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TipSheet: Austin City Council, 3.24.16

Thursday, March 24, 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. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 City of Austin Fee Schedule (Ordinance No. 20150908-003) to reflect a decrease in the Power Supply Adjustment charge.

Monitor’s take: In a rare moment of good news for Austin fee-payers, Council will vote today on an 11.3 percent decrease in Austin Energy’s power supply adjustment charge. According to a February 29 memo, that means the average residential customer bill – reflecting about 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month – will decrease by $3.56. The decrease has nothing to do with the upcoming rate case – it is, instead, the direct result of falling oil prices.

6. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to review the City’s non-discrimination employment policies and practices, to make recommendations to the Council by May 1, 2016, about ways to strengthen employee protections in these policies and practices, and to request that the Director of Human Resources initiate amendments to the Municipal Civil Service rules to strengthen employee protections against discrimination in the workplace.

14. Approve a resolution concerning ways to strengthen protections for city employees from workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Monitor’s take: These two items come out of a Human Rights Commission recommendation to explore alternate ways of reporting discrimination at the city. Though there are two items, Council will consider the second, revised, item; the first will be withdrawn.

9. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a comprehensive plan to address fire response times including recommendations regarding timelines and funding mechanisms for fire stations and technology utilized to control traffic signals.

Monitor’s take: As we reported earlier this month, the Austin Fire Department has called for more fire stations and is asking for the city to find ways to fund them in the next budget cycle. This resolution kicks off that specific process.

10. Approve an ordinance amending the process for public comment at city council and committee meetings.

Monitor’s take: At its last meeting, City Council finally approved changes to the committee system. However, it chose to postpone until today the thorny issue of when to take public comment at the committee level and when it should be in front of the whole Council.

13. Approve a resolution amending Resolution No. 20150604-044 to change the reporting schedule and expiration date of the Flood Mitigation Task Force.

Monitor’s take: The recently created Flood Mitigation Task Force comprises 20-odd people tasked with looking at everything flood-proximate in the city. This extension won’t likely generate much discussion, and it’s not terribly surprising.

15. Approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 030508-031 regarding adopted wages to be paid on city projects.

20. Approve a resolution adopting a living wage policy to apply to City non-construction procurement agreements.

Monitor’s take: These items are intended to close a “loophole” that has, up until now, allowed some city contractors to avoid paying workers a living wage. While the staff-recommended item that came out of the Economic Opportunity Committee (Item #20) would address some of those workers, the other item (Item #18) would include construction contractors and subcontractors as well.

18. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to prepare a report about the impact of reducing Austin Energy’s transfers to the General Fund and the Economic Development Fund.

Monitor’s take: In February, the Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee (which comprises all 11 members of City Council) passed a resolution asking for an assessment of the impact of the utility’s transfers to the city’s General Fund. Now City Council (which also consists of all 11 members of City Council) is poised to do the same, apparently.

21. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 14-1 relating to the naming or renaming of park facilities.

Monitor’s take: This item, which is intended to ease the process of naming city facilities by providing clear guidelines, keeps appearing week after week. We aren’t putting any money on it, but maybe this is the week it is addressed?

28. NPA-2015-0023.01 – Boys & Girls Club Legacy Club – District 1 – Boys & Girls Club Legacy Club – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20070809-55 of the University Hills/Windsor Park Combined Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the future land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on property locally known as 4717 Turner Lane (Walnut Creek Watershed; Little Walnut Creek Watershed) from Higher Density Single Family, Transportation, and Commercial land uses to Civic land use.

29. C14-2015-0086 – Boys and Girls – Legacy Club – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 4717 Turner Lane (Walnut Creek Watershed; Little Walnut Creek Watersheds) from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning, townhouse and condominium residence-neighborhood plan (SF-6-NP) combining district zoning, and neighborhood commercial-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (LR-CO-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (GR-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Despite a favorable recommendation by the Planning Commission in February for the city’s first brick-and-mortar Boys & Girls Club, the case remains fairly controversial within the neighborhood and, if the past is any indication, may draw a crowd. However, this Thursday, it’s even more likely to be postponed, in response to a request from Council Member Ora Houston.

35. C14-2015-0139 – New Office/Retail Space – District 6 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by zoning property locally known as 11812 Millwright Parkway (Lake Creek Watershed) from interim-single family residence-standard lot (I-SF-2) district zoning to neighborhood commercial (LR) district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Here’s our recap of what happened at the Zoning and Platting Commission, for those interested.

46. C14-91-0038(RCA) – 507 W 23rd Street – District 9 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by amending a restrictive covenant as it relates to property locally known as 507 West 23rd Street (Shoal Creek Watershed).

47. C14H-2015-0007 – Clyde and Henrietta Littlefield House – District 9 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 903 Shoal Cliff Court from multifamily residence-moderate-high density-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-4-CO-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence-moderate-high density-historic landmark-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-4-H-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s take: We’ve covered both of these cases – now related – before. The property at 507 West 23rd is also known as the Dabney-Horne house, and a plan to allow the University Co-op to move that historic home has been in and out of the city’s land-use commissions for the better part of three years. There is also the Clyde-Littlefield house, which could be historic and is definitely the former home of a celebrated UT Austin coach. And now, City Council will consider a plan that binds the two together, in the hopes of preserving them both.

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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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