Houston Debates Shared Driveway Requirement

A proposed rule would require developers to build shared driveways for narrow lot projects.

2 minute read

May 22, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Two-story split lot housing in Houston, Texas with two-car garages

Split-lot housing in The Heights neighborhood of Houston, Texas. | Google Maps / Split lot housing in Houston, Texas

Houston officials are debating a proposed change to the city’s development code that would require narrow lot developments with two units to build a shared driveway rather than two separate ones, reports Dug Begley in the Houston Chronicle. “Rather than building two driveways up to 16 feet wide on a single property, the proposed change to Chapter 42 of the city’s code of ordinances would allow a single 18-foot-wide Y-shaped driveway that would give each home a place to park but a shared entrance and exit.” 

For planners, this would return public property to the public and keep more of the street unbroken to protect pedestrians and cyclists and create more curbside parking or space for other amenities. Developers claim the driveway requirement could increase the number of cars parked on city streets and “limit what developers can build because of the increasing price of land in many areas.”

Begley explains, “Along some blocks in Houston’s historic areas, including Rice Military, the Heights and some places around Loop 610, the rapid construction of townhomes and other dense development has led to a near-continuous line of breaks in street curbs for driveways.” As one resident put it, “Why not just take away the sidewalk entirely if there is nothing but driveways?”

The driveway question is one part of a broader set of changes developed by “a committee of city staff and homebuilders created in 2020 to discuss modifications to the city’s development rules aimed at making Houston’s public space safer and more accessible as part of its Livable Places initiative.” Other proposals include permitting courtyard housing, encouraging alley-facing garages, and loosening regulations on accessory dwelling units (ADUs). 

Monday, May 22, 2023 in Houston Chronicle

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