city of San Antonio

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File #: 19-7814   
Type: Staff Briefing - Without Ordinance
In control: Planning Commission
On agenda: 10/21/2019
Posting Language: Briefing related to the 2020 UDC Amendment Cycle. (Tony Felts, AICP, Development Services Policy Administrator, (210) 207-0153,, Development Services Department)
Date Ver.Action ByActionResultAction DetailsMeeting DetailsVideo
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DEPARTMENT: Development Services                     






SUBJECT:  2020 Unified Development Code (UDC) Amendment Process



A briefing on the 5-year UDC amendment process, procedures, and timeline.



The San Antonio City Council adopted the UDC on May 3, 2001.  The UDC implements the City's Comprehensive Plan and Master Plan policies. In addition, the UDC includes development regulations for subdivision platting, zoning, and street and drainage design standards, as well as historic preservation. This amendment process is intended to help strengthen and clarify regulations, and carry out City Council priorities. UDC Chapter 35-111 provides for a review and update process to occur every 5 years - years ending in “0” or “5”.  The last UDC amendment process occurred in 2015. 



The UDC authorizes the Zoning Commission, Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment, Historic Design Review Commission, City Council, City Staff, and other appropriate city boards to initiate amendments to the UDC to modify procedures and standards for workability and administrative efficiency, eliminate unnecessary development costs, and to update the procedures and standards to reflect changes in the law or the state of the art in land use planning and urban design.  Groups and individuals from outside the City may submit amendments to the UDC.  Amendments submitted from outside the City should meet one of the following criteria:


1.                     Editing amendments to provide for editing changes that do not alter the impact of the provision being addressed and including changes such as spelling, grammar correction, formatting, text selection, or addition of text in compliance with existing ordinances, statutes or case law.


2.                     Clarification amendments to provide for ease of interpretation and understanding of the existing provisions of the UDC. Clarification amendments should not change or alter the intent or meaning of existing UDC provisions.


3.                     Rule interpretation determinations (RIDs) are written policies and administrative interpretations made by the development services director, historic preservation officer and planning and community development director for subjects which are not fully provided for in the UDC. RIDs are based on case or project experience and may or may not result in the creation of a UDC amendment.


If an amendment from outside the City does not meet one of these three criterions, then the Planning Commission may choose, at their discretion, to sponsor that amendment or modified version of the amendment.


The Development Services Department (DSD) begins receiving submittals for proposed amendments on January 1, 2020.  This year, the DSD has set up a dedicated email address for correspondence related to the UDC Amendment Process as well as UDC Amendment Submittals.  That email address is <>.


DSD will continue to receive amendments until the statutory deadline date of May 1, 2020.  Between January and May, as submittals come in, DSD will triage each amendment submittal, request additional information as necessary, and conduct small-scale focus groups consisting of industry experts, applicable agencies, neighborhood leaders, , and the development community.  After the triage, the Planning Commission Technical Advisory Committee (PCTAC) will begin their work.


The PCTAC is a group of locally recognized community members and their alternates appointed by the Planning Commission.  The PCTAC includes representatives from the Planning Commission, Zoning Commission, Board or Adjustment, and Parks and Recreation Board.  Additionally, the PCTAC includes experience members, development/real estate professionals, professional engineers, planning professionals, architects, environmental and historic preservation specialists, and community members.  The PCTAC advises the Planning Commission on the Major Thoroughfare Plan and Unified Development Code amendments and meets as often as necessary.  The PCTAC will review each and every UDC Amendment submittal received in detail and make their recommendations.  Past experience has shown us that some amendments take much more time than others, and some discussions require the formation of subcommittees for a more detailed review.  The PCTAC will meet from May until October.


By October 30, 2020, the PCTAC must forward their recommendations to the boards and commissions for their review and recommendation.  In practice, amendments are forwarded to the Planning Commission, Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustment, Historic and Design Review Commission, Housing Commission, and Parks and Recreation Board, as necessary.  Referrals by the boards and commissions must forward their recommendations to City Council by December 1, 2020.  Any amendments passed by City Council become effective January 1, 2021.  After passage, DSD will coordinate with Municode in order to codify all of the amendments.



Throughout the UDC Amendment process, DSD will conduct an extensive community and stakeholder outreach program utilizing the SA Speak Up process, community meetings, social media, constant contact, and the DSD website.  DSD will also conduct a comprehensive educational outreach campaign in 2021 after the UDC Amendment process ends in order to educate the community about the new changes to the code, and how those changes may affect them and their development process.  This outreach will be done primarily utilizing SA Speak Up and DSD Academy sessions.  We will also utilize social media and constant conduct to advertise the training opportunities.





January 1, 2020

Amendment submittals begin being submitted

January, 2020

First SA Speak Up Survey gathering input about the UDC Amendment process and providing information on submitting amendments and the amendment process

May 1, 2020

All amendment submittals must be completed

May, 2020

Second SA Speak Up Survey gathering input about the major themes of the UDC Amendments that have been submitted, having the citizens identify their priorities based on the UDC submittals provided, and providing information about the submitted amendments

Mid-May, 2020

PCTAC begins meeting

October, 2020

Third SA Speak Up Survey gathering input about the major themes of the UDC Amendments after PCTAC review, having the citizens identify their priorities based on the UDC amendments and PCTAC process, and providing information about the submitted amendments

October 30, 2020

Amendments forwarded to boards and commissions with PCTAC recommendations for review

November, 2020

Boards and commissions review amendments and make recommendations

December 1, 2020

Boards and commissions recommendations forwarded to City Council

December, 2020

City Council considers amendments

January 1, 2021

All passed UDC Amendments go into effect

January, 2021

Fourth and final SA Speak Up Survey gathering input about the major themes of the UDC Amendments as passed by Council, having the citizens identify their priorities for training and the PCTAC process, to inform staff as to what the demand is for UDC training

January through March, 2021

DSD conducts internal and external trainings and works with Municode to codify amendments


Since the 2015 UDC Update process, several changes have been made to the UDC as a result of CCRs or Stakeholder Groups.  These changes have included:


                     Zoning Sign and Courtesy Notice Changes

                     Creating the RIO-7 Overlay in the vicinity of San Pedro Creek

                     Modifications the demolition procedures for historic structures

                     Military Lighting Overlay District (MLOD) update

                     Comprehensive Land use Category Updates

                     Short Term Rental regulations

                     Infill Development Zone (IDZ) update

                     Atlas 14 (stormwater) update

                     Habitat Compliance Form update


DSD anticipates that City Departments other than DSD will submit major amendments during the 2020 Update Process.  Among those we expect are amendments from the Planning Department regarding the UDC Diagnostic Program which is designed to ensure that the UDC is meeting the goals of the SA Tomorrow Plan.  DSD also expects major amendments from Neighborhood and Housing Services and the Housing Commission to address affordable housing in San Antonio.  Additionally, DSD anticipates submittals from Transportation and Capital Improvements relating to infrastructure and the Office of Historic Preservation relating to historic and design review issues.



This item is for briefing purposes only.



There is no anticipated fiscal impact at this time.



This item is for briefing purposes only.