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Reporter’s Notebook: Sticking with what we know

Monday, October 16, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Such a tease… Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion’s recent appointment to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors was probably all but guaranteed given the circumstances – his avowed interest in transit on top of the need to politically defuse his predecessor Beverly Silas’ comments about not wanting an African-American man to serve as the agency’s next president – but one of his colleagues jokingly teased us all of a tremendous scenario that would give transportation journalists everywhere a permanent Christmas. While congratulating Travillion on his willingness to take on the added responsibility, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, a perennial Capital Metro critic, noted, “You know, I’m sure that the board and the entire organization will be glad to know that it’s somebody other than Commissioner Daugherty that’s throwing his hat in the ring over there, so they probably will just welcome you with open arms.” When asked by County Judge Sarah Eckhardt if he was suggesting a substitute motion to Travillion’s appointment, Daugherty quipped that he wouldn’t be able to get a second. However, when Commissioner Margaret Gómez mused that she wouldn’t mind drafting Daugherty as an alternate for Travillion, the Precinct 3 representative said, “Sign me up.” A city can only dream.

This week in CodeNEXT… As is now tradition, this Wednesday, City Council will convene to tackle all things CodeNEXT. This week’s notice on what corner of the project Council members will focus on next indicates that they will drill down on transportation and subdivision. It also seems that this will offer an opportunity to continue the process conversation that started at the Planning Commission last week and found its way to the dais Thursday during the conversation about the $2.275 million Opticos Design Inc. contract. According to Mayor Steve Adler’s post on the City Council Message Board, “Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and I will develop a proposed outline for future Council CodeNEXT discussions. On new topics, we’ll prioritize discussion time and minimize presentation time (while allowing our staff and consultants to quickly and efficiently lay out information on sections of the code that we have yet to discussed in depth so that we are all operating with the same baseline of information).”

Speaking (and speaking and speaking) about CodeNEXT… At the most recent Board of Adjustment meeting, board members had a brief discussion about the second draft of the land use code overhaul even though, as Chair William Burkhardt noted, “We have not been asked by any of the land use commissions to give input on Draft 2.” However, as the Land Development Code includes criteria about variances and other elements of the board’s purview, the board and CodeNEXT work group are apparently pressing on, despite a lukewarm reception to their Draft 1 comments. “They haven’t accepted any of our recommendations,” said Burkhardt. “That’s a good spot to start our discussion. Do we want to reiterate these comments? Do we want to update them?” In the end, the board opted, as a response to Draft 2, to “reiterate we still stand by our original recommendations which appear to have fallen on deaf ears.” That reiteration will be forwarded to Council and the director of the Planning and Zoning Department.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Caleb Pritchard and Elizabeth Pagano.

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