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TipSheet: City Council, 12.14.17

Thursday, December 14, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today, and as is tradition, this one promises to be a doozy. Here are the things we have our eye on. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda. The Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 3: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 15-year power purchase agreement with a subsidiary of INTERSECT POWER for the full output of electricity from a utility-scale solar generation facility with capacity of 150 to 180 megawatts, in an estimated amount of $10,000,000 to $12,000,000 per year, and a total estimated amount of $150,000,000 to $180,000,000.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, this solar purchase puts the city closer to meeting its renewable energy goals, at a bit of a discount. That was enough to win the hearts and minds of the Electric Utility Commission.

Item 5: Approve an ordinance amending Section 11-2-7 of the City Code relating to the allocation of Hotel Occupancy Taxes for authorized uses.

Monitor’s Take: This is the official move that will allocate Hotel Occupancy Taxes to city preservation up to 15 percent of HOT funds, to be determined by City Council annually.

Item 7: Authorize award and execution of a construction contract with Smith Contracting Co., Inc., for the Upper Boggy Creek Trail Phase 1 project in an amount of $2,490,028.00, plus a $249,002.80 contingency, for a total contract amount not to exceed $2,739,030.80. (Note: This contract will be awarded in compliance with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 26 [Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program] by meeting the goals with 8.91% DBE participation.)

Monitor’s Take: Though there’s no expectation that this will be a particularly controversial item, it’s worth pointing out nonetheless. Here’s what is in the works with this contract.

Item 14: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Sustainable Development to conduct a study regarding the Austin Convention Center relating to the physical and economic planning implications of alternative convention center scenarios.

Monitor’s Take: To be perfectly honest, we haven’t heard much about this proposal. However, there has been an awful lot of dais time dedicated to the idea of expanding the convention center and convention center funding this year. In that context, an academic study of what, exactly, the enterprise brings to the city piques our interest. A draft report is due October 2018, and we are already looking forward to it!

Item 17: Approve second and third reading of an ordinance authorizing execution of the first amendment to a settlement agreement relating to the development of property located at 6409 City Park Road (Champion Tract); amending Ordinance No. 960613-J; modifying provisions of the Lake Austin Watershed Regulations in Ordinance No. 840301-F; and modifying provisions of the Hill Country Roadway Regulations in City Code Chapter 25-2.

Item 83: C14-2017-0067 – Champion Tract 1C – District 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 6500 FM 2222 Road (West Bull Creek Watershed) from neighborhood commercial- conditional overlay (LR-CO) combining district to general commercial services- conditional overlay (CS-CO) combining district.

Item 99: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to make recommendations concerning application and hearing notice requirements and agenda posting language relating to ordinances and agreements that grant development rights.

Monitor’s Take: The Champion tract rezoning has been going on for decades, and this is the latest chapter in its storied history. This latest go-round is the result of a successful suit against the city that means Council will have to reconsider their previous action. The whole ordeal inspired Council Member Alison Alter to craft a resolution about how Council notices and posts agenda items dealing with development.

Item 18: Discuss and take appropriate action regarding the proposed Meet and Confer Agreement between the City of Austin and the Austin Police Association relating to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment for Austin Police Officers.

Item 19: Approve an ordinance establishing specialized functions, certifications, assignments, and additional pay, and authorizing vacation accumulation leave for emergency medical services personnel employed by the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service Department.

Item 20: Discuss and take appropriate action regarding the proposed Meet and Confer Agreement between the City of Austin and the Austin-Travis County EMS Employees Association relating to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment for medics employed by Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

Monitor’s Take: Last night, after about eight hours of passionate public testimony on police contracts, Council opted to punt the issue to March, while further negotiations take place. Last month, Council similarly put off the decision on EMS contracts after talks came to a standstill. While there’s no way their contract talks will be as contentious as last night, it’s still a hefty issue that was left with both sides millions apart, so there’s reason to think the topic could take some time.

