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TipSheet: City Council, 4.25.19

Thursday, April 25, 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. Today’s meeting, like Tuesday’s work session, will likely be dominated by talk of Land Development Code rewrite, with Council to take public testimony in the morning and the afternoon. As always, the Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 11: Discuss and take possible action on policy direction and guidance relating to the Land Development Code revision.

Monitor’s Take: As stated (accurately) above, Item 11 is definitely the one to watch at this City Council meeting. And, if you are watching the meeting, you probably won’t have a choice. Council has promised to take testimony in the morning and afternoon, though members may deliberate throughout the day. This is a big item; to get up to date on the nitty-gritty details, it might be a good idea to head over to the meaty thread on the City Council Message Board, where a lot of the planned amendments are already laid out. You may also want to reread City Manager Spencer Cronk’s memo about the rewrite, which lays out the questions that Council is trying to answer today. As a reminder, Council has been asked to decide on the “broad” policy positions for the upcoming restart of the Land Development Code revision in order to give the city manager better direction. Be forewarned: In this context, broad can get pretty weedy.

Item 13: Authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to an interlocal agreement with the Houston Forensic Science Center to include in the scope of services forensic DNA services, including ownership review and Combined DNA Index System entry, for three additional one year terms, and to increase funding by $630,000, for a total amount not to exceed $730,000.

Item 14: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the University of North Texas Health Science Center to provide forensic DNA services, including Combined DNA Index System services, for the Austin Police Department, with an initial term ending on September 30, 2020, and up to three additional one-year renewal terms, in a total amount not to exceed $727,200.

Item 15: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Austin Police Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20180911-001) to add one grant funded position for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Program.

Monitor’s Take: These three items represent an opportunity for City Council to check in on the DNA testing of sexual assault cases, an area of law enforcement that remains fraught. This is also a second stab at hiring a site coordinator, something that hasn’t been accomplished while the position has been offered as temporary.

Item 16: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with Del Valle Independent School District for the provision of startup costs for four new pre-Kindergarten classrooms to expand affordable high-quality early childcare options for Austin/Travis County residents, with a five-month term, in an amount not to exceed $64,000.

Monitor’s Take: As noted many times from the dais, AISD is not the only school system in Austin. Today, Council looks to provide startup funds for Del Valle ISD pre-K programming.

Item 24: Approve ratification of emergency expenditures for bottled water, water treatment plant repairs, and associated purchases, in the amount of $1,641,512. (Note: This contract is exempt from the City Code Chapter 2-9D Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program; therefore, no subcontracting goals were established.)

Monitor’s Take: For the curious, this was the cost to the city for bottled water and water treatment plant repairs after historic flooding last fall. The money will be filed with the Texas Department of Emergency Management and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement.

Item 63: C14-2018-0126 -Pioneer Hill Apartments-Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1420 Dessau Road (Walnut Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: From limited industrial services-conditional overlay (LI-CO) combining district zoning to multifamily residence-moderate high density (MF-4) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This is likely to be one of two zoning cases up for discussion today. Reading the backup reveals a familiar set of complaints by neighbors who worry that the site and current roads do not support the increased density.

Item 64: CC14-2018-0140 -Norwood Park -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 916 and 918 Norwood Park Boulevard (Little Walnut Creek and Buttermilk Branch Watersheds) from community commercial services-neighborhood plan (GR-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial services-mixed use-neighborhood plan (GR-MU-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This rezoning, which would also allow for multifamily housing to be constructed, has ruffled feathers in the neighborhood. In fact, there is currently a valid petition against the change, which means that nine of the 11 Council members must support the switch for it to pass. Expect speakers from the Heritage Hills-Woodbridge Neighborhood Association to show up in force to protect their “quaint and close-knit community” (as described in their letters of opposition).

Item 72: Conduct a public hearing and consider an appeal by interested parties regarding the decision by the Development Services Department to issue an Outdoor Music Venue permit to Yard Bar, located at 6700 Burnet Rd.

Monitor’s Take: This case has been hanging around a bit, which means it is still subject to requirements that public hearings take place at 4 p.m. or later. Neighbors are seeking to overturn an outdoor permit granted to Yard Bar, claiming the use is incompatible with the nearby residential area.

Item 73: Authorize the City Manager to begin further design and implementation of transportation and mobility improvements on nine transportation corridors (Airport Blvd, Burnet Road, North Lamar, East Martin Luther King Blvd., Guadalupe Street, South Lamar Blvd., Riverside Drive, William Cannon Drive, and Slaughter Lane) as part of the Corridor Construction Program.

Monitor’s Take: Finally, although this is far from the world’s most exciting item, it does give some insight into the continued work stemming from the Mobility Bond. For those wanting a deep dive on the upcoming corridor action, check out this memo, which lays it all out rather nicely.

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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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