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TipSheet: City Council, 8.8.19

Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano

They’re baaaaaaaaack. Council returns with its first regular meeting since summer break. As expected, this one is jam-packed with things we have our eye on. As always, the entire agenda can be found at the Office of the City Clerk’s website, here.

Item 5: Authorize negotiation and execution of a 12-year power purchase agreement with E.ON Climate & Renewables, for up to 200 megawatts of electricity from a utility-scale wind-generation facility, in an estimated amount of up to $17,000,000 per year, for a total estimated amount of up to $204,000,000.

Monitor’s Take: Though this item isn’t controversial, it is significant. If approved (which is astoundingly likely), the contract will push the city’s renewable energy to 60 percent when everything is up and running next winter.

Item 15: Approve an ordinance ordering a special municipal election to be held on November 5, 2019, for the purpose of submitting to the voters a proposed citizen-initiated ordinance, certified sufficient on February 11, 2019, regarding the conveyance of city-owned property for sports or entertainment facilities; providing for the conduct of the special election, including 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 elections; and declaring an emergency.

Item 16: Adopt a citizen-initiated ordinance, supported by a petition certified sufficient on July 26, 2019, to amend the City Code regarding the use of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue.

Item 17: Approve an ordinance ordering a special municipal election to be held on November 5, 2019, for the purpose of submitting to the voters a proposed citizen-initiated ordinance, supported by a petition certified sufficient on July 26, 2019, to amend the City Code regarding the use of Austin’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue; providing for the conduct of the special election, including 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 elections.

Monitor’s Take: Welcome to petition row. On Monday, Council opted not to adopt the latest validated petition (Item 16, about the use of the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax), making it a great time to set an election both for that and for the petition that asks the voters whether voters should have a say on things like new stadiums. It’s quite likely that Council will just go ahead and set the election, though they could always pull some trickery and head to court instead.

Item 19: Authorize negotiation and execution of an interlocal agreement with Austin Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center dba Integral Care for integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for indigent citizens and other eligible clients within the Downtown Austin Community Court, for an initial 12-month term beginning on October 1, 2019 and four 12-month renewal options, each in an amount not to exceed $543,427, for a total agreement amount not to exceed $2,717,135.

Item 20: Authorize the negotiation and execution of Amendment #4 to the interlocal agreement with Austin Travis County Mental Retardation Center dba Integral Care for the Homeless Outreach Street Team, to connect homeless individuals and families with services necessary to begin their process of stability and recovery, by increasing funding for the two remaining 12-month renewal options in the amount of $20,000 per renewal option, beginning October 1, 2019, for a total increase to the agreement in an amount not to exceed $40,000.

Item 42: Approve an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Austin Public Health Department Operating Budget Special Revenue Fund (Ordinance No. 20180911-001) to accept and appropriate $155,354 in grant funding from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the Housing and Homeless Services Program, Homeless Youth Set-Aside. Related to item #41.

Item 141: Authorize negotiation and execution of Amendment No. 5 to an agreement with The Salvation Army, a Georgia Corporation, for one-time funding for expansion of homeless services to individuals at the Downtown Shelter and Social Service Center in an amount not to exceed $500,000, for a total agreement amount not to exceed $1,745,275.

Item 142: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with The Salvation Army, a Georgia Corporation, for one-time funding for provision of homeless services to individuals and families with children at the Rathgeber Center in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000.

Item 77: Approve a resolution relating to the creation of a local government corporation to address homelessness issues.

Monitor’s Take: This bundle of agenda items continues City Council’s hyperfocus on homelessness. Though none of these items are likely to be controversial themselves, they also represent the first time an extremely riled-up public will be able to talk to City Council members about their action to effectively decriminalize homelessness and allow camping since their last meeting, more than a month ago. Because of that, and because of Council’s tendency to expound upon all things related to homelessness, we’re expecting this to take up a chunk of time today, for sure.

Item 30: Approve an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and execute an amended and restated agreement with the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy (Conservancy) to authorize the Conservancy to manage and operate the Zilker Botanical Garden admissions; and amending the schedule of Fees and Fines and Other Charges to be set or charged by the City (Ordinance No. 20180911-002) to increase the fee charged for admission for visitors who are not Conservancy members.

Monitor’s Take: If you read today’s issue of the Austin Monitor, you know that Council still has questions about a proposed public-private partnership (say that three times fast!) in addition to this plan to raise entrance fees. Since not all of those questions have been answered – or weren’t at Tuesday’s work session, at least – this will probably be discussed a bit more today.

Item 62: Authorize negotiation and execution of a contract with Cox McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc., to provide a historic building survey for North Loop, Hancock and Upper Boggy Creek areas, for a term of one year in an amount not to exceed $245,725. (Note: This solicitation was reviewed for subcontracting opportunities in accordance with City Code Chapter 2-9C Minority Owned and Women Owned Business Enterprise Procurement Program. For the services required for this solicitation, there were no subcontracting opportunities; therefore, no subcontracting goals were established.)

Monitor’s Take: Historic districts in Austin are few, and work to build them seems to take longer than redevelopment, so it’s hard to say what will come of this item. But the first steps toward laying out preservation districts in these neighborhoods will be taken with this action, so it’s definitely worth noting.

Item 71: Approve a resolution relating to the identification of at least 10 locations within the boundaries of I-35, 15th Street, Lady Bird Lake, and Lamar Boulevard that are suitable to install free, ADA compliant, 24-hour drinking fountains; the formulation of a budget estimate for the installation, operations, and maintenance of drinking fountains; and an expedited procurement process.

