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TipSheet: City Council, 6.8.17

Thursday, June 8, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today. 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.

8. Approve a resolution creating the Art Space Assistance Program as an economic development program of the City, and approve program guidelines.

Monitor’s Take: This program has been in the works for quite a while, and with the extensive list of questions that Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo had answered, it just might move forward today. This resolution would establish a grant program to support nonprofit arts organizations that need help. The grant money can help with rent or tenant improvements. For now, there is a one-time amount of $200,000 to establish the pilot program.

11. Approve a resolution adopting the City Manager Search Advisory Task Force Proposed Work Plan.

Monitor’s Take: The search is on for Austin’s new city manager! This here describes the first phase of the search plan, in which the task force is charged with making a profile of our Ideal Candidate based on public input. And, if you weren’t aware, the task force features some familiar names: Laura Huffman, Saundra Kirk, Claudia Conner, Susan Hambright, Perla Cavazos, Julio Gonzalez, Bill Spelman, Channy Soeur, Walter Muse, Admiral Bobby Inman and Jan Lehman make up the group.

13. Approve an ordinance designating the Chestnut Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation and the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation as Community Land Trusts and granting the corporations a property tax exemption on certain properties.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported today (with the help of KUT) this ordinance would put 51 affordable homes and six rentals on the market.

15. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 8-1 related to park use, enforcement, amplified sound, parking, motor vehicles, penalties, and limits on special event days at Zilker Metropolitan Park, Auditorium and Vic Mathias Shores at Town Lake Metropolitan Park, and Fiesta Garden/Edward Rendon Senior Metropolitan Park at Festival Beach; and amending City Code Chapter 12-5 related to parking at park facilities and property, and creating offenses and establishing penalties.

Monitor’s Take: We kind of gave you the rundown on this on Wednesday. Basically, these are some parts of the Parkland Events Task Force that may soon come to life. It would change sound and parking requirements a bit and limit events at the current “event parks” in the hopes of pushing new events east and limiting wear and tear on the downtown parks.

16. Approve up to 20 days that Republic Square Park may be closed to the general public per fiscal year.

Monitor’s Take: Republic Square is getting a face-lift and, in the process, getting ready for events. As of yet, there are no events planned for the square, but we are confident that, all things being Austin, if they are approved they will come.

24. Approve submission of a proposal in response to the VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE Request for Proposals to receive grant funds for the delivery of immigrant legal services.

Monitor’s Take: Vera, a New York-based nonprofit, has an opportunity for six to eight cities to join their SAFE Cities Network. Joining the network means that Austin will have support from those cities as well, as well as some matching funding, for legal representation of immigration. But, as the backup notes, there are also potential disadvantages to joining the program. “Joining the SAFE Cities Network may trigger public misconceptions and confusion with issues related to the enforcement of federal immigration laws in light of recently passed state and federal policies and legislation,” for one. Also, funding is capped at $150,000 and available for one year only, and Vera will collect demographic data about clients. Network members will be selected by late June, which would allow the city to respond to a request for proposals to join the network.

33. Approve a resolution relating to improvements within the Red River Cultural District.

Monitor’s Take: This resolution is a wish list of small improvements to the city’s Red River Cultural District that could really make a difference for the music corridor. If approved, the resolution could make lighting alleys easier, improve the sidewalks, install public art, prioritize trash collection and recycling, and improve signage in the district.

36. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to identify funding for childcare services for participants in the Passages Program.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported Wednesday, this child care program is at risk of losing federal grant funding. While most Council members seemed supportive of the program itself, there was some concern about allocating funding this way, outside of the regular budget cycle.

56. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance adopting the 2015 Uniform Mechanical Code with specific amendments, repealing the Solar Energy Code (Chapter 25-12, Article 8), amending requirements for the Electric Board, and amending the jurisdiction and name of the Mechanical, Plumbing, and Solar Board.

60. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance adopting plumbing requirements consistent with the 2015 International Residential Code and/or the 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code; and adopting specific amendments to the codes.

Monitor’s Take: As boring as this might look, it’s a pretty contentious item (that has been going on for a while). The fight here is over whether to adopt the International Residential Code or the Uniform Plumbing Code. Plumbers strongly want the plumbing code, but others strongly want the international code for consistency’s sake, and because it would make the process of homebuilding cheaper. At any rate, though the hearing will take place today, the actual vote most likely will take place at a later date, if the talk at Tuesday’s work session is to be believed.

57. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Section 25-1-804 related to the neighborhood plan amendment process.

Monitor’s Take: This would clean up a section of the code that many see as a loophole. At the moment, if Council chooses to initiate a neighborhood plan amendment out-of-cycle because there is no neighborhood contact team, the city “pays” the application fees. This ordinance would change that so the applicant pays the fees.

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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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