Stories by Jo Clifton

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 by Jo Clifton

After fireworks, Springdale PUD moves a step forward

On Thursday City Council approved on second reading Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning for the properties at 1011 and 1017 Springdale Road, home of the infamous East Austin tank farm. But the 10-0 vote came only after Council Member Vanessa…

Friday, June 4, 2021 by Jo Clifton

With Council approval, DSD to add 41 new workers

City Council on Thursday approved a staff request to hire 41 new reviewers and inspectors in the Development Services Department starting in July, with a goal of having those new employees trained and ready to work by the end of…

Thursday, June 3, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Development Services seeking more staff this summer

The Development Services Department, which conducts inspections and approves permits for new housing, remodeling and commercial construction, is facing an ever-increasing volume of work, as Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales and department Director Denise Lucas explained at Tuesday’s City Council…

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Austin Energy leader insists utility is resilient

While Sidney Jackson, Austin Energy’s deputy general manager and COO, told City Council the “system is resilient,” utility customers who went without power for three days might disagree. By Saturday night, power had been restored to 88 percent of the…

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council to consider loan for Airport Hilton

When Austin’s airport lost 63 percent of its passengers last year due to Covid-19, the Airport Hilton lost 60 percent of its business. Now, Austin-Bergstrom Landhost Enterprises, or ABLE, the nonprofit corporation that operates the hotel, is asking for City…

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Espero at Rutland offers hope for the homeless

At next week’s meeting, City Council, acting as the board of directors of the Austin Housing Finance Corporation, is expected to approve funding for a 171-unit supportive housing development at 1934 Rutland Drive. In building and operating Espero at Rutland, AHFC…

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council to request maximum tax rate calculation

At next week’s meeting, City Council is expected to approve a resolution directing Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo to calculate the property tax rate for next year with an increase of 8 percent above the city’s current maintenance and…

Monday, May 24, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Owner withdraws mini mart rezoning case

Although City Council gave preliminary approval for rezoning of the Sunrise Mini Mart at 913 and 915 W. Oltorf St., the road ahead looked bleak to property owner Abdul Patel and his agent, Jim Wittliff of Land Answers. With a…

Friday, May 21, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs site for new Dougherty Arts Center

City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a site for the Dougherty Arts Center, close to the current ZACH Theatre at Butler Shores Park. The site, called 1A, was not city staffers’ first choice, but it was clear that staffers’…

Thursday, May 20, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Vote would fund new family violence shelter

At today’s meeting, Austin City Council members plan to award a contract for up to $8.1 million over four years to the SAFE Alliance to manage and provide services at a city-owned shelter for those experiencing domestic violence or sexual…

Wednesday, May 19, 2021 by Jo Clifton

What’s the plan for American Rescue Plan money?

After seeing a rough outline of how city staffers plan to spend $143.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to house the homeless, address food insecurity, and provide affordable child care and job training, City Council still had a…

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Postmortem of winter storm raises many questions

While individuals and departments shone in their dedication to the city and its people during the cascade of calamities caused by Winter Storm Uri, City Manager Spencer Cronk still has a lot of questions to answer when he releases the…

Monday, May 10, 2021 by Jo Clifton

DKG house one step closer to high rise

City Council has granted preliminary approval for Downtown Mixed-Use zoning for the Delta Kappa Gamma house at 12th and San Antonio streets, allowing construction of a 375-foot residential tower. The motion to approve DMU at the requested height got only…

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Neighbors wary as ACC takes a step back from concrete plant

After hearing numerous complaints from neighbors of Austin Community College’s Pinnacle campus in Oak Hill, the ACC Board of Trustees approved a new resolution Monday night specifically excluding the use of the campus for a concrete batch plant. The board…

Monday, May 3, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Strong-mayor proposition fails spectacularly

In the May 1 election, voters strongly rejected Proposition F, which proposed a radical change to Austin city governance from the Council-manager form of government to a strong mayor with veto powers over actions taken by City Council. Eighty-six percent…

Thursday, April 29, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council committee delves into ACE finances

Jolsna Thomas, who serves as secretary/treasurer of the board of Austin Convention Enterprises, which oversees financial matters related to the downtown Hilton Hotel, asked members of the City Council Audit & Finance Committee Wednesday to work on getting City Council…

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs Springdale Green PUD on first reading

While a number of residents of Saucedo Street next to the former East Austin tank farm strongly support plans to turn the property into a six-story office building with a height ranging from 75-93 feet, other neighbors object to the…

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Convoluted audit tale shows conflicts of interest, but no harm

Two city employees violated city conflict-of-interest rules when one of them routed funds meant for the city through a nonprofit he set up. However, according to an audit conducted by the Office of the City Auditor, the funds were sent…

Friday, April 23, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Gas companies seek interim rate hikes

The three companies that supply natural gas to Austin residential and commercial customers are each seeking a rate increase under the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program, or GRIP. City Council acted on April 8 and again on Thursday to temporarily suspend…

Thursday, April 22, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Report raises questions about convention center finances

In the wake of Covid-19, revenue at the Austin Convention Center dropped from more than $35.8 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to about $12.8 million in FY 2020, according to a special review of convention center finances conducted by the…

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