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TipSheet: City Council, 12.13.18

Thursday, December 13, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. This is the last Council TipSheet of the year, as this is the last City Council meeting of the year. It’s also the last meeting for District 1 Council Member Ora Houston and District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair. Today’s agenda promises to be “long, but boring,” but we’ve highlighted the non-boring parts below. See you next year. Oh, and in the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire City Council agenda, just the items we have our eye on today. The Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 10: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-1 (City Boards) relating to board member conduct.

Monitor’s Take: Weirdly, this is kind of uncharted territory. Today, Council will consider charting it by passing an ordinance outlining how board and commission members should behave, based on guidelines already established for city staff. The ordinance includes new, required training on things like how the city is run and sexual harassment. It also prohibits “profanity, racial slurs, or disparaging epithets, innuendos, or names,” unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, physical assault, threats and intimidation.

Item 11: Approve a resolution adopting the City’s Federal Legislative Program for the 116th U.S. Congress.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, City Council will formally approve its federal agenda today, which focuses on things like housing grants, transportation, immigration, water and wastewater, and telecommunications. It’s a lot – the curious may read the rundown of issues here.

Item 13: Authorize entry of an Agreed Final Judgment and Order in Austin Country Club v. City of Austin, cause No. D-1-GN-17-006525, relating to land use and environmental regulations applicable to Austin Country Club’s 179-acre tract located in Northwest Austin, at 4408 Long Champ Drive. Related to Item 100.

Item 100: Conduct a public hearing to consider Development Terms & Conditions associated with a proposed Agreed Final Judgment and Order in pending litigation affecting land use and environmental regulations applicable to Austin Country Club’s 179-acre tract located in Northwest Austin, at 4408 Long Champ Drive Related to item #13.

Monitor’s Take: Basically, this is an argument about grandfathering – whether the country club should be held to current regulations or be allowed to develop under the less-stringent rules of 1982 (essentially the plot of Caddyshack, IIRC). At the work session Tuesday, there was some concern about late information, so this might be postponed.

Item 14: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-7 relating to standards of conduct for City officials and employees.

Monitor’s Take: Continuing with the finishing school theme, City Council now turns its eye to city staff members’ conduct. In this ordinance, rules for gift giving could be loosened. In the spirit of the season, officials and employees can now accept gifts and favors as long as they don’t “improperly” influence or reward them and as long as they are under $50. That wouldn’t include gifts from conventions, discounted admission under some circumstances, or “A voluntary gift or favor given by a City official or employee to another City official or employee, including food and drink to be shared among employees; except a supervisor may not accept a gift or favor from an employee under the supervisor’s supervision unless the gift is given voluntarily by the employee on an occasion of personal significance, or at a time when gifts are traditionally given or exchanged, and the value of the gift is fairly appropriate for the occasion.” Happy holidays, and see y’all at SXSW ….

Item 16: Authorize negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary or desirable to purchase in fee simple approximately 3.325 acres and improvements located at the northeast corner of Philomena Street and Mueller Blvd. in the Mueller Development in Austin, Travis County, Texas from Mueller Aldrich SW L1B5, LP in an amount not to exceed $150,000,000 including closing costs. Related to Item #17.

Item 17: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Capital Budget of Austin Energy (Ordinance No. 20180911-001) to increase appropriations by $148,700,000, for the Austin Energy Headquarters acquisition. Related to Item #16.

Monitor’s Take: First of all, wow, that’s a lot of money. But really, do note that Austin Energy is moving into Mueller.

Item 18: Approve a resolution accepting the 2019 list of proposed events and the maximum number of days requiring full closure of Republic Square Park to the general public, as required under the Parkland Improvement, Management, and Operations Agreement, and authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to the Parkland Improvement, Management, and Operations Agreement allowing the City Manager to maintain and approve the list of proposed events annually and establishing an annual limit.

Monitor’s Take: Republic Square is revamped and ready for events. This resolution lays out a plan for how the space will be programmed. Of particular note is how many days the square will be closed to the public (proposed: 20) and how many events would require Council approval, as opposed to an OK from the city manager.

Item 21: 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: Hey, this is back on the agenda – will it be approved in 2018? Tune in to find out! As a reminder, here’s the deal: “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 40: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapters 2-9A, 2-9B, 2-9C, and 2-9D regarding certification for the City’s Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program and incorporating the findings of the 2015 Disparity Study.

Monitor’s Take: Basically, this updates the city’s standards for minority- and women-owned businesses based on the findings of a study completed in 2015.

Item 43: Approve a resolution affirming and concurring with the City Manager’s intent of incorporating the police chief’s staffing plan in fiscal year 2020 and subsequent budget proposals.

Monitor’s Take: As an outgoing gesture, Council Member Ellen Troxclair has this resolution. It would enshrine APD’s staffing plan and cement the fact that “council recognizes the portion of the staffing plan released to council as a core component for consideration in FY2020 and subsequent budget proposals and sets a goal and commitment to approve future budgets that address sworn officer staffing along with other resources necessary to address the City’s public safety needs with the aim of meeting public safety outcomes outlined in the Austin Strategic Direction 2023 Plan.” (According to the resolution that would be approved today.)

