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TipSheet: City Council, 12.10.20

Thursday, December 10, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

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 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 looking to stay on top of things in real time.

Item 3: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Austin Water Community Benefit Charge Fund Budget (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to increase the other requirements-multifamily cash assistance program discount by $4,000,000 for a net impact of $4,000,000 to the ending balance. Related to Item #60.

Item 60: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 fees schedule in Ordinance No. 20200812-002 to implement a new Customer Assistance Program discount rate for water customers residing in master-metered multifamily residences. Related to Item #3.

Monitor’s Take: These items are in response to a budget rider proposed by Council Member Alison Alter that asked the city’s water utility to develop a “more accessible multifamily discount program.” Find out more about what that entails in this memo. It lays out the rough details of the plan, which will serve about 23,000 customers with a monthly $17 credit that will cost AWU about $4.7 million.

Item 6: Approve an ordinance establishing City Code Chapter 15-13 relating to treatment, monitoring, and reporting regulations for Onsite Water Reuse Systems, creating an offense, establishing civil and criminal penalties, and amending City Code Chapter 2-13 relating to administrative penalties.

Item 7: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 6-4 (Water Conservation) and City Code Section 15-9-241 (Utility Regulations) relating to water conservation, commercial and industrial cooling tower water efficiency performance standards, operations, registration, and inspection, and creating an offense that may be subject to administrative, civil, or criminal penalties.

Monitor’s Take: In Tuesday’s work session, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza pulled these two items over concerns that they would target vulnerable water customers who would be unable to pay. Though there was not immediate confirmation, other Council members guessed that the penalties in the city’s water conservation plan would be aimed at large-scale corporate offenders.

Item 20: Approve the recommendation of the Arts Commission to deaccession ‘Karst Circle’ by W. Gary Smith located at Austin Fire Station 43/EMS Station 31, 11401 Escarpment Blvd, Austin, TX 78739, a public artwork commissioned by the Art in Public Places Program.

Item 21: Approve a recommendation of the Arts Commission to deaccession ‘Bicentennial Fountain’ by Ken Fowler, located at the entrance to Vic Mathias Shores at Lady Bird Lake Metro Park between South 1st St. and W. Riverside Dr., donated to the City, prior to the creation of the Art in Public Places program.

Item 22: Approve the recommendation of the Arts Commission to deaccession ‘LAB’ by NextProject (Leah Davis, Robert Gay, and Jack Sanders) along the Lance Armstrong Bikeway from MOPAC to Airport Blvd., a public artwork commissioned by the Art in Public Places program.

Item 23: Approve the recommendation of the Arts Commission to deaccession ‘Moments’ by Carl Trominski located at the Lamar Underpass, on North Lamar between Sandra Muraida Way and 5th Street, a public artwork commissioned by the Art in Public Places Program.

Item 24: Approve the recommendation of the Arts Commission to deaccession ‘Republic Square Fountain’ by James Turner, formerly located at Republic Square Park, donated to the City as part of the Art in Public Places public art collection.

Monitor’s Take: Though we, and KUT, zeroed in on the lovable-but-weird Lamar institution Moments, Council Member Kathie Tovo seemed most concerned at the proposed “deaccession” of the Republic Square Fountain during work session. Regardless, public art lovers might want to scan items 20-24 for their favorites, because they might soon be gone.

Item 25: Ratify a contract amendment with United Way for Greater Austin to administer an additional $5,000,000 in emergency Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant funds for a total contract amount not to exceed $6,148,000.

Monitor’s Take: In addition to funding for music and art venues suffering economic losses due to Covid-19, the SAVES fund also aims to help child care providers. Here’s the $5 million allocated to that, which will be administered by United Way.

Item 26: Ratify a contract with Health Alliance for Austin Musicians for a total of $500,000 for services inclusive of their Healthcare Access Program providing resources and healthcare insurance access to Austin musicians, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monitor’s Take: In a different kind of help, the city is also pitching in to HAAM in order to help the long-time nonprofit provide health care for area musicians.

Item 28: Authorize negotiation and execution of one-year contracts with the Multi-Ethnic Chamber Alliance chambers of commerce, the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Austin Young Chamber to provide business development, economic development, and recruitment and retention services in an amount not to exceed $901,029.

Item 29: Authorize negotiation and execution of one-year contract with the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation to provide business development, economic development, and recruitment and retention services in an amount not to exceed $350,000.

Monitor’s Take: Back in the day, we covered the work to get all of the city’s chambers covered equitably. That’s apparently what’s going on here, if we get the gist of a recent long memo on the issue.

Item 30: Authorize negotiation and execution of an exclusive negotiation agreement with Aspen Heights Partners, for terms governing a master developer contract for the redevelopment of 1215 Red River and 606 East 12th, the former HealthSouth tract. MBE/WBE: This solicitation was reviewed for subcontracting opportunities in accordance with City Code Chapter 2-9B Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program. For the services required for this solicitation, there were no subcontracting opportunities; therefore, no subcontracting goals were established in this solicitation phase, but will be negotiated in the contracting phase.

Monitor’s Take: Since we last covered this proposed development contract, it has spiraled a bit. Though word on Tuesday was that this would be postponed, we also kind of think there’s going to be a lot of discussion on it, so we’re paying attention.

Item 31: Approve an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of emergency grant funding in the amount of $7,262,074 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV)-based COVID-19 relief programs; and amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Housing and Planning Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) by appropriating the $7,262,074 accepted from HUD for CDBG-CV-based COVID-19 relief programs; and authorizing the City Manager to apply for CARES Act funds and to negotiate with the federal government to receive the CARES Act funds.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported, last week City Council members voted to give themselves more flexibility on how to spend Community Development Block Grant funds. This week, they get some money to spend. According to the backup, these grants will be spent on: child care services for essential workers: $2,500,000; small business eligible activities: $2,500,000; emergency rental assistance: $2,262,074.

