Stories by Andrew Weber

Friday, March 6, 2020 by Andrew Weber

Austin cancels SXSW amid COVID-19 concerns

South by Southwest is canceled. Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and public health officials said the concerns surrounding COVID-19 were too great. “I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that,…

Friday, March 6, 2020 by Andrew Weber

White-nose syndrome has been found in Texas. Here’s what that means.

Texas’ first case of white-nose syndrome in bats has been confirmed. The fungus that causes the disease was first detected in Texas bats in 2017, but the disease itself, which has killed millions of bats on the East Coast, hadn’t…

Friday, February 28, 2020 by Andrew Weber

With state approval, ATX Helps will take over the homeless campsite at U.S. 183

State officials agreed Thursday to lease state-owned land to an Austin nonprofit for $1 a month to house homeless Austinites, with the goal of ultimately building a shelter on the 6.7-acre tract. The approval from the Texas Transportation Commission will…

Thursday, February 27, 2020 by Andrew Weber

Austin 911 operators effectively field calls, but audit finds gaps in dispatching overall

Operators field roughly a million calls for emergency services in Austin a year. A new city report says those operators do a serviceable job of answering that glut of calls, but found a disconnect between those calls and the delivery…

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 by Andrew Weber

Travis County hires law professor as its first-ever public defender

Travis County has hired University of Virginia law professor Adeola Ogunkeyede as the first person to lead its public defender office. Until last year, the county was the largest jurisdiction in the United States without an office to handle cases…

Friday, January 17, 2020 by Andrew Weber

For the first time since 1999, someone in Travis County has rubella

Public health officials on Thursday morning confirmed the first case of rubella in Travis County since 1999. The confirmation comes roughly a month after the first diagnosis of measles, which was last seen in the Austin area in 1999, too.…

Friday, January 10, 2020 by Andrew Weber

Citing violence associated with homeless, Abbott asks DPS to patrol state-owned buildings in Austin

Gov. Greg Abbott has directed state troopers to increase patrols within two blocks of state buildings in Central Austin in the wake of two stabbings involving homeless Austinites since Friday. In a letter Thursday, Abbott directed the Texas Department of…

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Supreme Court passes on Boise camping ban case, opening up Austin’s rules to lawsuits

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a ruling that found a ban against camping in public in Boise, Idaho, is unconstitutional. The case against Boise’s ban on camping inspired, in part, the city of Austin’s decision…

Friday, December 13, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Zebra mussels have infested lakes Marble Falls and Granger

Zebra mussels are continuing to spread through Texas lakes. Texas Parks and Wildlife said Thursday that both Granger Lake and Lake Marble Falls are infested with the invasive species. The mussels have infested 19 lakes in Texas since their first…

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Council members support using hotels to house homeless, but are wary of locations and quick timeline

Austin City Council members say they’re concerned about the timeline, placement and funding strategy for a plan to expand efforts to buy and retrofit hotels to house homeless Austinites. Last month, Council OK’d a plan to buy the Rodeway Inn…

Monday, November 25, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Austin reopens Red Bud Isle after dog-killing toxins from algae subside

Red Bud Isle has reopened after being closed for months because of toxins that attached to blue-green algae, city officials say. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said at noon Friday it reopened the area on Lady Bird Lake, which…

Friday, November 15, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Austin OKs plan to buy and retrofit a motel to house homeless

The Austin City Council unanimously passed an $8 million plan to buy and repurpose the Rodeway Inn in South Austin to house people transitioning out of homelessness. The motel could house at least 87 people. Billed as a more proactive…

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Austin abandons South Austin shelter as it prepares to buy hotels to house the homeless

Austin is no longer pursuing a 100-bed shelter in South Austin and could opt instead to provide housing in motels for homeless Austinites. The move comes after a suggestion from the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, the nonprofit that coordinates Austin and…

Friday, November 8, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Gov. Abbott says he’ll use five acres of state-owned land to temporarily house homeless Austinites

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said the state will use five acres of state land at U.S. Highway 183 and Montopolis Drive as a temporary campsite for homeless Austinites. The site would serve as a stopgap until a privately backed effort…

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Abbott says TxDOT will start cleaning up homeless camps under highways in Austin starting Monday

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office says it’s forging ahead with cleanups of homeless encampments under overpasses in Austin. Ahead of a Nov. 1 deadline for state intervention, Abbott’s spokesperson John Wittman confirmed that the Texas Department of Transportation will clear underpasses…

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by Andrew Weber

As Austin rolls out its revised camping and resting bans, the future is uncertain

Everitt Walls is a company man. The 73-year-old veteran served in the Army in Vietnam. He follows rules and he follows chain of command. He also shares a camp across the street from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless…

Monday, October 21, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Gov. Abbott moves to clean up homeless camps under bridges in Austin

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office says the Austin City Council has taken a “meaningful step” to address homelessness after its vote last night to partially reinstate a camping ban, but that he intends to ask the Texas Department of Transportation to…

Friday, October 18, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Austin reinstates limited bans on camping and resting in public

The Austin City Council reinstated partial bans on camping, sitting and lying down in public on Thursday. After hours of debate, Council approved the new ordinance on a 7-4 vote. The city’s new rules ban camping, sitting and lying down…

Friday, October 11, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Austin’s homelessness czar steps down a month after her first day

A month after her first official day on the job, Austin’s homeless strategy officer, Lori Pampilo Harris, is quitting. In a letter to Austin City Council on Wednesday, Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales said Pampilo Harris is transitioning to a…

Friday, October 11, 2019 by Andrew Weber

Gov. Abbott threatens state intervention (again) unless Austin reinstates its camping ban

Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on his threat to intervene over Austin’s homelessness ordinances. Abbott sent a letter to Mayor Steve Adler on Thursday threatening to send in “state agencies and resources,” unless the city reinstates rules banning camping, sitting…

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