Stories by Amy Smith

Monday, July 26, 2021 by Amy Smith

Wanted: More residents to participate in city redistricting hearings

Austin commissioners charged with redrawing the boundaries of 10 City Council districts clearly have their work cut out for them. For one, they’re obligated to hold public hearings in each of the 10 districts, yet the first two forums drew…

Friday, July 23, 2021 by Amy Smith

Redistricting commission races to fulfill its mission in short time frame

With a Nov. 1 deadline just months away, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is moving at an unusually fast pace to hold public hearings in each City Council district, draft new district lines based on delayed 2020 census data, gather…

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Amy Smith

Housing affordability report points to a need for greater disbursement 

Austin may look good on paper as one of the hottest housing markets in the country, but a closer inspection of each City Council district reveals a disparate picture of economic vitality, according to the findings of a 2020 report…

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 by Amy Smith

EMS leader recounts medics’ harrowing week during freeze

First responders are still in recovery mode as they plan for the next severe weather event, such as the freeze that gripped Austin in mid-February, and any other unforeseen disaster that may occur. “Our medics’ stories should be heard,” Austin…

Monday, July 19, 2021 by Amy Smith

Legislators respond to winter storm with new requirements for energy providers

The Electric Utility Commission received an update last week on legislative action related to electric utilities, with Senate Bill 3 serving as the omnibus response bill to Winter Storm Uri in mid-February. SB 3, approved at the close of the…

Monday, July 12, 2021 by Amy Smith

Tax break proposal prompts call for changes to county’s public-private partnerships

The Travis County Commissioners Court may consider changes to the county’s affordable housing program to encourage apartment developers to provide more meaningful rent reductions in exchange for property tax abatements. Commissioner Brigid Shea suggested future changes as commissioners deliberated two…

Friday, July 9, 2021 by Amy Smith

Watershed Protection makes departmental changes

In response to the retirements of key personnel, and to better respond to Austin’s growth while retaining the city’s environmental identity, the Watershed Protection Department has undergone a staff reorganization, Director Jorge Morales told the Environmental Commission at its Tuesday…

Thursday, July 1, 2021 by Amy Smith

North Austin park poised to be renamed Heron Hollow Pocket Park

It took nearly two decades, but Payton Gin Pocket Park in North Austin is destined to be formally renamed Heron Hollow Pocket Park, a goal of the North Austin Civic Association and other stakeholders since the early 2000s. The Parks…

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 by Amy Smith

Naming process for Waterloo Park features raises questions about equity

What’s in a name? That question quickly moved to the fore of a Parks and Recreation Board discussion last week about proposed names for new features at Waterloo Park, which is set to reopen to the public Aug. 14 after…

Monday, June 28, 2021 by Amy Smith

County rebuffs city’s offer to buy Palm School, leaving its future uncertain

In a vote few people were aware of until last week, the Travis County Commissioners Court rejected the city of Austin’s offer to purchase the historic Swante Palm School building on the eastern edge of downtown. Community activists, who for…

Thursday, June 24, 2021 by Amy Smith

Parks board rejects alcohol sales at Zilker Cafe, but the vote is in question

A key vote by the Parks and Recreation Board may need to be recast due to a shortage of board members required to consider a proposal to sell beer and wine at the newly renovated Zilker Cafe adjacent to Barton…

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 by Amy Smith

Watershed report shines a light on racism in tank farm history

If awards were given out for annual reports, the Austin Watershed Protection Department’s recently released 2020 “State of Our Environment” would be a strong contender for its in-house production of a video documenting the East Austin community’s successful battle against…

Monday, June 21, 2021 by Amy Smith

Herrington leaving his environmental post for new job in Virginia

After 25 years with the city of Austin, Environmental Officer Chris Herrington is retiring and taking a new leadership position in Fairfax, Va. Herrington, who’ll be moving east with his fiancée, Kimberly Horndeski, will serve as director of public works…

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 by Amy Smith

New police chief expected to be named by late summer

More than three dozen people have applied to become Austin’s next police chief, a role that comes with a number of challenges critical to the success of the city and its process to reimagine public safety. Recruitment for the position…

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 by Amy Smith

Palm planning process kicks off, with school preservation a key goal

After years of talk, a long-held dream of creating a district that celebrates the cultural history of a historically Hispanic neighborhood in the eastern segment of downtown Austin is finally ramping up with the Palm District Planning Initiative. The planning…

Monday, June 7, 2021 by Amy Smith

Mitigation pilot set to tackle harmful algae in Lady Bird Lake

Most pet owners in Austin recall the fateful summer of 2019, when a spate of dog deaths was traced back to contact with toxic algae in Lady Bird Lake. Since that time the blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, has been identified…

Thursday, June 3, 2021 by Amy Smith

Bill that would have revived Land Development Code dies in session

It wasn’t on the city’s legislative agenda, but a bill that would have empowered City Council to move forward with a final vote on a revised Land Development Code died in a House committee, giving neighborhood advocates another victory over…

Thursday, June 3, 2021 by Amy Smith

Board member asked to resign after tempers flare over creek project

Council Member Pio Renteria has requested the resignation of his appointee to the Parks and Recreation Board, citing her lack of decorum during a tense discussion about the proposed Central Williamson Creek Greenway at the board’s May 25 meeting. The…

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 by Amy Smith

Waterloo Greenway seeks alcohol permit before its August debut

A decade after closing for Waller Creek tunnel repairs, Waterloo Park, which once stretched along the shadows of state-owned parking garages, has morphed into the renovated and rebranded Waterloo Greenway, poised to reopen in August. The once no-frills park, home…

Thursday, May 27, 2021 by Amy Smith

Sparks fly over proposed plans for Williamson Creek

The Parks and Recreation Board had one of its most contentious – and longest – meetings in recent history Tuesday night with a heated debate about plans for a segment of Williamson Creek in South Austin. The dispute centered on…

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