Stories by Jessi Devenyns

Friday, August 9, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

AFD under fire for handling of sexual harassment claim despite policy updates

After Austin Fire Department Lieutenant James Baker pleaded guilty to hiding a camera and filming firefighter Kelly Gall in the fire station restroom, AFD revised its harassment policies and implemented the Electronic and Anonymous Reporting System.EARS is intended to bypass…

Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Public Safety Commission recommends increased funding for mental health first responder program

The Austin Police Department is working to revamp its tactics when handling calls related to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Fulfilling that goal starts with training officers so they are equipped to help in these tense situations.Public Safety Commissioner…

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

To save a sculpture, parks department gives Chicano artist an ultimatum

For decades, Big Rock – or Chicano Rock, as it is now called – has stood on the southeast corner of Waterloo Park. Created by artist David Santos and members of LUCHA (League of United Chicano Artists) in 1989, the…

Thursday, August 1, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

HLC recommends design in Old West Austin historic district, sidesteps opposition’s concerns

In Austin, commissions are divided based on their areas of expertise and are required to remain within their purview when addressing the merits of a case.This question of jurisdiction was raised at the July 22 meeting of the Historic Landmark…

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Animal advocates call for redo of animal services officer hiring process

With a nearly $14 million budget and 15,843 animals coming through its doors last year, the Austin Animal Center has worked hard to achieve the title of the nation’s largest “no-kill” shelter.However, animal advocates are worried that the finalist candidates…

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Historic zoning for childhood home of AISD’s first two Hispanic teachers recommended

In a unanimous vote, the Historic Landmark Commission is sending a 100-year-old house that was the home of the Austin Independent School District’s first Hispanic teachers to City Council with a recommendation for historic zoning.When photos failed to depict the…

Monday, July 29, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Historic zoning moves forward for ‘godfather’ of A-frame religious architecture in Austin

Midcentury A-frame churches may be a dime a dozen in Austin, but there is one in particular that caused the now-familiar style to proliferate.The Prince of Peace Church at 1711 E. Oltorf St. is the reason “that form became popular…

Thursday, July 25, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Code compliance citation inspires historic restoration

After years of languishing in disrepair, a circa-1922 grocery store at 220 Comal St. was cited for code compliance issues, prompting the owners to file for a partial demolition permit to make repairs.In order to preserve the neighborhood building and…

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Water drainage fears force postponement at ZAP

Drainage engineering studies are site-specific and don’t always capture the concerns of adjacent properties. However, without addressing those concerns, a study doesn’t always tell the whole story.At the July 16 meeting of the Zoning and Platting Commission, Commissioner David King…

Monday, July 22, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

One year later: The new life of the old Onion Creek flood plain

Since 1999, the city of Austin has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to buy homeowners out of the Onion Creek flood zone. Last year, when the Watershed Protection Department completed the buyout program, 813 houses had…

Friday, July 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Environmental Commission gives Walter E. Long Park plan the green light, with conditions

Following the lead of the Parks and Recreation Board, the Environmental Commission unanimously approved the new master plan for East Austin’s Walter E. Long Park. The vote, however, came with a host of conditions.The commissioners expressed concern that the Parks…

Friday, July 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Austin Energy plans to purchase more wind energy

The Electric Utility Commission unanimously recommended the approval of a new energy contract that would bring Austin Energy’s percentage of renewable energy up to 61 percent by the middle of 2021. That is only 4 percentage points below the City…

Thursday, July 18, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Third time not the charm for River Place case at ZAP

At the end of Milky Way Drive there’s a 42-acre greenbelt buffering the River Place neighborhood from Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Since 2015, there has been an ongoing debate over how best to develop that tract of land.The latest hearing on…

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Electric Utility Commission unanimously declares climate crisis must be addressed

In a unanimous show of hands, the Electric Utility Commission passed a resolution July 15 asserting that the time has come for Austin to declare support for climate change mitigation policies and to adopt its own resolution declaring a climate…

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Request to increase impervious cover for 12,000-square-foot home postponed by BoA

A couple building their dream home can find it disheartening to make it through the architectural design and site plan process, only to have an administrative hiccup put their plans on pause.John and Amy Porter, who own 1704 and 1706…

Monday, July 15, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Planning Commission offers no recommendation on mobile home rezoning in airport overlay zone

Despite a City Council directive to identify mobile home parks with improper zoning and work toward aligning the zoning and the use on sites, in some instances city staff identified mobile home zoning as inappropriate and withdrew those sites from…

Friday, July 12, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

AW assures: Austin’s lead pipes pose little threat

In the wake of the drinking water scandal in Flint, Michigan, the issue of lead in drinking water has come to the forefront of the nation’s – and Austin’s – attention.Until July 9, Matt Cullen of Austin Water said neither…

Thursday, July 11, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Board of Adjustment denies case in consideration of trees

On Monday night, trees became the centerpiece of a dock variance discussion at the Board of Adjustment.The property at 2710 Scenic Drive currently has a half-constructed boat dock, big enough for only one boat, that the new property owners were…

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Cultural center variance goes before Board of Adjustment for a third time

When the Board of Adjustment voted last month to deny the reconsideration of a case and let their original judgment for a variance at 810½ San Marcos St. stand, it turns out that the vote negated their original vote of…

Tuesday, July 9, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Faux Victorian windows prompt Historic Landmark Commission to reconsider historic zoning

After initiating a case for historic zoning for the home at 1903 New York Ave., investigations by the city’s Historic Preservation Office revealed at the June 24 meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission that significant alterations in the 1980s compromised…

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