City of Austin Request for Qualifications

City of Austin Request for Qualifications

City of Austin, Contract and Land Management Department

Invitation Letter and Scope of Services
Request for Statements of Qualifications for Providing Professional Planning Services for the
Comprehensive Plan for the City of Austin
Solicitation No.: CLMP004

Contract Procurement Division
P. O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767-8839 Telephone: (512) 974-7181 Fax: (512) 974-7297

September 30, 2008

Re: Announcement
Request for Statements of Qualifications (RFQ) for Providing Professional Planning Services for the City of Austin Comprehensive Plan
Solicitation Number: CLMP004

The City of Austin, through its Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department and its Office of Contract and Land Management, is seeking the services of a consultant with extensive experience and skills in the development of comprehensive plans and establishing processes to maintain and update comprehensive plans. An aggressive two-year timeline is proposed for the development of the new Comprehensive Plan for the City of Austin. The estimated budget for these services is $1,300,000.

All prime firms and subconsultants must be registered to do business with the Owner prior to the RFQ response due date. Prime firms are responsible for ensuring that their subconsultants are registered as vendors with the City of Austin. You may register through the Owner's on-line Vendor Registration system. Log on to and follow the directions.

A Request for Statements of Qualifications (RFQ) for these services is available which provides project background and requirements for submittal. For a copy of the RFQ, please contact me at the City of Austin, Office of Contract and Land Management at [email protected] or 512-974-7049. Copies may also be obtained at the Office of Contract and Land Management, Professional Services Procurement, 505 Barton Springs Road, Suite 1045. The authorized contact persons for this solicitation are Mark Walters, Project Manager, 512-974-7695 and Carolyn Williams, Contract Compliance Specialist Sr. Please contact Mark for all project related questions and contact me for questions regarding the RFQ procurement process.

RFQ – Comprehensive Plan for the City of Austin
September 30, 2008
Page 2

A pre-response meeting will be held beginning at 10:30 a.m., Monday, October 13, 2008, in the 3rd Floor Conference Room, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas. The purpose of the meeting will be to respond to consultants' questions about the project and the procurement process. Attendance at the meeting is not a requirement for selection; however, meeting minutes will not be issued.

Should your firm have an interest in providing these professional services, we ask that you obtain a copy of the RFQ and return nine copies of your statement of qualifications to the Office of Contract and Land Management, Professional Services Procurement, Attn: Carolyn Williams, 505 Barton Springs Road, Suite 1045, Austin, Texas 78704, PRIOR to 5:00 p.m., Monday, November 3, 2008. The selection process for this project is anticipated to be completed for City Council action in January 2009. Please provide all the information requested in the RFQ in your submittal.

For information about other professional services procurement actions of this office, please visit us at


Carolyn Williams, Contract Compliance Specialist Sr.
Office of Contract and Land Management
Professional Services Procurement

cc: Mark Walters, Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department








The total project planning area is the City of Austin and its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). See Attachment A. The planning area contains approximately 619 square miles and consists of 298 square miles within the city limits and 321 square miles of ETJ. Austin is home to approximately 750,000 residents with 47.5% White, 9.1% African-American, 34 % Hispanic, 6.5% Asian, and 2.9 % categorized as "Other". A Demographic Profile of Austin is included as Attachment B.


The City of Austin is seeking the services of a consultant with extensive experience and skills in the development of comprehensive plans and establishing processes to maintain and update comprehensive plans.

An aggressive two-year timeline is proposed for the development of the new Comprehensive Plan. The selected consultant team will work with the Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department (NPZD), community stakeholders, the Planning Commission, the Austin City Council, other City departments, and regional inter-agency working groups to develop the plan. It is anticipated that the consultant will work in cooperation with NPZD in all aspects of the Plan's development, including development of a public outreach and public participation program.

The current Comprehensive Plan of record, the Austin Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan (ATCP), was developed during the 1970s and adopted in 1979. It has been amended numerous times through the adoption of neighborhood and transportation plans. In 2008 it was amended through a limited update that removed obsolete policies and replaced them with current ones. Even with this most recent update, the ATCP remains a product of its time and does not address many contemporary issues facing the City such as sustainability and climate change. Also, the ATCP has lost its relevance and remains largely unknown to the majority of Austinites. The lack of a contemporary, community-based vision for the City's future has lead to many "ad hoc" policy directives.

The new plan is needed to chart Austin's near, intermediate, and long-term future to preserve and enhance the community's cherished quality of life. The plan will need to address key themes currently at the center of civic debate such as growth and development, sustainability and climate change, environmental protection, neighborhood preservation, affordable housing, economic development, and local and regional mobility. Additional key themes may also emerge through the public participation process.

