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TipSheet: City Council, 2.15.18

Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council is back for a jam-packed regular meeting today, which should serve as a good introduction for brand-new city manager Spencer Cronk. 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 11: Approve an ordinance waiving certain development fees in the amount of $3,429,573 for construction of Phase II of Community First! Village by Mobile Loaves & Fishes.

Monitor’s Take: That’s a lot of waived fees. It’s also another example of the incremental steps the city has been taking to tackle homelessness in the city. From the backup, it looks as though Council has already committed to waiving fees for the second phase of the village – which will accommodate an additional 400 formerly homeless people. This will just deliver on a promise. It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of these fees are for one thing: Austin Water Utility Fund tap fees, which have a price tag of $3,040,000.00.

Item 13: Approve an ordinance on third reading 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 79: 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). Applicant Request: To rezone from neighborhood commercial- conditional overlay (LR-CO) combining district zoning to general commercial services- conditional overlay (CS-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Oh, Champion tract. This decades-long battle continues, once again, at City Council. When last we saw the case (at the last meeting of Council) it was postponed to allow Council members and interested neighbors to digest some last-minute information. However, the owner made it clear that they were not cool with further delays. So far, they have sunk millions into the development, which was halted due to a mistake by the city. As expenses continue to accrue, the threat of a lawsuit hangs heavy in the air, which is de rigueur for this land. Also de rigueur? Neighborhood opponents already have a rally planned, so they aren’t going anywhere either. At the last public hearing, Mayor Steve Adler made a stab at closing the public hearing, but it didn’t quite work, so expect this to take up a fair amount of your Thursday, de rigueur.

Item 16: Approve an ordinance waiving the annual license fees and appraisal required under City Code Chapter 14-11, for the duration of the initial 25 year term of the temporary license agreement with Austin Pets Alive to provide animal services to the City.

Monitor’s Take: Recently, City Council agreed to let APA stay at the current Lamar Beach site for 75 years or so. This waives the fees for the first 25 years of that agreement. According to the backup, that’s about $42.8 to $59.5 million in licensing fees waived.

Item 18: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 8-5 to give the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department authority to ban commercial boating on, or recreational use of Bull Creek or Barton Creek during floods, or in anticipation of flood conditions, and changing posting requirements for waterway bans.

Monitor’s Take: At the moment, the city’s fire chief is the only person who can authorize a watercraft ban. This would change that, allowing the Parks and Recreation director to ban things too. In addition, such bans will no longer need to be published in a newspaper of citywide circulation, though info about waterway bans must continue to be provided to local radio and television stations.

Item 19: 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: Don’t get too excited, this item is withdrawn. No soccer talk today!

Item 24: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas Steve Hicks School of Social Work, Institute for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, in the amount of $230,000 for research assistance with the City’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative for a 3-year term.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported in our Whispers yesterday, this agreement is expected to clear up the backlog of sexual assault kits by September. We expect it will pass easily, but that’s certainly worth noting.

Item 48: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to identify sites for the relocation of the Austin Municipal Court and Downtown Austin Community Court.

Monitor’s Take: People have been trying to relocate these courts for about 18 years, and now Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has sponsored a resolution to try to get things moving a little faster and asking for information by March 22. In addition to looking for new locations for the court, the resolution also asks staff to explore options for using the current municipal court site at 700 E. Seventh St., where the court has operated for the past 65 years.

Item 49: Approve an ordinance establishing earned sick time for private employers, creating a civil penalty, and creating an offense.

Monitor’s Take: This is very, very likely to take up the most time during today’s meeting. At the moment, it seems to have a thin margin of support on City Council. Debate got pretty heated on Tuesday at the work session, and we are expecting the same today + public testimony. If it passes, Austin will be the first Southern city to have mandated sick pay for private employers. That has a lot of support – but it also has a lot of opposition from small businesses and big businesses alike. To be honest, we are anticipating that this will continue to another meeting, but sponsor Greg Casar has been pretty determined to try to settle this today, so we will just have to see what happens. This is set for a 6:30 p.m. time certain.

Item 50: Approve a resolution relating to residential cooperative purchase policies and the creative financial mechanisms that could be used to support those policies.

Monitor’s Take: This is a really interesting proposal. Basically, the resolution asks city staff to investigate the possibility of allowing tenants of slumlords to get first crack at cooperatively purchasing properties that have repeatedly run afoul of city code. It’s an interesting idea, to be sure, but one still very much in the initial stages.

