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TipSheet: City Council, 5.6.21

Thursday, May 6, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today, Austin City Council will hold its regular Thursday meeting. With 117 people signed up to speak on the agenda, the meeting won’t be quick, but it has the potential to be a reasonable length, if one views it through the optimism of spring. As usual, the entire agenda can be found online, but we’re limiting the TipSheet to things that caught our eye.

Though Proposition B passed over the weekend, City Council will obviously continue its work on homelessness, as illustrated by today’s agenda. Item 70, which comes from Council Member Kathie Tovo’s office, is kind of a response to the reinstated bans on camping, sit/lie and panhandling, though it has clearly been in the works since before Saturday. The resolution asks the city manager to report by June 1 on creating temporary encampments and building tiny homes on public land. In addition to this initiative, Council will consider a host of homelessness-related items – items 14, 16, 17, 18 and 20 – that are contracts to help house the homeless totaling more than $14.6 million. 

Council will also consider resuming police cadet classes on June 7 under a new, “reimagined” process that revamped training and goals for the academy. A press release from the mayor released after Tuesday’s work session sounded hopeful, though we are guessing a number of the people signed up to speak may be critical of the move forward. In addition to the cadet class restart, which is Item 10 on the agenda, Council will also vote on a contact with Kroll to continue its monitoring of the police academy with Item 38

As we reported today, Council Member Greg Casar has proposed a resolution that looks at dangerous mold in rental properties and how the city can regulate it to protect residents. We already reported on a resolution from Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison that looks at ways to encourage development near Project Connect stops, using transit-oriented development that does not displace current residents. 

Council will also consider the results of previously approved resolutions aimed at making things easier for food charities by easing regulations and fees from the city. Items 12 and 13 would do just that, waiving fees without impacting public safety at a cost of about $450,000 to the city this year, according to the backup. 

Finally, we’ll note that anyone stoked to see the Dougherty Arts Center redevelopment discussed today will be disappointed to find out it has been postponed to Council’s May 20 meeting. 

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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 2015, 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 as of 2015, 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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