Stories by Jessi Devenyns

Friday, January 10, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

APD survey shows police officers are proud but frustrated

As the Public Safety Commission came back to a new year on Jan. 6, members began with a lengthy discussion about the state of the Austin police force.After receiving a presentation from the department highlighting the personal, professional and emotional…

Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Public Safety Commission dives into building material safety

Fire unquestionably presents a risk to public safety. However, a less visible risk associated with a burning building are the toxic chemicals used in building materials that can damage the health of first responders and homeowners who inhale the fumes…

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Without paperwork, commissioners hear testimony on rezoning, but hold off on decision

It’s unusual for the Zoning and Platting Commission to postpone a final plat but hear a preliminary plan for a zoning case. Yet that is exactly what commissioners did at their Dec. 17 meeting, before discovering that they could not…

Monday, January 6, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Parks department staff occupy and transform a historic home in South Austin

A rare and intact example of a mid-1860s rural Travis County residence sits at 10140 Old San Antonio Road. After years of neglect, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department has taken over stewardship of the property and installed an administrative…

Monday, January 6, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Planning Commission recommends a commercial zoning change in the heart of Brentwood

Commercial enterprises are sprinkled throughout Brentwood, a residential neighborhood in North-Central Austin. However, the request for a zoning change to turn a residential home into a real estate office brought concerned residents to the Dec. 10 meeting of the Planning…

Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

HLC says Pemberton Heights home no longer deserves historic status

Remodeling the exterior of a historic home requires care, attention to detail – and a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Landmark Commission to sign off on the proposed design. Failing to involve the commission can have financial consequences on…

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

A divided landmark commission recommends Green Pastures Hotel

In the decades since Green Pastures opened in 1946, the restaurant has become a beloved venue known for its elegant, porch-wrapped home and verdant grounds. It was noteworthy when the proposed addition of a hotel to the property swept through…

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

West Campus home fails to receive required votes for historic designation

The Historic Landmark Commission recently recommended historic zoning for a 19th-century West Campus home at 704 W. 22nd St. against the owner’s wishes. Planning commissioners have now voted to deny the recommendation for historic zoning, preventing the case from moving…

Monday, December 16, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Environmental Commission pushes for additional tree protections on Apple campus

Apple Inc. is well on its way to bringing a billion-dollar campus to Austin on a 133-acre parcel of land at 6900 Parmer Lane called Robinson Ranch.In an effort to offer increased protections for the trees on the property, the…

Friday, December 13, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison receives reprimand for campaign finance violations

Six months after midyear campaign finance reports revealed that Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison violated fundraising laws, the Ethics Review Commission voted to send the Council member a letter of admonition.Harper-Madison collected $3,695 in campaign funds between January and March of…

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…

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