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TipSheet: City Council, 5.21.20

Thursday, May 21, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today Austin City Council will convene for its regular Thursday meeting. Once again the meeting will follow the procedures put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19. That means it will be held remotely, with public testimony taken at the beginning of the meeting at 10 a.m. Word off the street is that this meeting may be lengthy, with a number of speakers signed up and a full executive session. We’re anticipating the bulk of the Council discussion will take place after lunch and executive session. As usual, the full agenda for the meeting can be found online and the meeting will be streaming online at ATXN.

Item 15: Authorize negotiation and execution of all documents and instruments necessary to acquire in fee simple approximately 6.42 acres out of the Santiago Del Valley Grant, in Travis County, Texas, located at or near 6411 S. Pleasant Valley Road, Austin, Texas from Henry Casillas, for a total amount not to exceed $175,793.00, including closing costs.

Monitor’s Take: Hey, this is a neat break from pandemic news. This acquires 6.42 acres of land at Pleasant Valley and William Cannon to create a new city park. According to the backup, “This parcel is a critical missing piece along Williamson Creek and will provide opportunities for a nature trail and trail head, pavilions and picnic tables. The land is mostly flat and wooded with native vegetation.” Also, we might add, it’s being acquired at a really reasonable price!

Item 18: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Austin Police Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20190910-001) to accept and appropriate $885,407 in grant funds from the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program.

Monitor’s Take: This $885K from the Department of Justice will mostly be used to cover PPE for the police department. It will also pay for pandemic response training for six people.

Item 21: Authorize the ratification of an agreement with Survive2Thrive Foundation to provide direct relief and direct financial assistance to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $800,000 for the term May 11, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 22: Authorize the ratification of an agreement with Workers Defense Project, Inc. to provide direct financial assistance to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $400,000 for the term May 11, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 82: Authorize the ratification of an agreement with Central Texas Food Bank to provide direct relief food access to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $2,000,000 for the term May 11, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 83: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Austin Diaper Bank to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $356,000 for the term May 26, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Item 84: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Caritas of Austin to provide direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000 for the term May 26, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Item 85: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Family Eldercare, Inc. to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $277,241 for the term May 26, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 86: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Meals on Wheels & More, Inc. to provide direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $250,000 for the term May 26, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Item 87: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with the Society of St. Vincent De Paul – Diocesan Council of Austin to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000 for the term May 26, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 88: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Worker Assistance Program to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $250,000 for the term May 26, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Item 89: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with No More, No Más, Inc.to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $120,000 for the term May 26, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 90: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with the Muslim Community Support Services to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $226,046 for the term May 26, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Item 91: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas to provide direct financial assistance and direct relief services to Austin/Travis County residents impacted by COVID-19 in an amount not to exceed $202,300 for the term May 26, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Monitor’s Take: These items represent an additional $4.8 million-plus in city RISE funding. The $15 million city pandemic relief fund is to be distributed by local nonprofits to those impacted, and this is the second round of funding that is going out to those nonprofits. Info on the first round is here.

Item 27: Authorize an amendment to an existing contract with WorkQuest, to provide continued cleanup services for overpasses, under bridges and in the transportation right of way, for an increase in the amount of $1,800,000 and to increase the term by three years, for a revised total contract amount not to exceed $2,290,803. (Note: This contract was awarded in accordance with City Code Chapter 2-9C Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program. For the services required for this contract, there were no subcontracting opportunities; therefore, no subcontracting goals were established).

Monitor’s Take: This contract is for the continued cleaning of underpasses, which hasn’t happened for a while (as is obvious if you’ve driven around town lately). In particular, “bulk item removals” have been on hold, and though this contract will provide for that service, it isn’t clear when it will resume.

Item 38: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to establish a strategy for high-risk workers in order to prevent hospitalizations and fatalities related to COVID-19.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution, which comes out of Council Member Greg Casar’s office, develops a strategy to protect high-risk workers during the pandemic. We wrote about the plan and Casar has posted his presentation about it on the City Council Message Board as well.

Item 54: C14-2017-0148- Zen Garden -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3443 Ed Bluestein Boulevard (Walnut Creek and Boggy Creek Watersheds). Applicant Request: To rezone from limited industrial services-neighborhood plan (LI-NP) combining district zoning to limited industrial services-planned development area-neighborhood plan (LI-PDA-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: We covered this plan for the old Freescale site when it was at the Planning Commission. Today, we expect that the discussion will continue to focus on the height – which is a proposed 400 feet.

