RVs everywhere

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The Woodview mobile home park, off W. Oltorf.

For once, everybody at City Hall appears to be adopting a “live and let live” approach to housing. But only in mobile home parks.

On Tuesday the notoriously anti-housing (but improving!) Zoning and Platting Commission adopted a recommendation to allow RVs in mobile home parks. Current city code distinguishes between RVs and mobile homes and prohibits the former in mobile home parks.

Despite the prohibition, some mobile home parks around town are predominantly inhabited by RVs, in some cases because RVs were on that property before it was annexed by the city and subject to city zoning rules. So they’re sort of grandfathered, although the new rules will likely kick in if they do any sort of redevelopment of the site. To try and help out some of these mobile home park residents, staff offered a compromise code change: mobile home parks could be up to 50% RVs. But at least one property I’ve seen is more like 90% RVs. So that doesn’t really help…

To ZAP’s credit, they said what’s the point of RV restrictions? The proposal even came from David King, a former president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council and one of the most reliable opponents of zoning changes that facilitate more housing throughout the city. CM Ann Kitchen, who appointed King to ZAP, tells the Monitor that she supports the idea:

“I think that that proposed ordinance (as written by staff) needs some more work. I think focusing on the type of entity –  the mobile home versus the RV – is not the point and it’s limiting in a way that doesn’t help us with our goals for affordability and housing options.”

What’s striking is how easily everybody can agree to adopt a commonsense change in places where they and likely few people they know lives. Compare that to the bloodletting that follows the tiniest changes proposed for single-family neighborhoods in Central Austin. Kitchen, for instance, joined three colleagues in voting against a 2015 ordinance that legalized accessory dwelling units (garage apartments) in most of the city after vociferous opposition from ANC. Even those considered friendly to land use reform, such as the mayor, will not go as far as allowing triplexes by-right on every lot.

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