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TipSheet: City Council, 11.29.18

Thursday, November 29, 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 3: Approve adoption of Water Forward, Austin’s Integrated Water Resource Plan.

Monitor’s Take: This is the city’s 100-year plan for water – in other words, it’s a big deal. The future of water in the area, whether it’s about scarcity or flooding, is certainly one of Austin’s biggest topics of concern, and this is what the city plans to do about it.

Item 12: Approve an ordinance vacating approximately 5,410 square feet of right-of-way, being that certain 20-foot-wide alley located between East 5th Street and East 6th Street, traversing from Navasota Street to Onion Street, the north half of the alley to Hall Family Properties, LLC, and the south half of the alley to Fifth & Onion 2016, LP.

Item 13: Approve an ordinance vacating approximately 669 square feet of right-of-way, being the north half of a 20-foot-wide alley located between East 4th Street and East 5th Street, extending west of Robert T. Martinez Jr. Street, to 4th & RTM, LP.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported, there is at least a bit of consternation over the sale of this alleyway. Both Council Member Pio Renteria and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo expressed dismay over the sale of the city’s right-of-way because of the cost (which may be too low) and the general idea of selling public alleys to private developers. We expect both of those topics to be addressed during the discussion today.

Item 14: Approve an ordinance authorizing the negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement regarding the release of approximately 33 acres of extraterritorial jurisdiction to the city of Dripping Springs. This action concerns land located within the Barton Springs Zone.

Monitor’s Take: This “reverse annexation” has been on the agenda for a while, and it’s not clear whether today will finally be the day that Austin cedes this 33 acres to the city of Dripping Springs. It’s an unusual move, so questions about land regulations remain and there are many details to work out.

Item 41: Approve a resolution relating to the amount of time and resources dedicated to short-term rental enforcement.

Monitor’s Take: Naturally, anything including the words “short-term rental” gets our attention. That said, this resolution is possibly the precursor of storms to come. Basically, the resolution asks staff to calculate the effort used to enforce short-term rental regulations in concrete terms. That’s a little interesting in that getting information from city staff doesn’t usually involve a formal resolution, but otherwise we’ll have to wait and see how the resulting information is used … that part might be fun!

Item 42: Approve a resolution relating to individuals and entities who provide housing and domestic care services.

Monitor’s Take: This is clearly an attempt to safeguard an unregulated aspect of boarding houses in the city, but it’s still a little foggy what, exactly, this resolution will do. That’s why it’s up for discussion. Join us, won’t you, for more clarity.

Item 43: Approve a resolution seeking staff feedback of a proposed ordinance amending the City Code to establish a First Amendment policy regarding use of the outside grounds of Austin public libraries and the Palmer Events Center.

Monitor’s Take: Remember how petitioners on public library grounds caused a big ruckus recently? Well, here is some clarity, kind of. The city’s Library Commission has recommended that existing rules be changed to allow petitioning, information distribution, picketing and “other First Amendment activities” on library grounds. Here’s the proposed ordinance.

Item 59: C14-2018-0079 – 11713 Jollyville Road – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 11713 Jollyville Road (Walnut Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from limited office (LO) district zoning to community commercial-mixed use (GR-MU) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: You might not be able to tell at first glance (that’s what we are here for), but this zoning case is about the Asian American Cultural Center. The recommendation that came out of the Zoning and Platting Commission was a little complicated – and today’s discussion could follow suit.

Item 60: C14-2018-0077 Damac Commercial-Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 7712 FM 969 Road (Walnut Creek Watershed) from single family residence-standard lot (SF-2) district zoning to community commercial -mixed use (GR-MU) combining district zoning on Tract 1 and townhouse and condominium residence (SF-6) district zoning on Tract 2.

Monitor’s Take: Though there are three valid petitions against this rezoning, this might be the day that finds some resolution on this zoning case. Don’t just wait in suspense – read up on our previous coverage of the case while you wait.

Item 62: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance regarding Texas Gas Service’s revised Conservation Adjustment Clause Tariff and its proposal to change customer gas rates and the complaint of an affected person under the Texas Utilities Code.

Monitor’s Take: This, which comes to us via T. Paul Robbins, is complicated. Council seems inclined to pass it, if the work session is any indication. What is “this”? Well, a few things, that boil down to this tariff not being cost-effective to the consumer. (Or at least that’s the easiest part of the complaint to understand, so we are going to concentrate on that.)

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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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