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TipSheet: City Council, 8.11.16

Thursday, August 11, 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.

2. Discussion and possible action on the Council Budget Concept Menu.

Monitor’s take: Hopefully, with most of Wednesday having been open to discuss the city’s budget, this particular item on this particular day won’t be too terribly long. We’re not kidding ourselves that the cumulative budget discussions will (once again) take up a good chunk of our time. Just, you know, maybe this one won’t?

3. Approve an ordinance ordering a general municipal election to be held in the City of Austin on November 8, 2016, for the purpose of electing City Council Members for District 2, District 4, District 6, District 7, and District 10; ordering a special election for the purpose of authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds for transportation and mobility; providing for the conduct of the election; authorizing the City Clerk to enter into joint election agreements with other local political subdivisions as may be necessary for the orderly conduct of the election; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s take: We harbor no such delusions that this item will be quick. Despite the expansive wording of this item, it will be a(nother) discussion about the upcoming transportation bond. Council has set a time certain of 4 p.m. for this one, which means you have the whole day before that time to catch up on what is going on.

5. Authorize the negotiation and execution of a five-year agreement with one five-year extension option with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau for convention and tourism promotion services in an estimated amount not to exceed $16,472,944 for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

Monitor’s take: This is kind of interesting, insofar as it promises to get into the accumulated Hotel Occupancy Tax and what portion of that the Convention Center takes credit for. What’s less interesting is that it will be postponed until next week, so there’s nothing to see here.

8. Approve an ordinance amending City Code 9-2 relating to requirements for non-peak hour concrete installation within portions of the Central Business District and Public zoning districts.

Monitor’s take: Ladies and gentlemen: It’s back!The big news here is that a “general consensus” has been struck among downtown stakeholders, and an ordinance to replace the November 2014 interim ordinance is now on the table for consideration. The details are a little … detailed, but are available online for those sufficiently motivated.

9. Approve a resolution authorizing the acceptance of $116,008.47 in grant funding from the State of Texas, Governor’s Office, Criminal Justice Division to implement the Austin Police Department project entitled the Austin Police Department Coverdell Project which provides funding for the APD crime lab.

Monitor’s take: While, of course, any grant is good news, this particular grant is earmarked specifically for “non-DNA” analysis and equipment – so it won’t be helping with the ramifications of Austin’s closed DNA lab. It will, however, fund about 440 hours of analysts’ overtime (or the processing of about 660 pieces of evidence). According to the backup, this is the 13th year of the project.

31. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to create a Bond Election Advisory Task Force and present briefings on related issues in anticipation of a 2017 or 2018 bond process.

Monitor’s take: Most of this meeting will be dedicated to the transportation bond, as we noted above. However, this item turns an eye toward the future with the potential creation of a task force tasked with looking at “flooding, libraries, housing, mobility, transit, parks, fire stations and other planned, unfunded capital improvement needs” for potential bonds next year and/or the year after.

33. Approve a resolution regarding Austin Energy programs for increasing energy efficiency.

Monitor’s take: Pretty much like it says on the jar. If approved, this resolution would move the utility toward “new or expanded” energy efficiency programs, with a focus on serving “low participation customer segments” like rental units.

37. Approve a resolution related to indigent defendants in the Austin Municipal Court.

Monitor’s take: In short, this resolution is intended to ensure that indigent defendants will no longer be jailed because they cannot afford to pay fines. It will also ask for studies to help get to some broader solutions to the problem, which has been in the news recently.

52.C14-2016-0025 – St. James Missionary Baptist Church – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 3417 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (Tannehill Branch Watershed) from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to townhouse and condominium residence-neighborhood plan (SF-6-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Staff may be recommending this, but there is a valid petition against the rezoning. Not only does that mean that a supermajority of Council would be needed to approve it, but it also means there will likely be a fight. Here’s what went down when it was at the Planning Commission last month.

55. C14-2016-0039 – Thornton II – District 5 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 2413 Thornton Road (West Bouldin Creek Watershed) from general commercial services (CS) district zoning to multifamily residence-moderate-high density-conditional overlay (MF-4-CO) combining district zoning. Staff Recommendation: To grant multifamily residence-low density (MF-2) district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Here’s the background on this case, as a refresher. Not to be cynical, but we’re expecting similar arguments today at Council.

68. C814-2015-0074 – The Grove at Shoal Creek PUD – District 10 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by zoning property locally known as 4205 Bull Creek Road (Shoal Creek Watershed) from unzoned (UNZ) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning. Staff Recommendation: To grant planned unit development (PUD) district zoning.

Monitor’s take: Though this case promises to be a BEAST when Council hears it (as it’s been at every committee meeting so far), the beastliness will wait another week, and one week only, as the developer has agreed to yet another delay at the request of the neighborhood.

73. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 relating to right-of-way dedications and transportation improvements required as a condition to mitigate the impacts of development.

Monitor’s take: This will be postponed as well – allllll the way until November (at least). If you are dying to catch up on rough proportionality, check it out at the Planning Commission, where commissioners are still working out the details.

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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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