San Marcos prepares for future growth, passes new land development code


The city of San Marcos has a new land development code. After four years of planning, city council members passed the final reading of Code SMTX Tuesday night.  

The city’s land development code contains rules for development and regulates land use in San Marcos. The city looked to revise the code to make way for new development that will fit the community’s vision for future growth.  

“In the years of 2012, 2013, and 2014, San Marcos was named the fastest growing community in the nation for cities of 50,000 population and over,” said San Marcos planning manager Abby Gillfillan. 

Since 2012 around 1,800 single family homes have been built and about 13,000 multi-family bedrooms with the construction of new apartment complexes and condos. The massive growth is the reason the city began planning a new code four years ago. 

“You don’t see it the next day, but planning really does have an impact on our community,” said Gillfillan. 

A big focus for the new code is neighborhoods and what residents want to see happen in their community. The city says Code SMTX will help ensure that each neighborhood maintains its existing character and follows development and redevelopment patterns desired by the residents.  

The city’s Preferred Scenario Map shows where all future development can happen. “Those dark purple areas are where you’ll see some of the higher mixed-use types of development,” said Gillfillan.

That’s mostly near the downtown area or a little further south on Interstate 35. From now on, the dark purple and light purple areas are the only places people should see student housing or apartments being built. 

“I think that we have a lot more protections in this code. With the passing of this code there are a whole lot of protections in neighborhoods that don’t exist now,” said Gillfillan. 

Gillfillan says wherever there is yellow on the map, or single family homes, there will not be any construction of large-scale apartments. “Where SMTX really applies is for people who want to come in and do new development and would like to do something different than what they are already allowed to do. So, if you’d like to do something different from what you’re already allowed to do, we’ve created new options, and those new options we’ve created for you to pick from are in line with our comprehensive plan,” said Gillfillan. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports a large number of people in San Marcos rent property. According to its data, over 70 percent of all homes and apartments in San Marcos are rental properties. In Austin, a little more than half of all homes are rentals. The closest rental percentage to San Marcos is College Station where 64 percent of properties are rented by the people who live there. 

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