Item 51: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to analyze City resources and develop next step strategies to enhance stability, preservation, and creation of creative arts cultural spaces throughout the city.

Item 82: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to analyze and develop next step strategies to enhance stability, preservation, and creation of creative arts cultural spaces throughout the city.

Monitor’s Take: First of all, this resolution was refiled, and though it’s listed twice, it should henceforth be known as Item 82. As sponsor Ann Kitchen explained at the work session, it consists of four different parts. The first, which would potentially create a cultural land trust, has been fairly fleshed out. The other three are newer: possible incentives for including creative space in development, microloans for the arts and ways that CodeNEXT could incentivize art spaces along corridors. This item has a time certain of 1 p.m.

Item 52: Approve a resolution concerning the appointment of executive level employees in the City of Austin.

Monitor’s Take: There are about 20 executive-level vacancies at the city right now. Seizing on that opportunity, and the presence of a new city manager that will be making appointments, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo has sponsored this resolution, intended to create diversity through a new process. The debate here will be over whether this is stepping on the toes of the city manager, and whether asking for a new process is kosher according to the city charter.

Item 53: Approve an ordinance establishing specialized functions, certifications, assignments and additional pay for the sworn police personnel employed in the City of Austin Police Department; and repealing Ordinance No. 980212-K in part.

Item 54: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to engage in labor negotiations with the Austin Police Association.

Monitor’s Take: At Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Delia Garza had concerns. Mostly, she pointed out that negotiations are taking place without a resolution. Council Member Alison Alter explained that it was a way to communicate Council’s wish to move forward with negotiations to the community but said that questioning the fundamental purpose of passing a resolution for something that is already taking place is “a fair question.” Council Member Ann Kitchen defended the vestigial Item 54, which was once combined with Item 53, saying “it bears repeating.” Garza also worried about the resolution that could potentially do something, saying it seemed to approach negotiating contracts from the dais, instead of leaving it in the hands of the city manager and negotiators. Mayor Steve Adler explained Item 53 as kind of a stopgap measure that would take the pressure off of the negotiations for the time being and restore some of the stipends to police, but there were concerns about what it would mean to restore some of those stipends and not others.

Item 67: NPA-2017-0002.01 – 4 East – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19990513-70 the East Cesar Chavez 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 1600, 1602, 1604, 1606, 1608, 1610 E. 4th (Town Lake Watershed) from Specific Regulating District to Specific Regulating District land use.

Item 68: C14-2017-0105 – 4 East – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 1600, 1602, 1604, 1606, 1608, and 1610 East 4th Street (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from transit oriented development-neighborhood plan (TOD-NP) combining district zoning to transit oriented development-central urban redevelopment- neighborhood plan (TOD-CURE-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Though we expect the Champion case to get the lion’s share of zoning attention today, there’s always room for more! This case got in under the wire – applying for CURE zoning just before it was abolished. While that can’t technically impact this case, it does hint that Council might not be that into it. Also, the neighborhood is opposed.

Item 69: NPA-2017-0015.03 – Jackie Robinson Street – District 1 -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20021107-Z-11 the East MLK Combined Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on a property locally known as 1321 Delano St. and 5600 Jackie Robinson Street (Fort Branch Watershed) from Single Family and Mixed Residential to Higher Density Single Family land use.

Item 70: C14-2017-0097 – Jackie Robinson Residential – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1321 Delano Street and 5600 Jackie Robinson Street (Fort Branch Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence- neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to townhouse & condominium- neighborhood plan (SF-6-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This case is kind of complicated. Neighbors don’t like it because they say the area does not have the infrastructure to support the development, but infrastructure could be improved by the development. At any rate, stay tuned for more hand-wringing about traffic.

Item 73: C14-2017-0084 – 6507 E. Riverside – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 6505, 6507. 6509 E. Riverside Drive and 2108 Thrasher Lane (Carson Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from East Riverside Corridor – neighborhood residential (ERC-NR) district zoning to East Riverside Corridor – corridor mixed use (ERC-CMU) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: A nearby rezoning for the site of a mobile home park property at 2110 Thrasher Lane was withdrawn at the last Council meeting. This one, for adjacent properties, was postponed to today. Originally, the two items were part of the same application, but 2110 had to be filed separately because it required a code amendment to change the boundaries of the East Riverside Corridor Plan (which the other properties fall within). Staff supported both applications, although they clarified that their support for the main item was contingent on the 2110 item going through (to upzone it to SF-6). So now that it’s withdrawn, it’s unclear what staff will say during the public hearing. Could be a fight to get this one through.

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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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