Welcome to the Livable Places Initiative

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We're paving the way for more equitable, walkable, and affordable neighborhoods for all Houstonians.

Sounds good, right? We agree - but we need your help to make it happen.



Use this page to learn more and provide input and feedback on recommended changes to some of Houston's development standards. Visit here often to find out about meetings, ask questions, participate in discussions and learn more. Your participation is important to help guide how Houston develops.


About Livable Places

Houston is a rapidly growing city and family sizes are shrinking. There's a need for more, smaller homes for people of all ages. However, the City's rules make it difficult to build small, neighborhood-scale homes for people to buy and rent.

If we want to preserve our great diversity, culture and innovative industry, we need to act now to address issues like displacement and rising home and transportation costs. The goal of Livable Places is to update development standards to allow for a greater variety of homes to be built, make neighborhoods safer, and better utilize alternative forms of transportation.


Key Recommendations

  • Allowing more “missing middle” homes, like triplexes and small house scale apartment buildings, in developed neighborhoods
  • Making it easier to build accessory dwelling units, like garage apartments or “granny flats,” on single-family residential lots when not prohibited by deed restrictions
  • Adding more home options with better access to transit options like bus stops, bike lanes, and neighborhood destinations
  • Improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Reducing parking requirements in neighborhoods with good access to existing transit and bike lanes

These recommendations are based on community feedback and previous efforts by the Planning Department. We want to hear from you about how to make our communities more walkable, affordable and equitable - scroll down to find out more and leave your comments.





Overall Housing Recommendations

Planning Department staff presented draft recommendations for housing to the Committee at their meeting on May 11, 2022. These include recommendations for small lot developments, small multi-family developments, accessory dwelling units, and lot access to public streets. View and comment on the proposed recommendations here.


Get Involved

Attend a Livable Places Action Committee Meeting

For this project, we've created the Livable Places Action Committee. This is a committee of the Houston Planning Commission comprised of industry representatives, subject matter experts, community leaders and other agencies who will guide the process. To get involved in the conversation attend the next Committee meeting:

Livable Places Action Committee Meeting


Tuesday, September 6, 2022, 3 - 5 p.m.

(The Committee will not meet in August)

Details about how to join this virtual meeting will be posted here soon.


Comment and Learn More

In the Proposed Amendments tab, you will find information on various amendments proposed through the Committee's work. You can send us your comments or questions if any or start a forum discussion.

In the Articles tab, you will find various reading material that can provide context and definitions to support and provide meaning to the work the Livable Places Action Committee will discuss during its monthly meetings.


Schedule a Presentation

We want to visit with your organization. Let us know about upcoming meetings or events. Call Suvidha Bandi or Tammi Williamson at 832-393-6600 or LivablePlaces@houstontx.gov to schedule a presentation on the purpose of the Livable Places Action Committee and the draft recommendations described on this page.

Thank you for your participation!

We're paving the way for more equitable, walkable, and affordable neighborhoods for all Houstonians.

Sounds good, right? We agree - but we need your help to make it happen.



Use this page to learn more and provide input and feedback on recommended changes to some of Houston's development standards. Visit here often to find out about meetings, ask questions, participate in discussions and learn more. Your participation is important to help guide how Houston develops.


About Livable Places

Houston is a rapidly growing city and family sizes are shrinking. There's a need for more, smaller homes for people of all ages. However, the City's rules make it difficult to build small, neighborhood-scale homes for people to buy and rent.

If we want to preserve our great diversity, culture and innovative industry, we need to act now to address issues like displacement and rising home and transportation costs. The goal of Livable Places is to update development standards to allow for a greater variety of homes to be built, make neighborhoods safer, and better utilize alternative forms of transportation.


Key Recommendations

  • Allowing more “missing middle” homes, like triplexes and small house scale apartment buildings, in developed neighborhoods
  • Making it easier to build accessory dwelling units, like garage apartments or “granny flats,” on single-family residential lots when not prohibited by deed restrictions
  • Adding more home options with better access to transit options like bus stops, bike lanes, and neighborhood destinations
  • Improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Reducing parking requirements in neighborhoods with good access to existing transit and bike lanes

These recommendations are based on community feedback and previous efforts by the Planning Department. We want to hear from you about how to make our communities more walkable, affordable and equitable - scroll down to find out more and leave your comments.





Overall Housing Recommendations

Planning Department staff presented draft recommendations for housing to the Committee at their meeting on May 11, 2022. These include recommendations for small lot developments, small multi-family developments, accessory dwelling units, and lot access to public streets. View and comment on the proposed recommendations here.


Get Involved

Attend a Livable Places Action Committee Meeting

For this project, we've created the Livable Places Action Committee. This is a committee of the Houston Planning Commission comprised of industry representatives, subject matter experts, community leaders and other agencies who will guide the process. To get involved in the conversation attend the next Committee meeting:

Livable Places Action Committee Meeting


Tuesday, September 6, 2022, 3 - 5 p.m.

(The Committee will not meet in August)

Details about how to join this virtual meeting will be posted here soon.


Comment and Learn More

In the Proposed Amendments tab, you will find information on various amendments proposed through the Committee's work. You can send us your comments or questions if any or start a forum discussion.

In the Articles tab, you will find various reading material that can provide context and definitions to support and provide meaning to the work the Livable Places Action Committee will discuss during its monthly meetings.


