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Reporter’s Notebook: Bumps in the road

Monday, October 23, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Unhappy? Blame speed bumps… During a Tuesday work session, Council Member Alison Alter raised concerns about the $2 million drop in revenue for the municipal court, a decrease that she attributed to a lack of enforcement of traffic laws. Another negative consequence of lax enforcement: speed bump-induced unhappiness. “(The Transportation Department) has to do their local area traffic management, put speedbumps all over the city because there’s no traffic enforcement. We are looking for a (driving) behavioral change … which normally comes from police enforcement of the traffic laws, which is not happening, and so then we end up having to put these speed bumps and make people’s lives unhappy as they’re driving through their communities.”

Gorillaz in our midst… Breezy weather on the final day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival might have made for idyllic conditions for thousands of music fans gathered in Zilker Park, but the winds also brought about a rash of noise calls to Austin officials. Data from Austin Police Department show that on Oct. 15 the department logged 66 noise complaints to the 311 phone line, more than triple the number of calls on the next-highest day. The department logged 116 noise calls in total over the festival’s six days. It’s worth noting that the complaints tended to be caused by the distance and volume of the sound involved, with the festival ending performances on each of the six nights well ahead of the 10 p.m. noise curfew. Anecdotes and posts on social media on Oct. 15 showed how much high winds can impact how sound travels, with residents living south of Lady Bird Lake and east of Interstate 35 reporting they were able to clearly hear the performance of British band Gorillaz more than a mile away.

Daily ACL Fest noise call breakdown

Friday Oct. 6: 5
Saturday Oct. 7: 14
Sunday Oct. 8: 22

Friday Oct. 13: 7
Saturday Oct. 14: 2
Sunday Oct. 15: 66

Don Zimmerman tries out social justice… Former Council Member Don Zimmerman was hardly known on the dais for sounding the alarm on gentrification in East Austin. A proud representative of Austin’s far-northwest suburbs, Zimmerman scoffed at talk of institutional racism and campaigned vigorously against subsidized housing. When talking about equity, he often referenced Austin’s economic segregation – but with a focus on what he viewed as discrimination against his mostly white, middle-class constituents. However, in his current campaign against the $1 billion Austin Independent School District bond, in which he has found himself allied with progressive activists who argue that the school board is neglecting East Austin schools, Zimmerman is apparently more receptive to social justice arguments. Earlier this month, for instance, he shared a Facebook post from the Save East Austin Schools political action committee that proclaimed the following: “Save East Austin Schools! Equity. No Segregation! No Gentrification!”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jack Craver and Chad Swiatecki.

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