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TipSheet: City Council, 5.4.17

Thursday, May 4, 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. Today’s meeting promises to be on the shorter side, though there is also the possibility that zoning cases could slow things down – especially with one case scheduled to be heard no earlier than 7 p.m.

2. Approve issuance of a rebate to Lodge at Stone Oak Ranch, LLC, for performing energy efficiency improvements at the Lodge at Stone Oak Ranch Apartments located at 5400 Parmer Lane, in an amount not to exceed $128,441 (District 6).

Monitor’s Take: As we reported when this was at the Electric Utility Commission, this is a real-world example of how Austin Energy encourages saving energy and, hopefully, saving money on electric bills for renters.

4. Approve an ordinance establishing classifications and positions in the classified service of the Austin Fire Department; creating certain positions; establishing pay rates; repealing (Ordinance No. 20160914-004) relating to Fire Department classifications and positions; and declaring an emergency.
Related to Item #5

5. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Austin Fire Department General Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase the number of authorized positions by one for a lieutenant sworn full-time equivalent which is fully offset by a reimbursement from the Airport Operating Fund.
Related to Item #4

Monitor’s Take: It looks pretty dramatic and all (maybe because of the word “emergency”), but both of these items actually just establish a new lieutenant in the Austin Fire Department who will conduct fire inspections for the Fire Marshal at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The position will be funded by the airport, which seems fair.

6. Approve a settlement in Barbara Leffingwell’s personal injury claim against the City of Austin.

Monitor’s Take: No relation.

7. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Management Services Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to accept and appropriate up to $1,250,000 in grant funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies for the implementation of the Innovation Team program.

Monitor’s Take: This grant will span three years – up to $500,000 each calendar year – as long as it is matched (at a ratio of one-to-three, with Bloomberg providing the higher sum). The backup indicates that the seed money to be matched does not have to come from the city and a number of local organizations are at the ready to provide funds. The backup also explains that the grant will be used to address homelessness in the city.

10. Approve negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with Travis County to analyze the feasibility of co-location opportunities for City and Travis County courthouses in an amount not to exceed $62,000.

Monitor’s Take: Obviously, Travis County has been working to replace the aging, cramped Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse for a very long time. This indicates real steps towards a new plan, that would “assess the feasibility of co-locating the city’s municipal court functions with Travis County’s civil and family court functions in a new courthouse facility,” according to the city backup. The money here would be used to evaluate what kind of space would be needed, come up with conceptual layouts and early cost estimates for the city. (Expect to hear more about this at the Travis County Commissioners Court as well.)

27. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Austin Transportation Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase transfers out in an amount not to exceed $500,000; amending the Austin Transportation Department Capital Budget (Ordinance 20160914-002) to transfer in and appropriate up to $500,000 from the Austin Transportation Department Operating Budget for the conversion of East 5th Street to two lanes eastbound and one lane westbound from Brazos Street to IH 35 to reduce congestion and improve mobility in the downtown area; and authorizing the City Manager to initiate the conversion process and use the authority granted to the City Traffic Engineer to make appropriate operational changes. (District 9)

28. Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the establishment of a public plaza and a permanent downtown rail station on 4th Street, between Red River Street and Trinity Street, and for the financial contribution to storm drain improvements in the project area, in an amount not to exceed $3,000,000 (District 9).

Monitor’s Take: This plan, which would convert Fifth Street from its current one-way status in eastern downtown and kick cars out of a section, has been in the works for some time, without much controversy. We do wonder whether the car-free Fourth Street will still pose enough of a threat to Hilton guests to warrant a skybridge, however.

29. Approve a resolution declaring the City of Austin’s official intent to reimburse itself from proceeds of general obligation bonds to be issued for transportation and mobility-related expenditures in the total amount of $39,000,000.
Related to Item(s) 30 and 31

30. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Austin Transportation Department Capital Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-002) to increase appropriations by $30,500,000 for regional mobility, corridor mobility, bikeways, capital renewal projects and safety, including the City’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic-related fatalities; and amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Public Works Department Capital Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-002) to increase appropriations by $8,500,000 for sidewalks, safe routes to schools, and urban trails. Related to Item(s) 29 and 31

31. Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Austin Transportation Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase appropriations by $321,441 and to increase the number of authorized staff positions by seven full-time equivalents to support the 2016 General Obligation Bonds for Transportation and Mobility (2016 Mobility Bond); amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Public Works Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase appropriations by $192,854 and to increase the number of authorized staff positions by five full-time equivalents to support the 2016 Mobility Bond; amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Financial Services Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase the number of authorized staff positions by seven full-time equivalents to support the 2016 Mobility Bond; and amending the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Small and Minority Business Resources Department Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20160914-001) to increase the number of authorized staff positions by two full-time equivalents to support the 2016 Mobility Bond.
Related to Item(s) 29 and 30

Monitor’s Take: Bond stuff! We got into the weeds about these items at Wednesday’s Mobility Committee meeting and fully expect more weeds ahead!

39. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to explore the use of sustainable robotic delivery devices for in-city deliveries, to determine if City Code amendments or other actions are required to authorize a pilot program to allow use of the devices, and to make a recommendation to Council by June 30, 2017.

Monitor’s Take: Aw, little package delivering robots that are “99 percent autonomous.” What could possibly go wrong?

41. Approve an ordinance relating to the creation of a temporary plaza in the South Central Waterfront Area; and waiving certain code requirements and associated fees.

Monitor’s Take: This ordinance will create a plaza at Barton Springs Road and South Congress Avenue (where that bat statue is). This is a private-public partnership with the nearby YETI store and other businesses that, though temporary for now, will mean the feeder right-turn to Barton Springs Road will remain closed off and “feeder” food trucks could be on the way to the location.

50. NPA-2016-0021.01 –5016 ½ E. Ben White Blvd. – Approve third reading of 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 5016-½ East Ben White Boulevard (Country Club West Watershed; Carson Creek Watershed) from Commercial land use to Mixed Use land use.

51. C14-2016-0069 – Ben White Zoning – District 3 – Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 5016-½ East Ben White Boulevard (Country Club West Watershed; Carson Creek Watershed) from 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 for Tract 1 and from community commercial-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (GR-CO-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial-mixed use-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (GR-MU- CO-NP) combining district zoning for Tract 2.

Monitor’s Take: The public hearing is closed on this case but, judging from past discussions, that probably won’t prevent City Council members from debating it for a bit among themselves. The main sticking point is the notion of prohibiting access to Sunridge Drive. Though the neighborhood wants the road closed, staff opposes it, and so do some Council members that are concerned about the larger issue of connectivity and how its absence might impact more than just immediate neighbors.

52. NPA-2016-0005.03 – 2509 Montopolis Drive – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20010927-05, the Montopolis 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 2507, 2509 and 2511 Montopolis Drive, in addition to adjacent 1.36 acre tract (Country Club East Watershed) from Industry land use to Mixed Use land use.

53. C14-2016-0113 – 2509 Montopolis – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2507, 2509 and 2511 Montopolis Drive (Country Club East Watershed) from general commercial services-neighborhood plan (CS-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-NP) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: To deny general commercial services-mixed use-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: At the Planning Commission, this case sparked a debate about the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan and whether it was time for another update.

54. C14-2015-0083 – River Place – Districts 6 and 10 -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as Milky Way Drive (West Bull Creek Watershed) from development reserve (DR) district zoning to single family residence-standard lot-conditional overlay (SF-2-CO) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: To grant single family residence-large lot-conditional overlay (SF-1-CO) combining district zoning, with conditions.

55. C14-2015-0084 – River Place-Autism Center – Districts 6 and 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as East of River Place Boulevard (West Bull Creek Watershed) from development reserve (DR) district zoning to general office-conditional overlay (GO-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This odd case is most likely going to be withdrawn indefinitely postponed, so it would normally not be worth a mention. However, it’s a really odd case. Right now the two original cases have been consolidated into a single case.

57. C14-2016-0134 – Pioneer at Walnut Creek – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 11126 Sprinkle Cutoff Road (Walnut Creek Watershed) from interim-rural residence (I-RR) district zoning to multifamily residence-low density (MF-2) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: To be honest, we haven’t been paying too much attention to this case. But it’s good to know that it has been set for a 7 p.m. time certain and will not be heard before that time, for (schedule!) planning purposes.

62. Conduct a public hearing and consider an appeal of the decision of the Historic Landmark Commission to grant a demolition permit for property located at 1207 W. 22½ Street and 1209 W. 22½ Street. (HDP-2016-0468 and HDP-2016-0469) (District 9)

Monitor’s Take: In February, the Planning Commission voted against this appeal, which has halted the demolition of these homes for about a year. The appeal against the demolition was made by a neighbor, who argues the homes are historic.

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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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