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TipSheet: City Council, 10.18.18

Thursday, October 18, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire City Council agenda, but here are the items we have our eye on today. The Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 2: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 15-9 to allow the remetering and resale of electric service for the purpose of electric vehicle charging.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, this ordinance would allow Austin Energy to take the unusual step of allowing third-party sales of electric energy, for a pretty good reason. The move will allow electric charging stations in the city to greatly expand maybe leading the way to electric car ownership’s expansion as well?

Item 3: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 15-year power purchase agreement with East Blackland Solar Project 1, LLC, for the full output of electricity from a utility-scale solar generation facility with capacity of 144 megawatts, in an estimated amount of $11,000,000 per year, for a total estimated amount of $165,000,000.

Monitor’s Take: More energy news! This contract will lead to the purchase of a massive amount of solar energy – up to 144 megawatts – from the “East Blackland Solar Project” located  somewhere – within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) South Zone.

Item 12: Approve a resolution adopting the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (doing business as Visit Austin) 2018-2019 Marketing Plan and Proposed Budget of $15,714,496, setting the contract payment as required by 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: Hey! The Visit Austin budget is back after a fairly unproductive trip to the city’s brand-new Tourism Commission. The budget was sent there, largely, at the behest of Council Member Leslie Pool, who is both an outspoken scrutinizer of Visit Austin spending and absent today. That means that this might pass in a relatively peaceful way today (or it might be postponed yet again).

Item 15: Approve a resolution adopting the City’s State Legislative Program for the 86th Texas Legislative Session.

Item 16: Approve a resolution authorizing negotiation and execution of contracts for: 1) state agency and legislative representation services for a total combined amount not to exceed $540,000; and 2) federal agency and legislative representation services for a total combined amount not to exceed $132,000.

Monitor’s Take: Tick tock, y’all, the Texas Legislature is almost back in town. Yesterday, we ran down the city’s list of concerns. It looks a lot like lists from years past, and the discussion is probably going to look a lot like the one on Tuesday as well, too.

Item 30: Authorize negotiation and execution of an exclusive negotiation agreement with Catellus Development Corporation for terms governing a master developer contract for the development of approximately 208 acres of City-owned land, known as Colony Park Sustainable Community.

Monitor’s Take: Though this isn’t going to garner a heated discussion or anything, it is a big step toward the realization of the Colony Park development which will be helmed by the same people that brought us Mueller. Take note, look forward.

Item 38: Approve a resolution relating to improving compatibility between residents, lodging establishments, and music-related businesses.

Monitor’s Take: Agent of Change is back! Remember that whole discussion about how to protect existing venues (like the venerable “Nook” of downtown) and live music against fussy new hotels and cranky new residents who want to sleep? Well, that kind of faded away but now it’s back, at the behest of some stakeholders that think the time might be right to try again.

Item 39: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a program to incentivize the opening of grocery stores and other responsible investments in federally qualified Opportunity Zones within the City of Austin.

Monitor’s Take: This item, which comes out of the office of Council Member Delia Garza, is a hodgepodge of ideas aimed at bringing some relief to Austin’s food deserts by encouraging people to build grocery stores in areas that need them. It’s a continuation of a push to revamp economic incentives, in a way, trying to lure business that will help areas and people that are currently underserved.

Item 40: Approve a resolution that encourages employers to inform and allow employees to take paid time off to vote in elections and that directs the City Manager to explore whether a company’s efforts to promote civic engagement may be considered as a way of meeting the requirement of providing a community benefit when awarding city program or economic development incentive funds.

Monitor’s Take: Have you seen that thing on Twitter about how if government officials really wanted people to vote, they would make election day a holiday? Well, that’s a little tricky to do in one fell swoop, but here’s another attempt at caring from Your City Council.

Item 56: C14-86-023.01 – Camelback PUD – District 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 6507 Bridge Point Parkway (Coldwater Creek Watershed, Lake Austin Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from planned unit development (PUD) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning, to change conditions of zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Who ever would have guessed that rolling the legendarily contentious Champion tract into a PUD zoning case would result in a less-contentious development discussion. (Does zoning work like magnets?) Well, here we are. And, of course, it’s still a little contentious, but it looks like the inclusion of a massive park in this plan (and other things) means that this case might actually move through the process relatively quickly (the key word here being “relatively”).

Item 62: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 120 month lease agreement, with one ten year extension option, with CCI- Burleson I, a Texas Limited Partnership, for approximately 96,000 square feet of office space for Austin Municipal Court at the Bergstrom Tech Center, Building 310, located at 6800 Burleson Road in an amount not to exceed $29,977,960.

Monitor’s Take: Hey, look, the Municipal Court is getting some office space.

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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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