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TipSheet: City Council, 4.8.21

Thursday, April 8, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today’s City Council meeting has the potential to be blessedly brief. Of course, one can never quite tell whether that promise will be realized, but with just about 40 speakers signed up to speak on a fairly thin agenda, it’s looking good. 

While the three proposed Rainey Street towers on the agenda – items 10, 11 and 12 –  sparked a whole separate Item 46, a lot of the technical discussion about recalibration of the Downtown Density Bonus program was taken care of at Tuesday’s work session. (Read our recap.) After that discussion, sponsor Council Member Kathie Tovo said she would likely postpone the recalibration item. Important to note: Though the Rainey Street cases summoned recalibration back to the table, that won’t be a part of these three cases. They will proceed today with a discussion that will likely focus on subpar infrastructure in the area and whether the proposed density is appropriate for the neighborhood.

In good news for music venues, Item 5 will allocate $2.4 million to the operating budget of the Iconic Venue Fund via the city’s new economic development corporation. The long-anticipated funds are intended to help offset some of the economic devastation the local music industry has endured over the past year.

Speaking of resilience, Item 28 will likely also be taken up today after a delay at the last Council meeting. The resolution, which was spurred by Winter Storm Uri, asks the city to find suitable locations for “resilience hubs” that will serve as shelters for the community when disaster strikes. Amendments posted by Council Member Greg Casar ask that, in planning these hubs, staffers forge connections with community leaders to contact when they are in use. He also asks the city to put an emphasis on communication during a crisis and plan for the needs of the city’s most vulnerable at the core.  

As we wrote today, Item 20 might look like a fairly mundane tree-trimming contract, but Austin Energy tree-trimming touches on issues of electric reliability that were brought into sharp focus this February (and keep in mind that one of the working mottos at the Monitor is, “Nothing is mundane”). The contract also, as Council Member Alison Alter points out, is an important piece in the fight to suppress wildfires, a type of natural disaster that looms large in Austin.

Even though they recently raised rates, Texas Gas Service is looking to recover more than $89 million via increased rates to residential customers that amount to $2.38 per month and $10.06 per month for commercial customers. Item 25 gives City Council 45 more days to think about this increase. 

And while there isn’t too much on today’s zoning agenda, the Oltorf Sunrise Mini Mart case does have a valid petition against it. (It’s Item 48 on the agenda.) And it’s possible that Council will discuss Item 42, 1105 Matthews Lane, which we covered when it was at the Zoning and Platting Commission. 

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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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