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TipSheet: City Council, 3.22.18

Thursday, March 22, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council is back for what looks to be a reasonably short meeting again today – fingers crossed! 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 8: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Historic Preservation Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20170913-001) to appropriate up to $5,293,991; and amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Capital Budgets of City Departments including the Parks and Recreation Department, the Austin Transportation Department, and the Austin Public Library Department (Ordinance No. 20170913-001) to transfer in and appropriate these funds for allowable historic restoration and preservation projects or activities as reflected in the Texas Tax Code Section 351.101(a)(5) which authorizes hotel occupancy tax to be used for historic restoration projects and activities that promote tourism and the convention industry and that are in specific locations in the City.

Monitor’s Take: Though this might not all get resolved today, we are certainly keeping our eye on this item. At Tuesday’s work session, several Council members seemed peeved at the list of preservation projects they had to choose from. It’s understandable – many ended the year happy about a switch that would allow some of the increasing pot of Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue to be used for preservation of city resources. Now, a few months later, that intention seems to have gone through a game of telephone, and the $2 million that they thought could be spent on city preservation efforts has been whittled down to $500,000. More on this to come in the future, for sure. But probably also another discussion today.

Item 18: Approve an ordinance authorizing the negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary or desirable to purchase in fee simple approximately 50 properties at high risk of flooding within the Onion Creek Watershed in a total amount not to exceed $25,000,000, establishing acquisition and relocation guidelines, and waiving requirements of City Code Chapter 14-3.

Monitor’s Take: This is the first phase of flood buyouts for this area. The backup documents put the price tag for the whole project – 147 homes – at $77.5 million. That’s a lot of money, huh?

Item 46: Approve a resolution relating to parking at the Central Library.

Monitor’s Take: We all love the new library, but since it opened, parking has been a concern. The parking lot has been filling up before the library even opens. And it stays full – as this resolution notes, non-patrons can currently score 10 hours of parking for $9. So they are doing that. This measure looks to raise those fees to a yet-unspecified amount and, in the meantime, establish a one-hour validation system for actual patrons.

Item 47: Approve a resolution providing direction to the City Manager regarding Austin Police Department staffing recommendations.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported on Wednesday, this is a bit more complicated than it looks. However, something that might not be that complicated after the past few weeks, is a new amendment on the City Council Message Board. Council Member Delia Garza has added her wish to see Interim Police Chief Brian Manley made the permanent head of APD (if City Manager Spencer Cronk decides to go in this direction, of course). Council Member Leslie Pool added her voice to Garza’s Wednesday, writing on the message board that she believes Manley “is eminently qualified and has done a superb job since assuming those responsibilities when Chief Acevedo left for Houston. Manley has my full support, and I hope City Manager Cronk will decide that appointment very soon.”

Item 57: Set a public hearing to consider an ordinance renaming ‘Robert E. Lee Road’ to ‘Azie Taylor Morton Road’ or other name. (Suggested date and time: April 12, 2018 at 4:00 p.m., Austin City Hall, Council Chambers, 301 W. Second Street, Austin, Texas)

Item 58: Set a public hearing to consider an ordinance renaming ‘Jeff Davis Avenue’ to ‘Will Holland Avenue’ or other name. (Suggested date and time: April 12, 2018 at 4:00 p.m., Austin City Hall, Council Chambers, 301 W. Second Street, Austin, Texas)

Monitor’s Take: No action on these today, just noting that the renaming of (some) Confederate streets is finally moving forward.

Item 60: Set a public hearing to consider an ordinance: (1) adopting a new Land Development Code, commonly referred to as ‘CodeNEXT,’ codified in Title 23 of the City Code and including the following basic elements: (a) development review procedures relating to permit applications, public notice, variances, appeals and enforcement, nonconforming uses, code amendments, development agreements, and other procedural requirements; (b) watershed and tree regulations, requirements for drainage and utilities, density bonuses for affordable housing, parkland dedication requirements, and other general planning standards; (c) zoning regulations adopting a new zoning map and comprehensively revising the City’s zoning ordinances, including new land use and site development regulations; (d) subdivision regulations relating to the platting of land, including requirements for dedication of infrastructure and standards for infill development; (e) transportation regulations relating to the design and layout of streets and requirements for new development to mitigate impacts on the City’s transportation system; (f) sign regulations, including requirements affecting on-premise signs and nonconforming billboards; and (g) technical codes regulating construction and other requirements impacting development; and (2) amending other relevant chapters of the City Code. (Suggested date and time, May 30 and 31, 2018, 10:00 a.m. at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second Street, Austin TX).