The new Comprehensive Plan will have two components. The first is a Vision and Policy Framework component that lays out the vision for the community and incorporates and integrates key themes to respond to the question "Where are we going?" The second component creates the ten City Charter-required elements and addresses the question "How do we get there?" The required elements are:

1. Future land use element
2. Traffic circulation and mass transit element
3. Wastewater, solid waste, drainage and potable water element
4. Conservation and environmental resources element
5. Recreation and open space element
6. Housing element
7. Public services and facilities element that includes but not be limited to a capital improvement program
8. Public buildings and related facilities element
9. Economic element for commercial and industrial development and redevelopment
10. Health and human services element.

Other elements may be included in the Comprehensive Plan. These could include an element that places Austin's planning area in the context of the Central Texas Region and element that addresses implementation and governance.

The goal of this Request for Qualifications is to produce a new Comprehensive Plan that:

• Provides a framework for shaping and managing future growth
• Is supported by current, accurate, and comprehensive data
• Incorporates best practices regarding urban design, transportation, environmental stewardship, and sustainability
• Addresses the key issues currently facing Austin
• Links growth and development policies to the Capital Improvement Plan and bond programs
• Includes implementation measures and strategies
• Provides a framework for more detailed long-range plans
• Focuses on the physical and economic aspects of the City while considering the spatial aspects of social issues such as human services and public safety
• Identification and development of consensus for implementable legacy project(s)
• Integrates efforts such as the Capital Area Municipal Planning Organization (CAMPO) and the Envision Central Texas (ECT) regional planning effort
• Tells a compelling and engaging story about Austin's future
• Recognizes how Austin's history has shaped the City's identity
• Is visually attractive and straightforward to use
• Is clear and simple
• Provides a mechanism for review, updates, and amendments.

The Vision and Policy Framework component will be developed through an extensive public participation process. The importance of this process cannot be overstated. Austin residents are vocal and civically engaged in all aspects of public policy and value the concept of "process". The consultant team must demonstrate extensive expertise and experience in the public participation and facilitation processes. In regards to public participation, the consultant team must have strong leadership and creativity to provide clear direction in participation techniques that result in inclusive yet timely decisions.

The consultant team must also possess significant expertise in the development of specific policies and best practices to implement the City Charter-required elements of the new Comprehensive Plan. All submissions should demonstrate knowledge and expertise in the following areas:

• Land use planning
• Urban Design
• Public participation, facilitation, and visioning
• Zoning, including current best practices such as form-based codes
• Transportation planning and engineering
• Civil Engineering
• Solid Waste Management
• Health and Human Services Planning
• Housing Policy
• Regional Planning
• Arts and Culture
• Parks and Recreation
• Economic Development
• Capital Improvement Planning and Coordination

The process to develop the plan should consist of at least four steps:

Step One: Define the Vision and Framework Component-This step involves conducting public workshops, collecting and evaluating data, analyzing trends, completing a development capacity analysis, identifying key themes, and testing alternative growth scenarios.

Step Two: Preliminary Draft Plan-This step results in the preliminary draft of the plan elements for public review.

Step Three: Refine the Plan-This step refines the preliminary draft elements. Steps Two and Three also include extensive opportunities for public participation that include citywide workshops, focus groups, and work sessions.

Step Four: Plan Adoption-This step results in the formal adoption of the plan and includes the required hearings, recommendations, and City Council adoption by ordinance.


The purpose of the following section is to provide a local context for the development of the new Comprehensive Plan. It offers interested firms the City Charter requirements of the Comprehensive Plan; an overview of the City of Austin and the Central Texas region; a brief history of local development issues; and a summary of contemporary issues affecting the area.


In 1985 the City Charter was amended to include new language that redefined the importance of the Comprehensive Plan. After the Charter amendment passed, Austin undertook the development of a new comprehensive plan, Austin Plan, which was not adopted after nearly six years of development. Besides the ten required elements mentioned in the previous section, a new Plan would serve as a significant policy document with far-ranging influence.

The Comprehensive Plan serves as a long-range policy statement adopted and amended through formal City Council actions. The 1985 amendments state that a Plan must
contain the council's policies for growth, development and beautification of the land within the corporate limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city, or for geographic portions thereof including neighborhood, community or area-wide plans.

Following City Council approval, a new Plan can have very significant implications for future municipal spending and development regulations. The charter-required elements must include policy recommendations that will implement the Comprehensive Plan. Once adopted,
all land development regulations including zoning and map, subdivision regulations, roadway plan, all public improvements, public facilities, public utilities projects and all city regulatory actions relating to land use, subdivision and development approval shall be consistent with the comprehensive plan.


The City of Austin municipal government is a Council-Manager form of government. There are six City Council members and mayor, all elected at-large.