Item 25: Approve adoption of the Aquatic Master Plan as developed by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Monitor’s Take: While this is also a contentious issue, thankfully it won’t be one that Council debates or votes on today.

Item 44: Authorize the negotiation and execution of an amendment to the Interlocal Agreement the Texas Department of Transportation for the relocation and improvement of water and wastewater utilities in connection with the TxDOT-Loop 1 Roadway Improvements Project from Davis Lane to La Crosse Avenue, to increase the amount by $587,162.61, for a total contract amount not to exceed $2,407,245.56.

Monitor’s Take: The last time this came up, Council Member Ellen Troxclair was visibly stunned that it was postponed over environmental concerns. This time around, she is undoubtedly more prepared, which means a fight may not be guaranteed (nothing is guaranteed) but it’s certainly likely.

Item 56: Approve a resolution authorizing the submittal of a list of potential transportation projects as candidates for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) 2019-2022 Call for Projects administered by CAMPO and the Texas Department of Transportation.

Monitor’s Take: Again, this is an item unlikely to kick up much dust on a very dusty day, but we might as well point out that it represents $335 million in transportation funding for the city, because that’s a lot of money.

Item 63: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to postpone implementation of certain Parks and Recreation Department Fee Schedule changes and engage with stakeholders to mitigate the negative impacts of those changes.

Monitor’s Take: Basically, this puts a hold on proposed recreation/senior center use fees defined in the Parks and Recreation Department Fiscal Year 2017-18 Fee Schedule for the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, Lamar Senior Activity Center and the South Austin Senior Center until April 1, 2018, while staff works to determine whether the increases do more harm than good.

Item 67: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to recommend an analytic process to determine an appropriate compensation that property owners would provide to the City to demolish single-family and multi-family residential structures.

Monitor’s Take: Here’s another swing at stemming demolitions in the city. This one would initiate a stakeholder process to revamp the current system based on a recent audit that showed there were serious problems with how demolitions are currently managed.

Item 68: Discussion and possible action regarding the appointment of a City Manager.

Monitor’s Take: Is today the day? Stay tuned to find out.

Item 84: C14H-2017-0112 – Driskill Hotel – District 9 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as the Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos Street, from Central Business (CBD) district to Central Business – Historic Landmark (CBD-H) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: OMG, the Driskill does not already have historic zoning?

Item 87: Authorize negotiation and execution of a concession agreement with Host International, Inc. and its joint venturers (Host) or one of the other qualified offerors to the Request for Proposals for Terminal Concessions (RFP-8100-ABIA-004), to lease, design, construct, operate, and maintain a food, beverage, and retail concession at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for a term not to exceed ten years. (Note: This contract will be awarded in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Program requirements (49 CFR Part 23) by meeting the goals with 25.00% ACDBE participation.)

Item 88: Authorize negotiation and execution of a concession agreement with XpresSpa Austin Airport, LLC and its joint venturers (XpresSpa) or one of the other qualified offerors to the Request for Proposals for Terminal Concessions (RFP-8100-ABIA-004), to lease, design, construct, operate, and maintain a food, beverage, and retail concession at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for a term not to exceed ten years. (Note: This contract will be awarded in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Program requirements (49 CFR Part 23) by meeting the goals with 12.00% ACDBE participation.)

Monitor’s Take: Oh boy, another sleeper mess. This is the second time Council is taking up these airport concession contracts. The very Austin-y problem at the heart of these two items is “who is most Austin?” (and, P.S., how does scoring these contracts work?) This item has a time certain of 3:30 p.m.

Item 89: Authorize execution of an interlocal agreement with the Texas Facilities Commission for development of Phase One of the 2016 Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan.

Item 90: Approve an ordinance waiving fees in an amount not to exceed $6,800,000 and requirements related to the vacation of right of way, associated with the development of Phase One of the 2016 Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan.

Monitor’s Take: Council has questions, but how much say do they have over the answers?

