Stories by Jessi Devenyns

Monday, October 5, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

‘Air Temp’ home to be restored rather than demolished

Following months of hand-wringing from the community and negotiations between city staff and property owners, the “Air Temp” home at 2502 Park View Drive is going to get a new lease on life. On Sept. 28, the Historic Landmark Commission…

Thursday, October 1, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Travis County launches new coronavirus relief grants for nonprofits

With $61.1 million to spend and the clock ticking ever closer to the expenditure deadline of Dec. 30 set by the federal government for coronavirus relief funds, the Travis County Commissioners Court authorized a new grant program called TCTX Serve…

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Commissioners Court approves Central Health budget, with concerns

On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court unanimously approved Central Health’s $367.3 million budget, stamping its seal of approval on the 6.9 percent, or $76.5 million, increase for the Travis County health care provider and the corresponding $24.97 average increase in annual…

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

PARD contends with homeless encampments during pandemic with limited resources

With nearly 300 parks and 17,409 acres of property to oversee, Wes Bickham, an environmental coordinator with the Parks and Recreation Department, has a lot of ground to cover in his work finding alternative solutions for people experiencing homelessness who…

Friday, September 25, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Parks board pushes against long-term reservation program for parks

Every year when the weather warms up, the city’s parks and greenbelts fill up. This year, that trend has been amplified by the pandemic as Austinites flock to city parks, causing some of the most popular outdoor spaces to hit…

Thursday, September 24, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Public Safety Committee examines the use of police time, asks for more data

As the city of Austin looks into redefining the duties of its police department, staffers are reaching out to community members to hear feedback about what the next iteration of the Austin Police Department could look like. Simultaneously, city staff are…

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

County works toward December deadline for CARES expenditures

In just over three months, Travis County will come up against its federally set deadline of Dec. 30 to spend the entirety of its $61.1 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars. As of Sept. 22, the county has spent only…

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Board of Adjustment debates the value of maintaining area character

Swapping primary and secondary residences is an approach to creating larger living spaces for homeowners that has become a popular tactic for preserving homes that contribute to area character. However, at the Sept. 14 meeting of the Board of Adjustment,…

Friday, September 18, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Board of Adjustment offers free advice, grants lot size variance

Small lots are not uncommon in East Austin, so the Board of Adjustment regularly grants variances to allow homeowners to maximize such properties. On Sept. 14, the board once again unanimously granted a variance for small lot amnesty to allow…

Thursday, September 17, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Combating climate change in Austin to start at Austin Energy

As the Office of Sustainability’s newly revised Climate Equity Plan makes its way through boards and commissions for public comment, its latest stop was the Electric Utility Commission on Sept. 14. Zach Baumer, who is the program manager for the…

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

County works out budget snags with Cap Metro in transportation blueprint

Travis County has nearly finished its second year of partnership with Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide transit operations into unincorporated parts of Travis County. In the process, transportation staff has uncovered a few unanticipated costs that will affect the…

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Environmental Commission recommends increased impervious cover in waterfront overlay

Historically, it is rare for the Environmental Commission to recommend a variance to increase impervious cover in a waterfront overlay. Lately, however, the redevelopment of old, heavily covered lots has the commissioners opting for the lesser of two evils and…

Monday, September 14, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Travis County now has an African American Cultural Heritage Commission

As of Sept. 8, Travis County officially has a commission dedicated to the preservation and celebration of African American cultural heritage. “We see a lot of the African American communities, artifacts and heirlooms being destroyed as we grow in size…

Friday, September 11, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Mary Baylor House receives recommendation for historic zoning

The house of civil rights activist Mary Freeman Baylor had been run-down for years until new owners bought the Clarksville property in 2014 and began fixing it up, on the heels of a thwarted attempt to demolish the house. The property…

Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Public Safety Commission considers a new vision for APD headquarters

A conversation on the future of the Austin Police Department headquarters is following on the heels of City Council’s reformulation of Austin’s police budget last month. On Sept. 9, the Public Safety Commission articulated a new vision for the current…

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Travis County selects 225 businesses for grant funding, approves waitlist

Nearly five months ago, Travis County approved a $10 million grant allocation from its federal Covid-19 relief dollars to fund small businesses in need. Now, thanks to a unanimous vote from the Commissioners Court on Tuesday, 225 businesses in the…

Thursday, September 3, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Travis County elects not to pursue federal tax deferment for employees

The idea for a federal payroll tax holiday for employees was rolled out in early August, but it was only last Friday that the federal government issued guidance on how employers were expected to execute this economic relief measure. On…

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Travis County anticipates spending additional $3M for November elections

From social distancing restrictions to post office controversy, this year’s presidential election is facing unprecedented challenges. Despite the hurdles, Travis County has worked out a plan to ensure that the county’s 833,000 registered voters have access to safe and smoothly…

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Historic Landmark Commission approves nine-story affordable housing proposal

While towering, multi-floor designs with little relationship to historic facades have been a thorn in the side of the Historic Landmark Commission in recent months, a proposal for an affordable housing tower behind the historic home at 809 E. Ninth…

Friday, August 28, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Central Health proposes raising taxes to fund budget

Central Health has been a critical resource for many during the course of the pandemic; now, the public health authority is looking to accomplish more for its patients in the upcoming year. To provide additional health care options for a…

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