Austin is the capital of Texas and is the largest municipality in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Over the last few decades Austin has experienced very rapid growth. Sometime over the next three decades the population of Austin has been projected to exceed one million people. The critical question facing the City is how to accommodate the additional anticipated growth in a sustainable manner.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA encompasses a five county region in Central Texas including the counties of Travis, Hays, Williamson, Caldwell, and Bastrop (see Attachment C for a map of the MSA). There are several municipalities surrounding Austin abutting the corporate limits or the City's ETJ: Kyle, Rollingwood, Westlake Hills, Sunset Valley, San Leanna, Manor, Pfugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park and Leander as well as a number of unincorporated communities.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA falls within two geographic areas-the Blackland Prairie to the east and the Texas Hill Country to the west-with Interstate Highway 35 (IH 35) generally considered as the dividing line. Characterized with low rolling hills, deep soils, and broad riparian areas the land in the eastern section of the City and the ETJ has been slow to develop, although this is beginning to change with completion of a toll road bypass of IH 35. The scenic western areas are noted for rugged hills, shallow soils, karst geologies, and environmentally-sensitive features such as endangered species habitat and aquifer contributing and recharge zones. The western areas have been popular locations for development and have been the focus of many development struggles.

Historically, state government and the university, have fueled Austin's economy. Over the last several decades the City has emerged as a center of high-tech and information-based industries. Some of these industries include computer and chip design, manufacturing and entertainment -music, video game design, and film production.

The Austin MSA has a number of institutions of higher learning. Most notable of these is the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, the flagship school of the University of Texas System. With fall 2007 enrollment of 50,170, UT has one of the top single-campus student populations in the country and the largest in the state. Austin is also home to St. Edwards University, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Community College, several seminaries, and professional trade schools. Additional institutions within the MSA include Texas State University in San Marcos and Round Rock (an expanding university system within the region) and Southwestern University in Georgetown. In 2007, there were more than 105,000 people enrolled in college and university course work in the MSA.


Since the adoption of the ATCP in 1979, no single trend has affected Austin and Central Texas more than the region's sustained population growth. The rapid growth over the last several decades and the development that it has spawned are two key themes that dominate political discourse and are a continuing source of community friction. Long-standing issues relating to growth include development in environmentally sensitive areas, the appropriateness of new development near, adjacent, and in neighborhoods, and the effects of more people on local and regional mobility. Other issues, such as affordability, climate change, and the land use and transportation issues posed by the recent construction of Texas State Highway 130 (SH -130), have more recently come to the forefront of community discourse. The new Comprehensive Plan must address the breadth and depth of issues generated by population growth in a manner that sustains the City and region's valued quality of life.

1. Population Growth

Since the adoption of the current ATCP in 1979, Austin's population has more than doubled, from 345,890 in 1980 to an estimated 750,000 in 2008. Over the same time period, the City's land area increased from almost 130 square miles to approximately 300 square miles. Most of the population growth came during the 1990s with more than 190,000 new people calling Austin home.

Although the population growth for the 2000s has slowed and will not meet that of the 1990s, the actual and projected increase in people is still impressive. Between 2006 and 2007, the US Census Bureau ranked Austin as the 8th fastest growing city in the country. By the end of this decade it is estimated that there may be 865,000 to 890,000 people living in Austin.

Significant population growth is not limited to the City of Austin; four of the surrounding suburbs were listed among the twenty-five fastest growing cities in Texas for 2006. More specifically, between 1980 and 2007, Austin-Round Rock MSA grew by nearly one million people to over 1.5 million. As such, the rate of population growth for the Austin-Round Rock MSA has paralleled and outpaced that of the City of Austin. Of primary concern is the rapid suburban growth in Williamson County and unincorporated areas of Travis County and, to a lesser extent, suburban and exurban growth in Hays and Bastrop Counties.

Historically speaking, the City of Austin has doubled its population every twenty to twenty-five years. In keeping with this trajectory, population projections prepared by the City Demographer estimate that by 2035 the population of the City may range from one million to almost 1.4 million people. However, as the City limits and ETJ have expanded, they have begun to abut those of surrounding municipalities. Consequently, the land areas that Austin can expand into are becoming more limited.

2. Environmental Protection

Over the last three decades, no other development-related issue that has affected and driven Austin politics, land use, and development policies more than the environment-specifically, issues related to surface and ground water quality.

Watershed Protection-Beginning in the early 1980s and 1990s, successive ordinances, policies, and initiatives relating to water quality were passed. The Comprehensive Watersheds Ordinance (1986) and the Urban Watershed Ordinance (1991) superseded previous watershed ordinances and extended water quality protection throughout the City. The Save Our Springs (SOS) Ordinance (1992) was adopted by referendum and placed more stringent requirements for development occurring in the contributing and recharge zones for the Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer. See Attachment D for a map of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge and Contributing zones.

