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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 12.17.15

Thursday, December 17, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Austin City Council will hold its last meeting of 2015 on Thursday. Below is a list of items we’re watching. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda. The Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

5. Approve a resolution requesting that the Travis Central Appraisal District conduct a 2015 reappraisal of properties affected by the October 2015 floods.

Monitor’s take: According to answers posed by Council Member Sheri Gallo, staff has not yet submitted a list of flood-damaged properties to TCAD for reappraisal, though it estimates that number at 455. It also anticipates that the city will lose less than $15,000 in tax revenue.

24. Authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to the legal services agreement with Renea Hicks to provide legal services related to Donald Zimmerman v. City of Austin, Cause No. 1:15-cv-00628, in the United States District Court for the Western Division of Texas in the amount of $125,000.00, for a total contract amount not to exceed $180,000.00. Funding is available in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 liability reserve fund.

Monitor’s take: As Monitor readers well know, Council Member Don Zimmerman is suing the city of Austin over its campaign finance laws. Here are taxpayers’ costs associated with that lawsuit. Though Zimmerman has been wary of “negotiate and execute” contracts in the past, we assume that he’ll sit this one out.

26. Approve an ordinance establishing Homestead Preservation District B in southeast Austin bounded generally by Interstate 35 and Parker Lane to the west, the Colorado River to the north, Bastrop Highway to the east, and Highway 71 to the south.

27. Approve an ordinance establishing Homestead Preservation District C in east Austin and generally located north of the Colorado River, east of Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard, continuing east just beyond Ed Bluestein Boulevard, and extending to the north until Oak Springs Drive.

28. Approve an ordinance establishing Homestead Preservation District D in north Austin located near the intersection of Interstate 35 and East Anderson Lane.

99. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance creating and designating a homestead preservation reinvestment zone named “City of Austin Homestead Preservation Reinvestment Zone Number One” generally located north of the Colorado River, east of Interstate 35, west of Airport Boulevard and Springdale Road, and south of 38 1/2th Street and establishing provisions for the effective administration of the zone.

Monitor’s take: Back in June, City Council decided to move forward with actually doing something with the Homestead Preservation Districts the city had created. Now Council is poised to consider setting aside about $47 million in property taxes to help with affordability in those districts.

33. Approve an ordinance extending the expiration date of Ordinance No. 20141120-056 relating to requirements for non-peak hour concrete installation within portions of the Central Business District and Public zoning districts.

Monitor’s take: While the battle over downtown concrete-pouring regulations continues in committee, Council will consider once again extending an interim ordinance to address the issue.

52. Approve a resolution giving the honorary name Electric Drive to a portion of West 2nd Street between Walter Seaholm Drive and Sandra Muraida Way. (District 9).

Monitor’s take: Looks like Second Street is well on its way toward becoming the most honorarily named street in town!

54. Approve a resolution related to a rule to be proposed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality related to the beneficial reuse of wastewater.

Monitor’s take: If approved, this resolution would request that TCEQ initiate rule-making to change its wastewater land application requirements “to authorize reductions in disposal field size and effluent storage requirements when the permit holder utilizes beneficial reuse of treated wastewater,” and City Council would announce its support of the beneficial reuse of treated waste water.

56. Approve an ordinance waiving certain fees and requirements under City Code Chapter 14-8; waiving certain other fees, payments, and requirements; authorizing payment of certain costs by City departments; and waiving or modifying certain requirements of City Code Sections 9-2-36, 9-2-38, 9-2-54, 13-2-336, 14-8-14, and 25-10-158 for the City co-sponsored March 11-21, 2016 South by Southwest conferences and festivals.

Monitor’s take: The waiving of some South by Southwest fees is, of course, an annual thing by this point. Although the item is hardly controversial, this year the fees are lower than usual (as we reported earlier this month).

67. Approve an ordinance to annex the Pilot Knob MUD No. 3 – Collins Tract annexation area for limited purposes (approximately 2.9 acres in eastern Travis County approximately eight tenths of a mile east of the intersection of McKinney Falls Parkway and Colton Bluff Springs Road; contiguous to District 2). Related to Item #80.

