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TipSheet: City Council, 10.21.21

Thursday, October 21, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our TipSheet. Today, City Council will meet for the second time in as many weeks. The meeting promises to be mellow, though a canceled work session Tuesday means that potentially time-consuming briefings will be held today instead. As usual, the entire agenda can be found online, for the diligent. 

The briefings, which will not require any action on the part of Council, are an update on homelessness and a report from Kroll & Associates on the new Austin Police Department training academy (here’s the response from APD on the report).

Postponed from last week, Council will consider an agreement with the Trail Foundation for operations and maintenance of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The partnership will expand an existing agreement between the foundation and the city – the Trail Foundation has invested $17.5 million into the park over the years. Here’s a lengthy report for anyone compelled to get into the details.  

Speaking of parks, Council will also dive into the details of parkland dedication fees. The parks department has asked for the current proposal, which would double fees for developers, to be put on hold. With Item 20, Council is heeding that call and asking for a study that will come back to them in April of next year. 

Despite all of its fests (during non-pandemic times, anyway), Austin has always fallen short when it comes to block parties. Today, Council Member Paige Ellis will try to rectify that with a review of the Neighborhood Block Party Program and creation of “play streets” and “resident-led healthy streets” programs that build off of the success of the Healthy Streets Initiative. 

Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison has sponsored a resolution that asks Council to formally condemn “non-consensual and medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children” and asks the city to create a public education campaign about intersex health care

Though it looks benign on its surface, Item 29, which would create a standing No-kill committee of the Animal Advisory Commission, promises to create sparks and underline drama between the committee and city staff. 

In terms of zoning, Council is slated to take up a few familiar cases today. That includes a rehab of some Congress Avenue building facades that has been bouncing around City Hall for a while (Item 53). Council will also take up a North Austin multifamily project at Brownie and Grady that the Planning Commission recommended downsizing (items 36/37). And Council will consider another project near Tech Ridge that was endorsed by the Zoning and Platting Commission, despite neighbor’s concerns.

With Item 42 (replacing Item 3) Council could approve purchase of city land by the Austin Housing Finance Corporation for construction of 400-800 affordable units, using money from the Project Connect anti-displacement fund. The land is at Grove Boulevard and Riverside, which is in District 3. In other development news, items 44 and 45 will shape a South Central Waterfront Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, allowing tax dollars to be captured and used for the Colony Park project in East Austin.

Finally, for local government fans who like to plan ahead, City Council will also approve its 2022 meeting calendar, which can be seen 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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