C20-2023-001 Childcare Services was approved by City Council on Oct. 19, 2023


On October 4, 2018, the Austin City Council passed Resolution No. 20181004-036, directing the City Manager to evaluate fee and zoning regulations pertaining to childcare centers with the goal of supporting affordable and high-quality childcare in the city. The resolution acknowledges that removing certain barriers imposed by the city is crucial for facilitating the establishment, expansion, and operation of childcare facilities. It specifically identifies Land Development Code regulations and City fees associated with opening, expanding, and operating childcare centers as significant obstacles faced by providers in Austin.

In response to Resolution No. 20181004-036, in 2019 the Planning and Zoning Department, Development Services Department, and Austin Public Health provided a report outlining recommendations for implementing changes to the LDC and introducing fee waiver programs as identified by the City Council. With regard to the proposed Land Development Code modifications, the report proposed allowing Day Care Services (Limited) as an accessory use in principal residential areas. Additionally, a new definition and use category called "Child Care Services" is proposed to be incorporated into the LDC. Concurrently, the existing definition of "Day Care Services" is proposed to be revised to "Adult Care Services" to differentiate services for enrollees aged 18 and above.  

Furthermore, the report underscored the necessity of aligning local regulations with state licensing regulations and recommends adjusting the maximum allowable enrollment in Day Care Services (Limited) from 6 to 12 persons. This adjustment sought both alignment with state regulations and uniformity among home-based childcare providers. Additionally, it is proposed that the maximum enrollment limit for Day Care Services (General) be revised from more than 6 persons but no more than 20 persons to more than 12 persons but not more than 24 persons, and the proposed change for Day Care Services (Commercial) is recommended to be changed from 21 or more persons to 25 or more persons.  

In January of 2023, City Council passed Resolution No. 20230126-055, instructing the City Manager to develop necessary amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC) to increase opportunities for childcare services throughout the city. Additionally, the resolution calls for the creation of a grant program to assist qualifying childcare operations in covering City fees associated with opening or expanding a childcare facility.

The Resolution directs staff to develop LDC amendments that achieve the following objectives:

  1. Introduce a zoning use classification and definition for Childcare Services.
  2. Eliminate requirements for non-accessible parking in childcare services.
  3. Allow childcare services as an accessory use in principal residential areas.
  4. Modify the maximum number of enrollees allowed in childcare services.
  5. Increase opportunities for childcare services throughout the city by:
    1. Adjust zoning districts where childcare services are permitted or conditional uses.
    2. Designate childcare services as permitted uses in areas with childcare deserts.
    3. Implement other appropriate changes to the conditional use permitting process.
  6. Restrict childcare operations in zoning districts that are incompatible with their use.

On August 16, 2023, Codes and Ordinances Joint Committee recommended approval of staff’s recommendations to Planning Commission with the following amendments:  

  1. Permit Adult Care Services in all zoning districts where Childcare Services is proposed to be a permitted use.  
  2. Require a Conditional Use Permit for Childcare Services in industrial zoning districts.  
  3. Determine incompatible commercial land uses and add a distance requirement that mirrors City Code Section 25-2-839.  
  4. Add Childcare and Adult Care Services as a permittable ground floor use in vertical mixed-use development.  
  5. Eliminate off-street parking requirements for Adult Care Services.  
  6. Remove “daytime” from the land use definitions and replace with “less than 24 hours.”  
  7. Add to the Childcare Services land use definition that it is for children 13 and below.
  8. Ensure the use does not “trigger” compatibility.

Summary of Proposed Amendment

The proposed code amendments aim to enhance and expand the provision of Childcare Services in the city. The amendments include the following key improvements:

  1. Land Use Definitions: Definitions for Childcare Services have been created. The previous Day Care Services definition has been modified to allow for day care services for persons 18 years of age or older. The Child Care Services Commercial and General land uses have been consolidated.
  2. Enrollee Caps: Limits on the number of enrollees for Childcare Services have been increased as follows:
    1. Limited: Up to 12 children
    2. General: More than 12
  3. Zoning District Modifications: In order to broaden access to childcare, Childcare Services has been proposed as a permitted use in zoning districts where it is currently a conditional use, and as a conditional use in districts where it is currently not permitted (Exhibits A-C).
  4. Restricting Incompatible Uses: Industrial zoning districts (Industrial Park, Major Industry, Limited Industrial Services), which may pose potential hazards or incompatibility, have been designated as conditional for Childcare Services.
  5. Regulating Plans Alignment: All applicable Regulating Plans have been updated to align with the changes in allowable uses for each zoning district.
  6. Accessory Use: Childcare Services (Limited) has been added as an accessory use to a principal residential use, allowing for the establishment of smaller childcare facilities within residential areas without the need for a change of use if the primary residential use is maintained. Childcare Services (Limited) has been added as an accessory use to a principal civic and commercial use if certain conditions are met.
  7. Compatibility: Compatibility requirements for structures within 540 feet of a childcare or day care use have been removed unless triggered by another use or zoning district.

By implementing these amendments, Staff aims to create more opportunities for childcare services, ensuring accessibility and safety while accommodating the diverse needs of the community. These improvements contribute to a more vibrant and family-friendly city, supporting the well-being and development of its residents.

Review and Adoption Timeline

  • August 16th: Recommended for approval by the Codes and Ordinances Joint Committee  
  • September 26th: Recommended by the Planning Commission on a unanimous vote
  • October 19th: Approved by City Council on a 10-0-1 vote

Case Manager Contact

Jordan Feldman, Planning Department, Jordan.Feldman@austintexas.gov

Paul Books, Planning Department, Paul.Books@austintexas.gov


This map displays the changes to the areas permitted for child care services. On the left-side you see the areas where the new child care services (general) land use is permitted in green and conditional in yellow. On the right-side of the map, you see the areas where the previous daycare services (commercial) land use was permitted in green, conditional in yellow, and not permitted in red. The map highlights a substantial 255% increase in the total area now permitting child care as a land use.

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