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TipSheet: City Council, 6.14.18

Thursday, June 14, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to this week’s TipSheet. Here are the items we have our eye on. 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.

Item 10: Authorize award and execution of a construction contract with Aaron Concrete Contractors LP for East Seventh Street at Chicon Street and Calles Street Intersection Improvements (REBID) in the amount of $309,448.50 plus a $15,472.43 contingency, for a total contract amount not to exceed $324,920.93. [Note: This contract will be awarded in compliance with City Code Chapter 2-9A (Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program) by meeting the goals with 8.17% MBE and 4.92% WBE participation.]

Monitor’s Take: While we don’t usually bother with following road maintenance contracts, this one has our attention. City Council Member Pio Renteria has vowed to oppose this particular award, and we shall see if other Council members follow suit.

Item 12: Authorize the use of the Design-Build procurement method of contracting in accordance with Texas Government Code 2269 for design and construction services for up to five new neighborhood fire and emergency medical facilities. (Note: MBE/WBE goals will be established prior to issuance of this solicitation.)

Item 13: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Capital Contracting Office Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20170913-001) to increase the number of authorized positions by 1.0 to provide support for the design and construction of new fire stations.

Item 19: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Austin Fire Department Capital Budget (Ordinance 20170913-001) to increase appropriations by $6,000,000 for the design and land acquisition of new fire stations.

Item 20: Approve a resolution declaring the City of Austin’s official intent to reimburse itself from proceeds of certificates of obligation in the amount of $6,000,000 to be issued for the design and land acquisition for new fire stations.

Item 35: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Public Works Capital Projects Management Fund Operating Budget (Ordinance No. 20170913-001) to increase the number of authorized positions by 1.0 to provide support for the design and construction of new fire stations.

Monitor’s Take: It took a minute, but City Council managed to approve a rush on fire stations for areas of town that are severely underserved. Here is the follow-up to that decision, made at Council’s last meeting: taking on debt, in the form of certificates of obligation, for the land. The plan right now is to get five stations built within six years.

Item 15: Approve an ordinance adopting the Austin Area Master Community Workforce Plan as an attachment to the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

Monitor’s Take: Interested in what this is all about? We’ve got you covered. The public hearing has already been held, but this actually adds the plan to the plan.

Item 17: Approve a resolution relating to the City Manager’s recommended bond package for a November 2018 General Obligation Bond election.

Monitor’s Take: A bond election is on the horizon, y’all! And, while City Council doesn’t have to decide until August about what voters will be considering in November, the city manager’s recommendations are a starting point. This starting point will be, specifically, $161 million for Affordable Housing, $176 million for Transportation Infrastructure, $167 million for Parks and Recreation, $184 million for Stormwater and Open Space, $74 million for Libraries and Cultural Centers, $38 million for Public Safety, and $16 million for Health and Human Services. Council isn’t likely to vote on this today, but it will hold the public hearing.

Item 18: Approve a resolution designating Assistant Fire Chief Tom Dodds as Interim Fire Chief effective July 1, 2018.

Monitor’s Take: With this appointment, following the departure of Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, the city manager, mayor, fire chief and police chief positions will all be filled by white men.

Item 21: Approve a resolution extending the temporary housing allowance for City Manager Spencer Cronk for an additional six months to the end February 2019.

Monitor’s Take: We whispered this up for you last week, but in short, City Manager Spencer Cronk has not managed to find a place to live, and this item would have extended his housing stipend another six months, adding a total of $54,000 for housing to his base salary of $325,000. However, Cronk then asked the mayor to withdraw this item, so there will be no vote on this today.

Item 56: Approve an ordinance repealing and replacing Chapter 2-7, Article 6 of the City Code relating to anti-lobbying and procurement.

Monitor’s Take: Oh boy, this has been going on for a while. Now it’s finally coming back for approval, people are still unhappy, and we expect a fight.

Item 57: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 13-2 (Ground Transportation Passenger Services) related to regulation of taxicabs and limousines, and repealing certain requirements.

Monitor’s Take: These changes are essentially designed to help taxis operate in the time of Lyft and Uber by loosening some of the requirements by which newer companies aren’t bound.

Item 59: Approve negotiation and execution of an agreement with the Downtown Austin Alliance to extend its Downtown Parking Strategy to include South Congress Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods, in an amount not to exceed $300,000.

Monitor’s Take: OK, so parking and South Congress always bring the ruckus and usually end in a business vs. neighborhood battle. That said, it’s been a while. Maybe the dynamics have changed? Maybe this is the fix that will broker a peace agreement? Who can say. Let’s tune in, shall we? Not to hype it too much, of course – this is really only a study.

Item 63: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to bring recommendations to City Council regarding the availability of parking in the Downtown area of Austin and evaluate current practices regarding communication to the public about the availability of metered parking in the area bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, IH-35, Lamar Boulevard, and Lady Bird Lake due to construction and other activities impacting parking within the specified area.

Monitor’s Take: Hey, more parking! This resolution looks, to us, like, “Hey, everyone is mad about how hard it is to park downtown, especially when there are places that people should be able to park, but can’t. So, city manager, make this better.”

