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TipSheet: City Council 2.3.22

Thursday, February 3, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

Given the prediction of some pretty wild weather, today’s City Council meeting may be canceled. However, since that decision won’t be made until 10 a.m. (and since this TipSheet was already written), here are our predictions for today’s Council meeting, should it be held in a mostly remote manner. As usual, we’ve selected a few things we found interesting on this week’s agenda. The entire agenda is available online.

Actually, today that isn’t entirely true. Council will convene for its regular meeting at a delayed noon start time and a special called meeting at 4 p.m. today. The second meeting only has one thing on the agenda – a settlement for Arianna Chavez, who sued the city after she was injured during protests against police violence in 2020. On the regular agenda, Council members will also talk about lawsuits against the police stemming from the protests in a more general way – that’s Item 53.

The most interesting things on the regular agenda are probably items 39 and 40, which work to strengthen renters’ rights in the city. The first item protects tenants’ right to organize. The second initiates a code amendment requiring landlords to give notice of proposed evictions prior to a notice to vacate, giving renters time to prevent eviction by addressing issues like nonpayment (with exceptions for things like imminent danger or violent criminal activity).

In other housing news, City Council will be asked to endorse affordable housing with items 21-26 on the regular agenda. Essentially, each year the state offers a limited number of tax credits for developers building affordable housing, and all of the projects within a region compete for them. As part of the process, local governments can endorse projects in their region, which gives them a point on the scoring matrix that ultimately decides the recipients. This memo lays out the process pretty clearly. This year, Council is looking at six projects (here’s a map).

We’ll also keep an eye on Item 37, which will determine the new committee assignments for Council members. This is Council Member Greg Casar’s last meeting, so it’s time to get Austin’s newest Council member – Jose “Chito” Vela – into the game! Here’s a sneak peek, though it won’t be official until the assignments are approved.

In smaller news, Council will be asked to approve the purchase of a new equestrian facility for the Austin Police Department, a 2021-2022 programming plan for Pease Park and an interlocal agreement with UT Austin and Jails to Jobs that will help create a “smart mobility hub” aimed at exploring transportation challenges in Georgian Acres. Item 27, which allocates more money toward South Terminal negotiations, tells us that legal battle isn’t over yet. (The airport expansion is also on the executive session agenda, which will be held in closed session.)

And finally, in zoning, Council will take up the proposed historic zoning for 301 San Jacinto St., which we’ve covered in its journey through City Hall. The 1912 warehouse building that is currently home to Vince Young Steakhouse could be demolished in favor of a tower. Council could also decide on another major development just off of Ed Bluestein Boulevard.

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