Schedule a Presentation

We want to visit with your organization. Let us know about upcoming meetings or events. Call Suvidha Bandi or Tammi Williamson at 832-393-6600 or LivablePlaces@houstontx.gov to schedule a presentation on the purpose of the Livable Places Action Committee and the draft recommendations described on this page.

Thank you for your participation!

  • The ABCs of ADUs

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    The ABCs of ADUs is a guide that explains how ADUs expand housing options for people of all ages. It provides results and statistics from the 2018 AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey, has examples of different ADUs, covers many benefits of ADUs and more. The guide, produced by AARP.org, explains how ADUs expand housing options for people of all ages.

    Read the ABCs of ADUs.

  • ADU Photos

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    Would you like to look at examples of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)? Visit https://www.BuildingAnADU.com to see pictures of ADUs in various stages of construction and examine creative design elements. The photos are arranged by category including construction, conversion, interior, exteriors, and much more.


  • Attainable Housing and Family Renter Housing

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    ATTAINABLE HOUSING

    The Urban Land Institute's report entitled Attainable Housing: Challenges, Perceptions, and Solutions(External link), highlights best practices and ideas on developing attainable housing. Attainable housing is defined as for-sale housing serving moderate-income working families. Units are affordable to households with incomes between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) without subsidy.

    Houston's Housing and Community Development Department identified the 2020 AMI(External link) for a family of four as $63,050 and $94,550, respectively.

    Read the study to learn more about what has influenced the change in demand developers and builders are seeing "as a result of the rise of the small household, which has implications for denser, smaller homes at attainable price points."

    For more information, visit ULI's Attainable Housing(External link) website.

    FAMILY RENTER HOUSING

    Declining homeowner rates, rising housing costs, the expected increase in millennials starting families and an increase in multigenerational households are spurring a need for "new and interesting forms of rental housing that target a broader range of households, including many families." The new family-oriented rental housing is discussed in ULI's report, Family Renter Housing: A Response to the Changing Growth Dynamics of the Next Decade(External link). What is family-oriented rental housing? It is defined as housing of any density with two or three bedrooms.

    For more information, visit ULI's Family Rental Housing(External link) website.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units - Take the First Step

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  • What is Missing Middle Housing?

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  • The Missing Middle

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    The Missing Middle concept describes various housing types that provide an opportunity for Houston to grow in a way that can "provide more housing and more housing choices in sustainable, walkable places."

    “Missing Middle Housing” was coined by Opticos Design founder Daniel Parolek in 2010 to define a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types — compatible in scale with detached single-family homes — that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living.

    Building types include styles that have been built in previous years. They include "duplexes, four-plexes, cottage courts, and courtyard buildings," and "provide diverse housing options and support locally-serving retail and public transportation options."

    1. To read more about the Missing Middle, visit their website.

    2. Comment and tell us your thoughts about "The Missing Middle" below.

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  • AARP: Making Room

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    "Americans are changing — and so are their housing needs. Unprecedented shifts in demographics are redefining who we are and how we live. If we simply ask ourselves different questions about how we want to live, we might discover better answers."

    AARP asks questions about the changing demographics that transform the country's housing stock and how to "feature a menu of housing options that better serve people of all ages and the needs of a changing America."

    Visit AARP.org/MakingRoom to access ideas, demographics, infographics, floor plans, solutions and join the discussion. The free Making Room: Housing for a Changing America publication downloadable from the site highlights varied housing choices.

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  • Residential Buffering Related Articles

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    The following articles are provided for discussion purposes relating to the residential buffering ordinance proposed amendments.

    April 16, 2021 09:30 AM

    https://therealdeal.com/

    by C. J. Hughes

    April 16, 2021

    https://www.nytimes.com/

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  • Lighting and Glare

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    Exterior lighting provides visibility, improved safety and can enhance the aesthetics of a building’s architecture. However, exterior lighting on buildings, in parking garages and parking lots can produce unintentional results like spillover glare and light trespassing into adjacent residential developments. Glare refers to the light that may enter the eye directly or indirectly from reflective surfaces. Glare from car headlights inside a garage, pole mounted lights or lights affixed to buildings can reduce visibility or cause visual discomfort.


    The Livable Places Action Committee is discussing standards for how to reduce the unintended impacts of outdoor lighting without decreasing safety, utility, security or productivity. For example, discussions will include fixtures and screening materials. Lighting fixtures that utilize cut off angles direct lights toward the ground where it is needed and prevents light from being emitted above the horizontal plane. Bob Crelin provides an easy to read graphic of lighting fixtures that use cut off angles (click on the image to the right). Installing screening materials on the side of garages reduce automobile light glare.


    Attend the Livable Places Action Committee Meetings to follow the discussions.


    For more information on cut off angles, fixture specs, and energy design guides, visit these sites. All sites listed below are independent of the City of Houston.


  • Where Affordable Housing and Transportation Meet in Houston

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    Photo by LINK HoustonRead recommendations that came out of the report developed by the Kinder Institute in partnership with LINK Houston. The report analyzed where affordable housing and high-quality, affordable transportation presently co-exist. It also lays out steps to align housing and transportation development.

    Read the article.

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Page last updated: 14 Jul 2022, 07:44 AM