Open Space Preservation-Having established development regulations in watersheds throughout the City, the focus of Austin's environmental efforts shifted toward the acquisition and preservation of environmentally significant lands. These efforts included the acquisition of endangered species habitat and the purchase of land and easements within the contributing and recharge zones of the Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer. In the mid-1990s, the City of Austin, Travis County, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Travis Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, other non-profit organizations, and private landowners entered into a partnership, the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP). The purpose of the BCCP is to acquire and preserve lands in the Hill Country to protect eight endangered species. Soon after the establishment of the BCCP, the City of Austin passed several large bond packages to acquire environmentally sensitive land to the west and southwest of the City. The Water Quality Protection Lands Program (2002) purchased land or easements in the contributing and recharge zones of the Barton Springs zone of the Edwards Aquifer to conserve and maintain Austin's water quality.

Drinking Water Protection and Desired Development Zones-Toward the end of the 1990s, the City embarked on its Smart Growth Initiative with the goals of minimizing damage to the environment and creating a more livable city. A central tenet of Austin's Smart Growth policies was the establishment of the Drinking Water Protection Zone (DWPZ) and the Desired Development Zone (DDZ) (See Attachment E). The DWPZ is located to the southwest, west and northwest of Austin and is where development is discouraged. This area includes:

• Watersheds that supply a portion of Austin's drinking water
• Endangered species habitat
• The Barton Springs zone of the Edwards Aquifer
• Steep slopes and shallow soils of the hill country not suited for intensive development.

The DDZ is where the city wanted to direct future growth and encompasses roughly the eastern two-thirds of Austin including the most highly urbanized areas of the city such as downtown, Central Austin and the University of Texas. This area was designated because it included because of a relative lack of significant environmentally-sensitive areas and because it contained significant portions of urbanized land.

In an effort to effectively guide future growth and protect environmental resources, the DWPZ and DDZ were incorporated into the Land Development Code. As a result, a development fee structure was created to incentivize projects in the DDZ (lower development fees) and to discourage projects in the DWPZ (higher development fees).

3. Neighborhoods

Over the past three decades, neighborhoods and neighborhood issues have been a significant element in the City of Austin's development policies. Chronologically, neighborhood-oriented policies fall within three broad time frames-the early 1980s, the late 1990s, and the 2000s.

Early 1980s: Area Studies and Preservation- Between 1982 and 1986, contentious zoning cases and other issues related to land use and growth spurred the creation of a series of area studies (one additional study was adopted in 1993). Once adopted by the City Council, these plans provided the basis for land use and zoning decisions.

In response to inner-city development pressures in the early 1980s, the City Council passed a number of ordinances designed to preserve the character of older, more established, and historic parts of the City.

Late 1990s: A Closer Look at Neighborhoods-Beginning in the late 1990s, the City of Austin focused more resources on neighborhood issues. The scope of these efforts ranged from restricting new intense commercial and industrial uses in East Austin to initiating neighborhood plans and revitalizing ailing commercial corridors.

Under Austin's first comprehensive plan in 1928, minorities as well as industrial and other intensive commercial uses were directed into East Austin. As such, this area of the City historically has been home to many of Austin's African-American and Hispanic communities. The East Austin Overlay (1997) zoning sought to limit locating new industrial uses in these minority neighborhoods by restricting a number of industrial and other intense commercial uses in a large swath of East Austin.

Based on the recommendations of a City Council appointed committee, the City, in lieu of attempting to create a new Comprehensive plan, began a neighborhood planning process in 1997. Once adopted by the City Council these plans became amendments to the Austin Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan. Austin's first neighborhood plan was adopted in 1998 and over the ensuing decade, more than three quarters of Austin's urban core neighborhoods were included in adopted neighborhood plans. A recommendation of the ATCP, the neighborhood planning process allows stakeholders to work together to create a vision and a plan for their communities. The plans cover land use, transportation, urban design, parks and open space, and special topics specific to a particular neighborhood

The 2000s: Neighborhood Development Pressures-As the local economy recovered from the early decade recession, inner-city neighborhoods began to experience a new wave of redevelopment pressure. Houses in many of Austin's oldest neighborhoods were demolished and replaced with new houses and duplexes that were viewed as out of scale and character with the surrounding neighborhood. In response to this, a number of ordinances were passed to preserve community character in the face of development pressures:

• Neighborhood Planning Design Tools (2003)
• Revised Duplex Regulations (2004)
• Residential Design and Compatibility Standards-"McMansion Ordinance" (2006),
• Local Historic District (2007).

