Action alert! Senate version of Accessory Dwelling Unit bill in Committee Monday, April 3!
Senate Bill 1412, which is the identical companion bill to House Bill 2789 (the Accessory Dwelling Unit bill authored by 4-term incumbent Holland) will be heard on Monday, April 3, at 11:00 am in the Senate Committee on Local Government.
The Senate Committees don't accept online comments (unlike the House, where 191 people commented last week!). But you can still call or email the Committee Members and let them know your thoughts on this bill.
When the House version of the bill came up for its committee, the author presented a "committee substitution" version of the bill, which had some changes in it. It is still not posted online but you can read all about the changes here.
I contacted Senator Hughes' office (SB1412 author) to see if he will also be presenting a committee substitution, but they had not responded to me as of Friday afternoon. I'll check again Monday morning before the Committee hearing and post their response.
Committee Contact Info
Chair: Senator Paul Bettencourt (R) - (512) 463-0107
Vice Chair: Sen. Drew Springer (R) - (512) 463-0130
Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D)- (512) 463-0114
Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D) - (512) 463-0119
Sen. Bob Hall (R) -(512) 463-0102
Sen. Robert Nichols (R)-(512) 463-0103
Sen. Tan Parker (R)-(512) 463-0112
Sen. Angela Paxton (R) -(512) 463-0108
Sen. Royce West (D)-(512) 463-0123
Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) -(512) 463-0101
If you only call one Senator, call the Committee Chair. But take a few moments and call them all!
"But what do I say?"
Never called Austin before? Just keep it simple - "Hi, my name is _____, I live in ______ County, and I am calling to ask Senator _______ to OPPOSE SB1412 in Committee on April 3. This bill..... (pick your issue or issues)."
Please know that it truly does make a difference to make those phone calls. They are logged by staff and the Senator then knows how Texans feel about an issue. They need to hear from us!
Assuming that the Senate Bill is the substitution version and therefore short-term rentals are off the table, here's the issues I still have with this bill that you could use as talking points if you wish.
- PROPERTY RIGHTS OF SINGLE FAMILY HOMEOWNERS - People who invested in single-family homes in single-family neighborhoods deserve the certainty that the neighborhood they chose to raise their family in will remain single-family. If this bill passes, it will wipe out the ability for many Texans to ever raise their family in a single-family neighborhood! This bill allows ADUs to come within 5 feet of a side or rear property line, impacting the privacy the neighbors THOUGHT they would have for raising their family when they bought their home.
- ONLY PEOPLE IN HOAS WILL BE ALLOWED TO LIVE IN SINGLE FAMILY NEIGHBORHOODS - It's just plain wrong that the only entity in Texas that can save a single-family neighborhood from becoming multi-family is a Homeowner's Association! And the Texas Legislature could even take that away in the future. That's exactly what just happened in California. The ADU bill SB9 was passed in 2019, and by 2021 they even applied it to HOAs. Do we want to follow California policy in Texas?!
- THIS BILL REMOVES ANY OWNER OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENT OF A PRIMARY HOME - This bill, supposedly about Accessory Dwelling Units, REMOVES any owner-occupancy requirement of a PRIMARY home. This means an investor who will never live in the neighborhood, can buy a home, drop one or even TWO accessory units in the backyard (if it's 1/4 acre or more), and rent them out to three different families - regardless of the impact on city services, parking or traffic. It turns a single-family neighborhood into a multi-family neighborhood without consent of the neighbors OR the city.
- LACK OF LOCAL CONTROL - Local cities should be able to decide their housing density based on community needs and infrastructure availability - Austin can't possibly know what's right for each individual community. The elected officials in each city are accountable to local citizens to shape the future of the community through planning and zoning. This bill trashes all those plans.
- BILL MAKES CITIES LET ADUs BE BUILT REGARDLESS OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES - Cities may lack available infrastructure - including water, sewer, road capacity, and parking. This bill would force additional density on a community whether or not the community could actually support it. With no discretionary review or public hearing allowed, cities have no ability to say "no" when community sentiment or capacity of resources (school, water, sewer, fire protection) would not support it.
- NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR SCHOOLS TO ACCOMODATE NEW STUDENTS - This bill requires cities to approve/deny a permit within 60 days of application (even if that application is not complete!). Many pre-fabricated ADUs are available on the market. This means that within a matter of months (not years like a subdivision), local schools might quickly have hundreds more students in their system - without the ability to forecast and plan for the increased student population. This unfairly degrades the educational environment for ALL students.
- NO REQUIREMENT ON TENANCY - Most people don't have an issue with an ADU being built to accommodate family issues such as aging parents, young adults saving for a house, or even staff to help the family, be it a nanny for kids, or a paid caregiver to help with aging parents. But this bill would not require the ADU be occupied by family or those paid to help the family. By not restricting ADU occupancy to have a family connection, it turns a single-family neighborhood into a multi-family neighborhood, regardless of zoning.
- THIS BILL MAKES TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE NEW DEVELOPMENT - if the ADU is 800 square feet or less, this bill prevents cities from charging Impact Fees for city services like sewer, fire protection, and water delivery. But if even 10% of the homeowners added small ADUs, the additional population would still impact the city services needed. The one doing the building should be paying for that impact - NOT all of their neighbors. Also, Plank #95 of the Republican Party of Texas platform SUPPORTS the use of impact fees to ensure everyone else does not subsidize new development. This bill violates Plank #95.
- FISCAL IMPACT TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT - The "fiscal impact" statement for SB1412 notes "The bill could have costs to units of local government to the extent that they currently assess fees or fines related to regulations the bill would prohibit". But that's not the only impact! This bill would also impact local government by preventing cities from assessing ADU-specific permit fees, and from charging the builder any impact fees associated with ADUs below a certain size. Local government is also impacted by the need to add staff to process the expected influx of applications to accommodate the 60-day approval period.
Here's hoping the same avalanche of opposition is generated for SB1412, and that neither SB1412 or HB2789 ever see the floor of the House or Senate for a vote! Stay tuned here for updates throughout the session.