80. C814-2012-0152 – Pilot Knob Planned Unit Development – District 2 – Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by zoning property locally known as east and southeast of the intersection of East William Cannon Drive and McKinney Falls Parkway, and west of South U.S. Highway 183 and FM 1625 (Cottonmouth Creek Watershed; North Fork Creek Watershed; South Fork Creek Watershed) from interim-rural residence (I-RR) district zoning and interim-single family residence-standard lot (SF-4A) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning. First Reading approved on October 8, 2015. Vote: 10-0, Council Member Pool was off the dais. Second Reading approved on November 19, 2015. Vote: 11-0. Owner/Applicant: Carma Easton, Inc. (Logan Kimble). Agent: Armbrust & Brown, L.L.P. (Lynn Ann Carley). City Staff: Wendy Rhoades, 512-974-7719. Related to Item #67.

Monitor’s take: Here’s the latest on Pilot Knob, if you needed a refresher.

69. Approve a resolution regarding lobbyist reform, including initiating proposed changes to City Code Chapter 4-8 relating to regulation of lobbyists and City Code Chapter 2-7 relating to the duties and functions of the Ethics Review Commission.

Monitor’s take: We’ve given this topic plenty of ink since it was proposed. At the moment, it appears that Council Member Leslie Pool’s proposed changes have been somewhat modified in order to sit better with those who once expressed grave concerns. But the Monitor cannot confidently predict that this will pass without fireworks.

70. Approve a resolution regarding mandating disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures by non-profits and other entities not currently required to disclose their funding (“dark money” sources).

Monitor’s take: Mayor Steve Adler’s dark money ordinance is headed to Council, who will now look at the proposed changes to campaign finance in the city.

73. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 4-12 relating to the regulation of credit access businesses.

Monitor’s take: Austin is thinking of strengthening its rules regarding payday lending. We haven’t written about those rules lately (sorry!), but here is the latest on the topic from the Austin-American Statesman.

75. Approve an ordinance amending the City Code to add new sections relating to the regulation of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), amending City Code Chapter 13-2 relating to taxis, and terminating TNC operating agreements.

Monitor’s take: This is the big item of the meeting, and it’s sure to draw a large crowd when Council takes it on around 7 p.m. or so. Basically, after months (and months) of discussion, Council is ready to pass regulations for companies like Uber and Lyft, and those companies have threatened to leave the city if the current proposal passes as is. Add TNC newcomer “GetMe,” which is totally cool with the proposed regulations and eager to get into Austin’s market, and there is high potential for drama.

76. Approve a resolution relating to expenditure of the Capital Metro ¼ Cent funds.

Monitor’s take: As we reported today, the debate over whether the remaining quarter-cent funds should be divided among districts or not has raised the specter of “ward politics.” Though some Council offices have been hard at work deciding how to spend their allotted $1.9 million, Mayor Steve Adler announced Tuesday that he was concerned it could set a precedent for future spending allocations, and he plans to introduce an amendment that would distribute the money in a way that would take district requests as suggestions, not commands.

86. C14-2014-0193 – MMK Ventures, LLC – District 7 – Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 1601 Cedar Bend Drive (Walnut Creek Watershed) from rural residence (RR) district zoning to single-family residence-small lot-conditional overlay (SF-4A-CO) combining district zoning. First reading approved on October 15, 2015. Vote: 10-0. Second reading approved on November 12, 2015. Vote: 9-3, Council Members Renteria, Troxclair and Houston voted nay. Owner/Applicant: MMK Ventures, LLC (Saeed Minhas). Agent: Cuatro Consultants, Ltd. (Hugo Elizondo, Jr., P.E.). City Staff: Sherri Sirwaitis, 512-974-3057.

Monitor’s take: We understand that this once-contentious case will most likely pass on consent, without any gates or bollards. However, city staff plans to talk to the neighborhood about improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

92. Conduct a public hearing and consider on 2nd and 3rd readings an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-1 and Ordinance No. 20070621-027 relating to parkland dedication requirements and associated fees imposed as a condition to development approval.

Monitor’s take: Looks like it could be another long night for those interested in proposed changes to the city’s Parkland Dedication Fees. The Parks and Recreation Department argues that the current fees aren’t enough to actually dedicate parks, but some worry that the proposed changes are an over-correction that punishes high-density development. In November, both sides agreed to work on building consensus over the issue, so we’ll see if any resolution has been achieved.

98. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 related to short-term rental use.

Monitor’s take: During the work session on Tuesday, it seemed like the prevailing sentiment was to limit the short-term rental discussion to the “test the waters” provision, which has allowed STR operators to advertise without a license. Council will most likely take up the bulk of STR changes on Jan. 28. #blessed

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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