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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 10.15.15

Thursday, October 15, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Austin City Council will hold its regular meeting 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.

Our first tip? This promises to be a long meeting.

3. Adopt a plan of achieving 600 megawatts of utility-scale, solar generation capacity by 2017 in addition to solar capacity currently existing or under contract, and to authorize negotiation and execution of power purchase agreements with qualified offerors for up to 350 megawatts of utility-scale, solar-generated electricity (for a total acquisition of approximately 600 megawatts of new solar capacity, if available and affordable) for terms of up to 25 years, for a combined estimated annual amount of $44,000,000 and combined total of $1,100,000,000.

Monitor’s take: Once again, Council will take up the potential purchase of up to 600 megawatts of solar capacity. When it last took up the issue, Council voted to approve up to 300 megawatts’ worth of solar contracts, but the rest of the purchase remains an option. If you missed our Whisper yesterday, Tyler Whitson reported that at Tuesday’s worksession, “Mayor Steve Adler gave a brief overview of the discussion after Council returned to open session. In addition to discussing contract pricing, ‘security issues’ and the possible locations of the solar plant or plants, Council also talked about the ‘net revenue’ of the different contract groupings, Adler said. ‘The net revenue loss in year one for increases over the initial purchases already approved is about three to four times more expensive on an incremental basis because of those additional elements that go beyond just contract price,’ he said. Council, Adler said, has asked staff to release as much of the pricing analysis to the public as it can without releasing confidential or proprietary information. Adler also said that Austin Energy staff told Council that further investment in solar would not ‘result in a reduction of the time or the amount of gas plant operation’ that the city engages in, because the city does not run the gas plants unless they are ‘in the money.’ Therefore, Adler said, ‘whether or not we buy solar is an independent issue as to whether or not or when we run our gas plants.'”

12. Authorize execution of an amendment of a legal services agreement with Thompson and Knight for legal representation in the Hopkins v. City of Austin et al, Cause Nos., D-1-GN-15-001711, D-1-GN-15 003115 and D-1-GN-15-000927, Travis County District Court lawsuits. The amount of the increase is $140,000. This increase would bring the total amount of the professional services contract to $198,000.

Monitor’s take: For this one, the online backup is interesting enough: “Plaintiff is a former City of Austin police officer who has filed over 600 public information requests (“PIRs”) with the City of Austin (“City”) and at least six lawsuits against the City, City officials and numerous City employees since he was dismissed from the Austin Police Department. The City law department is handling three of the lawsuits. Three of the lawsuits generally relate to the handling of Plaintiff’s PIRs by the City and City personnel. In those lawsuits, Plaintiff has named over 30 City Officials and employees, including the City Attorney and has named several City Departments, including the Law Department. Additionally, since filing his original public information lawsuits, he has filed numerous complaints against City employees with agencies and prosecutors, including the Texas Secretary of State and the Travis County Attorney. Plaintiff has filed or attempted to file complaints against the City’s law department counsel with the State Bar of Texas. At the request of the City’s outside counsel, the three cases (Cause Nos. D-1-GN-15-001711, D-1-GN-15 003115, and D-1-GN-15-000927) have been consolidated by an order signed by Honorable Karin Crump on September 25, 2015.”

16. Authorize negotiation and execution of a one-year parking license agreement renewal to use and occupy up to 110 parking spaces for employees of the Faulk Central Library and the Austin History Center of the Austin Public Library, located at 800 Lavaca Street, also known as the 700 Lavaca Building Parking Garage, with TRAVIS COUNTY, in the amount not to exceed $198,000 (District 9).

Monitor’s take: It’s unclear how controversial this item will prove at City Hall, but the curious can check out our county-side coverage here. In short, the county rejected a city plea for a discount.

25. Authorize execution of a 48-month contract with PLAYERS CONCESSIONS INC., or one of the other qualified offerors to Request for Proposal TVN0053, to provide café management services for Zilker Park Café for an estimated revenue amount of $558,000, with two 36-month extension options in an estimated revenue amount of $418,500 per option period, for a total estimated revenue amount of $1,395,000.

Monitor’s take: Zilker Cafe might be getting a new manager with an old face, with onetime campus favorite Players looking to take over the contract, which has been held by Rodriguez Concessions since 1950.

35. Approve a resolution authorizing the negotiation and execution of documents needed to allow The Trail of Lights Foundation to operate and manage the Trail of Lights event; repealing portions of Resolution No. 20140807-112 related to entrance fees, and authorizing the Foundation to charge fees for no more than half of the public event nights, keeping the event free on opening night and for shuttle riders.

Monitor’s take: After a three-year absence, the Trail of Lights returned to Austin in 2012 to much fanfare. This resolution, sponsored by Mayor Adler, is sure to be equally popular. Citing an “extended cosponsor agreement with the city,” this resolution would limit entrance fees to half of the nights open to the public and grant free admission on opening night and to shuttle riders.

38. Approve a resolution initiating a process to consider code and ordinance amendments to remove or otherwise modify the option to pay a fee in lieu of providing on-site affordable housing within the City’s various density bonus programs and directing the City Manager to conduct a review and compile reports regarding affordable housing, density bonus programs, and utilizing a fee-in-lieu option within density bonus programs.

53. Approve a resolution initiating a code amendment to address the lack of an on-site affordable housing density bonus program for multi-family properties and to adjust the requirements of Multifamily Residence Highest Density (MF-6) district zoning to incorporate a density bonus program.

