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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 3.2.16

Thursday, March 3, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

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.

7. Approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20140320-062 related to dwelling occupancy limit to repeal the expiration date and report requirement.

Monitor’s take: Though this may not have gotten much attention recently, this item could actually be a slightly big deal? When City Council approved new occupancy limits two years ago, it did so with an expiration date of March 31, 2016. This item would remove that expiration limit and make permanent the change limiting the maximum number of unrelated adults who can live at a given address from six to four. Though there has been some pushback online about the lower limits, a Change.org petition shows that making them permanent has strong support as well.

18. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate amendments to the affordable housing and fee waiver portion of the Pilot Knob Planned Unit Development zoning ordinance (Ordinance No. 20151217-080).

Monitor’s take: Well, heck, if you don’t know what this is, you are wasting your Austin Monitor subscription. With a lawsuit (and offered settlement) pending, today is the day that City Council will most likely vote on whether to reconsider the Pilot Knob deal. How, exactly, that might go down is a bit of a mystery, but we gave a shot at an explainer in today’s issue.

19. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to conduct a comprehensive review of the City’s music and creative ecosystem, and return to City Council in ninety days with options and needed resources, such as development changes, financial partnerships and research to address the continued and future success of all aspects of the City’s music and creative ecosystem.

Monitor’s take: Over the weekend, this “Music and Creative Omnibus Resolution” caught the attention of local media. And with good reason – the impact of an increasingly expensive city that is changing at a rapid rate has had an impact on the local music industry, and many are worried about the loss of creative people and musicians. However, the proposal has yet to be discussed by the entire City Council. That will change today.

21. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to amend the schedule for the Austin Energy rate case.

Monitor’s take: With a review of Austin Energy’s rates pending, it looks like this item is pretty much a way to put off that process a bit until an independent consumer advocate can get involved. That makes sense, given the delay, which occurred earlier this year, in hiring the advocate.

24. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-5 relating to council committees and procedures for council meetings.

Monitor’s take: As we reported today, the time for City Council to take a look at smoothing out the kinks in its committee system is, actually, a couple of months overdue. After Council put that discussion off for several meetings running, we expect the discussion to actually happen today, and we are looking forward to it (and the ensuing fixes to the committee system, whatever they may be).

31. Approve amendments to the City Auditor’s Fiscal Year 2016 Audit Plan to accommodate an affordability review project.

Monitor’s take: During his State of Our City speech, Mayor Steve Adler announced plans to launch a $500,000 “affordability audit” of the city government. That audit, he explained, would take a comprehensive look at what local government is doing to help – and hurt – affordability in the city. And here is where we get some details on how that is going to work.

36. Approve second and third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 to limit the ability of using small lot amnesty to disaggregate contiguous substandard lots to create a site that is smaller than the minimum lot area requirement. (THE PUBLIC HEARING FOR THIS ITEM WAS HELD AND CLOSED ON FEBRUARY 11, 2016).

Monitor’s take: Although City Council has already voted on this, the 6-5 vote to change the current code and close a loophole that allows for disaggregation of lots was not enough to pass it on all three readings. It’s an interesting topic, for sure, but the last discussion made it seem unlikely that any City Council members will change their votes – although several did seem inclined to initiate a separate code amendment that would allow for disaggregation in a more straightforward way.

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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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