4. Local and Regional Mobility

Repeatedly, over the past several years, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) bestowed upon Austin the dubious distinction of being the most congested medium-sized city in the nation. In 2005, the average Austinite spent forty-nine hours stuck in traffic. According to the 2005 TTI report, only two other regions in the state had worse peak-hour congestion: Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. In addition to the findings of the TTI, the Envision Central Texas planning process (a regional planning initiative), listed transportation issues as significant and needing to be addressed.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Cap Metro)-In 1985, voters in Austin and the surrounding area approved the creation of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority transit agency. The voters agreed that the communities would support the agency with the proceeds from a one percent sales tax. Voters in that 1985 election also approved a service plan that expanded the existing Austin city bus service and called for the development of a light rail transportation system to serve the area. Since its creation, Capital Metro has worked to provide new public transportation options, including passenger rail service. In a November 2000 referendum, voters in the service area narrowly voted down a proposal to develop a 52 mile regional light rail system.

Capital Metro's long-range transit plan, "All Systems Go!" includes expanded local and express bus service, new Rapid Bus service, and a 32-mile Urban Commuter Rail starter line. The Urban Commuter Rail line's nine stations will serve downtown and east Austin, northwest Austin and the City of Leander. Additionally, the utilization of Capital Metro's existing freight tracks provides the opportunity to create hike and bike trails along lands adjacent to the tracks.

Capital Metro began the process of implementing the "All Systems Go!" Rapid Bus and Urban Commuter Rail projects in 2004. Capital MetroRail service will debut in 2008 and it is anticipated that Rapid Bus service will be operational by 2011.

5. Additional Issues

There are a number of additional issues that have recently entered into the public debate. These include the development potential of State Highway 130 (SH 130), housing affordability, and sustainability and climate change.

State Highway 130 (SH 130)-The recently completed forty-nine mile SH 130 was intended as a bypass for the heavily congested IH 35 as it runs through the Austin region. Although built as a toll road, SH 130 will have a significant number of entrance and exits which could become drivers for future development along the corridor. This area is in the Desired Development Zone and largely vacant or under-developed. Some of the other issues surrounding SH 130 involve extension of infrastructure and services to new development. See Attachment F, State Highway 130 (SH-130) Austin-Area Map. The new plan is expected to provide policy direction regarding the development of this critical corridor.

Affordable Housing-Increasingly throughout this decade the issue of affordable housing has become a central theme in the discussions regarding growth and development in Austin. In recent years, Austin has focused on an incentive-based approach to creating affordable housing, frequently through the provision of density bonuses.

Sustainability and Climate Change-A City Council action from February 2007 resolved to make Austin national leader in the effort to reduce and reverse the negative effects of global warming. In terms of reaching this goal, a number of steps relate to internal City of Austin processes and procedures such as departmental plans, energy generation, and fleet operation:

• Transportation
• Land use planning
• Emerging technologies
• Energy conservation/renewable sources
• Revision of building codes
• Waste management
• Natural areas, landscapes and other carbon sinks
• Multi-generational community education
• Develop a menu of greenhouse gas reduction strategies for local implementation


Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing through this decade, the City passed several ordinances and began multiple planning initiatives to create a more compact urban form for the City.

Downtown-As with many downtowns throughout the nation, Austin's has seen a dramatic transformation through this decade. In 2000, the City undertook a planning study to develop a plan for the land around the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant. Over the last two decades, the Rainey Street neighborhood located in the southeast corner of Downtown has been the subject of numerous planning efforts culminating with its rezoning to Central Business District (CBD) zoning in 2005. Currently, the City is engaged in creating a Downtown plan.

Mueller Redevelopment-With the closing of Austin's Robert Mueller Municipal Airport (RMMA) the City was provided with a unique redevelopment opportunity. After years of community input, the City Council adopted a plan in 2000 that is leading to a walkable, mixed use district providing employment, retail, and residential opportunities. At present, construction on the former airport site is well underway and when fully built-out, the community will include a fully functioning children's hospital, a retail center, and an increasing number of occupied single-family houses.

Neighborhood Plan Combining District (NP)-Stemming from the late-1990s Smart Growth Initiative, the City adopted the Neighborhood Planning Special Infill Tool Ordinance (2001) which allows a variety of infill and mixed-use development. The tools can allow garage apartments and new single-family development on small lots, allowing modest commercial uses in residential areas, and providing several new varieties of mixed use development

University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO)-As part of the Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan process, the University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO) (2004) was established to promote high-density, pedestrian-friendly development in the area west of the University of Texas campus known as West Campus. As a result of the UNO, more than thirty projects providing more than 3,000 residential units and approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space are either built, under construction, or in the development review process.

