parkland near where people work and play. Community members can visit SpeakUp Austin: Parkland Dedication for Commercial Development to respond to a community survey and provide insight through forum discussions on how they want to use parks near work and what to consider for the new ordinance.

Public parks are necessary for the well-being of the City’s workforce and commerce, with commuting workforces adding to the demand for park services. In downtown Austin alone, there are 14,000 residents, but 96,000 employees that enjoy its parks (as of 2020). Overall, 58% of the city’s workforce (about 451K employees) commutes into town and uses parks before, during and after work. New commercial developments create a need for additional parkland in order to serve future users of the commercial spaces.

Parkland dedication is a local government requirement imposed on subdivision and site plan applications mandating the dedication of land for a park and/or the payment of a fee to be used by the governmental entity to acquire land and/or develop park facilities. 

Currently, Austin’s residential parkland dedication ordinance accounts for where people live by requiring new single-family, multi-family, and hotel developments to dedicate parkland or pay fees in lieu of dedication, but not where they work and play – the impact of commercial developments. A new Commercial Parkland Dedication (Commercial PLD) Ordinance would enact new requirements for park land dedication or fee-in-lieu of park land dedication to commercial developments. More information can be found on the project webpage.