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TipSheet: City Council, 4.26.18

Thursday, April 26, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet for what promises to be a long meeting, filled with postponements from the previous meeting. Here are the items 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 City Code Chapter 9-2 relating to decibel limits and hours to operate sound equipment at outdoor music venues located in the area between 7th and 12th Streets and between Trinity Street and Waller Creek (also known as the Red River Cultural District).

Monitor’s Take: After what seems to be a successful pilot program, this item will enshrine later noise hours on Red River. Because of the success of the pilot program, this is unlikely to be a very controversial item, but it’s probably worth noting, nonetheless. If approved, noise curfews on Thursday will change to midnight instead of 11 p.m., and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, instead of the current midnight curfew.

Item 10: Approve a resolution to clarify membership requirements applicable to the Planning Commission under the City Charter.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported earlier this week, this item gives City Council a choice: One option is to define the membership of the Planning Commission more loosely to allow more than two-thirds of commissioners in development-related fields (like architecture, engineering and real estate law) to continue to serve on the commission. The other option would be to strengthen the language to more strictly limit that service. Up until this point, the discussion about how to handle the issue has been discussed behind closed doors in executive session. It’s an understatement to say that we are looking forward to hearing the discussion out in the open.

Item 11: Approve an ordinance amending City Code chapter 2-5 relating to council committees.

Monitor’s Take: When the 10-1 Council members took office, they immediately made a number of changes to the existing committee structure and then, a couple of years later, changed things back. Now there are few details to clear up, and there is an uneven distribution of Council members on committees, and there are some questions about how people can get seats on committees, so here we are again. It’s not the world’s most interesting topic, but it is the kind of baffler that tends to trip this Council up. We will drop dead from grateful surprise if this does not end up being a lengthy, convoluted discussion.

Item 27: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 14-9, (Traffic or Sidewalk Obstructions) to expand the types of acts that are prohibited; creating a City-wide services license; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s Take: Oh look, it’s (apparently) the world’s most interesting topic: dockless scooters. Basically, this would clear up the city’s definition of what can and can’t be in the public right of way, in direct response to scooters suddenly appearing in said right of way. Should be interesting!

Item 28: Approve a resolution consistent with the contract with the voters established by Resolution No. 20160818-074 relating to the 2016 Transportation and Mobility General Obligation bonds, to implement transportation and mobility improvements on nine corridors as part of the 2016 Mobility Bond Corridor Construction Program.

Monitor’s Take: When voters approved the 2016 mobility bond, they also endorsed a “contract” that laid out a process for prioritizing how the $720 million in bond money will be spent. Staff has been working on that, and now has a proposal ready for Council approval (or disapproval). There are likely to be a few amendments – and a bit of discussion – before all the details are hammered out on this one.

Item 30: Approve a resolution endorsing Austin’s Action Plan to End Homelessness and directing the City Manager to provide regular updates regarding community needs related to homelessness.

Item 49: Update on Homelessness; A System of Care.

Monitor’s Take: According to the last count, homelessness is up about 5 percent in the city. Council’s interest in the issue seems to be up way more than that, and these two mostly informational agenda items speak to that interest. Notably, the action plan has a lot of data on the issue from a city level, and lays out the bones of how to most effectively address homelessness in the city.

Item 32: Approve a resolution relating to an educational campaign that seeks to empower vulnerable families when selling or buying a home.

Monitor’s Take: During Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Delia Garza explained that she is bringing forward this resolution to discourage home flipping in the city, and predatory home buyers that target lower-income families. Pretty interesting.

Item 36: Approve a resolution adopting the process and procedures for conducting the public hearings before City Council on the proposed comprehensive revision of the Land Development Code and zoning map, commonly referred to as ‘CodeNEXT’.

Monitor’s Take: CodeNEXT hearings are coming up, and Council is bracing itself for what promises to be a lengthy public process. Council will hold two meetings dedicated to the Land Development Code rewrite, and this resolution addresses how those meetings will be run. At the moment, it seems pretty certain that everyone will get three minutes to speak. Other things remain up in the air: Will the meetings have a set end time? How will people sign up to speak? Will Council honor “cohesive narratives”? Stay tuned to find out! Here’s the latest proposal, though.