Transit Oriented Districts (TOD)-The City's TOD ordinance (2005) was created to establish denser development surrounding the Capital Metro commuter rail stops. The aim was to improve connectivity between the surrounding community and the TOD district and establish housing affordability goals for new development. As new rail lines are planned, the number of TOD districts will increase.

North Burnet/Gateway Neighborhood Plan-Stemming from the Neighborhood Planning process, the North Burnet/Gateway 2035 Master Plan provides the framework for what could be a second Downtown for Austin. The plan, covering over 2,300 acres, presents the vision and steps required to redevelop the existing low density, auto-oriented and industrial uses into a higher density mixed-use neighborhood that is more pedestrian-friendly and takes advantage of the links to commuter rail transit. The plan envisions that the population of the area could eventually reach 60,000 people. This area also includes a major University of Texas research center and the Domain, a large mixed-use project and lifestyle center that currently includes higher-end retail and restaurants and will soon include more housing and retail, a hotel, as well as employment centers.

Commercial Design Standards and Vertical Mixed-Use (VMU)-Based on a task force's findings, the City Council adopted Subchapter E: Design Standards of the Austin Land Development Code (LDC) also known as the Commercial Design Standards. The purpose of these standards is to improve the quality of commercial development by establishing a type of form based code that is dependant upon the adjacent roadway type.

Implemented through a community involvement process (2007-2008) and a number of Land Development Code amendments, the Vertical Mixed Use (VMU) provisions were established as part of the Commercial Design Standards. The VMU established a building type that required a vertical integration of commercial uses on the ground floor and residential uses on upper floors. VMU provisions also provide incentives to build more dense projects if affordable housing is an element of the project. VMU properties are usually located along major roadways.

Austin Climate Protection Plan-More recently, as climate change has become a more pressing issue, the City is undertaking aggressive steps to address this emerging concern on a local and regional level. The Austin Climate Protection Plan proposes to make Austin a leading city in the nation in the fight against global warming. The broad elements of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions include:

• Municipal Plan: Makes all COA facilities, fleets, and operations totally carbon-neutral by 2020.
• Utility Plan: Implements the most aggressive utility GHG-reduction plan in the nation through dramatic increases in conservation, efficiency, and renewable programs; requirements for carbon neutrality on any new generation; and by early retirement of existing utility GHG emissions.
• Homes and Buildings Plan: Makes Austin building codes for both residential and commercial properties the most energy efficient in the nation.
• Community Plan: Develops a comprehensive plan for reducing GHG emissions from sources community-wide.
• "Go Neutral" Plan: Provides mechanisms for all businesses and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint to zero.

Local Passenger Rail-Besides the recently approved thirty-two mile commuter rail line, current passenger rail discussion center on a fifteen-mile streetcar route. The proposal is to eventually link the RMMA redevelopment, the University of Texas, Downtown, the Riverside Drive Corridor, and the Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

The Austin-San Antonio Intermunicipal Commuter Rail District is currently engaged in long-term planning efforts to establish a passenger rail line on an existing freight line that will run between San Antonio and Georgetown.


The Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department (NPZD) will direct the efforts of the Consultant.


The following anticipated tasks and services represent the City's proposed approach for the Comprehensive Plan process. The Consultant is expected to prepare interim status reports throughout the planning process. These tasks and services can be modified based on input from the selected consultant.


The consultant will work with staff to develop an innovative and extensive public involvement plan for the City's review and approval. Elements of the plan may include but not be limited to:

• Develop and conduct opinion surveys (Web-based self-selected, and scientific)
• Product identification/branding (name, themes, look and feel of project)
• City-wide issue identification workshops and focus groups
• City-wide charrettes and/or educational workshops
• "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats" (S.W.O.T. analysis)
• Newsletters
• Interactive project Web site
• Visual preference survey or similar surveying method
• Presentations

Public Participation Plan
Visual preference survey and results

Consultant Responsibilities
• Review draft opinion survey
• Work with community to develop product identification
• Develop Web access and feedback process
• Facilitate workshops, focus groups, and charrettes
• Review and analyze results of the opinion survey
• Assist staff with Web site development and maintenance
• Develop and conduct visual preference survey
• Work with staff to develop presentations

Staff Responsibilities
• Develop draft and final opinion survey
• Compile and analyze results of opinion survey
• Work with consultant on product identification
• Set up meetings and workshops
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Develop Web access and feedback process
• Newsletter
• Press releases


While the public participation plan is being developed the consultant will work with the staff on other startup activities including but not limited to the following:

• Refine project work plan
• Document review/background research
• Stakeholder interviews
• City Council and Planning Commission meeting(s) (joint or separate)
• Participate in the project public kickoff meeting(s)

