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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 6.16.22

Thursday, June 16, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today Austin City Council members will meet for the last time prior to their annual summer break. Because they won’t have a regular meeting again until July 28, there’s a lot of pressure to get things done, which usually translates to a long meeting. This meeting, despite a push for efficiency Tuesday, promises to be exactly that. Below is our best guess at what will stand out at the meeting. But because it’s only an educated guess, you might want to head over to the actual agenda to read through it yourself.

In terms of big, time-consuming votes, a proposal to raise the city’s living wage for employees to $22 per hour probably tops the list – a long list of speakers had already signed up to speak by Tuesday morning. In addition, a separate resolution would raise the rate of pay for emergency communication services at the city. And in more evidence of an ongoing vacancy problem at the city, Council will take up a $1.2 million contract with an outside firm in order to restore large brush collection while Austin Resource Recovery looks for ways to increase salaries and retain more drivers. 

With developers chomping at the bit, Council will consider an item from Council Member Kathie Tovo that would make Sixth Street a local historic district. The resolution is endorsed by Preservation Austin. Currently, the historic portion of the street is a National Register district, but that designation alone does not offer protection from demolition. 

There are a lot of airport expansion items on the agenda, but none promise to be more controversial than the item that would begin eminent domain proceedings to expand the airport into the area where the South Terminal currently stands. The move comes after the private operator of the terminal rejected an “offensive” buyout offer, and naturally, they do not welcome this move either. 

In terms of public safety, we’ve reported and the county has declared that opioid deaths have reached crisis levels. Today Council will vote on a resolution from Council Member Vanessa Fuentes that formally declares a (city) crisis and asks for harm reduction strategies and – of course – a dashboard. Council will also consider reinstating license plate readers for police, as was previously discussed at the Public Safety Commission.

Council Member Paige Ellis has a resolution asking the city for more traffic enforcement to help lower fatalities, though understaffing continues to pose a problem in terms of implementing that plan. And, Council also has a vote on whether to lower the speed limits on almost 50 streets around town.

In incredibly exciting news for anyone who has been following the extremely delayed reconstruction of the washed-out pedestrian bridge over Country Club Creek West in Roy G. Guerrero, it looks like construction is finally moving forward. Council will vote on a $25 million contract to stabilize the creek channel, which is the problem that has thus far thwarted plans to reconstruct the bridge. 

A resolution from Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison’s office will explore the possibilities for 1190 Hargrave St., across from Downs Field, now that the city’s fleet services is moving elsewhere. 

Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter has brought forward a resolution asking the state to make menstrual and diaper products tax-free.

Council will also look to expand the no-wake zone near the Pennybacker Bridge. (This map shows the proposed expansion.) 

From the land of planning and zoning, it looks like Council hopes to put off another vote on the Statesman PUD. However, there are a few cases that they (and developers!) would like to see settled before the end of July. Those include a plan for a new bar on Menchaca Road, more development for Rogers Lane and a case on Clayton Lane that has spurred residents to organize for their rights. And, since it wasn’t resolved last week, permanent removal of the Crestview Gate is back.

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