News Flash

Irving Legislative Insider

Posted on: May 22, 2023

Legislature Close to Enacting Laws that Restrict City Authority

The Texas Legislature will vote in the next few days on legislation that would restrict the city’s ability to enforce zoning and development rules, including what can be built in residential areas.

House Bill 3921/Senate Bill 1787

These bills would strip a city of its ability to enforce existing regulations regarding residential lot sizes and the distance a structure must be set back from a street, stream or flood plain on small lots in residential districts. If enacted, HB 3921 would allow more density in already zoned residential areas. The bill is set on the House Calendar Tuesday, May 23, which is the final stage before going to the governor for his signature. Irving city staff addressed a letter to the committee before the hearing earlier this month. SB 1787 is set on the House calendar for Tuesday, May 23.

House Bill 2789/Senate Bill 1412 

These bills would allow accessory dwelling units on any single-family or duplex residential lots, limited only by lot size. The bill was substituted before being voted on in committee to allow some restrictions related to parking requirements and other zoning standards The City of Irving addressed concerns about this bill prior to it being voted out of committee. Senate Bill 1412 is set on the House calendar today, May 22.

House Bill 2127/Senate Bill 814

House Bill 2127 and Senate Bill 814 are sweeping bills that would limit or eliminate local authority in several “fields” where some state regulation exists. 

Currently, city officials are left to wonder what city ordinances are affected. The “fields” pre-empted include: the Agriculture Code, the Natural Resources Code, the Finance Code, the Occupations Code and the Transportation Code, among others. A significant amount of time has been spent by Irving staff and staff in other cities trying to understand what could be off limits. If the legislation passes, the answer may lie in the courts.

A change in Senate last week removed liability for individual city employees, but waives immunity for the city if an individual sues based on a violation of the bill.

HB 2127 has passed both chambers and is headed to the governor’s office. Governor Abbott has indicated he will sign the bill.

House Bill 3135

House Bill 3135 requires cities to conduct an overall cost-benefit analysis of all development rules every 10 years. The legislation provides no methodology for conducting such a study. City officials are concerned about the amount of time required and are not sure there is a consultant who can perform this study.

City officials think a fiscal analysis is impossible because a city serves the public. To attempt to quantify a development code is impractical. For example, there is a quantifiable cost of installing plumbing in a unit but how can one identify an individual’s personal cost.

Development regulations are intended to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of a city’s residents. They benefit property owners, tenants, business owners and operators, employees and anyone who lives, works, drives in or through a city.

This bill was approved over the weekend in the Senate Local Government committee but hasn’t been placed on the Senate calendar. All House bills must be approved in the Senate by Wednesday, May 24.

The House and Senate leadership may take bills out of order and/or suspend rules to vote on pending legislation earlier than scheduled. Action may have already occurred by the time this update is posted.

Senators who represent Irving

House members who represent Irving