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TipSheet: City Council, 10.29.20

Thursday, October 29, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today City Council will once again convene virtually for its regular Thursday meeting. As has been the practice throughout 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. As a bonus, updates and amendments will be posted to the City Council Message Board, so head over there if you’re at sea. Hopefully, this meeting won’t be terribly hard to follow. With an election (!) on Tuesday (!) Council members might be saving their strength.

Item 9: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 12-month service agreement with Workforce Solutions Capital Area for the development and administration of the Make It Now: Rapid Retraining Initiative for an Equitable Recovery Program in an amount not to exceed $1,370,000.

Monitor’s Take: This contract, which is by no means controversial, will go toward rapid retraining for Austinites left out of work due to the pandemic. Specifically, the money will go to develop a program called Make It Now: Rapid Retraining Initiative for an Equitable Recovery, which according to the backup will serve those who lost jobs or earn less than 200 percent of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.

Item 17: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the Austin Independent School District for the Library Cards for All Students Program, which allows the Austin Public Library to offer a full purpose student library card to all students enrolled in the Austin Independent School District for the period from September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2021, with up to four additional 12-month terms.

Item 18: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the Del Valle Independent School District for the district’s participation in the Library Cards for All Students Program, which will allow the Austin Public Library to offer a full-purpose student library card to all students enrolled in the Del Valle Independent School District.

Monitor’s Take: These interlocal agreements with Del Valle and Austin ISDs are actually a continuation of a pilot program started last year, in line with APL’s goal to give student library cards to all Austin students. According to the backup, “This program will offer students, who may be otherwise unaware of or unable to access, free access to the valuable resources of the Austin Public Library system. The student card offers full library privileges, including access to the Library’s physical and virtual materials, regardless of the students’ residency.”

Item 19: Approve an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of $20,000 in grant funds from the Walmart Foundation, administered through the Partnership for a New American Economy Research Fund, and amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Management Services Department’s Equity Office Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to appropriate $20,000 to support participation in a research project about COVID-19 emergency response efforts and the City’s immigrant communities.

Monitor’s Take: Though this grant is for a relatively small amount of money, it’s likely to lead to some interesting results – the $20,000 grant is for a study of how the city responded to the pandemic, with a focus on immigrant communities.

Item 20: 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: As we reported earlier, this small, expensive piece of land caused something of a kerfuffle over parkland dedication fees the last time it was before Council. This time around, it returns with more extensive backup, including a letter of support from the Shoal Creek Conservancy. We’re expecting a bit of discussion to resolve the issues raised previously.

Item 22: Authorize negotiation and execution of a contract with B-Cycle LLC, to provide electric bicycles and stations, in an amount not to exceed $883,017. (Note: Sole source contracts are exempt from the City Code Chapter 2-9D Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program; therefore, no subcontracting goals were established).

Monitor’s Take: This contract almost doubles B-cycle’s existing electric bikes (if you are bad at math), adding 325 new bikes and stations to the existing 500 electric bikes. According to the backup, the program’s electric bicycles “have been used at a rate of three to four and a half times more than the regular bicycles in the Bike Share system.” In addition, this purchase will bolster the new partnership with Capital Metro, approved in August.

Item 25: Approve an ordinance authorizing amendment of the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Watershed Protection Department Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to accept $1,200,000 in grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Watershed Protection Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to appropriate $1,200,000 for Atlas 14-based flood studies and floodplain mapping for various watersheds.

Monitor’s Take: There’s been a lot going on this year, so it’s understandable if Atlas 14 and new floodplain mapping isn’t at front of mind these days. Thankfully, that’s not the case for our city’s Watershed Protection Department, which will be working on new floodplain models and maps for all streams within the city’s jurisdictional area, thanks to this grant.

Item 29: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Section 2-3-5 related to the City Auditor’s investigative and referral authority.

Monitor’s Take: At the moment, under the current code, the auditor’s office is required to make a public report about employee misuse of city resources, regardless of scale. This change, which we’ve covered before, would allow small infractions to be dealt with by department heads and the city manager instead.

Item 31: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 to amend the North Burnet/Gateway Regulating Plan to modify the civic land uses allowed in the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Sub-District.

Item SPEC001: Approve a resolution initiating rezoning of the property generally located at 2412 Kramer Lane to zone the portion of the property needed for an electric substation to public (P) zoning district, and initiating an amendment to the North Burnet Gateway Regulating Plan to remove the portion of the property rezoned.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, this parcel of land would be perfect for both a substation and part of the Red Line Trail. Because it’s a relatively new issue – it was discussed at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting – there’s a bit of procedural shuffling to get it on today’s agenda. Technically, it will be part of a special called meeting at 6 p.m. that will also be held today.

Item 34: C14-2017-0148 Zen Garden – Approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3443 Ed Bluestein Boulevard (Walnut Creek and Boggy Creek Watersheds) from limited industrial services-neighborhood plan (LI-NP) combining district zoning to limited industrial services-planned development area-neighborhood plan (LI-PDA-NP) combining district zoning. First reading approved on May 21, 2020. Vote 10-0; Council Member Alter abstained. Owner/Applicant: 3443 Zen Garden, LP (Adam Zarafshani). Agent: Sprouse Shrader Smithfield (Terrence L. Irion). City Staff: Heather Chaffin, 512-974-2122.

Monitor’s Take: This zoning case is a little confusing. Before Council votes today, we recommend you catch up on our previous coverage.

Item 40: 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: At the last Council meeting, this case was postponed in the hopes of striking a deal over the next couple weeks. Well, that’s not happening, as the developer has withdrawn the case, leaving us to wait and see what will be built on the land.

Item 44: Approve the Office of the City Auditor’s proposed Audit Plan for Fiscal Year 2021.

Monitor’s Take: It’s time again to set the audit plan for next year. Here it is! Honestly, they all look pretty exciting, and we look forward to hearing more about transparency, lobbyist registration and dissecting the response to Covid-19 (mostly because that will mean the pandemic is finally over!).

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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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