Council Takes Action in Support of Families Impacted by Winter Storm
February 9, 2023
Late Fees for City Utility Bills Waived to Help Residents Affected by Outages
Austin City Council approved a number of resolutions and ordinances Thursday to provide additional support to households impacted by the recent winter storm.
They included two ordinances initiated by the Development Services Department to help residents make needed repairs safely and quickly.
The ordinances, in effect through March 31, 2023, waive permitting and development fees, as well as some permitting and registration requirements, for work on single- and multi-family homes that were damaged as a result of winter weather from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2.
They also waive late-payment fees for City of Austin utility bills with due dates between Jan. 31 - Feb. 17, 2023, to help residents affected by outages, storm cleanup and postal delays.
"Our priority is to ensure our community can recover safely and quickly from this winter storm," said Development Services Interim Director José Roig. "We want the community to know we're here to help through the recovery and thank the City Manager and the City Council for taking quick action to support Austinites in need."
The first ordinance waives permitting and development fees for structural repairs and tree removal associated with the winter storm. The waiver applies to plan reviews, inspections, demolitions and variances, but not to re-inspections when repairs do not comply with Code requirements and fail initial inspections. The ordinance also waives late fees for City of Austin utility bills with due dates between Jan. 31 and Feb. 17.
The second ordinance allows the Building Official to exempt some electrical work from permit requirements, extends the deadline for some permit applications, and waives a City of Austin registration requirement for electricians who are licensed to work in Texas.
The City’s Electrical Code typically requires an individual to obtain a permit to install, alter, repair, replace, or remodel an electrical system. Following the recent winter storm, the City Building Official expects many small-scale electric repairs. By temporarily waiving those permit requirements, this ordinance enables faster completion of repairs to support public health and safety and prevent further damage to structures. While the ordinance authorizes the City’s Building Official to waive the permit requirement, work must still follow all federal, state, and local requirements.
For other structural repairs that relate to the winter storm, the deadline to apply for a retroactive permit has been extended to five days after work begins. When seeking a permit after work begins, applicants should note “2023 Winter Weather Event” on the application.
As part of recovery efforts, inspectors are available for electrical and plumbing emergency repairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents should call 512-974-2030 for electrical inspections and 512-974-1250 for plumbing inspections. Please leave a message if the inspector does not respond immediately. As a reminder, all plumbing and electrical work must still be performed by licensed contractors.
The Development Services Department’s (DSD) Permits for Emergency Repairs webpage offers additional information about emergency repairs and permitting. Austinites who have questions about emergency repairs can contact Austin 3-1-1 anytime, DSD’s emergency repairs hotline at 512-974-1500, Monday – Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., visit the Permitting and Development Center (6310 Wilhelmina Delco Dr.) or utilize the chat feature at DevelopmentATX.com.
Austin City Council also extended the recently signed local disaster declaration for up to 30 days. A resolution noted that the City was taking “extraordinary measures” to protect and shelter people from the impact of prolonged freezing temperatures, freezing rain, and ice accumulation.