Planning & Development

Press Release

Council Approves Updates to Residential Buffering, Lighting, Garage and Dumpster Screening Standards

January 26, 2023 -- City Council approved amendments to the City Code of Ordinances and City of Houston Construction and Electrical Codes on January 25 to address the effects that may arise when newly constructed, mid-rise and high-rise structures abut single-family and small scale multi-family residential structures.

The amendments were presented to Council by the Planning and Development Department as part of the Livable Places initiative, which is working to update portions of the City’s development code to create more opportunities for walkability, affordability and equity. These changes will apply to all building permit applications for commercial properties starting February 25, 2023.

“Houston needs to grow up, not out. That requires us to make sure that new development is sensitive to existing residents and their quality of life,” said Planning and Development Director Margaret Wallace Brown. “These changes will ensure that high-rise and mid-rise structures built near single-family homes are good neighbors.”

The amendments address four main areas:

  • Residential buffering standards establish a buffer distance between all single-family residential or multi-unit residential properties and high-rise or mid-rise structures. The Livable Places Action Committee introduced a new category of mid-rise structures that must provide a buffer when located along only local streets and abut single-family residential or multi-unit residential properties (Chapter 42).
  • Garage screening and lighting standards prevent headlights from cars in parking garages from shining on adjacent residential properties. The amendment prevents garage ceiling lights from shining into adjacent residential properties or streets. The Livable Places Action Committee revised the exterior cover standards for parking garages and enhanced permitting requirements to prevent light trespass from garage ceiling lights on adjacent residential properties or streets (Construction and Electrical Codes).
  • Wall or pole mounted light fixtures standards prevent wall or pole lights on commercial properties from shining into residential properties or streets. The Committee revised the standards to require that all outdoor fixtures be fully enclosed in the fixture housing and shielded properly to make sure there is no light trespass (Electrical Code).
  • Dumpster screening standards require that commercial developments provide dumpster screening when they are located adjacent to streets or residential properties and include the dumpster location on site plans (Chapter 39).

To learn more about the amendments visit