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TipSheet: City Council, 10.31.19 🎃

Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano

Though there is a homelessness item on this agenda that could attract another epic round of public comment, Council has given itself a 3 p.m. “hard stop” for today’s meeting. The length of our pulled items indicates that a short meeting may indeed be possible, but let’s just move on before anything is jinxed. As always, the full agenda and backup can be found on the city’s website, here. Happy Halloween!

Item 2: Authorize issuance by Austin Energy of energy efficiency program rebates during Fiscal Year 2019-20, in an amount not to exceed $2,120,000 for multifamily energy efficiency rebates and $2,335,000 for commercial energy efficiency rebates, for a total combined amount not to exceed $4,455,000.

Monitor’s Take: Though nothing is changing in terms of the existing rules for this program, approval will change the way that rebates are approved. In an effort to reduce wait times for approval (according to the backup, “Some property owners have declined participation in the rebate programs after learning how long it would take”), Austin Energy is asking to aggregate about $2.1 million in rebates, so that it can dole them out administratively without the lengthy and off-putting process. (Council will continue to approve the budget for the program annually.)

Item 10: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with Austin Community College to provide matching funds for the Austin Community College’s Innovative Manufacturing Prototype Acceleration Central Texas Lab i6 challenge grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Authority in partnership with the Austin Technology Incubator with the University of Texas at Austin to foster and incubate economic development in priority target industries and promote job creation in an amount not to exceed $50,000 annually for three years.

Monitor’s Take: Apparently, this is Austin’s first innovation center that is focused on physical product development and manufacturing.

Item 13: Approve negotiation and execution of an automatic aid agreement with Travis County Emergency Service Districts (ESDs), Williamson County ESDs, and the cities of Leander, Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Georgetown to provide services that are mutually beneficial to the fire service agencies and residents in their respective jurisdictions, for an initial term of one year with up to nine additional one-year terms.

Monitor’s Take: This agreement to work with surrounding agencies is in the interest of public safety. A point of contention here might be the protocol should everyone arrive at the site of a disaster at once (a staple plot of many television shows), so we’re paying attention to see how that’s sorted out.

Item 25: Authorize negotiation and execution of a Multiple Use Agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for placement of trash receptacles in the State right-of-way beneath overpasses and under bridges.

Monitor’s Take: In comparison to threatened sweeps of highway underpasses, this milder form of cleanup would put more trash receptacles under highway overpasses and bridges (replacing the current “violet bag” program). As noted above, this item is directly related to the now-revised ban on camping in the city, and generally any talk about homelessness does engender a bit of public comment, so we’ll be watching this to see where the conversation goes.

Item 37: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Section 25-2-586 (Downtown Density Bonus Program) to modify the downtown density bonus maps.

Monitor’s Take: For some reason, 827 West 12th St. was previously left out of the Downtown Density Bonus Program. This will fix that.

Item 24: Approve second and third readings of an ordinance for the full purpose annexation of approximately 42.064 acres in Travis County, located approximately four-tenths of a mile east of the intersection of River Place Boulevard and Milky Way Drive. Related to Item #44.

Item 44: C14-2018-0124 – River Place – Conduct a public hearing and approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as Milky Way Drive (West Bull Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from development reserve (DR) district zoning to townhouse & condominium residence-conditional overlay (SF-6-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This is the third reading for this contentious case. Neighbors who have spoken in opposition to this rezoning have expressed concern about the risk of wildfire, as outlined in this new Change.org petition. We expect them to speak, and potentially request a cap on units if more access (again, in the interest of safety) isn’t established.

Item 45: C814-96-0003.15 – Pioneer Crossing PUD Amendment #15 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 10930 Defender Trail, Sprinkle Cut Off Road and Samsung Boulevard, Samsung Boulevard and East Braker Lane (Harris Branch Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from Planned Unit Development (PUD) district zoning to Planned Unit Development (PUD) district zoning, to change a condition of zoning.

Monitor’s Take: The amendment to this planned unit development is about parkland dedication. Because of the difference between staff recommendation and the recommendation of the Zoning and Platting Commission, we expect this to be up for discussion. For a quick review, check out our previous coverage 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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