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TipSheet: City Council, 10.14.21

Thursday, October 14, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today’s Austin City Council meeting promises to be heavy on zoning cases, but a number of items on the consent agenda also caught our eye. We’ve detailed them all in this TipSheet. As usual, you can read the entire agenda online or catch the meeting live on ATXN.

In terms of process, we’ll be paying attention to the discussion surrounding Item 46, an Adler-sponsored resolution that looks at the cost and feasibility of continuing hybrid remote and in-person meetings for Council and the city’s many boards and commissions. (Here’s a post on the City Council Message Board about it.) On a smaller, but longer-simmering scale, the mayor pro tem has also sponsored a resolution – Item 45 – that looks at providing financial assistance for Board of Adjustment fees in the name of equity, and with the support of board members that have been looking at the issue for quite some time. 

From the District 2 office, Council Member Vanessa Fuentes has put together a resolution that focuses on “building a flood-resilient community.” It includes asking for more community outreach, education and protection, and funding to increase flood protection. The resolution also seeks to place a memorial in Onion Creek Park to recognize the Halloween floods that devastated the area in 2013 and 2015.

Speaking of quite some time – Council Member Kathie Tovo is sponsoring a resolution that looks into alternative plans for bikes and pedestrians now that the long-planned Bowie underpass has been scrapped. Tovo’s resolution asks the city manager to look into whether the funds not earmarked for the bike infrastructure can be reallocated to other projects, “including homelessness services or housing.”

Tovo is also likely to dive into Item 30 during today’s meeting. Since its postponement at the previous meeting, a memo has been released that explains why property management of the city’s Permitting and Development Center costs more than $4 million for 17 months, and states that the annual cost can now be reduced by $1.5 million.

Despite state interference, Austin continues to reimagine public safety and Item 36 is an example of that. If approved, it would authorize a marshal’s office to be established as a security force for the municipal court, which would allow APD officers currently assigned to the court to do other things. 

And now, zoning. Today’s agenda, after a spate of postponements, is stacked. Item 67 is a hotly contested “missing middle” project in Crestview, which we recapped when it won the Planning Commission’s approval. There are also two affordable housing projects that promise to be heated. Item 70, which failed to earn a recommendation at the Planning Commission in June, would include 50 income-restricted units on South Lamar, if approved. Item 73 – which could mean 200 affordable family-sized apartments – also failed to get a recommendation when it was at the Zoning and Platting Commission. And Item 81, though also an affordable housing project, will face an uphill battle for approval after outwitting a valid petition displeased some Council members.  

In other zoning news, the rezoning of a Luby’s that sparked “cave concerns” at the Zoning and Platting Commission will finally be before City Council this week, as will a project that promises, at long last, to bridge the train tracks at Lamar Beach.

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This TipSheet has been changed to clarify the Bowie underpass resolution.

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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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