Monday, February 3, 2020 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Wake wake

Is nothing sacred?… The Historic Landmark Commission exercised its right to delay the advancement of an application for a two-story deck at 311 E. Sixth St. at its Jan. 27 meeting. In a unanimous vote, commissioners asked staff to postpone the case and begin researching the building to determine if it qualifies for historic landmark status under city guidelines. Plans show the rooftop deck filling in the space between 311 and 313 E. Sixth St. with prominently featured guardrails and a cover. “Everything about this project is in violation of our Sixth Street architectural design guidelines,” said Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky, who called the proposal a “desecration” of two contributing buildings in the district. He told commissioners it was still possible to construct a rooftop deck and remain within the architectural guidelines for the district, but that the applicant is “just interested in maximizing the building.” No one came to speak in favor of the project. City staff will research the structure and return to the commission in February to present their findings and determine if it is possible to move forward with a historic designation of the property. Commissioners Ben Heimsath and Emily Hibbs were absent.

Political losses… We didn’t get to sneak a peek at what was on the plate of Sen. Kirk Watson at last week’s luncheon forecasting the economic impact of the city’s growing innovation district, but chances are it wasn’t much. As detailed in a blog post last week, Watson has been on an exercise and healthy eating regimen in recent months and his slimmed-down appearance was a topic of conversation throughout the event. When Mayor Steve Adler paid respect to Watson’s work to bring a medical school to the University of Texas, he began his introduction by saying, “The senator is going to speak in a second … and it’s got to be in a second because he’s literally disappearing before our eyes on his new diet. We’ve got to get him up here before he’s altogether gone.” Toward the end of Watson’s 10-minute speech, the senator poked fun at his enthusiasm for the district and noted, “If you can’t tell, I’m so excited I’m burning calories.”

Attention all wake boarders… According to a Jan. 31 memo, the city is moving forward with a plan launched in 2013 to establish “no-wake zones” on Lake Austin. In 2014, the city began petitioning the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division for the authority to do so. Though that petitioning was unsuccessful, the agency “confirmed that its rules did not require specific distances between buoys or pilings to mark no-wake zones.” At this point, the city manager recommends the creation of two specific no-wake zones, instead of making the entirety of Lake Austin a no-wake zone. Council is scheduled to vote on this proposal at this week’s meeting on Feb. 6. “The no-wake zones will be located in the area around the Pennybacker Bridge and in the area immediately up-river of the Tom Miller Dam, near the Oyster Landing Marina and the Walsh Boat Landing.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jessi Devenyns, 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.

Historic Landmark Commission: The city’s Historic Landmark Commission promotes historic preservation of buildings and structures. The commission also reviews applications and permits for historic zoning and historic grants.

Senator Kirk Watson

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