Item 44: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop recommendations regarding the creation of a pilot program that would address shifting modes of transportation by incentivizing transit use.

Monitor’s Take: A transit pilot program! What would it be? That part remains unclear. Ideas from the resolution include credits for repeated use of transit or providing passes to employees. It also suggests a program that could offer discounts at local shops for showing a monthly transit pass.

Item 45: Approve an ordinance requiring four-person staffing for all Austin Fire Department emergency response apparatus.

Monitor’s Take: This ordinance is pretty simple, but significant. It would require AFD trucks to be staffed with four people, effective Christmas Eve 2018.

Item 46: Approve an ordinance setting salary and compensation for the City Manager.

Item 47: Approve a resolution amending Resolution No. 20160225-016 establishing a process for performance reviews of the City Manager.

Monitor’s Take: This was discussed in private already, during an executive session. Now we get to find out what City Manager Spencer Cronk will make next year. (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Item 59: Briefing on the Project Assessment Report for the Austin Green Planned Unit Development, located at 11600-12337 Harold Green Road, within the Colorado River Watershed and the Elm Creek Watershed (CD-2018-0008).

Monitor’s Take: Council already got its statutorily required first look at this upcoming planned unit development during Tuesday’s work session, so it’s unlikely much of the meeting will be dedicated to this today. Catch up here, though, for our own first look at the “old mine” PUD, which will be back at City Hall for more review in the new year.

Item 73: C14-2018-0062 – University of Texas Law School Foundation – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2902 Medical Arts Street and 2901 Hampton Road (Waller Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from neighborhood commercial – mixed use – conditional overlay – neighborhood plan (LR-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial – mixed use – conditional overlay – neighborhood plan (GR-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Not much controversy brewing over this change, though some neighbors have argued that the change should be routed through a conditional use permit process, not a rezoning process. The Planning Commission didn’t buy that argument, though.

Item 78: C14-01-0046.03 – Helping Hand Home for Children – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 310 – 312 W. 38th Street and 3803, 3805, 3807 Avenue B (Waller Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence – neighborhood conservation – neighborhood plan (SF-3-NCCD-NP) combining district and multi-family – moderate density – neighborhood conservation – neighborhood plan (MF-4-NCCD-NP) combining district zoning to multi-family – moderate density – neighborhood conservation – neighborhood plan (MF-4-NCCD-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Though this item is up for discussion, we note with some relief that the reason for the discussion is NOT that people are opposed to building dorms for foster children. Rather, the applicant has made some changes to his request that need to be reviewed.

Item 98: Conduct a public hearing and consider a request by Hotel Magdalena, located at 110 Academy Drive, to waive the distance requirement of City Code Section 4-9-4(A), which requires a minimum of 300 feet between a business that sells alcoholic beverages and a public school.

Item 99: Conduct a public hearing and consider a request by Soho House, located at 1011 South Congress Avenue, to waive the distance requirement of City Code Section 4-9-4(A), which requires a minimum of 300 feet between a business that sells alcoholic beverages and a public school.

Monitor’s Take: Council wavers on its stance on these waivers, but has recently been amenable to liquor sales near the School for the Deaf, which does not take a hard stance like AISD. So here are two more, both for fancy fancy places that will soon be a part of replacing the giant hole next to Saint Cecilia on South Congress.

Item 103: Authorize negotiation and execution of an encroachment agreement with Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the surface and subsurface encroachments of approximately 48,949 square feet of right-of-way by proposed railroad tracks, station platforms, canopies, signal house and subsurface encroachments of approximately 1,050 square feet for electrical and IT conduit, 192 square feet landscape waterline, 108 square feet private waterline, 985 square feet irrigation waterline and 2,245 square feet IT conduit within East 4th Street generally between Trinity Street and IH 35. (Related to Item #106).

Item 104: Authorize negotiation and execution of an encroachment agreement with Bread and Circus LLC for the surface and subsurface encroachment of approximately 586 square feet of right-of-way by a proposed staircase, concrete footing, accessible ramp and rails within East 4th Street and Sabine Street between East 4th Street and East 5th Street, located at 401 Sabine Street.

Item 106: Approve an ordinance waiving or reimbursing fees for right-of-way, encroachments, easements, or licenses, and permit deposits in an amount not to exceed $14,021,548.45 related to the Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority Downtown Station, generally located on 4th Street from Trinity Street to IH-35. (Related to item #103).

Monitor’s Take: More on that downtown MetroRail station. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo has questions, and we wonder if any of them will address how incredibly vague yet specific “an amount not to exceed $14,021,548.45” is. (Probably not, but these discussions are usually surprisingly fun, so stay tuned!)

Item 107: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to limit the areas included in the Trails Pilot Program regarding the use of electric bikes and electric scooters on specific trails maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Monitor’s Take: Scooters! As we reported earlier this week, the city is continuing to look at how scooters can be peacefully integrated into the lives of Austinites with clearer rules, BUT not if they are on the Shoal Creek Trail! Never that! And maybe never other trails – we’ll see!

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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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