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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 5.5.22

Thursday, May 5, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

Hello, and welcome to another pre-cap of today’s City Council meeting. We’ve picked out a few things that might be interesting today, but as usual, you can find the entire agenda online.

At its last meeting, Council postponed a guaranteed pilot program that would give $1,000 per month to 85 families that are threatened by housing insecurity. This week, they take it up again, and while the program has garnered a bit more criticism since last week, a planned press conference this morning signals that (at least some) Council members won’t be backing down anytime soon.

Council will also consider altering the governance structure of the Austin Transit Partnership, which oversees Project Connect. Recently, Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke stepped down from the top position at ATP after concerns about having one person lead both Capital Metro and ATP came to a head. With Item 33, Council is set to gain the power to waive residency requirements for appointments to the board and to appoint the city manager and Capital Metro CEO (or their proxies) to serve as non-voting members of the board. That’s pretty whatever, but we’re expecting a proposed amendment from Council Member Ann Kitchen to be a little more contentious. Kitchen would like to see the board expanded to nine members, and plans to propose an amendment to that end today.

The city, just slightly behind the county, will also look at expanding parental leave today, through a resolution that comes out of Council Member Vanessa Fuentes’ office. With public safety contract negotiations underway, Kitchen is bringing forward a resolution affirming a public vote that gave firefighters the option to request binding arbitration during negotiations. In a conversation that promises to be sprawling (pun intended, but not great), Council will have a discussion about increasing density on transit corridors, in what looks to be kind of a workshopping session on the topic. 

And in zoning news, the discussion about building a music venue at 200 Academy Drive promises, once again, to dominate attention. As a refresher, the zoning case was last before Council in January, and it attracted plenty of supporters and opposition at the time. The plan, roughly, would revive the Austin Opera House just east of South Congress. You can probably figure out the arguments for and against yourself, and we will be following this one to see how the various concerns balance out in the end. 

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