Item 58: NPA-2017-0021.01 -4530 E. Ben White Blvd – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20061116-055 of the East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Plan, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the future land use designation on the future land use map (FLUM) on property locally known as 4530 E. Ben White Blvd. (Country Club Creek Watershed) from Single Family and Commercial to Mixed Use land use.

Item 59: C14-2019-0167 – 4530 E. Ben White Blvd – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 4530 E. Ben White Blvd (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from single family residence standard lot – neighborhood plan (SF-2-NP) combining district zoning and general commercial services – conditional overlay – neighborhood plan (CS-CO-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services – mixed use – conditional overlay – neighborhood plan (CS-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This bid for multifamily housing is facing opposition from staff and the Planning Commission, given that it is located less than 2,000 feet from hazardous material.

Item 74: C14-2019-0137 – Delwau RV Parks – Conduct a public hearing and approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 7715 Delwau Lane (Colorado River Watershed) from single family residence standard lot (SF-2) district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-conditional overlay (CS-MU-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: We’ve covered this case a couple of times, and this could potentially be the last time it’s before Council. The plan has faced some opposition from neighbors due to planned alcohol sales and concerns about current road capacity, but with an agreement between the parties for third reading, things are looking promising for its approval.

Item 75: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Financial Services Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20190910-001) to accept and appropriate $170,811,898 in funds from the Federal government, United States Department of Treasury, Coronavirus Relief Fund related to the Coronavirus Disease 2020 outbreak; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s Take: With this ordinance, Council will accept $170 million in federal CARES Act funds, though without a framework for distributing funds in place. That framework is in the process of being crafted and will probably be the subject of a special called meeting next week.

Item 81: Authorize the ratification of Amendment No. 1 to an agreement with Family Eldercare, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $104,500 in one-time funding, to provide mobile hygiene trailers for homeless individuals in Austin/Travis County affected by COVID-19 for a revised agreement amount of $824,500, with no extension options.

Monitor’s Take: This contract will provide mobile hygiene services and food to Austin residents – according to the backup, 81 will “provide mobile hygiene trailers that offer: showers, toilets and hygiene supplies; first aid and harm reduction supplies; basic needs, including clothing, food and supplies for encampments; and links to permanent housing programs, healthcare, and community resources. The trailers will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at different locations, while supplies last.”

Item 93: Approve an ordinance requiring disclosures about the applicability of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to rental property, late fees, and evictions; creating an offense and penalty; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution doesn’t change the current responsibilities of landlords and tenants, but it does illuminate them, requiring landlords to disclose certain protections for renters put in place during the current crisis.

Item 94: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a right to return to work program for impacted airport food, beverage, and retail concessionaire workers as those airport concessionaires begin to reopen and as employees feel safe returning to work.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution, which comes out of Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza’s office, focuses on rehiring laid-off and furloughed airport concession workers. You can read the full resolution here.

Item 95: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to prepare and take appropriate action to ensure the long-term sustainability of Austin’s creative culture, including its arts and music industries.

Item 96: Approve a resolution related to economic recovery and revitalization associated with the live music ecosystem, including in the Red River Cultural District, and authorizing the City Manager to implement feasible strategies.

Monitor’s Take: Though the first comes from Mayor Adler’s office and the second from Council Member Kathie Tovo, both of these resolutions are focused on repairing the dire situations that the pandemic has left creative spaces and music venues in. We wrote about the background for Tovo’s resolution – it comes from recommendations of the Red River Cultural District. Adler’s resolution looks more broadly at the situation, including the idea of a establishing a cultural trust and using existing spaces for cultural use. It’s worth noting that Tovo is a co-sponsor of Adler’s resolution and vice-versa, so this is likely to be a larger conversation today.

Item 97: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager not to renew the current interlocal agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety for the OmniBase program when it expires.

Monitor’s Take: This recommendation comes out of the Judicial Committee and asks the city not to renew a contract with the OmniBase program because it perpetuates cycles of poverty. The program puts a hold on the driver’s licenses of those who fail to pay fines or appear in court, often compounding costs and legal difficulties for low-income Texans.

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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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