City of Houston Performance Design Standards for New Multi-Family Projects

January 6, 2015 by Matthew Stewart

City of Houston Performance Design Standards for New Multi-Family Projects

Are you planning a multi-family project in the City of Houston?  Have you investigated Chapter 42-230 of the City’s Code of Ordinances?  This section of code, although fairly minimal, can have a significant impact on a project if overlooked in the preliminary planning stage.

The requirements found in the aforementioned section of code pertain to multi-family developments and address items such as density, parking, open space, access, and fire protection commonly referred to as Performance Standards.  A brief summary of these standards are shown below:

  • Private streets shall be a minimum of 28’ in width.
  • Two points of access to a public street shall be provided when a multi-family development is located on a tract of land (1) acre and greater.
  • Fire hydrants shall be located along each private street in a manner that will allow firefighting apparatus to park and connect by hose to a hydrant not more than 300 feet away and reach any part of any building within the development with a 200-foot long hose extending from the equipment. The hose distance shall be measured as laid on the ground, around buildings, fences and other obstacles, and not as an aerial radius from a hydrant or parked equipment. Notwithstanding the foregoing, fire hydrants shall be located not more than 600 feet apart, unless the fire chief approves a different configuration where, in his professional judgement, fire protection needs can be adequately provided.

A multi-family development with a proposed density of (30) dwelling units per acre or more, the following regulations apply:

  • The development provides fire truck access to all fire hydrants by a 20-foot wide fire lane along which no parking is allowed, a 28-foot wide private street or a public street. The fire lane or private street may loop through the development or may terminate at a dead end if the dead end is less than 500 feet. A dead end longer than 150 feet but less than 500 feet must have an “L”, “T” or 90-foot diameter circular turnaround. No dead end may be greater than 500 feet;
  • Fire hydrants are located no further than 20 feet, measured perpendicularly, from the edge of the pavement of the fire lane, private street or public street. Access to the fire hydrants through any fence is provided by gates with 911 access;
  • One fire hydrant is located within 100 feet of the property line on any fire lane or private street;
  • Fire hydrants are located so that a fire truck can drive a maximum of 200 feet from a fire hydrant and then use a maximum 300 feet hose length from the edge of pavement at the fire truck around all buildings, as the hose lays on the ground around all obstacles, including but not limited to fences, walls, buildings, structures and trees;
  • The maximum distance between fire hydrants is 600 feet.

The following parking ratios are applicable to multi-family development:

Unit Size Parking Spaces Required Per Unit
Efficiency 1.25
One bedroom 1.333
Two bedrooms 1.666
Three or more bedrooms 2

A complete list of the aforementioned regulations can be found in Chapter 42, Article III, Division IV of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances as well as accessed via the link below:

At BIG RED DOG Engineering and Consulting, we have successfully overseen the performance design process and preliminary planning on multiple large and small scale multi-family developments within the City of Houston, we would be happy to share our knowledge with your on your next project.

You can contact me directly at (832) 730-1901 or by email at: [email protected]

Written by Matthew Stewart

Matthew Stewart

Matthew Stewart received his B.S. in Civil Engineering fromThe Ohio State University and is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in the State of Texas. As a Vice President in our Houston office, Mr. Stewart has been the Principal in Change for hundreds of site development projects throughout the Houston area. He is responsible for managing our Raving Fans and prospective clients, overseeing the performance of our project design teams, and spearheading our community outreach and volunteer efforts.