Item 42: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Caritas of Austin to provide rapid rehousing services to individuals experiencing homelessness that are residing in protective lodges and/or at high risk for contracting COVID-19, for a 21-month term in an amount not to exceed $7,500,000.

Monitor’s Take: Right now, 275 people are being housed in protective lodges, and as of Tuesday, Council members still had some reticence about closing them down in the middle of a pandemic. So, while this item would do that, Council seems to be looking for some assurance that consolidating facilities would not do that.

Item 43: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas at Austin-Dell Medical School to conduct two studies regarding (1) the impact of COVID-19 on individuals with severe mental illness, and (2) the longevity of COVID-19 antibody responses in the Austin population, for a term from December 14, 2020 through August 30, 2022, in an amount not to exceed $939,022.

Monitor’s Take: More studies of Covid-19 and its impacts are on the way; just like it says in the item, $1 million will pay for two studies by Dell Medical School. The first is about the impact of Covid-19 on people with severe mental illness. The second looks at antibody responses in Austin.

Item 54: Approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20200917-106 to extend the applicability period and expiration date in Ordinance No. 20200326-090, which relates to requiring notices of proposed eviction.

Monitor’s Take: Once again, the city is extending a moratorium on initiating evictions. This one goes through April 1, passing the one-year mark since this all began…

Item 61: Conduct a public hearing and consider third reading of an ordinance adopting the street impact fee land use assumptions, street impact fee capacity improvements plan, street impact fee service area boundaries, and street impact fees. Related to Item #62.

Item 62: Conduct a public hearing and consider third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 (Land Development) to include a street impact fee program. Related to Item #61.

Monitor’s Take: Okay, we jumped the gun last week, as Council only voted on second reading to move forward with street impact fees. This week, for real, is (probably) the final vote on street impact fees. The fees are designed to make developers pay their share in transportation improvements and calibrating what “their share” is has taken quite a while.

Item 67: C14H-2020-0087 – Baker School – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3908 Avenue B. Applicant’s Request: To rezone from community commercial-historic area-neighborhood conservation-neighborhood plan (GR-HD-NCCD-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial -historic area-historic landmark-neighborhood conservation-neighborhood plan (GR-HD-H-NCCD-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported, no one is arguing that the Baker School shouldn’t be zoned historic; the main question here is how much of the property is historic, and worthy of landmarking. The Historic Landmark Commission argued that the entire property should be protected. However, the Planning Commission voted to preserve the building and a buffer, but skip the parking lots.

Item 68: C14-2020-0063 – Pier Property Rezoning – Conduct a public hearing and approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1703 River Hills Road (Lake Austin Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from commercial-liquor sales (CS-1) district zoning to commercial recreation (CR) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: We covered this the last time it was before Council. The main concern here is whether the rezoning will allow gasoline sales, and the potential environmental impact of said gasoline sales.

Item 69: C14-2020-0044 – Saxon Acres Residential Zoning – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 316 Saxon Lane and 6328 El Mirando Street (Country Club East and Colorado River Watersheds). 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: Recovered from the last Montopolis rezoning case? Here you go. This time around, neighbors are also opposed to a change in zoning, which does not currently appear to come with a concrete proposal for affordable housing. There is a valid petition against the case, which means a supermajority of Council will have to support the change (on almost three acres) for it to pass.

Item 87: C814-2018-0121 – 218 S. Lamar – Conduct a public hearing and approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 218 South Lamar Boulevard (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Applicant’s request: To rezone from general commercial services-vertical mixed use building (CS-V) combining district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning, with conditions. This ordinance may include waiver of fees, alternative funding methods, modifications of City regulations, and acquisition of property.

Monitor’s Take: Somehow, Schlotzsky’s PUD is still lingering around. Here’s what happened the last time there was any action at City Council on the proposed 96-foot tower on South Lamar. Given the fact that this is the last meeting of this (accursed) year, we think they’ll work it out today, but who knows?

Item 88: NPA-2019-0003.01 – David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church- Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19990715-113 the Chestnut Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on property locally known as 2201, 2203, 2205, 2207, 2209, 2211, 2301 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd; 1807 Ferdinand Street and 1803, 1805, 1807 Chestnut Ave. (Boggy Creek Watershed) from Civic and Single Family to Mixed Use land use.

Item 89: C14-2020-0105 – David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church – Tract 1 (Main Tract) – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2201, 2203, 2205, 2207, 2209, 2211 E. MLK Jr. Blvd. and 1807 Ferdinand Street (Boggy Creek Watershed) from public-neighborhood plan (P-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-NP) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: to grant general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Item 90: C14-2020-0106 David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church – Tract 3 (Northeast Tract)- Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2301 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (Boggy Creek Watershed) from public-neighborhood plan (P-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-NP) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: to grant general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Item 91: C14-2020-0107 -David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church – Tract 4 (Southeast Tract)- Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1803, 1805, and 1807 Chestnut Avenue (Boggy Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from public-neighborhood plan (P-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This massive rezoning, which could lead to the demolition of the David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on MLK and Pleasant Valley Road, is taking place in order to allow the church to sell the land for redevelopment. Neighborhood support, judging from the backup, is split. Though the Chestnut Neighborhood Plan Contact Team supports the change, Holy Cross Neighborhood Association does not, and many nearby residents ask that the church structure be preserved.

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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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