Item 64: Approve a resolution concerning improvements to the city’s Historic Preservation Program to advance program mission and performance objectives.

Monitor’s Take: The city’s historic preservation program has … problems. And, if something isn’t done to fix those problems, Austin could face pressure from the state in the form of “you messed this up and can’t do it anymore” pressure. Before that happens, here’s a resolution. We summed up what it does here.

Item 65: Approve an ordinance establishing specialized functions, certifications, assignments, and additional pay for sworn police personnel employed by the Austin Police Department; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s Take: This stopgap is essentially what was approved in February, with the hopes that a contract would be in place by now. That hasn’t happened, so this is pretty much an extension as the contract negotiations drag on.

Item 66: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to prepare a recommendation for a project and financing plan, and possible Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 17 amendments and other options that would direct tax increment funding towards addressing homelessness and housing initiatives.

Monitor’s Take: Two of Council’s favorite topics converge in this resolution, which would use a TIRZ to fund services for the homeless.

Item 67: Approve an ordinance amending Chapter 2-1 of the City Code to create a Tourism Commission.

Monitor’s Take: A new city commission! Looks like this one would focus on tourism (duh) and the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Item 68: Approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20160629-001 increasing the percentage-based ad valorem (property) tax exemption on the assessed value of residence homesteads.

Monitor’s Take: The homestead exemption. It’s back! This will be heard before Council Member Ellen Troxclair leaves at 5 p.m., despite Council Member Greg Casar’s protests. Also, here is a recent memo that details the potential cost to the city – between $0 and $4.8 million.

Item 71: Approve an ordinance proclaiming August 4, 2018 Barton Springs Pool Day and waiving admission and parking fees to Barton Springs.

Monitor’s Take: Oh, this is no big deal, but just put it on your calendar.

Item 72: Approve a resolution creating a Parks and Recreation Recycling Task Force to make recommendations concerning cost-effective ways to expand recycling in parks and directing the City Manager to provide staff support for the task force.

Monitor’s Take: For some reason, the city’s parks department has long struggled with recycling. Here is a resolution that would deploy the city’s most powerful weapon, a task force, to fix the issue once and for all.

Item 73: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to reduce racial disparities and budgetary impacts related to the Police Department’s use of discretionary arrests in lieu of citations for certain non-violent misdemeanors.

Item 74: Approve a resolution related to City policies and use of City resources related to immigration enforcement.

Monitor’s Take: Here is a two-pronged approach from Casar’s office for reducing racial inequity in criminal justice. Here’s his rundown from the City Council Message Board. The first resolution aims to end discretionary arrests, which disproportionately target minorities, often for minor offenses that wouldn’t otherwise merit arrest. The other supports APD’s and the city’s position on immigration enforcement and aims to let Austinites know their rights, despite Senate Bill 4.

Item 88: C14-2017-0105 – 4 East – District 3 – Approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by zoning property locally known as 1600, 1602, 1604, 1606, 1608, and 1610 East 4th Street (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from transit oriented development-neighborhood plan (TOD-NP) combining district zoning to transit oriented development-central urban redevelopment- neighborhood plan (TOD-CURE-NP) combining district zoning.

Item 96: NPA-2017-0002.01 -4 East – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20081211-083, the Saltillo Plaza Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Station Area Plan, which is located within the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning area, Ordinance No. 19990513-70, an element of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, to change the Base Maximum Building Heights Map in the Saltillo Plaza TOD Station Area Plan to maximum of 90 feet on property locally know as 1600, 1602, 1604, 1606, 1608, 1610 E. 4th Street (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Owner: CC Third and Comal, LP and Tocayo Investments GP, LLC (Robert Gandy). Applicant: Armbrust & Brown, PLLC (Michael J. Whellan). City Staff: Maureen Meredith, (512) 974-2695.

Monitor’s Take: This fight comes down to height. At this point, the developer would like to build to 74 feet. Some neighbors aren’t happy about that.

Item 93: NPA-2017-0016.02 – Flats on Shady – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 030327-12, the Govalle/Johnston Terrace Combined 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 1125 Shady Lane (Boggy Creek Watershed) from Single Family to Multifamily land use.

Item 94: C14-2017-0094 – Flats on Shady – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1125 Shady Lane (Boggy Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence moderate-high density-neighborhood plan (MF-4-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: In this case, the main issue is traffic improvements. Here’s a recap from when it was at the Planning Commission.

Item 105: C14-2018-0002 – Delwau Campgrounds – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 7715 Delwau Lane (Colorado River Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from single family residence-standard lot (SF-2) district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-conditional overlay (CS-MU-CO) combining district zoning and commercial liquor sales-mixed use-conditional overlay (CS-1-MU-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This quirky zoning case caught our eye at the Zoning and Platting Commission. The main bump is the potential sale of alcohol. Council Member Ora Houston indicated that she might want a postponement today, though.

Item 110: Approve a resolution confirming the City Manager’s appointment of Brian Manley as Chief of the Austin Police Department in accordance with Section 143.013 of the Texas Local Government Code.

Monitor’s Take: As expected, the recent contest with one contestant ended with the recommended permanent appointment of Interim Chief Brian Manley. Now it’s up to Council to approve that appointment, which probably won’t be controversial.

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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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