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TipSheet: City Council, 4.13.17

Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today, and below is a list of items we’re watching. 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.

2. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-13 related to the administrative hearing process and penalties; and amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 City of Austin Fee Schedule Ordinance No. 20160914-003 to add a fee for administrative hearings.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported last week, what’s on the table here is a proposed increase to fines for things like property maintenance and short-term rental violations. Council took a minute to try to make sure a balance was struck between effectively deterrent fines and not over-penalizing those who can’t pay. Can’t wait to see if they’ve found it!

10. Approve an ordinance adopting the Austin Strategic Housing Plan as an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

Monitor’s Take: We’ve spilled a lot of pixels on this plan, which will dictate how the city strategically locates things like affordable housing in the future. Last week, Council listened to the public testimony, but didn’t really get into the weeds. This week, it will probably be weeds a-plenty, as Council members work on refining the plan based on that testimony and, of course, their own amendments.

14. Authorize the execution of all documents necessary or desirable to provide relocation assistance and authorize the payment of relocation funds to the tenants located at 1127 and 1205 E. 52nd Street in an amount not to exceed $600,000. (District 4)

Monitor’s Take: We are really interested in this case, which will be one of the first tests of the recently passed Tenant Relocation Ordinance. For background, we recommend this comprehensive city memo on the matter.

23. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to allocate funding and pursue the acquisition of flood-damaged properties in the vicinity of Pinehurst Drive and Wild Dunes in the Onion Creek subdivision of the Upper Onion Creek watershed.

Monitor’s Take: This launches the process of flood buyouts in the Upper Onion Creek watershed, which isn’t particularly controversial, but flood buyouts do tend to spark conversation. You know, at some point.

24. Approve a resolution relating to procedures for implementing affordable housing goals in the Austin Strategic Housing Plan.

Monitor’s Take: Oh! More pixels on the Strategic Housing Plan. This resolution, sponsored by Council Member Ann Kitchen, adds an implementation plan for the affordable housing goals contained within the strategic plan.

25. Approve a resolution relating to preserving and creating affordable housing along certain priority corridors.

Monitor’s Take: Oh more affordable housing stuff! OK, this resolution is sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and links the Strategic Housing Plan to the Mobility Bond corridors, stressing preservation and creation of affordable housing in those areas, and asking for twice yearly reports on how the whole thing is going.

26. Approve a resolution supporting the ongoing efforts of the City Manager to address the urgent public health situation caused by K2/Spice and asking the City Manager to identify additional resources necessary to bolster public safety and public health efforts.

Monitor’s Take: Last week, we reported on the city’s pledge to address the growing problem with K2/Spice downtown. Here’s the follow-up to that pledge. This resolution, sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, supports a public safety plan, an education campaign and asks the city manager to identify resources that could be used to address the current crisis ASAP.

27. Approve a resolution creating the City Manager Search Advisory Task Force.

Monitor’s Take: In service to finding a new city manager, this task force will “be composed of eleven members drawn from the Austin community. Council members and the Mayor will have one nomination each for approval by the council, with the Mayor’s appointee being named as Chair and the Mayor Pro Tem’s appointee being named as Vice Chair.”

36. C814-2014-0120 – Austin Oaks PUD – District 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve 3rd reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 3409, 3420, 3429, 3445, 3520, 3636, 3701, 3721, 3724, and 3737 Executive Center Drive and 7601, 7718 and 7719 Wood Hollow Drive (Shoal Creek Watershed) from community commercial (GR) district zoning, neighborhood commercial (LR) district zoning, limited office (LO) district zoning and family residence (SF-3) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Oh, did this agenda look manageable? Don’t forget about the Austin Oaks planned unit development! When last we left this case, it was approved on second reading with amendments, but not with the nine votes required for this to fully pass with a valid petition against it. What else? Oh, with Council Member Leslie Pool absent, Council Member Alison Alter is likely to ask that the case be postponed, as she indicated at Tuesday’s work session. And, the public hearing is open, but not totally open, with testimony at 2 p.m., and the case to be taken up again after the dinner break (at 7 p.m.). No idea whether there will be performance art this time around.

41. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance creating an economic development program and authorizing the negotiation and execution of an economic development agreement with Merck Sharp & Dohme Corporation.

Monitor’s Take: This the second part of a discussion about whether to offer economic development incentives to Merck (up to $856,000 based on $200 for every job created in the area). At the last Council meeting there was some skepticism about offering money to such a large company, and about the jobs it would create. There were also some powerful speakers, and arguments, in favor of the incentives and the fact that they would create more than just jobs. No idea whether there will be performance art.

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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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