Final work plan and revised schedule of planning process

Consultant Responsibilities
• Conduct stakeholder interviews
• Facilitate meeting with City Council and Planning Commission
• Facilitate a kick-off meeting with the general public
• Update and maintain Web access and feedback
• Prepare a final work plan
• Review existing documents

Staff Responsibilities
• Provide list of stakeholder interviewees
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Provide consultant with copies of relevant documents to review
• Update and maintain Web access and feedback
• Meet with the public
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Newsletter
• Press releases


Staff will primarily collect data necessary to create a Community Inventory which will contain background studies and data that will serve as the factual and analytical basis for the plan. Consultant may be involved in data collection and reporting. The community inventory should include the following:

• Demographics, including Population and Household Characteristics
• Housing and Neighborhood Conditions
• Economic Development and Employment
• Environmental Resources
• Land Use, Zoning and Development Trends and Capacity
• Transportation
• Infrastructure and Public Utilities
• Capital Improvement and Major Facilities
• Parks and Open Space
• Cultural and Historic Resources

Summary report of existing conditions and inventory analysis

Consultant Responsibilities
• Review documentation and analysis of relevant data
• Prepare analysis and report of existing conditions
• Maintain and update Web access and feedback
• Review community inventory

Staff Responsibilities
• Initial data collection
• Review Draft reports
• Initial writing of Community Inventory
• Copy and distribute draft reports
• Meet with the public
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Maintain and update Web access and feedback
• Newsletter
• Press releases


This analysis will result in an estimate of how much population, housing, and economic growth the study area could accommodate in the future under existing development conditions and regulations. This capacity analysis will allow the testing of alternative growth scenarios to evaluate how changes in policies could affect the future of Austin. The results should include:
• Demographic allocation, land use, and transportation impacts
• Trends, land demand, and development capacity analysis
• Testing of alternative Growth Scenarios including development capacity analysis

Data, reports, models, and techniques that result from the land use and transportation modeling

Consultant Responsibilities:
• Prepare Development Capacity, Trends, and Demand Analysis and Preferred Growth Scenario Reports
• Work with staff to understand and use modeling techniques and data
• Facilitate Workshops/Charrettes/Focus Groups to test alternative Growth Scenarios
• Facilitate meeting(s) with Planning Commission and City Council
• Maintain and update Web access and feedback
• Make necessary formatting and modifications with data provided from City

Staff Responsibilities
• Provide population and employment projections
• Provide other relevant information and documents
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Review draft reports
• Copy and distribute reports to appropriate groups and persons
• Maintain and update Web access and feedback
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Meet with the public
• Provide small-group facilitation at Workshops/Charrettes/Focus Groups
• Newsletter
• Press releases


This task will summarize the community of Austin's key themes and vision for the future arising from the citizen public participation process. This task will create the policy framework plan that will guide the development of the more detailed plan elements of task six.

• Key Issues Report (themes for the plan)
• Draft of Vision and Policy Framework Component

Key Issues Report and Draft of Vision and Policy Framework Component of new Comprehensive Plan

Consultant Responsibilities
• Facilitate meeting with staff
• Facilitate City-wide workshops (at least four)
• Facilitate work sessions with Planning Commission, Advisory boards (one joint session) and Commission, and City Council
• Prepare Key Issues Report
• Prepare Draft Vision and Policy Framework Component

Staff Responsibilities
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Review, copy and distribute reports to appropriate groups and persons
• Attend necessary meetings for review and approval of Vision and Policy Framework Component
• Maintain and update Web access
• City Council and Planning Commission briefings
• Meet with the public
• Newsletter
• Press releases


This task involves creating a draft of the new comprehensive plan elements for the purposes of starting the public review process. The consultant will prepare a draft Comprehensive Plan that shall include at a minimum the following elements:
• Introduction
• Vision and Policy Framework element
• Future land use element-a generalized rather than detailed future land use map that focuses the intensity and form of development
• Traffic circulation and transit element
• Wastewater, solid waste, drainage and potable water element
• Conservation and environmental resources element
• Recreation and open space element
• Housing element
• Public services and facilities element, which shall include but not be limited to a capitol improvement program
• Public buildings and related facilities element
• Economic element for commercial and industrial development and redevelopment
• Health and human services element
• Regional context
• Implementation, governance, and plan update/review process

Draft Comprehensive Plan

Consultant Responsibilities
• Meetings with staff
• Draft the Comprehensive Plan elements
• Facilitate Public Workshops
• Update and maintain Web access and feedback
• Meet with Advisory Boards and Commissions, Planning Commission, and City Council for a minimum of three meetings

Staff Responsibilities
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Review, copy, and distribute drafts and reports to appropriate groups and persons
• Meet with the public
• Update and maintain Web access and feedback
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Newsletter
• Press releases


This task involves refining the plan elements based on feedback from the public review process.