Monitor’s take: As we reported today, the first resolution could kick off a process that would ultimately require on-site affordable housing for development participating in city density bonus programs. The second would include MF-6 zoning in density bonus programs.

39. Approve a resolution amending the City’s federal legislative agenda to include support for Planned Parenthood funding and amending the City’s state legislative agenda to support expanding funding of or women’s access to a full spectrum of health services.

Monitor’s take: Despite some objections aired at the worksession Tuesday, it’s very unlikely that this item won’t pass.

48. Approve the Austin Convention Center’s Long-Range Master Plan regarding Convention Center facilities.

Monitor’s take: There’s been some fussing about this master plan, which includes plans for expanding the city’s Convention Center. Given the tone at Tuesday’s worksession, it’s hardly a done deal.

50. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate an amendment to City Code Chapter 13-2 related to Transportation Network Company fees and to bring the amendment to the Mobility Committee for consideration no later than November 16, 2015.

51. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate an amendment to City Code Chapter 13-2, addressing public safety measures related to background check requirements for Transportation Network Companies, and to bring the amendment to the Mobility Committee for consideration no later than November 16, 2015.

Monitor’s take: Here we have the first of the “big acronyms” that Council plans to tackle today. These two items lay down rules for companies like Uber and Lyft – with some of those rules being decidedly unpopular with Uber, in particular.

54. Approve an ordinance on second and third readings to amend Title 25 of the City Code relating to secondary dwelling units. (THE PUBLIC HEARING FOR THIS ITEM WAS HELD AND CLOSED ON JUNE 18, 2015). Related to Item #55.

55. Discussion and possible action on recommendations related to amendments to City Code regarding secondary dwellings. Related to Item #54.

Monitor’s take: After about a year and a half (and two City Councils), new regulations are finally coming forward for ADUs – or “granny flats.” (We covered what is now being proposed at length today.)

56. Approve a recommendation regarding short-term rentals.

Monitor’s take: Though, apparently, city staff is already drafting a new Short-Term Rental Ordinance, Council will take up the resolution that initiates that ordinance for a third time, as there are still proposed amendments to the resolution that have not yet been made.

… and then there is zoning

60. C14H-2014-0014 – Bluebonnet Hills Historic District – District 9 – Approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning properties bounded by Annie Street on the north, East Side Drive on the east, Leland Street on the south, and Brackenridge Street on the west, and incorporating the south side of the 500 block of E. Annie Street, the 500 block of E. Mary Street, portions of the 400 block of Lockhart Drive, the 500 block of Lockhart Drive, the 300, 400, and 500 blocks of Terrace Drive, the north side of the 300, 400, and 500 blocks of Leland Street, the west side of the 1800, 1900, and 2000 blocks of East Side Drive, the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Newning Avenue, and the portions of the east side of the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Brackenridge Street (Blunn Creek Watershed) from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning and family residence-historic landmark-neighborhood plan (SF-3-H-NP) combining district zoning to family residence-historic area-neighborhood plan (SF-3-HD-NP) and family residence-historic landmark-historic area-neighborhood plan (SF-3-H-HD-NP) combining district zoning. First Reading approved on June 11, 2015. 7-3. Council Member Renteria, Troxclair and Zimmerman voting nay and Council Member Gallo was off the dais. Applicant: Michele Webre, Bluebonnet Hills Historic District Nomination. City Staff: Steve Sadowsky, Historic Preservation Office, Planning and Zoning Department, 512-974-6454. A valid petition has been filed in opposition to this rezoning request.

Monitor’s take: This is the first case with a valid petition against it – the proposed local historic district within Travis Heights has been at City Hall before Council, the Historic Landmark Commission and the Planning Commission numerous, contentious times. Our coverage is here.

61. NPA-2015-0017.01 – Korean United Presbyterian Church – District 7 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending the Crestview/Wooten Combined Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on property locally known as 2000 Justin Lane (portion of) (Shoal Creek Watershed) from Civic to Multifamily land use. Staff Recommendation: To grant Multifamily land use. Planning Commission Recommendation: To grant Multifamily land use. Owner/Applicant: Korean United Presbyterian Church (Roy M. Kim). Agent: Thrower Design (A. Ron Thrower). City Staff: Maureen Meredith, 512-974-2695.

62. C14-2015-0025 – Korean United Presbyterian Church – District 7 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 2000 Justin Lane (Shoal Creek Watershed) from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to multi-family residence-medium density-neighborhood plan (MF-3-NP) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: To grant multi-family residence-medium density-neighborhood plan (MF-3-NP) combining district zoning. Planning Commission Recommendation: To grant multi-family residence-medium density-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-3-CO-NP) combining district zoning. Owner/Applicant: Korean United Presbyterian Church (Roy M. Kim). Agent: Thrower Design (Ron Thrower). City Staff: Tori Haase, 512-974-7691. A valid petition has been filed in opposition to this rezoning request.

Monitor’s take: And then, finally, we have this case. The neighborhood also has a valid petition against this property. (Although, as we noted in an earlier story, most of the surrounding property is owned by one interest, making for a short petition – there is strong neighborhood opposition for the proposed multifamily project.) It’s a redo of an earlier, more intense proposal, so it should be interesting to see how City Council receives it – if we get this far.

84. Conduct a public hearing and consider 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: Last month, Council delayed a vote on Parkland Dedication Fees because it didn’t come up until about 11 p.m. Just pointing that out.

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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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