Stories by Jessi Devenyns

Friday, December 13, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Austin cat advocates ask city to reevaluate shelter-neuter-release program

The stated goal of the Austin Animal Center is to place all adoptable animals in forever homes. However, even with this intention and a no-kill policy to back it up, not all animals are given the same chance to find…

Monday, December 9, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Parks board expresses concern over metered parking in public parks

After postponing their decision in October about parking meters on city parkland, the Parks and Recreation Board broached the subject again at its Dec. 3 meeting. Following a long discussion about the equity and access issues that accompany metered parking,…

Friday, December 6, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Firefighters union and commissioners call for strengthening AFD sexual harassment policy

In the aftermath of several public sexual harassment cases, Austin EMS and the police and fire departments are updating their sexual harassment policies to create consistency across city emergency services.The action comes in the wake of Austin Fire Department Lt.…

Thursday, December 5, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Community members divided over renaming of Dove Springs Recreation Center

After the Parks and Recreation Board unanimously supported the name change of the Dove Springs Recreation Center at its Oct. 22 meeting, the discussion item reappeared on the agenda on Dec. 3.Yet despite dozens of community members signed up to…

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Public Safety Commission pushes for an independent investigation into ‘endemic’ racism and homophobia in APD

Last month, City Manager Spencer Cronk announced that attorney Lisa Tatum would investigate allegations of racism among the executive staff of the Austin Police Department. The investigation follows complaints that APD Assistant Chief Justin Newsom used the N-word to refer…

Monday, December 2, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Austin Humane Society moves forward with 15-year expansion plan

The Austin Humane Society has been in its current facilities for 25 years. However, as Austin continues to grow, the shelter finds itself in need of an expansion to accommodate its own increasing populations.“We’ve outgrown our space,” said Frances Jonon,…

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Human Rights Commission seeks apology from AISD

Last week the Austin Independent School District’s chief equity officer, Stephanie Hawley, called the board of trustees’ vote to close four elementary schools racist and inequitable.In an effort to improve the district’s financial situation, the board was faced with a…

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Land Development Code: Density and impervious cover

With the first reading of the new Land Development Code draft expected by Council in two short weeks, the Watershed Protection Department is working to finalize its recommendations.Despite the tight timeline, Environmental Officer Chris Herrington told the Environmental Commission at…

Monday, November 25, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

BoA contemplates basements in Clarksville

There is an exception in city code that exempts homes with habitable basements from including the underground space in their overall square footage calculation. In order to claim that exception, however, a house must meet strict guidelines: The first story…

Friday, November 22, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

ZAP locked in impasse over introducing a charter school in a South Austin neighborhood

Faced with a neighborhood constrained by two exits and an uncertain increase in vehicle trips per day, the Zoning and Platting Commission debated how much density is too much for a South Austin neighborhood.The 27-acre tract, which spans the addresses…

Thursday, November 21, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Historic Landmark Commission expresses displeasure at preservation efforts in LDC draft

As Council’s first vote on the new Land Development Code draft inches ever closer, the Historic Landmark Commission publicly weighed in at its Nov. 18 meeting – and its reaction was not a positive one. Of particular concern was the…

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

How heritage tree regulations change under new draft code

Transition zones have proved to be a divisive topic at City Hall during the ongoing discussions about the Land Development Code draft.These zones, which are meant to promote “missing middle” housing options and increase density, are raising eyebrows due to…

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Northwest Austin property prompts questions about impervious cover and flooding

There are times when a rezoning case awakens long-buried neighborhood arguments. Such was the case for the 1-acre tract at 12303 Morris Road, where co-owners and developers were requesting a zoning change from Rural Residence (RR) to a higher-density Townhouse…

Monday, November 18, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Council approves amendments to city code and new floodplain maps

City Council has unanimously approved amendments to the city code redefining what constitutes the 25-year and 100-year floodplains in Austin. The changes also amend floodplain regulations and expand staff’s ability to approve residential redevelopment within the expanded floodplains.The proposed code…

Friday, November 15, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Unconventional Austin campaign finance violation moves to final hearing but could still be withdrawn

November elections have come and gone, but the Ethics Review Commission is still dealing with the ripple effects caused by a purported violation of campaign finance laws.Political consultant Mark Littlefield filed a complaint in late October alleging that Unconventional Austin,…

Thursday, November 14, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Board of Adjustment agrees to a lake setback reduction for a family home in West Lake

City records are not infallible archives. This reality was evidenced by a variance case at 1901 Westlake Drive, which was postponed last month by the Board of Adjustment in order to dredge up more information on the history of the…

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Board of Adjustment soundly rejects variances over ‘egregious’ code violations

After dedicating nearly a year to the construction of his personal residence at 504 Sunny Lane, StoryBuilt founder Ryan Diepenbrock found his construction choices to be the subject of a case at the Board of Adjustment last Thursday.Diepenbrock, who was…

Thursday, November 7, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

In the midst of preservation push, city permits demolition of church

After the Historic Landmark Commission initiated historic zoning for the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church at 1711 E. Oltorf St. last July, the status of the midcentury, A-frame church became tenuous as its integrity continued to degrade month after month.Finally,…

Thursday, November 7, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Audit: City-owned facilities set to save Austin $330M in 30 years

As the city faces a 3.5 percent tax cap beginning next year, city departments are searching for ways to save their pennies. Staff members have found one such savings opportunity by working to get city employees into city-owned buildings rather…

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

APD updates the Public Safety Commission after a day of homeless camp cleanups

Questions surrounding the city’s revised camping, sitting and resting ordinances were brought to the public’s attention Monday as the state stepped in for cleanup operations and the city of Austin simultaneously conducted an operation to enforce its camping ban outside…

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