Reporter’s Notebook: The end of Austin?
And another thing… In arguing against the proposed expansion of the Austin Convention Center at last week’s Music Commission meeting, local developer Brian Rodgers drew some confused and sideways glances from commission members. Rodgers, a Tourism Commission member who helped fund the November ballot measure that could derail the expansion, used a seemingly random if mostly well-reasoned assortment of arguments against the project. Among them: an expected looming recession, the possibility of cost overruns pushing the price over $2 billion and the lack of growth in local convention business. The real head-scratcher, though, was his claim that environmental concerns over pollution from aircraft will cause a nosedive in travel to conventions. Here are his comments, lightly edited to remove asides and crosstalk: “Right now we are in a climate crisis. The mayor was saying we have the climate emergency plan. Air travel through the year 2035 is a huge carbon footprint, and if you believe in climate change, here we are rolling the dice on a billion and a half dollars to build a convention center on a business model that is damaging to the environment. The more you root for the convention center, the more you root for air travel. In the year 2035, do you think we’ll still be flying airplanes to go to these conventions or will we be using virtual and augmented reality? Folks don’t believe that telecommunication and augmented reality are going to be big disruptors to plane travel because of net-zero emissions.”
Politics as usual, Texas version… Everyone knows that Austin is over, but at least one state legislator wants to make it official. Following City Council’s recent end-run around state laws that prohibit abortion funding, state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) took to Twitter to call for the city of Austin to be abolished.
It’s past time that the #txlege abolish the City of Austin and make it a capital district like that of D.C. (residents retain state lege districts; Lege gets supreme authority over mayor and council) https://t.co/aGfcvfXqZJ
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧 (@BriscoeCain) September 11, 2019
As proof this isn’t the first time such a proposition has been floated, Texas Public Policy Foundation’s James Quintero dug up a bill to do just that from former state Rep. Jason Isaac.
What would a bill to district-ize @austintexasgov even look like? Here’s a Lege. Council-approved draft (never filed) that comes courtesy of @ISAACforTexas! #DistrictOfAustin #LetsDoThis#txlege #tcot #ATXcouncil #ATX @TPPF @KTTexas @MayorAdler @GregCasar @JimmyFlannigan pic.twitter.com/HPV0ubSN5z
— James Quintero (@JamesQuinteroTX) September 12, 2019
Steep Eddy… Speaking of Austin being over, the halcyon days of free parking at Deep Eddy might soon be over, according to a memo from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The parks department proposes to start metered parking in March 2020, citing increased usage by other area businesses and metering of the surrounding area. The memo notes, “It is important to note that the Deep Eddy parking lot is the last free parking lot in the supporting area of Deep Eddy Pool, Eilers Park, the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, and many other private businesses in the surrounding area,” and details previous unsuccessful efforts to deter parking by people not using the pool.
This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Chad Swiatecki and Elizabeth Pagano.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
Austin Music Commission: The Austin Music Commission guides city practices on music development issues, including the SxSW music festival.
City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: The city department responsible for the city's park system, rec centers, and associated infrastructure.