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TipSheet: City Council, 6.22.17

Thursday, June 22, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today. Below is a list of items we’re watching. This is the last regular meeting of City Council before their July break, and that usually makes for a long meeting, but (at the risk of jinxing things) this one doesn’t look too bad! 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.

2. Authorize negotiation and execution of a 15-year power purchase agreement (with a qualified respondent) for the full output of electricity from a 200 megawatt utility-scale wind-generation facility, in an amount not to exceed $17,500,000 per year, for a total amount not to exceed $262,500,000.

Monitor’s Take: We summed this pricey contract up in one of today’s Whispers.

3. Approve recommendations of the Electric Utility Commission Resource Planning Working Group for the update to the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan, including long-range planning through 2027.

Monitor’s Take: Council, as its Austin Energy Oversight Committee alter-ego, took up this item Monday, and it’s likely to be postponed today. If you need a refresh before the vote, here’s our story from the committee meeting.

13. Authorize the use of the design-build procurement method in accordance with Texas Government Code Chapter 2269 for design and construction services for the Austin Convention Center warehouse and marshalling yard.

Monitor’s Take: In April, Council approved the purchase of about 42 acres to build a “marshalling and loading yard” for the Austin Convention Center. The yard is a space for the convention center to manage logistics for its events now that the area surrounding it is built up and the existing loading dock is increasingly difficult to access. This item would approve the process for designing and then building a 30,000-square-foot mixed-use office/warehouse space on the land.

14. Authorize negotiation of an interlocal agreement with the STATE OF TEXAS, acting by and through the TEXAS FACILITIES COMMISSION, for development of Phase One of the 2016 Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan.

Monitor’s Take: So. This has to do with the first phase of the Texas Capitol Project Master Plan that will, if completed as proposed, carry an overall price tag of about $1.4 billion. However, judging from Tuesday’s work session, this $6.9 million in fee waivers for utility tunnel easement and right-of-way usage fees and request to vacate and convey to the state right-of-way at North Congress Avenue and 17th Street is likely to face delays. Though the focus of Tuesday’s discussion was allowing proper time for public input, it would be daft to not acknowledge that, leading into a special session that has Austin in its crosshairs, our city and state governments are hardly on the best of terms at the moment.

20. Approve a resolution amending Resolution No. 20170518-015 regarding the Procedures for City Council Meetings, Public Hearings, and Appeals relating to general citizen communication registration.

Monitor’s Take: This will finalize proposed changes to speaking rules during Council meetings. Significantly, it will give the first 20 speakers three minutes each, and everyone else will get one minute to speak (unless Council opts for different rules on a particular item). Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo was worried that people will be surprised by this change – guess we will see.

23. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 10-6 relating to electronic smoking devices.

24. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapters 10-4 and 10-11 relating to electronic smoking devices and updating the name of the Austin Public Health Department.

Monitor’s Take: Basically, this will make vaping the same as smoking in the Eyes of the Law, which is probably OK with anyone who has recently been engulfed by a cloud of cherry mist in a closed space. For some reason, this is bundled with a name change for the Health and Human Services Department, which will forevermore be known as the “Austin Public Health Department.” We have *no* idea why this is bundled with vaping.

30. Authorize negotiation and execution of a 36-month contract with EMPLOYEE OWNED NURSERY ENTERPRISES, LTD DBA ORGANICS “BY GOSH”, to provide organics processing services, in an estimated amount of $1,510,000, with three 12-month extension options in an estimated amount of $940,000 for the first option, $950,000 for the second option, and $960,000 for the third option, for a total contract amount not to exceed $4,360,000.

Monitor’s Take: This contract has caused a bit of consternation, as we have reported. The working group on solid waste issues has told staff to move forward with this item (that has been on hold since the group was created), but, as far as we can tell, it faces the same opposition as it did earlier this year, despite the hope of some who just want to get the composting program moving.

33. Approve a resolution relating to the development of a Ciclovía Open Streets weekend day event on Congress Avenue from 11th Street to Mary Street.

Monitor’s Take: Hey! This could pave the way for a big old car-free party. With more parties to come?

36. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a pilot program for use of a card entry system at certain recreation centers.

Monitor’s Take: Sadly, a recent attempt to collect data about who is using city parks was met with fear from some members of our community, given recent, public anti-immigration sentiment. This resolution, which comes from Council Member Delia Garza’s office, asks staff to come up with a way to track park usage without scaring people.

38. Approve the waiver or reimbursement of certain fees under City Code Chapter 14-8 for the Impeachment March Austin, sponsored by Texas State Representative Donna Howard, which will be held July 2, 2017 at the State Capitol.

Monitor’s Take: Just in case you were checking in on the politics of our City Council.

40. Approve a resolution establishing a 2018 Charter Review Commission to align the City Charter with changes to municipal ordinances and to make recommendations on improving other functions of City government.

Monitor’s Take: Last week, this resolution was postponed for tweaking, though the original resolution was pretty limited to clean up items and campaign finance. Looks like Council Member Ann Kitchen may push to allow for a more expansive conversation about big changes (that would have to be approved by voters, of course). Obviously, “more expansive changes” could have people wondering about huge changes – like a switch to a strong mayor system – though as far as we know, no one is pushing for that on-the-record.

43. Approve a resolution reflecting changes to the review process for adoption of a new Land Development Code, commonly referred to as CodeNext, to provide for additional drafts and commission review.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution from Council Member Alison Alter ensures that future CodeNEXT drafts will be reviewed by both of the city’s land use commissions, and that their comments will be incorporated into the draft code that then comes to Council. The Zoning and Platting Commission was amenable to this, and Council most likely will be as well in one form or another, but we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the potential for another exciting conversation about CodeNEXT process.

50. C14-2017-0025 – Pompee-Clarke-Cook House – District 9 – Approve second and third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 2203 Nueces Street (Shoal Creek Watershed) from community commercial-mixed use-historic landmark-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (GR-MU-H-CO-NP) combining district zoning to community commercial-mixed use-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (GR-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This was postponed last week to ascertain how much of the historic exemption could be recouped by the city, since that is now going away. Everyone seemed amendable to paying those taxes now, but it is an interesting question – especially if the city is able to get more than the three years that was assumed last week.

58. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance authorizing execution of an agreement with Austin Independent School District establishing site development standards for redevelopment of Bowie High School, located at 4103 W. Slaughter Lane; and granting approval for redevelopment of Bowie High School (This action concerns land located within the Barton Springs Zone).

Monitor’s Take: This land swap deal is pretty complicated, so we had Jo Clifton explain it for you.

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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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