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.

  • Equitable – Creating more accessible, diverse, and inclusive neighborhoods with a greater variety of housing and transportation choices.
  • Walkable – Creating safer, more walkable neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, with better access to transit and bike facilities.
  • Affordable – Creating a greater variety of housing options at more attainable price points for all Houstonians.

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 to learn more. Your participation is important to help guide how Houston develops.


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.


Livable Places Action Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 3 - 5 p.m.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only) +1 936-755-1521,,876747183# United States, Huntsville

Phone Conference ID: 876 747 183#

Find a local number | Reset PIN | Learn More | Meeting options

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. But, 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. That’s the goal of Livable Places: to pave the way for more connected, resilient and livable neighborhoods for all Houstonians.

To do this, we’ve created an Action Committee. Their goal 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. This means changes like:

  • 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 will good access to existing transit and bike lanes

These changes 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. Do you agree with what this project is trying to achieve? Let us know in the Proposed Amendments tab below.


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.

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.

  • Equitable – Creating more accessible, diverse, and inclusive neighborhoods with a greater variety of housing and transportation choices.
  • Walkable – Creating safer, more walkable neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, with better access to transit and bike facilities.
  • Affordable – Creating a greater variety of housing options at more attainable price points for all Houstonians.

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 to learn more. Your participation is important to help guide how Houston develops.


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.


Livable Places Action Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 3 - 5 p.m.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only) +1 936-755-1521,,876747183# United States, Huntsville

Phone Conference ID: 876 747 183#

Find a local number | Reset PIN | Learn More | Meeting options

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. But, 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. That’s the goal of Livable Places: to pave the way for more connected, resilient and livable neighborhoods for all Houstonians.

To do this, we’ve created an Action Committee. Their goal 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. This means changes like:

  • 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 will good access to existing transit and bike lanes

These changes 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. Do you agree with what this project is trying to achieve? Let us know in the Proposed Amendments tab below.


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.

Thank you for your participation!

  • This is What Makes Good Cities Great - Alleys

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    Stewart Hicks, an architectural design educator and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago provides an interesting look into alleys. The YouTube video is entitled “This is What Makes Good Cities Great” and discusses the history and interesting uses of alleys. Professor Hicks explains that “Alleys are the unsung heroes of urban planning and design.”

  • Cottage Court

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    Cottage Court styled developments offer creative housing options that connect neighbors in small groupings. Visit examples provided, by Opticos Design, Inc., that speak to shared parking, 1-2 story units, open space and various different unit per acre configurations. The site shows numerous examples of popular existing communities.

    Click to view the page.

  • Testing new ideas with cottage courts

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    The Public Square Journal, produced by Congress for the New Urbanism, includes an article about how adaptable the cottage courtyard design is. In Testing new ideas with cottage courts, Robert Steuteville discusses how this "missing middle" type can be placed in urban, suburban or rural settings, and as for-sale or as rental units. Cottage courts are wonderful developments with open space, grouped parking and can test new design ideas, methods and markets. The units sit on a small footprint and are inviting to people and families.

    Click to read the article.

  • Micro-townhouses designed for flexibility

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    The Public Square Journal, produced by Congress for the New Urbanism, includes an article about a townhouse design that has numerous advantages. In "Micro-townhouses designed for flexibility", Robert Steuteville discusses how this design enables homeownership, is easier for builders to finance, provides green and common spaces, lends to available street parking, and is customizable based on the needs of the homeowner. He describes the units as "high-quality urbanism".

    Click to read the article.

  • Kinder Institute Urban Edge: Houston hopes more homeowners will embrace housing literally in their backyard

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    The Kinder Institute Urban Edge blog took a thorough look at Accessory Dwelling Units in Houston and our recent ADU design competition.

    For more information on ADUs in Houston, visit https://www.letstalkhouston.org/adu.

  • Diversifying Housing Options with Smaller Lots and Smaller Homes

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    The National Association of Home Builders produced a report prepared by Opticos Design, Inc. The objective of Diversifying Housing Options with Smaller Lots and Smaller Homes is to explore "issues involved in building a greater mix of housing types that bring discreet density to neighborhoods using a palette that ranges from smaller homes, to accessory dwelling units, to Missing Middle Housing types."

    The report also examines regulatory and design options as well as the barriers that prevent these housing types. The analysis provides examples of "codes and built results that were developed at the market rate without the expectation of subsidies so that we could understand how successful a code can be in influencing diversity and affordability of housing options."

  • My Home is Here: Harris County’s Housing Needs Assessment And 10-Year Strategy

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    Harris County commissioned a county wide survey and study to examine the types and prices of homes needed in our communities. The survey, conducted by Kinder Institute for Urban Research, analyzed pertinent data and gauged the public’s perception of housing opportunities. The survey results and listening sessions were formulated into My Home is Here: Harris County’s Housing Needs Assessment And 10-Year Strategy. Released in October 2021, the document serves to guide local decision makers in creating housing policies and strategies that reflect the wants and needs of Harris County.

  • The Cottages on Vaughan

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    This is a case study of a cottage community in Clarkston, Georgia, a suburb northeast of Atlanta. This case study is produced by MicroLife Institute that promotes micro-living and its benefits. They support homes of “all shapes and sizes” that bring communities together, among other goals. They speak to filling the missing middle housing gap with projects like the Cottages on Vaughan.

    This housing project provides a great example of common green space design and has a unique approach to separate parking. It is also climate-conscious, utilizes solar panels, room sized porches, and edible landscaping features.

    Read The Cottages on Vaughan.

  • We Ran the Rent Numbers

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    WE RAN THE RENT NUMBERS ON PORTLAND’S 7 NEWLY LEGAL HOME OPTIONS

    The original article is posted on Sightline.org and is written by Michael Andersen.

    Portland recently lifted a ban on 7 housing types. They include: a duplex, a triplex, a fourplex, a mixed-income or below-market sixplex, a large group co-living home, a double ADU, and a tiny backyard home on wheels.

    Working with Portland-based consultant Neil Heller, a faculty member at the Incremental Development Alliance, the study sought to answer the question - Will any of them actually be built? The study estimates the cost for each new housing type weighed against any proposed rent based on current market conditions.

    Read the article to learn what was discovered about each housing type.


  • "Best practices for ending exclusive single-family zoning" by CNU/Dan Parolek

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    Image: Opticos

    Although the title speaks to cities with zoning ordinances, this article lists six tips for successful implementation of Missing Middle housing. The article highlights cities that have changed their policies to allow certain missing middle types that may parallel recent discussions by the Livable Places Action Committee.

    One of the major points is that increasing the number of units does not have to equate to larger buildings. House scale buildings/Missing Middle Housing can accommodate more units, more choices, and higher densities. And, it can often match the character of existing communities.

    Read the full article.

Page last updated: 22 Jun 2022, 03:45 PM