Refined Comprehensive Plan Draft for public review

Consultant Responsibilities
• Meetings with staff
• Draft of refined plan elements
• Facilitate Public Workshops (minimum of four workshops)
• Meet with advisory boards and commission, Planning Commission, and City Council for a minimum of three meetings

Staff Responsibilities
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Review copy, and distribute draft to appropriate groups and persons
• Meet with the public
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Update and maintain Web access and feedback
• Newsletter
• Press releases


The consultant shall present the Comprehensive Plan (Adoption Draft) to the City of Austin Planning Commission and City Council for their recommendation consideration and approval.

Comprehensive Plan – Adoption and Final Draft

Consultant Responsibilities
• Production of the Adoption draft of Comprehensive Plan
• Meeting with staff
• Presentations at Planning Commission and City Council Public Hearings for a minimum of three meetings-one Planning Commission hearing for t heir recommendation to the City Council and two for City Council hearings for multiple readings of the ordinance adopting the Plan

Staff Responsibilities
• Schedule meeting times and locations
• Prepare staff reports
• Legal notification
• City Council briefings
• Planning Commission briefings
• Meet with Public
• Prepare adoption ordinance
• Update and Maintain Web access
• Newsletter
• Press releases


• Public Participation Plan
• Final work plan and revised schedule of planning process
• Visual Preference Survey
• Visual Preference Survey Results
• Summary report of existing conditions and inventory analysis
• Data, reports, models, and techniques that result from the land use and transportation modeling
• Development Capacity, Trends, Demand Analysis, and Preferred Growth Scenario Report
• Key Issues Report and Draft of Vision and Policy Framework Component of new Comprehensive Plan
• Draft Comprehensive Plan
• Refined Comprehensive Plan Draft for public review
• Comprehensive Plan - Adoption Draft


An aggressive two-year timeline is proposed for the development of the new Comprehensive Plan.


The estimated budget for these services is $1,300,000.


City staff will evaluate the responses to this RFQ. A shortlist of up to five firms will be selected and interviewed by staff based on qualifications and compliance with the requirements in these documents. Staff will make a recommendation and select up to three firms to make a presentation to the Austin City Council. The Council will make the final consultant selection for this project.


A review of the following documents may prove useful to prospective contractor. The successful team shall be required to access and review these documents. Bidders are not expected to have reviewed every document; however, they should have a familiarity with the important issues facing Austin and common themes expressed in a number of City plans and ordinances such as neighborhood plans, the Commercial Design Standards, and station area plans. Bidders should also have familiarity with the results of the Envision Central Texas (ECT) regional planning process and the Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority's transit plan.

City of Austin's Austin Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan and 2008 Update-
Commercial Design Standards-
City of Austin Neighborhood Planning-
City of Austin Transit Oriented Development-
City of Austin Bicycle-
City of Austin Climate Protection Program-
City of Austin Watershed home page-
City of Austin Water Quality Protection-
City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office-
City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department-
City of Austin Demographic Information-
City of Austin Downtown Redevelopment-
City of Austin Air Quality homepage-
Envision Central Texas: http-
Capital Metropolitan Transit Agency plan-
City of Austin Clean Water Program-


The consultant will work with staff to ensure that all data and software products are compatible with current City resources.


* Land Development and Urban Planning
with emphasis on comprehensive planning experience
* Public Involvement/Public Relations
* Civil Engineering
* Environmental Services
Visualization Services
* Architecture/Urban Design
* Landscape Architecture
* Financial modeling & analysis
* Traffic System Planning
Computer-Aided Design
Transportation Engineering
Transportation Planning
Solid Waste Management
Health and Human Services Planning
Housing Policy
Regional Planning
Arts and Culture
Parks and Recreation
Economic Development
Capital Improvement Planning and Coordination

* Subconsultant experience in these areas will be evaluated under "Subconsultant Firms' Comparable Project Experience".


Attachment A - Map of the City of Austin
Attachment B - Demographic Profile of Austin
Attachment C - Map of Austin-Round Rock MSA
Attachment D - Map of Edwards Aquifer Contributing and Recharge Zones
Attachment E - Map of the Drinking Water Protection Zone (DWPZ) and
the Desired Development Zone (DDZ)
Attachment F - State Highway 130 (SH-130) Austin-Area Map
Attachment G - City of Austin Protest Procedures
Attachment H - Affidavit
Attachment I - Evaluation Criteria
Attachment J - MBE/WBE Procurement Program

Posted October 6, 2008

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