Renteria is ready to work on issues in District 3
Monday, January 5, 2015 by Mark Richardson
District 3 City Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria came out of a crowded field of about a dozen candidates and won a runoff over his sister, Susana Almanza, to represent the central-east district with a majority of Hispanic constituents.
Following his victory, Renteria says he plans to hit the ground running at City Hall, looking to deal with issues such as gentrification, job creation and public safety in his district.
One of his main goals is to create a homestead preservation district by using tax increment financing, or TIF.
“I want to get homestead preservation before the Council. I want to see what we need to go forward on this TIF,” he said. “It’s what we need to deal with the gentrification that’s going on in my neighborhood and also in my district.”
Renteria said he wants to reinvest the revenues from the TIF in building affordable housing in his district. Council has been studying homestead preservation districts for some time, but due to some opposition, it has never been able to get the project off the ground.
Renteria is no stranger to Austin City Hall — he has more than 30 years of service on city boards, commissions and task force groups. He serves on the East Austin Neighborhood Center Advisory Board and is treasurer for the AB Cantu/Pan Am Recreation Center Advisory Board. He has also served on the city’s Environmental Board and on the Community Development Commission for 14 years.
He also holds leadership positions with the United East Austin Coalition, Friends of the MACC and the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning Team and volunteers with Sanchez, Martin and Austin High PTAs and CACs.
Renteria said another of his goals is to beef up the Austin Police Department’s ability to investigate and solve property crime, particularly the rash of burglaries in his district.
“We need to have the city provide funding to provide the technical people [crime scene investigators] they need to examine the evidence in the thefts and burglaries that are going on in our area,” he said. “I hope that during the budget process, we can come up with some more money to hire the people they need to solve these property crimes.”
He said he plans to keep an open mind about the city’s participation in economic development agreements, but not if some things about them do not change.
“I’m willing to sit down and listen to whatever they are offering,” Renteria said, “but I don’t support the kind of giveaways that have been going on. We offer them a tax credit, and some of them turn right around and fight their property values. That’s not fair, and that type agreement is not treating our citizens right.”
Renteria said some of the city’s traffic congestion problems are also happening in District 3 and will need some attention.
“I definitely believe that there should be increased bus services in some of the more isolated areas of our neighborhoods,” he said. “I’m really concerned that because rail was voted down, it doesn’t mean our traffic problems are going to be solved.”
He believes the city should expand its network of trails in his district in order to allow more alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycling, in and out of the downtown area.
Renteria said he is also concerned that all the neighborhoods in his district are not properly represented in the zoning process, in that they may not all have a neighborhood group or a contact team. Renteria said he wants to make sure the city gives all of the affected neighborhoods a voice in the development process.
“People are coming in and meeting with one group, and then they say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got the approval of the neighborhood,’” he said. “They may get their variance or their zoning changes, but other parts of the community are against it but were not heard, and that’s not right. I plan to have my staff work on solving that.”
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