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TipSheet: City Council, 2.4.21

Thursday, February 4, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will convene virtually for its regular meeting today. As is the practice during 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. We’ve highlighted the items 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 8: Approve a resolution adopting the Equitable Chamber Funding Report and its findings supporting the base equitable funding model and methodology for contracting and funding the local chambers of commerce.

Monitor’s Take: It’s taken a while to get here, but it looks like Council is poised to adopt a new model that would distribute funding to members of the Multi-Ethnic Chamber Alliance in Austin.

Item 9: Approve a resolution related to an application by Saison North, LLC, or an affiliated entity, for competitive 9% housing tax credits for a new construction development to be known as Saison North, located at or near 10010 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin TX 78759, and related to the allocation of housing tax credits within the City and near the proposed development.

Item 28: Approve a resolution confirming that an application for competitive 9% housing tax credits for a proposed multi-family development to be located at or near 1127 Tillery Street, Austin, TX 78702 will contribute more than any other 2021 9% housing tax credit application to the concerted revitalization efforts of the City within the Govalle/Johnston Terrace Neighborhood Planning Area, which is subject to a concerted community revitalization plan.

Monitor’s Take: Today Council will consider a batch of projects vying for 9 percent tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. There’s a great memo in the agenda backup that explains the process, but essentially a limited number of projects will receive money to complete these deeply affordable housing projects, and the city’s endorsement of these projects gives them a point on a scoring matrix that will ultimately help determine where tax credits go. Typically, the city endorses all of the projects it is asked about in order to increase the odds of state-backed affordable housing in the city, but who knows?

Item 29: Ratify an amendment to an interlocal agreement with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin to provide emergency rental assistance for households impacted by COVID-19 for the term January 1, 2021 through January 31, 2022, in the amount of $3,200,000, for a total agreement amount not to exceed $19,100,000.

Monitor’s Take: The city and the county have once again extended their eviction moratoriums (now until April 1). Funding to help tenants who might face eviction once the moratorium ends continues to trickle out, with items like this on Council agendas.

Item 32: Approve an ordinance creating the Forensic Science Department; amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Austin Police Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to transfer out 86.75 full-time equivalent positions and decrease funding in the APD Decouple Fund in the amount of $11,908,897, which consists of the positions and funding for the Forensic Science Bureau, and decrease the transfer from the General Fund to the APD Decouple Fund by the same amount; and amending the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 General Fund Budget (Ordinance No. 20200812-001) to transfer in 86.75 full-time equivalent positions and increase funding in the amount of $11,908,897 for the Forensic Science Department, which consists of the same positions and funding for the Forensic Science Bureau.

Monitor’s Take: With this item, as we reported today, Council would decouple the Forensic Science Bureau from APD. If you’re interested in the topic, read today’s story – there was a bit of conversation at the Tuesday work session, but it’s not clear whether Council members will spend any time at all talking about the plan today.

Item 49: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop and implement the Housing-Focused Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative to connect individuals experiencing homelessness to housing and services in certain identified areas; to develop ordinances or other documents necessary to fund the initiative; and to propose amendments to City Code Section 9-4-11 to clarify that these four locations will not be available for camping after completion of the HEAL initiative.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution, which comes from Council Member Ann Kitchen and now has the support of a majority of Council members as co-sponsors or sponsors, slightly backs down from their earlier vote to allow camping in the city. The resolution selects a few homeless encampments to be targeted for “rapid rehousing” in the interest of safety. A post on the City Council Message Board attempts to address some of the questions about the resolution, with a pointed note that the shift will not rely on policing or citations.

Item 59: C14-2020-0111 -Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Austin, Texas, Inc.- Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 13208 Morris Road (Lake Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To zone from interim-rural residence (I-RR) district zoning to multifamily residence-low density (MF-2) district zoning for Tract 1 and limited office-mixed use combining (LO-MU) district zoning for Tract 2.

Monitor’s Take: Though we haven’t yet covered this zoning case, looking through the backup it looks like the staff-endorsed plan to build apartments on this tract is facing some neighborhood opposition. Those who wrote in to oppose the project say it is too dense for the area and local roads, and suggest a single-family zoning would better suit the tract.

Item 61: Authorize the negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary or desirable to purchase in fee simple approximately 2 acres of land and a building containing approximately 47,355 square feet out of Lot 1-A, Block B, including a non-exclusive joint use access easement over and across 0.081 of an acre of land, more or less, being a portion of Lot 10-A, Block B, both of the Amended Plat of Lot 1 and a Portion of Lot 2, Resubdivision of Lots 7, 8 &9, Block B, Pecan Park, according to the map or plat thereof, recorded in Cabinet Y, Slides 205-207, Plat Records, Williamson County, Texas; known locally as 10811 Pecan Park Blvd, Bldg #2, Austin, TX 78750 from Apple Pie Hotels, LLC., A Texas Corporation for a total amount not to exceed $9,500,000, including closing costs.

Monitor’s Take: Last week, Council members put off their decision to buy a hotel in deference to their new colleague, Mackenzie Kelly, given the fact that the hotel is in her District 6. Though there is very little doubt that a vast majority of Council (everyone but Kelly) supports the plan to turn the hotel into permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness, those who oppose the plan have mounted protests, making it a bigger news story this week. We’re expecting their opposition to take up a bit of this meeting, and we guess that the discussion for the purchase might go on for a while too, despite the numbers on the dais.

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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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