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Council will get revised pool ordinance

A proposed ordinance that could regulate self-inflating pools within city limits is headed to the Austin city council for a vote in the coming weeks.

The Austin Planning Commission decided to pass the ordinance 5-1 on Wednesday night. Commissioner Tony Bennett cast the dissenting vote. He said he didn't like the idea "of telling people what they can put in their back yards."

The language of the city's pool ordinance, drafted in 1975, would change to define permanent swimming pools as being at least two feet deep.  Pools could not be in front yards. It would also require fences around pools at least four feet high that have self-closing, lockable gates, according to Austin community development director Craig Hoium. The change would not affect inflatable wading pools.

The move to change the city ordinances was created by citizen complaints and by things city staff have seen, Hoium said.

"We don't comb the city looking for zoning violations," he said.


But residents have called Hoium's office with concerns about small children falling into pools, and city staff have gone to some of those places and photographed different types of pools in different yards. Hoium presented those pictures to the Planning Commission on Tuesday night.

Commissioner Lynn Spainhower replied to Bennett's comment, saying she knows of many neighborhoods where young children play and aren't always supervised.

City council member Dick Pacholl spoke briefly at the meeting. He said he gets phone calls about portable swimming pools, mainly from residents who are concerned about the safety of unsupervised children.

"There are lots of questions (from residents) on whether or not we have an ordinance," he said.

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