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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 2.11.16

Thursday, February 11, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

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.

2. Adopt a citizen-initiated ordinance, supported by a petition certified sufficient on February 2, to amend the City Code, Chapter 13-2 (Ground Transportation Passenger Services) relating to regulation of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).

3. Approve an ordinance ordering a municipal election to be held on May 7, 2016, to submit to the voters a proposed citizen-initiated ordinance, certified sufficient on February 2, relating to regulation of Transportation Network Companies; providing for the conduct of the election, including authorizing the City Clerk to enter into joint election agreements with other local political subdivisions as may be necessary for the orderly conduct of the election; and declaring an emergency.

16. Approve an ordinance relating to ground transportation passenger services.

59. Approve negotiation and execution of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to transportation network companies (TNCs).

Monitor’s take: We assume that anyone going so far as to read this Tip Sheet is fairly well-versed in the TNC discussion by now. However, there have admittedly been a lot of twists and turns (and ordinances, and memorandums of understanding …), so for a quick refresher on where things stand today, it might be a good idea to read our latest piece on all of the options, as discussed at Tuesday’s work session. Since then, Uber has crafted its own MOU, but otherwise that’s just about where things stand. Oh, and if everything doesn’t pass on all three readings today, Council may meet on Friday, but the Monitor is pretending that isn’t happening.

8. Approve second and third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 relating to approval requirements for planned unit development zoning cases.

Monitor’s take: When last City Council took up proposed changes to the city’s PUD ordinance, it caused a lot of trouble. Additionally, Council only passed the changes on first reading, which means this fight is back today, on what could be a very fight-y day.

9. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) to transfer out $1,100,000 to the General Fund; amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 General Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) transferring in $1,100,000 from the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund; and appropriating $1,500,000, which includes $400,000 in estimated fees, to increase expenditures in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Austin Police Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) for public safety support for the Spring Festival Season. Related to Item #20.

20. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) to transfer out $1,500,000 to the General Fund; amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 General Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) transferring in $1,500,000 from the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund; appropriating $1,500,000 to increase expenditures in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Austin Police Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20150908-001) for public safety support for the Spring Festival Season; and amending Ordinance No. 20151217-056 to waive certain other payments under City Code Chapter 14-8 for the South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals co-sponsored by the City and SXSW, LLC which are to be held March 11 – 21, 2016. Related to Item #9.

Monitor’s take: A few months ago, Council passed a resolution to look at hiring temporary officers for SXSW. Well, that’s next month, so it’s time to put that plan into action. These two items show that it’s going to cost about $1.5 million, as expected.

13. Approve a resolution supporting the nomination and inclusion of the Lions Municipal Golf Course in the National Register of Historic Places.

Monitor’s take: It’s been a while since the fight to “Save Muny” took center stage at City Hall. Today it returns for a visit, and this whisper explains what is going on.

15. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to explore the concept of the City assuming departments, activities, or functions provided by independent school districts located in the City of Austin if those departments, activities, or functions have a municipal purpose.

Monitor’s take: So, this is kind of an interesting item. The basic idea is to explore what the city can do legally to help the school district, reasoning that so many of Austin ISD’s taxes are lost to recapture and that having the city take on some of the financial burden of some programs could be a win for AISD taxpayers. However, as Council Member Ellen Troxclair has pointed out, Austin and AISD do not have the same borders, and Austin includes several other school districts as well. The language of this item doesn’t specify that it applies only to AISD, but a look at the resolution shows that it name-checks the district in several places, so it remains to be seen whether Troxclair’s concerns have been assuaged.

17. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate a public involvement process regarding potential transportation projects and funding options.

Monitor’s take: Hey-o, lets add the potential of a transportation bond to today’s agenda, shall we?

19. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to provide financial analysis and briefing regarding Austin Water Utility impact fee waivers for affordable housing and to initiate amendments to the affordable housing and fee waiver portion of the Pilot Knob PUD zoning ordinance (Ordinance No. 20151217-080).

Monitor’s take: Boy, is this ever a mess. City Council dedicated several hours to dissecting the Pilot Knob deal on Tuesday. But given the laundry list of questions that Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo still has, the new lawsuit and a fairly recent memo explaining all-what went down, we are guessing there is still plenty to talk about here.

21. Approve a resolution stating the council’s desired purposes for the council committee system.

Monitor’s take: Much-wanted changes to City Council’s new committee system have been lingering near discussion for a while now. Last week, Council had a free hour-and-a-half to check in on where everyone stood on the proposals for change, but everyone opted to push the discussion off until today. Though the Monitor is interested in the meat of the discussion, we are also curious whether anyone will regret that decision now, given a significantly busier agenda.

57. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 to limit the redevelopment of existing small (substandard) lots that are developed as a single building site.

Monitor’s take: In short, this change to the city code would stop developers from demolishing homes built on two substandard lots to build on each lot instead. The reason given by the city for this change is that small-lot amnesty is something that neighborhoods chose to adopt, and those that did were not aware of this loophole. Naturally, some people like the loophole, though. While a former incarnation of the Planning Commission fully supported the clarification, the new commission is not nearly as united.

58. Approve a resolution initiating amendments to the Land Development Code (Title 25), excluding Article 14 of Chapter 25-1, relating to the application of site development regulations to projects for which dedication of parkland is required.

Monitor’s take: Did you think the Parkland Dedication Fee change was in the past? That was kind of a wrong thought, as this item shows. The resolution gets a little more specific about implementation, with things like credits to offset dedications. Mayor Steve Adler has already proposed some amendments, which are on the City Council Message Board.

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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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