Stories by Jonathan Lee

Friday, April 16, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Ethics commissioners say nonprofit acted in ‘bad faith’

The Ethics Review Commission expressed frustration Wednesday that nonprofit Save Austin Now has not yet brought evidence to refute an ethics complaint filed against it, delaying a final hearing that was set for the meeting. Counsel for the nonprofit said…

Thursday, April 15, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Planning Commission recommends newest Foundation Communities project

The Planning Commission has backed the latest project by local affordable housing developer Foundation Communities, recommending Multifamily-Moderate Density (MF-4) zoning for an 8-acre, church-owned property at 2105 Parker Lane in Southeast Austin. The Parker Apartments will offer 135 units affordable…

Monday, April 12, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

City to create disaster-relief hubs

Spurred into action by Winter Storm Uri, City Council has moved to establish emergency hubs across the city where residents can go during a natural disaster to find food, water and shelter – belatedly acting on plans from two years…

Friday, April 9, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Council approves Rainey towers, pledges new LDC push

On Thursday City Council approved increased floor area ratio for three new towers in the Rainey Street area, bringing 1,000 more homes – 55 of them affordable – to the area. The approval of the towers may have consequences beyond…

Thursday, April 8, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

City looks to mitigate wildfire hazards caused by Winter Storm Uri

Some tree trimmings from power restoration efforts during Winter Storm Uri are still on the ground nearly two months after the storm, creating a potential wildfire hazard as wildfire season approaches.  Though trimmings in residential areas have been mostly picked…

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Council discusses a recalibrated Downtown Density Bonus program

City Council members on Tuesday supported recalibrating the Downtown Density Bonus program to increase the community benefits developers must provide in exchange for more floor area ratio.  The changes – should Council vote to implement them – could shape the…

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Public Safety Commission recommends budget requests – with one exception

The Public Safety Commission “wholeheartedly” recommended City Council adopt all budget items requested by Austin’s police, fire and EMS departments for Fiscal Year 2022 – with the exception of money for a new police helicopter. The budgets await review by…

Friday, April 2, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Tolls or no tolls? City and state preferences differ for new I-35 lanes

The city of Austin, among other local stakeholders, is at odds with the Texas Department of Transportation and state leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott over the type of managed lanes in TxDOT’s I-35 Capital Express Project. Despite lobbying by the…

Thursday, April 1, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Before Uri, Austin Water didn’t see winter weather as a threat

Austin Water deemed winter weather a low risk to the city’s water supply before Winter Storm Uri, the utility told the Water Oversight Committee on Wednesday.  Multiple climate and disaster preparedness plans failed to mention the threat of extreme winter…

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Planning Commission recommends 400-unit VMU project at Airport and Springdale 

A 400-unit apartment project at 3707 Goodwin Ave. took another step toward approval last Tuesday after receiving Planning Commission support for vertical-mixed use (VMU) zoning.  “This is a simple, straightforward VMU zoning case,” said David Hartman, representing the applicant, “but…

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Planning Commission throws support behind Springdale Green development

The Planning Commission last Tuesday recommended rezoning a 30-acre brownfield site in East Austin to make way for Springdale Green, a proposed 800,000-square-foot, mixed-use development. The commission voted 7-4 to support Planned Unit Development zoning, though only at the current…

Monday, March 29, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

City Council critiques TxDOT’s I-35 plans

City Council last Thursday made clear what the city’s goals are for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Interstate 35 expansion, passing a resolution critiquing – though not outright opposing – the preliminary plans presented so far.  The resolution together with…

Friday, March 26, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Council postpones vote on Rainey towers, Tovo pushes density bonus changes

Council Member Kathie Tovo previewed her upcoming push to change the downtown density bonus rules as part of her opposition to three new residential towers planned for the Rainey Street District. “I believe we need to have a policy conversation…

Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Most of City Council opposes ‘strong mayor’ plan

Nine City Council members so far have come out against Proposition F, the “strong mayor” proposal on the May 1 ballot. At a press conference Wednesday hosted by Austin for All People, a group opposed to the proposition, several Council…

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Council floats spending ‘huge’ portion of American Rescue Plan funds to solve homelessness

City Council hopes that solving homelessness – the city’s biggest priority – may finally be within reach thanks to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Council members spoke effusively at Tuesday’s work session about the “transformational” change possible if the…

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Hindered by traffic concerns, ZAP punts on rezoning case

Members of the Zoning and Platting Commission disagreed Tuesday on the proper zoning for an apartment project at 1434 Genoa Drive in South Austin, letting the zoning case move to City Council without their input. The commission’s main sticking point…

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Voices of Austin censured for breaking campaign finance laws

The nonprofit Voices of Austin violated city law by campaigning against Proposition A last year, the Ethics Review Commission ruled on March 10. The commission voted to censure the organization, the most severe rebuke at its disposal. Nonprofits are not…

Monday, March 15, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

TxDOT reveals early plans to accommodate I-35 caps

Discussion at Thursday’s City Council Mobility Committee meeting showed both the Texas Department of Transportation’s intent to accommodate caps over Interstate 35 and city leaders’ will to make it happen. TxDOT said all three of the design alternatives for the…

Friday, March 12, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Big changes coming to Airport and North Lamar with reallocation of 2016 bond funds

Complete makeovers to two prominent streets have moved up the city’s to-do list. North Lamar Boulevard between U.S. Highway 183 and Rundberg Lane and Airport Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and U.S. 183 are slated for reconstruction by…

Thursday, March 11, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

‘We did the best we could’: Commissioners evaluate Austin Energy’s winter storm response

At a special called joint meeting Monday, commissioners from the Electric Utility and Resource Management commissions praised Austin Energy’s response to last month’s winter storm that left hundreds of thousands of people without power for days. Commissioners also offered ideas…

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