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TipSheet: City Council, 10.12.17

Thursday, October 12, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today, and here are the things we have our eye on. 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-ish. Please note that this week there are three agendas – the regular agenda, an addendum to the agenda and an agenda for a special-called meeting that is really just part of the regular meeting that missed a posting deadline. (We promise that we’ve read them all.)

Item 6: Authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to the professional services agreement with Opticos Design, Inc., for additional architectural, urban design, planning, and engineering services for CodeNEXT, the comprehensive Land Development Code revision, in the amount of $2,275,000 to complete Phase 5 of CodeNEXT and Phase 2 of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan for a total contract amount not to exceed $8,466,520.60.

Monitor’s Take: Starting off with a bang here: This is the item that we expect to be signing our Thursday morning over to. On the surface, it is an expansion of the contract to the CodeNEXT consultants. Adding $2.2 million to the existing contract would probably be reason enough to keep an eye on this. However, we must point out that this item has also become a meeting point for general CodeNEXT angst, which this city has in spades. Notably, the discussion has turned into one about whether the current deadline of April 2018 is reasonable. And, with a recent Planning Commission discussion that suggested “maybe not,” this appears to be an item where some things are going to be worked out.

Item 9: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-10 (Municipal Court) to revise and add provisions regarding indigency, fines, alternative sentencing, and commitment.

Monitor’s Take: Once again, this item is likely to be postponed. This time we will be looking at the Nov. 9 agenda.

Item 14: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 2 relating to the Municipal Court, the Downtown Austin Community Court, and the creation of a City Council Judicial Committee.

Monitor’s Take: OK, remember when the new 10-1 Council came in, guns a-blazing, and revamped the existing City Council Committee system? And then, a bit later, noped out of that new plan? Apparently, the “noping” had some consequences. The existing Judicial Committee was absorbed by the new Public Safety Committee, which was one of the committees to die a young death. Problem is, the Judicial Committee had an actual purpose – nominating judges – and its demise has created an immediate, pressing need at the Municipal Court. We aren’t suggesting that there will be a debate about the creation of the committee, but we are telling this story because: wow.

Item 16: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate a School-to-Prison Pipeline and Youth Justice Workgroup to create recommendations on non-criminal policies to support youth.

Monitor’s Take: Though this is a resolution that will likely easily win the support of Council, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo did express concern at the Tuesday work session that it held a mission very similar to the existing judicial task force of the joint subcommittee. We have never seen a resolution rejected because it was similar to an existing resolution or program, but we’re guessing that additional info will be included the resolution in some way before this one passes.

Item 19: Approve an audit plan for the City Auditor for Fiscal Year 2018.

Monitor’s Take: The yearly audit plan is always a fun preview for city-minded snoops. Alas, this year’s plan is likely to be put off a week, at the behest of Council Member Alison Alter.

Item 22: C14-2016-0096 – 7901 Ranch Road 2222 – District 10 – Approve second reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 7901 Ranch to Market Road 2222 (West Bull Creek Watershed).

Monitor’s Take: This zoning case could be a bit of a discussion. Though recommended by the Zoning and Platting Commission, there was some worry that plans for the recording studio were “spot zoning.”

Item 26: Conduct a public hearing for the full-purpose annexation of the River Place Outparcels annexation area (approximately 212 acres in northwestern Travis County adjacent to the boundary of the River Place Municipal Utility District and the City’s full-purpose jurisdiction; contiguous to District 6).

Monitor’s Take: Though the Austin Monitor has been assured that this annexation will proceed without incident, River Place MUD has been historically grumpy about the prospect of annexation, as has District 6 in general, so we’ll see.

Item 29: Approve a resolution adopting the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (doing business as Visit Austin) 2017-2018 Marketing Plan and Proposed Budget; setting the contract payment as required by the Chapter 351 of the Texas Tax Code; and authorizing the City Manager to file the approved documents with the City Clerk’s Office as required by the Texas Tax Code.

Monitor’s Take: The last time this item was up before Council there was a surprising amount of Lady Gaga talk. This time around, unpinned from other Hotel Occupancy Tax discussions, the discussion of Visit Austin’s budget and business practices still promises to be quite interesting. We’re looking to see whether Council still has an itch to take on industry-wide standard practices, or whether they’ve let that particular fire die down a bit since last month. At any rate, it’s set for a 2 p.m. time certain.

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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 2015, 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 as of 2015, 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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