Monitor’s Take: Oh boy. As a harbinger of things to come, the discussion about when to have the discussion about CodeNEXT has already taken up about 30 minutes of public Council time this week. On Tuesday, the discussion centered around the end of school and when summer camps start as well as whether a Saturday public hearing was a good idea. We aren’t necessarily expecting a more focused conversation this time around, but we are expecting concrete dates by the end of the day. (If for no other reason than staff’s deadline for sending out zoning notices to the *entire* city, which they need to get a jump on.) Clarification: Though the city is not legally required to send out notices to the entire city, they are giving it their best shot by sending postcards to homeowners and utility customers. The legal notice for a comprehensive plan is a posting in the paper of record.

Item 62: Discussion and possible action regarding potential cancellation of the April 12, 2018 City Council meeting, including possible rescheduling of the meeting to a future date.

Monitor’s Take: At the last Council meeting, it was revealed that a number of absences (including the mayor and mayor pro tem) would likely make an April 12 meeting pointless. That raised a few logistical concerns that will be addressed here, but the short of it is, it’s probably safe to make plans on April 12. The long of it is, if you like discussions about scheduling and rescheduling, you are going to love this meeting.

Item 64: Discuss legal issues related to the citizen initiated petition regarding CodeNext and the November 2018 general election (Private consultation with legal counsel – Section 551.071 of the Government Code).

Item 65: Discuss legal issues related to S.J. Louis Construction of Texas, LTD v. City of Austin, Cause No. D-1-18-001121 in the 459th District Court of Travis County, Texas (Private consultation with legal counsel – Section 551.071 of the Government Code).

Monitor’s Take: OK, fine, these discussions are going to take place behind closed doors. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t interested! As we reported, the city doesn’t think that a CodeNEXT petition that asks to put the rewrite to a vote is legal. Basically, because zoning isn’t something people vote on. So, that’s fun. Also fun (?) is the fact that the Waller Creek Tunnel is a bit of a disaster, and the company that helped make it such is now suing the city because the city wants its money back.

Item 89: C14H-2015-0008 – Rosewood Courts – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as Rosewood Courts, 2001 Rosewood Avenue from multi-family residence – neighborhood plan (MF-4-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence-moderate-high density-historic landmark-neighborhood plan (MF-4-H-NP) combining district zoning for a portion of the property. Staff Recommendation: To grant multifamily residence-moderate-high density-historic landmark-neighborhood plan (MF-4-H-NP) combining district zoning for a portion of the property. Historic Landmark Commission

Monitor’s Take: Though this project has sailed through the last few commission meetings, there is a strong chance that it will become an issue today. Fred McGhee and Preserve Rosewood are still fighting a plan to preserve a small portion of the first African-American housing project in the city, saying that the whole property should be preserved. Whether there are enough (or any?) sympathetic ears on the dais remains to be seen – strong turnout by Rosewood residents who are in support of the rezoning certainly had an impact at the Planning Commission, and that might be the case here as well.

Item 91: 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: Champion tract is back, bringing decades of fighting with it. (This one probably won’t take that long, though, right?)

Item 92: C814-2017-0001 – 425 W. Riverside PUD – District 9 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 425 W. Riverside Drive (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from Commercial-Liquor Sales – Vertical Mixed Use – Neighborhood Plan (CS-1-V-NP) combining district zoning to Planned Unit Development – Neighborhood Plan (PUD-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This is the first PUD that will be developed under the South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan, though that plan hasn’t quite been enacted yet. It’s the first PUD that will be developed in its shadow? Its pre-shadow? Anyway, we are calling it the “Hooters PUD.”

Item 96: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending Title 25 to remove the applicability of the Central Urban Redevelopment (CURE) combining district boundaries east of IH-35.

Monitor’s Take: Ah, though discussion about this move to erase CURE zoning from the east side has fizzled, and will likely pass without much of a commotion today, we thought we might as well say goodbye!

Item 99: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to conduct further analysis of 10414 McKalla Place as a major league soccer stadium site and to provide a detailed assessment of potential community benefits that could be generated by such a use.

Monitor’s Take: Soccer is back! This time, Council is considering a piece of land in the far north of town after considering central parks proved wildly unpopular. This is likely to move forward today (it wouldn’t commit the city to anything), but there’s room for soccer fans, density advocates and even affordable housing folk to have their say, so it would be weird not to note that this might be a thing, even if it’s only a first step.

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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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