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TipSheet: City Council, 5.9.19

Thursday, May 9, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. Austin City Council is back again for its regular Thursday meeting and we’ve taken a stab at the items that might garner the most discussion. As always, the Office of the City Clerk posts a copy on its website, here.

Item 8: Approve the proposed Dougherty Arts Center redevelopment site at Butler Shores Park.

Monitor’s Take: This occupied Council for a while during Tuesday’s work session, where a few Council members seemed concerned about the process, particularly how involved they had been up until this point. One of the conclusions of the meandering discussion seemed to be that this plan has long been in the works, and we expect forward motion today, though we’d also bet on more discussion. Here are Council Member Ann Kitchen’s proposed amendments.

Item 9: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate a pilot small area planning process along North Lamar Boulevard generally between Tech Ridge Transit Center and US 183.

Monitor’s Take: We know this item is slated to be “indefinitely postponed” due to weird timing now that CodeNEXTNEXT is underway, but for a quick recap of the deal, check out today’s story from Ryan Thornton.

Item 19: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop recommendations for creating a comprehensive, community-wide resilience plan, and supporting the general tenants of the Green New Deal.

Item 20: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to include an analysis of transportation electrification and action planning in the next update to the City’s Community Climate Plan.

Monitor’s Take: Both of these resolutions will feature in a pre-meeting press conference about Austin’s “climate commitment.” At the work session, Item 20 got a bit derailed by Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, who thought it a bit myopic. Today’s discussion, if there is one, is sure to be bolstered by the multitude of environmentalists who will be at the press conference to celebrate electric vehicles and the Green New Deal.

Item 27: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 (Land Development Code) to establish a residential affordable housing development bonus program; authorize certain modifications, waivers, and requirements related to site development regulations; and create an offense and corresponding penalty.

Monitor’s Take: As was the case Tuesday, this is likely to be the thing Council debates the most today. Basically, the Affordability Unlocked plan (as it is known) is a new kind of density bonus that aims to increase the number of affordable units in the city by offering residential developers things they might want. As usual, the devil is in the details, and we expect a continuation of Council diving into those details in an effort to make sure that there aren’t any unintended consequences.

Item 33: C14-2018-0141 – 1907 Inverness Zoning Change – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1907 Inverness Boulevard (Williamson Creek Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to neighborhood office-mixed use-neighborhood plan (NO-MU-NP) combining district zoning, as amended.

Monitor’s Take: A valid petition has been filed against this rezoning, which means it will have to win over nine Council members, not six, in order to pass. The petition says that those opposed to the project are worried that the neighborhood, which has been recently reinvigorated with an influx of families, would be defined by whatever businesses that come into the new development if the zoning is granted.

Item 34: C14-2018-0126 -Pioneer Hill Apartments-Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1420 Dessau Road (Walnut Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: From limited industrial services-conditional overlay (LI-CO) combining district zoning to multifamily residence-moderate high density (MF-4) district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: As reported in an earlier TipSheet, this project faces opposition from neighbors who are worried about increased density and traffic concerns. It’s one of two zoning cases we think will be up for discussion, so we’ll keep an eye out for nuance.

Item 37: Approve an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of City of Austin, Texas, Electric Utility Revenue Bonds, Taxable Series 2019A, in a par amount not to exceed $470,000,000, in accordance with the parameters set out in the ordinance; authorizing related documents; approving the payment of costs of issuance; and providing that the issuance and sale be accomplished by December 31, 2019.

Monitor’s Take: We’ve already reported on plans to purchase the biomass plant that had Austin Energy locked into a money-losing contract. This moves that plan forward, giving us word that the sale will be completed by the end of the year in the process.

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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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