Item 39: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate discussions with Union Pacific Railroad to determine if there are additional steps beyond creating a Quiet Zone that would mitigate the noise caused by Union Pacific Railroad’s cargo trains.

Monitor’s Take: When more people live downtown, there are more people to complain about things. This time the target is noisy trains, and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo explained that she is bringing this resolution forward to see whether there is any way to address the racket.

Item 61: NPA-2017-0016.02 – Flats on Shady – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 030327-12, the Govalle/Johnston Terrace Combined 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 1125 Shady Lane (Boggy Creek Watershed) from Single Family to Multifamily land use.

Item 62: C14-2017-0094 – Flats on Shady – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1125 Shady Lane (Boggy Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence moderate-high density-neighborhood plan (MF-4-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Though this development has staff support and won the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the contact team is none too happy about the proposal. Here’s our recap of the current situation.

Item 66: C814-2017-0001 – 425 W. Riverside PUD – District 9 – Conduct a public hearing and approve on second and third readings an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 425 W. Riverside Drive (Lady Bird Lake Watershed) from Commercial-Liquor Sales – Vertical Mixed Use Building – Neighborhood Plan (CS-1-V-NP) combining district zoning to Planned Unit Development – Neighborhood Plan (PUD-NP).

Item 85: Conduct a public hearing and consider a resolution to expand the Austin Downtown Public Improvement District by adding one parcel of land, at 425 West Riverside Drive, as requested by the property owner.

Monitor’s Take: First of all, it’s the “Snoopy PUD,” NOT the “Hooters PUD.” Other than that, this is just a typically convoluted zoning case. Here are the details, for the interested.

Item 77: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance renaming ‘Jeff Davis Avenue’ to ‘Will Holland Avenue’ or other name.

Item 78: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance renaming ‘Robert E. Lee Road’ to ‘Azie Taylor Morton Road’ or other name.

Monitor’s Take: At long last, City Council is finally getting around to renaming these roads, which currently honor Confederates. Apparently, a majority of people who would be impacted by the change aren’t too keen on the idea, and we can’t wait to see if any show up to defend the current name. Our pal Audrey has a piece on the new namesakes over at KUT. This will be set for a time certain of 4 p.m.

Item 81: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending the Regulating Plan for the Plaza Saltillo Transit Oriented Development Station Area Plan to amend provisions regarding an additional density bonus program applicable to 1409 and 1411 East 4th Street.

Monitor’s Take: This zoning case creates a “super density bonus” that, according to the backup documents, “will allow applicants to seek an entitlement of up to 85 feet in exchange for a significant level of on-site affordable housing units. Projects seeking a Super Density Bonus will be exempt from the maximum density standards, maximum floor-to-area ratio, and compatibility setbacks. Additionally, projects seeking this type of bonus will be subject to reduced parking minimums. In exchange, a project seeking a Super Density Bonus will provide a minimum of 75% of the total square footage of the development as on-site affordable housing units.” OK then!

Item 86: Authorize negotiation of a lease or acquisition of an interest in real property and improvements for a municipal courthouse and return to City Council no later than May 10, 2018.

Item 87: Discuss and approve an ordinance relating to appointment of municipal court judges, and declaring an emergency.

Item 88: Discuss the lease or acquisition of an interest in real property and improvements for a municipal courthouse (Real property – Section 551.072 of the Government Code).

Monitor’s Take: More movement on the Municipal Court front. First, a couple of items lay the groundwork for actually moving the court. Another item moves ahead with filling the vacancies created after Council declined to reappoint several judges in a recent, dramatic overhaul of the court.

Item 90: Adopt a citizen-initiated ordinance, supported by a petition certified sufficient on April 23, to amend the City Code, relating to comprehensive revisions of the Land Development Code.

Monitor’s Take: Because this is a petition-driven initiative to put a question on the ballot that asks whether CodeNEXT should be on a future ballot or not, Council probably has to approve this. But the Law Department might have other ideas.

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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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