Cottage Courts

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A cottage court is a group of small cottages arranged around around a shared courtyard. Cottage Courts are a type of missing middle housing. They improve affordability by allowing people to share the cost of the land. The are a great infill tool for oversized lots.

The Problem

Cottage courts are a good idea for missing middle, but as they appear in the draft code, they have a number of problems that don’t allow them to be any more dense:

  • First, the parking requirements and parking location requirements will create headaches and should be reduced or eliminated. The parking restrictions will increase the design costs and make it hard to fit everything around the courtyard. Parking, if required, should be allowed to be placed anywhere on the lot.
  • Second, the units shouldn’t be limited to 1.5 stories. Allow the buildings to be two stories and allow the building to be a “cottage duplex” that has a smaller scale but is stacked. Based on our analysis, to create six cottages requires aggregating three lots, which provides no more density than an ADU and primary structure. This comes from the sum of setbacks, parking requirements and placement, and setbacks between the cottages. The smaller cottages allowed under the code will still have the same construction costs, but less square footage, than a traditional home.
  • Finally, we recommend that the homes be able to share common facilities, like laundry, kitchens, or eating areas. These shared spaces could create a unique living situation that many people in Austin who feel especially “communal” would enjoy. Shared facilities could allow more units to fit on the property that are smaller.

Recommendations

Comment Sections/Pages
Allow cottage courts on lots that are less than 100’ wide.
Allow fewer than 6 cottages. Four can function well in cottage court configuration and require smaller lot. 4D-2 pg. 32
The min dimensions prescribe a larger area. so either reduce the min depth or eliminate the min area, or combo of both 4D-2 pg. 32


parking location is overly restricted