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TipSheet: City Council, 10.15.20

Thursday, October 15, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today City Council will once again convene virtually for its regular Thursday meeting. As has been the practice during the pandemic, Council will take public comment on the main agenda at the beginning of the meeting, followed by zoning speakers around 2 p.m. As usual, we’ve highlighted the items on the agenda that we found interesting, and the entire agenda can be found online.

Item 6: Authorize negotiation and execution of a creative content incentive program agreement with Eye Productions Inc. for an amount not to exceed $141,326.

Monitor’s Take: Walker, Texas Ranger, is back, baby! And he’s in Austin. And he’s being played by former Supernatural star and Austin resident Jared Padalecki. Can’t wait to see what Dawson gets up to.

Item 8: Authorize negotiation and execution of a one-year agreement with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to provide emergency eviction counseling and prevention services for COVID-19 impacted households, in an amount not to exceed $220,000.

Monitor’s Take: The city and county may have extended a moratorium on initiating evictions through the end of the year, but evictions are now a confusing patchwork of temporary regulations. So it makes sense that the city would team up with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to help provide services for the many people impacted by the pandemic who are facing eviction and confused.

Item 21: Authorize negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary to acquire in fee simple 0.214 acres being a portion of Lots 12, 13, and 14, Block F of the Raymond Subdivision, a part of Outlot 2, Division Z, an addition in the City of Austin recorded in Volume 2, Page(s) 129 of the Plat Records of Travis County, Texas, located at 702 Wood Street, Austin, Texas and owned by Beau Soleil Austin, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, for a total purchase price not to exceed $1,174,250, including closing costs.

Monitor’s Take: During the Tuesday work session, parks department Director Kimberly McNeeley explained that this site was historically significant and also provides an opportunity as an access point for the trail, with help from a partnership with the Shoal Creek Conservancy. The funding, she explained, comes from parkland dedication fees, which are earmarked for specific uses and areas. Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison had questions, calling it a “funky little piece of property” with a high price tag. The discussion spiraled a bit out of control from there, and it looks like this will likely be postponed today.

Item 22: Approve the adoption of the Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park Vision Plan as developed in conjunction with Halff Associates and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Monitor’s Take: Council Member Jimmy Flannigan announced that he was feeling more comfortable with this plan at Tuesday’s work session, aside from the complicated balance between the city and county and rodeo around the expo center. It looks like there might be some agreement that the details of that aspect of the plan need a bit more discussion and clarity before anything moves forward.

Item 23: Approve adoption of the Vision Plan for John Trevino Jr. Metropolitan Park at Morrison Ranch as developed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol LTD and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Monitor’s Take: This park vision plan has also been delayed for a while, but is set for a Council vote tomorrow.

Item 50: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to identify and implement improvements to the Austin Code Department, and to identify relevant budget and fee amendments to reimagine public safety utilizing the Austin Code Department.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution, which comes out of Council Member Jimmy Flannigan’s office, lays out a number of changes to the city’s Code Department based on an audit and looks to transfer some APD duties to the Code Department as part of the massive “reimagining” project underway.

Item 59: NPA-2019-0015.02 – Pecan Springs Residential -Approve third reading of an ordinance amending Ordinance No.021107-Z-11, the East MLK Combined Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on property locally known as 3500 Pecan Springs Rd., (Fort Branch Watershed) from Single Family to Higher Density Single Family land use.

Item 60: C14-2019-0164 – Pecan Springs Residential- Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3500 Pecan Springs Road (Fort Branch Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to townhouse and condominium residence-neighborhood plan (SF-6-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: After a negotiation that ended in a capped number of units (and a smaller number of affordable units as a result), it looks like this rezoning is likely to move forward. Despite an earlier valid petition by the neighborhood, there now appears to be agreement on the path forward.

Item 66: C14-2020-0038 – 508 Kemp Street – Conduct a public hearing and approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 508 Kemp Street (Country Club East Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence – neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to townhouse and condominium residence – neighborhood plan (SF-6-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Unlike the case above, there is really no agreement on this case, which still has a valid petition on it. That means nine Council members will have to support it in order for it to move forward. As we reported today, there’s a pretty significant campaign mounted against this rezoning, even though it now will be more than 50 percent affordable housing.

Item 70: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 General Fund Emergency Reserve Fund (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to appropriate an amount not to exceed $8,500,000 for the Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors Fund to support COVID-19 emergency relief; and declaring an emergency.

Item 71: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Austin Transportation Department Mobility Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to transfer out and appropriate $3,700,000 in temporary use of Right-of-Way fee revenue to the General Fund Emergency Reserve Fund for the Business Preservation Fund; reduce expenditures in the amount of $1,699,615 and increase the transfer in by $728,385 to the Austin Transportation Department Mobility Fund from the Austin Transportation Department Parking Management Fund to support COVID-19 emergency relief; and declaring an emergency.

Item 72: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to establish a fund, called the Business Preservation Fund, into which Council can transfer any street and alley vacations or encroachment revenues in excess of the budgeted amounts necessary for staffing and operation of the street and alley vacations and the encroachment programs; and to direct the City Manager to return with budget amendments this fiscal year and next fiscal year to transfer these excess funds into the Business Preservation Fund.

Item 73: Approve a resolution to establish program guidelines for the Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant, a $5,000,000 program to help support vulnerable Austin-based childcare providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Item 74: Approve a resolution to establish program guidelines for the Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund, a $5,000,000 program to help support Austin-based live music venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Item 75: Approve a resolution to establish program guidelines for the Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant, a $5,000,000 program to help support Austin-based iconic live music venues, restaurants, and arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monitor’s Take: These items, which represent the details of the SAVES resolution to provide financial assistance funds for music venues, restaurants and bars, and child care, are likely to take up the bulk of today’s meeting. Note that items 73-75 create the guidelines for the three funds, which are still being hashed out by Council.

Item 80: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to establish a Visitor Information Center Fund that provides seed funding to allow the Austin Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) to implement as an initial project Visitor Information Center acquisition, construction, improvement, enlarging, equipping, repairing, operations, and maintenance as provided for under Texas Tax Code Sections 351.001(8) and 351.101.

Monitor’s Take: Like the items above, this EDC is intended to be a mechanism that will help get money to “iconic” venues and restaurants with the understanding that these businesses are central to Austin’s “brand” and tourism. It’s complicated, but the details are here.

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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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