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TipSheet: City Council, 3.7.19

Thursday, March 7, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. Austin City Council is back again for its regular Thursday meeting and we’ve taken a stab at the items that might garner the most discussion. For the rest, the Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 3: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Capital Budget (Ordinance No. 20180911-001) to increase appropriations of the following departments for the following municipal purposes: Neighborhood Housing & Community Development Department by $42,000,000 for affordable housing; Austin Public Library Department by $3,700,000 for library facility improvements; Economic Development Department by $500,000 for creative spaces; Parks & Recreation Department by $28,150,000 for museum facility and parkland improvements; Watershed Protection Department by $61,650,000 for flood mitigation, open space, and water quality protection; Austin Public Health Department by $600,000 for a new neighborhood public health facility; Emergency Medical Services by $7,850,000 for emergency medical services station improvements; Austin Fire Department by $1,600,000 for fire station improvements; Austin Transportation Department by $2,550,000 for transportation infrastructure improvements; and Public Works Department by $2,600,000 for transportation infrastructure improvements.

Item 4: Approve a resolution declaring the City of Austin’s official intent to reimburse itself from 2018 General Obligation Bonds to be issued for expenditures in the total amount of $151,200,000.

Item 5: Authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to the professional services agreement with URS Corporation for engineering services for the Redbud Trail Bridge over Lady Bird Lake project in the amount of $1,082,111, for a total contract amount not to exceed $2,014,493.

Item 11: Authorize negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary or desirable to purchase in fee simple a tract of land totaling approximately 251 acres out of a 599 acre tract of land in Hays County, located north of FM 150 and west of Jack C. Hays Trail from Mountain City – 150, L.P., a Texas limited partnership for a total amount not to exceed $9,810,721, including closing costs.

Monitor’s Take: As was discussed at work session Tuesday, this is the first step in spending the $925 million in bonds approved by voters in November. It looks like most of this will be fairly noncontroversial, though the $500,000 for creative spaces might be held at Council Member Kitchen’s request and picked up next week, when the entirety of the $12 million allocated for creative spaces will be addressed.

Item 7: Approve a resolution objecting or not objecting to Travis County’s creation of the Velocity Crossing Public Improvement District (PID).

Monitor’s Take: Though this public improvement district, which is a Travis County joint within the city, isn’t expected to be controversial per se, it does raise an issue; namely, that the city does not have a current PID policy. Staff is willing to give the green light to this one (which was approved under an updated county policy by the county), with an added recommendation that attempts to toe the “don’t make policy” line in a rather artful way: “Staff also recommends that the Council consider direction to staff that Council will object to any future ‘in-City’ PID created by Travis County until the Council has approved an updated City PID Policy. There is currently a moratorium on the City creating a PID until an updated City PID Policy is approved.”

Item 13: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 60-month lease agreement with CCI-Burleson I, a Texas Limited Partnership, for approximately 216,908 square feet of office space for several City departments at the Bergstrom Tech Center, Building 310 and Building 312, located at 6800 Burleson Road, with one five-year extension option, in an amount not to exceed $38,849,923.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, the high cost of this lease caught the attention of Council Member Alter on Tuesday. We’ll find out today whether that attention will lead to a search for a more economical alternative.

Item 43: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance regarding floodplain variances for the construction of a new single-family residence at 4515 Avenue D within the 25-year and 100-year floodplains of Waller Creek.

Monitor’s Take: First, a programming note: Public hearings will no longer be held at 4 p.m. at the earliest. Instead, they can be held at any point during the meeting, which should make for a few less awkward recesses on slow meeting days like today. Anyway, about this case: Though it was denied in a split 2016 Council vote, it now returns with city staff’s blessing. The property owner plans to demolish the existing 912-square-foot, single-family building built in 1935 and construct a 3,253-square-foot home in its place – the new building encroaches on the 25-year and 100-year flood plains of Waller Creek.

Item 53: NPA-2018-0012.02.SH – 2107 Alamo Street – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 020801-91, the Upper Boggy Creek 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 2107 Alamo Street (Boggy Creek Watershed) from Single Family to Multifamily land use.

Item 54: C14-2018-0100.SH 2107- Alamo Street – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2107 Alamo Street (Boggy Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from single family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence moderate high density-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-4-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today, the Planning Commission threw its support behind this interesting case (which will probably have a time certain of 4 p.m.), which has the backing of the Blackland Community Development Corporation, but not city staff. Given the affordable housing angle, we expect this to get Council’s support, too – but not before hearing from an opposing neighbor or two. One complicating factor: One of those neighbors is former Council Member Ora Houston. Another: As of last night, neighbors were claiming they had a valid petition against the project. So stay tuned!

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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 2015, 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 as of 2015, 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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