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TipSheet: City Council, 6.16.16

Thursday, June 16, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting Thursday. 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.

4. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-2 relating to campaign finance reporting and disclosure requirements associated with direct campaign expenditures; and creating an offense.

Monitor’s take: If you’re looking for backstory on this one, here is our latest coverage on this “dark money” ordinance.

5. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 4-9 to impose waiting periods for re-filing requests for waivers from the minimum distance requirements for certain uses.

Monitor’s take: Dubbed the “Torchy’s Ordinance” (at the Monitor, at least) this tweak would stop businesses from willy-nilly applying for and withdrawing requests for waivers that would allow them to serve alcohol near schools.

23. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 13, relating to driver eligibility for chauffeur permits and driver eligibility for transportation network companies.

Monitor’s take: Ah! Much has been made of the fact that though Uber and Lyft packed up and left town immediately, the transportation network regulations that they so despise have not really been finalized. Well, here’s the other shoe, a month later.

25. Approve a resolution related to the City’s code compliance and enforcement functions.

Monitor’s take: Well, this is fun! Citing the budget process as an opportunity to “consider efficiencies that could result from consolidating or shifting some of the code compliance and enforcement functions,” this resolution could, it seems, lead to a change in the ever-changing placement of the city’s code enforcement, which had been historically shifted from department to department before becoming its own free-standing department in 2010. Could this send the Code Department back to one of the planning departments? Stay tuned!

26. Approve a resolution regarding a possible increase to the residential property tax exemption for people over 65 years of age and people with disabilities.

Monitor’s take: With property taxes continuing to rise, Council will once again consider upping this tax exemption. Last year, Council increased the exemption to $80,000.

27. Approve a resolution relating to a 2016 transportation bond program and other future bond programs.

34. Approve a resolution relating to financing options for the development of mobility projects and potential future bonds.

Monitor’s take: With three transportation bond proposals on the table at the moment … Well, this should be a lengthy one. We’ll say that much.

29. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to present a policy option to the City Council that includes minimum requirements for developers voluntarily participating in the City of Austin’s expedited review process.

Monitor’s take: This resolution could lead to Council funding a revamp to the “expedited permit
review system that allows developers to pay premium fees in exchange for expedited permit review” that would provide community benefits, like SMART housing.

30. Approve a resolution providing additional direction to the City Manager with respect to the management of the Housing Trust Fund.

Monitor’s take: As we explained last week (when it was postponed): the city’s Housing Trust Fund is getting a lot of attention these days. This proposal, spearheaded by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, would “apply 100% of the tax revenue derived from all properties not on the tax roll as of January 1, 2015 to the Housing Trust Fund effective the beginning of tax year 2017.” According to a fiscal note in the backup, the city has no idea what the impact of this change would be yet, but staff notes, “The impact would be significant, as the universe of properties eligible to be subject to the transfer would increase dramatically due to the many public and non-profit entities owning now-exempt property within the Desired Development Zone. Moreover, while obtaining parcel-level data will enable staff to determine the fiscal year 2016-17 cost of changing the transfer calculation, accurately forecasting the cost in subsequent out-years will still be extremely challenging. More specifically, it will be difficult if not impossible to project the level of development that will occur on any sold parcel or to predict in advance how many or which currently publicly owned parcels will be sold in future years.” So, there you go!

35. Approve a resolution related to a Fair Housing Initiative that includes, but is not limited to, the following components: inclusionary zoning, affordable housing, voluntary housing programs, the City’s Housing Trust Fund, low/moderate-income individuals, and economic and racial integration and housing diversity.

Monitor’s take: This “package” of policies is another attempt to increase affordable housing in the city. From a press release about it that positions the measures as a way to combat economic segregation, “these policies include strengthening affordable housing requirements in Council-established homestead preservation districts, giving lower-income homeowners tools so they’re no longer forced to choose between paying an untenable amount of their income on property taxes or selling their home, creating opportunities to commit more funding toward affordable housing, and several other strategies focused on furthering the spirit of fair housing in Austin.”

40. WhichCraft Beer Store – District 5 – Approve second and third readings of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 2110 South Lamar Boulevard, Suite F (West Bouldin Creek Watershed) from general commercial services (CS) district zoning to commercial-liquor sales (CS-1) district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Though there has been some compromise between opposed neighbors and the business, there has apparently been a hitch in the cocktail lounge prohibition, which the property owner is none-too-thrilled about. Given the convoluted backstory on this one, that would be a pretty simple thing to get stuck on.

41. Sun Chase Planned Unit Development – District 2 – Approve third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by zoning property locally known as 15201, 15810, and 16070 Pearce Lane, and 7910 Wolf Lane (Dry Creek East Watershed) from interim-single family residence-standard lot (I-SF-2) district zoning and interim-single family residence-small lot (I-SF-4A) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning.

Monitor’s take: As we reported today, though this Planned Unit Development has kept a fairly low profile in comparison to other PUDs, Council Member Delia Garza has expressed some concern about the affordable housing component of the development which could lead to some problems. We’ll see how much weight that carries, given the fact that it is in her District 2.

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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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