City reviews housing policies, requests input on gateways
At Tuesday’s meeting, City Council reviewed proposed housing policies as part of the ongoing 2030 Comprehensive Plan update. This plan acts as a guide for the City’s growth and development decisions. One of the stated goals of the plan is to ensure “access to diverse housing options and preserve existing neighborhoods for residents of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels.”
Since October, the City has been collecting feedback from the community to help shape the comprehensive plan, including citywide surveys and On the Table, a communitywide public engagement event in October. Clear priorities of the community are to maintain the family-oriented small-town feel and focus on housing and affordability.
To better understand community needs related to housing and affordability, a second survey was conducted in March. The survey was taken by 566 people who highlighted property taxes, the cost to maintain their home, and public safety as top issues affecting people’s ability to stay in their homes. Additionally, the inability to age in place was highlighted as a top reason for residents to leave their neighborhoods.
To better support aging in place, respondents highlighted the need for support services (e.g. home modifications and financial assistance), accessibility, healthcare, and transportation. Respondents highlighted a preference for smaller homes on smaller lots and a desire for a variety of housing types, including townhomes and mixed-use developments.
To better support affordability, respondents also highlighted the need for a broad range of housing costs, particularly lower housing prices.
Based on the housing technical study, survey results, as well as the community’s input from On the Table, the direction from the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee’s feedback, City Council reviewed sixteen proposed housing policies organized into four general categories: preservation, affordability, coordinated housing programming, and diversity. City Council directed staff to take the draft policies back to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee for further consideration and a vote. The policies will be brought back to Council at a future workshop.
“If we have heard one thing from our residents, it’s that people love living in Georgetown,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “The policies the council discussed at its meeting can help ensure people who call Georgetown home today will be able to call Georgetown home tomorrow.”
“City Council is committed to maintaining Georgetown’s very low tax rate and high-caliber public safety services, which are some of the best in the state,” Ross said. “Effective housing policies are another key ingredient to ensure Georgetown maintains the small-town feel that residents expect us to preserve and protect.”
The proposed housing policies range from “preserving existing housing stock that contributes to diversity and affordability” to “encouraging and incentivizing new housing to provide a mixture of housing types, sizes, and price points”.
Once finalized, these policies will be incorporated in the overall update to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which is expected to be formally adopted late-2019. Additional public meetings and presentations to City Council will be made throughout the summer.
The next phase of the comprehensive plan update relates to the development goals and standards for the City’s gateways.
Gateways are areas along main entrances to the City such as those along Interstate 35, Highway 29, Williams Drive, and Austin Avenue. Gateway corridor planning includes elements such as landscaping standards, building setbacks, land uses, sign standards, roadway standards, and pedestrian or bicycle facilities.
The public is encouraged to comment on how they would like the City’s gateway corridors to develop or redevelop, what the corridors should look like, and what corridors are the most important to preserve or maintain.
The gateway survey can be found at 2030.georgetown.org. The survey closes on May 15. Results of the gateway survey will be presented to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee on May 16 and City Council on May 28.