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TipSheet: City Council, 8.31.17

Thursday, August 31, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council will hold its regular meeting again today, and here are the things 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. Before the meeting even starts today, it’s worth noting, area officials will hold a press conference about plans and opportunities for Hurricane Harvey evacuees, including information about how Austinites can help. That meeting will take place at 9 a.m. at the LBJ High School/Liberal Arts and Science Academy campus.

15. Discussion and possible action related to the City of Dripping Springs application to discharge treated wastewater effluent into Walnut Springs Tributary and Onion Creek.

Monitor’s Take: When we last reported on this application, the Environmental Protection Agency had dropped its objection to the permit. However, as long as people continue to disagree on whether this permit should be approved, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would schedule a contested case hearing, probably in early 2018. Our guess is that this item would reaffirm the city’s opposition to the permit.

17. Approve second and third reading of an ordinance relating to special events and high capacity event venues, repealing and replacing City Code Chapter 14-8 relating to right-of-way closures for special events and neighborhood block parties, amending requirements for temporary food establishments during a special event, repealing City Code Section 14-6-3 relating to closures for a street festivity, amending City Code Chapter 9-2 relating to 24-hour live music and multi-day special event permits; and creating offenses and establishing penalties.

Monitor’s Take: Ah! The once dormant Special Events Ordinance is back for real now. In its current form, the new rules created a tiered system of events that distinguishes things like block parties from music festivals. Here’s a recap, for the curious.

18. Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-10 (Municipal Court) to revise and add provisions regarding indigency.

Monitor’s Take: This measure would fund four public defenders in the Municipal Court. While local advocates support that move, they also don’t think it goes far enough. Yesterday, Texas Appleseed, the Texas Fair Defense Project and Ranjana Natarajan of the University of Texas School of Law sent a letter to Council asking the city to end jail commitments entirely, noting that “would simultaneously allow the City to avoid incurring the hefty price tag attached to public defenders and avoid continued violations of indigent individuals’ constitutional rights.”

54. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a pilot program that would offer temporary work opportunities to those experiencing homelessness and to make recommendations to Council.

59. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to develop recommendations for engaging the community in alternatives to activities such as “panhandling” with more effective and positive interactions with people experiencing homelessness.

103. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to provide additional information and recommendations for creating a dedicated funding stream for capital and operating expenditures related to meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

Monitor’s Take: Boy, there is a lot of attention on fixing the problem of homelessness in Austin all of a sudden. Here are three resolutions on this week’s agenda (although please note the “downtown puzzle” item also broaches the subject). Please note, especially, Item 54 that would create a plan based on Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program. The program aims to simultaneously discourage panhandling and encourage work – concerned citizens can donate to the program and call a number that will send staff to offer a day’s work for the city to those panhandling instead. Item 59 is similar, but it concentrates more on the “discourage panhandling” part of the equation.

57. Approve a resolution rescinding action taken on August 10, 2017 regarding rezoning of the property located at 12611 Hymeadow (Case No. C14-2017-0072) and directing staff to re-notice the case and place the item on the next available City Council agenda after notice has been sent.

Monitor’s Take: This zoning case went down in flames the last time it was before Council, but now Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has summoned it from the dead with a bit of procedural finesse that only an Austin Monitor reader would appreciate. With everyone on the dais, the case has a chance of moving forward, again, for sure, but it will be interesting to see how everyone feels about doing things this very specific way. At any rate, Council will have to vote to reconsider the case before, you know, actually reconsidering it.

60. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to take necessary actions to allocate hotel occupancy taxes, and other revenues, to projects that promote tourism and the convention industry, in accordance with council directives.

101. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to explore funding options such as public improvement districts, tax increment financing, public-private partnerships, and increases in hotel occupancy taxes to fund improvements to downtown Austin, to address homelessness in downtown Austin, to support the local music industry, and to fund park, civic, and historic facilities and districts including expansion of the Convention Center.

Monitor’s Take: So the battle over hotel occupancy taxes has gotten pretty heated. There was an epic conversation about these two battling (or not battling, depending on who you ask) plans for tourist dollars. We expect much of the same today and are very much looking forward to it. We will be paying close attention to Council Member Ann Kitchen, who has co-sponsored both resolutions and, we assume, has some elaborate “Parent Trap” plans to get everyone back together.

70. Discussion regarding the City’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-2018.

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

96. Conduct a public hearing to receive public comment on the City of Austin Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Proposed Budget.

97. Conduct a public hearing on the proposed property (ad valorem) tax rate for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.

Monitor’s Take: This is the second public hearing on the upcoming budget. Last time, Council kept quiet and listened to folks weigh in, and with a packed agenda, we are expecting the same this time around. We are also expecting much of the same testimony – focused on police contracts and social services – but we will keep you informed anyway.

72. Special Legislation Session Briefing.

Monitor’s Take: Miss the Texas Legislature? Here’s a last chance to relive the glory days of earlier this month, and hear the city’s angle on what all happened during the special session.

78. NPA-2016-0016.01 – 3212 E. Cesar Chavez Street – District 3 – District 3 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20030327-12, 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 3212 East Cesar Chavez Street and 111 Tillery Street (Colorado River Watershed) from Commercial and Industry land uses to Multifamily and Mixed Use land uses.

79. C14-2016-0079 – 3212 E. Cesar Chavez Street – District 3 -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3212 East Cesar Chavez Street and 111 Tillery Street (Colorado River Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from limited industrial services-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (LI-CO-NP) combining district zoning and general commercial services-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-CO-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence- highest density-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-6-CO-NP) combining district zoning and general commercial services-mixed use-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This is one of those cases that gets to the heart of what is going on, development-wise in Austin. Developers are proposing to replace a junkyard with a mixed-use development. Because this is one of the few parcels where neighbors can weigh in on that particular strategy, they are weighing in. They are saying that they wouldn’t mind keeping the junkyard, but will take affordable or family-friendly housing at the very least.

84. NPA-2017-0009.01 – 1139 ½ Poquito Street – District 1 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20011213-041, the Central East Austin 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 1139 ½ Poquito Street (Boggy Creek Watershed) from Single Family land use to Multifamily land use.

85. C14-2017-0013 – 1139 ½ Poquito Street – District 1 -Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1139 ½ Poquito Street (Boggy Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from family residence-neighborhood plan (SF-3-NP) combining district zoning to multifamily residence moderate-high density-conditional overlay-neighborhood plan (MF-4-CO-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: As we noted earlier: This case has an interesting history. The property was mistakenly downzoned 16 years ago, according to staff and the Planning Commission. Neighborhood leaders support the compromise that came out of the Planning Commission.

don’t feel a rezoning is warranted, despite what is currently on the lot. Now Council will consider that rezoning, probably, and the compromise that came out of the Planning Commission.

98. Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Section 25-2-355 relating to voting requirements applicable to zoning recommendations by the Historic Landmark Commission.

Monitor’s Take: We’ve been waiting for this one, which would change the threshold for sending a historic zoning case to Council when it’s opposed by the owner, for a while. Alas, we will probably be waiting for a while longer as Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo has declared her intention to postpone.

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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 2015, 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 as of 2015, 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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