Item 91: Discussion and action regarding the potential disclosure of records subject to a subpoena issued by the Ethics Review Commission in Complaint No. 20170425, in the matter of Nathan Wiebe, complainant, v. Margo Frasier, respondent.

Monitor’s Take: Truthfully, this is one of the issues we are most interested in at this very very long meeting. Council will have to weigh in on whether the Ethics Review Commission can demand the names of whistleblowers, which could set a chilling precedent, according to the city auditor.

Item 92: Discussion and possible action regarding the potential use of identified city-owned sites, to include underutilized parkland, for a Major League Soccer stadium and practice fields/ancillary uses that could serve an MLS team and the surrounding community.

Monitor’s Take: Praise be, staff is requesting a postponement on this item, so public testimony on soccer will have to wait until the new year.

Item 95: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 13-2 (Ground Transportation Passenger Services) related to Chauffeur permits, Limousine Service, Transportation Network Company Service, and Charter Services.

Monitor’s Take: This ordinance takes a crack at leveling the playing field between transportation network companies (like Uber and Lyft) and other car services. The topic, as we recall, usually draws a crowd.

Item 98: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to negotiate and execute an interlocal agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) to initiate a pilot program to address public health and safety issues under and near TXDoT property near the US290/SH 71 overpass at Manchaca Road and Packsaddle Pass.

Monitor’s Take: According to a post by Council Member Ann Kitchen on the City Council Message Board, “Over the course of the last couple of years the identified area has had an increase in the number of persons experiencing homelessness and those who prey on that vulnerable population and area residents. Multiple meetings were held, particularly in since late Spring, to identify potential approaches to help address serious and increasing public health and safety issues. Participants in these meetings included neighborhood residents, local clergy, representatives from ECHO, A/TCEMS, AISD, TXDoT, APD, ATD, Capital Metro as well as those in the fields of mental health, child welfare and sex trafficking. These stakeholders identified as a one of a set of recommended solutions An agreement between the City and TXDoT covering the specified area to help address those challenges, which continue to grow.” In other words, this is a resolution to deal with the homeless population. The resolution asks staff to “initiate a pilot program” but is thin on details about what that program will entail.

Item 100: Employer sick pay resolution update.

Monitor’s take: Though this is just a briefing (and there will be no vote or public testimony) the prospect of requiring all city employers to offer paid sick time to employees is a big one. And we are expecting a lot of questions, in addition to looking forward to the results of the stakeholder process that recently concluded.

Item 102: C14-2017-0042 – 12602 Blackfoot Trail – District 6 – Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 6610 McNeil Drive/12602 Blackfoot Trail (Rattan Creek Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from neighborhood commercial-conditional overlay combining (LR-CO) district zoning and single family residence-standard lot (SF-2) district zoning to general commercial-mixed use combining (CS-MU) district zoning.

Item 110: C14-98-0146(RCT) – 6610 McNeil Drive Termination of Restrictive Covenant – District 6 – Conduct a public hearing and approve a restrictive covenant termination on a property locally known as 6610 McNeil Drive and 12602 Blackfoot Trail (Rattan Creek Watershed)

Monitor’s Take: Traditionally time-consuming, this case is on the agenda once again. Here’s the complicated backstory.

Item 105: C14-2017-0028 – Great Hills Mixed Use – District 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 9828 Great Hills Trail and 10224 Research Boulevard (Walnut Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from community commercial (GR) district zoning and limited office (LO) district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use- vertical mixed use building (CS-MU-V) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: A storm has been quietly brewing northwest of downtown over this zoning case. Here’s the background and, judging from neighborhood chatter, this one could take some time.

Item 107: C14-2017-0126 – 2110 Thrasher Lane – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2110 Thrasher Lane (Carson Creek Watershed) 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: This case was at the Planning Commission earlier this week. There, commissioners failed to recommend the rezoning, citing fears of gentrification and asking questions about what happened to the prior inhabitants of the mobile home park now that the property is being transformed into condos.

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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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