Monitor’s Take: Have you ever noticed that downtown Austin – a very hot place these days – doesn’t really have public drinking fountains? With this resolution, it’s on the path to having 10 of them, though posts on the City Council Message Board indicate that there might be a slight tiff over whether “downtown” in this case should include land south of the lake.

Item 72: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate the creation of an economic development entity, including identifying potential funding sources, soliciting stakeholder feedback on the entity’s governance and operational structure, and contracting with a subject matter expert to develop an implementation plan; structure the entity to manage a broad range of projects; and bring a recommendation back to Council during the Fiscal Year 2020 budget deliberations.

Monitor’s Take: As explained by sponsor Kathie Tovo on the City Council Message Board, this resolution kick-starts the process to make a group that “could create or support development of affordable housing, redevelopment, revitalization and other priority projects and goals of the City.” Not controversial, but definitely worth noting.

Item 78: Approve a resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate and coordinated mobilization by the City to address the causes and consequences of climate change and directing the City Manager to take appropriate action.

Monitor’s Take: For those interested, here is the text of this resolution.

Item 90: The Mayor will recess the City Council meeting to conduct a Board of Directors’ Meeting of the Austin Housing Finance Corporation. Following adjournment of the AHFC Board meeting the City Council will reconvene.

Monitor’s Take: During this meeting of the Austin Housing Finance Corporation, hundreds of affordable homes will be considered, courtesy of the 2018 bond. From our whisper, “A news release about the vote says about 300 of the homes will be reserved for families making less than half the income of the average Austin household, and 50 of those will be earmarked for families earning less than 30 percent of the income of the average Austin household.”

Item 91: Conduct a public hearing and consider a resolution to adopt the Land Use Assumptions and Roadway Capacity Plan for a Street Impact Fee program.

Monitor’s Take: Though this will likely be postponed today, Council will probably take up public testimony on street impact fees, which is a way to get money from developers for improved roads, bike paths and other transportation infrastructure.

Item 92: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending City Code Section 25-2-1205 (Site Development Regulations for Mobile Home Parks) to allow recreational vehicles in mobile home parks.

Monitor’s Take: As part of a push to increase affordable housing in the city, Council has been tackling mobile home parks of late, and getting zoning in line to make sure they remain a resource for housing. One glitch that was encountered was that recreational vehicles are technically not allowed in parks, even though nearly every mobile home park in Austin has them. This change updates the code to allow recreational vehicles as long as there is an “anchor” of mobile homes – defined as five.

Item 107: C14-2018-0028 – E. Riverside Dr. and S. Pleasant Valley Rd. Tracts 1 & 2 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1109 and 1225 South Pleasant Valley Road (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning to East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning, to change the subdistrict from urban residential (UR) to corridor mixed use (CMU), with conditions.

Item 108: C14-2018-0027 – E. Riverside Dr. and S. Pleasant Valley Rd. Tracts 3 & 5 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 4700 East Riverside Drive and 1515 Wickersham Lane (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning to East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning, to change the subdistrict from neighborhood mixed use (NMU) and urban residential (UR) to corridor mixed use (CMU), with conditions.

Item 109: C14-2018-0026 – E. Riverside Dr. and S. Pleasant Valley Rd. Tract 4 – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 1600 Wickersham Lane (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning to East Riverside Corridor (ERC) district zoning, to change the subdistrict from neighborhood mixed use (NMU) to corridor mixed use (CMU), with conditions

Item 110: C14-97-0010 (RCT) E. Riverside Dr. and S. Pleasant Valley Rd. Tract 4-Conduct a public hearing and approve a restrictive covenant termination on a property locally known as 1600 Wickersham Lane (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant request: To terminate the public restrictive covenant associated with zoning case C14-2018-0026.

Item 111: C14-72-204(RCA5) E. Riverside Dr. and S. Pleasant Valley Rd. Tracts 1-5- Conduct a public hearing and approve a restrictive covenant amendment on a property locally known as 1109 and 1225 South Pleasant Valley Road, 4700 East Riverside Drive, 1515 and 1600 Wickersham Lane (Country Club West Watershed). Applicant request: To amend the public restrictive covenant associated with zoning cases C14-2018-0026, C14-2018-0027, and C14-2018-0028.

Monitor’s Take: Oh, jeez. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen with this case, which has been controversial to say the least, as well as the subject of extreme protests by Defend Our Hoodz. City staffers are really hoping it will be passed on all three readings tonight, given the level of vitriol aimed at them and the developers of this project, which has come to be known as “The East Austin Domain.” That might could be possible – Council seems clear on what they want – but politics might drag it out for more meetings. At any rate, given plastic snakes being thrown at the Planning Commission and arrests at the Carver Center over this thing, we’re anticipating drama and will be there to recount it.

Item 112: NPA-2019-0005.02 – Palm Harbor Homes M/H Park – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 20010927-05, the Montopolis 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 810 Bastrop Hwy SB (Carson Creek Watershed) from Commercial to Higher Density Single Family land use.

Monitor’s Take: In the push to preserve mobile homes as a use that was mentioned above, there are a few cases that have been tricky. This is one, and its trickiness stems from the fact that it is technically in the city’s Airport Overlay. Kind of an interesting case, and we have background on it here and here.

Item 115: C14-2018-0124- River Place – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as Milky Way Drive (West Bull Creek Watershed). Applicant Request: To rezone from development reserve (DR) district zoning to townhouse & condominium residence-conditional overlay (SF-6-CO) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: Here’s another sticky zoning case that has been in and out of City Hall for the past few years. After a very dramatic turn the first time around, it’s now reconfigured and was most recently at ZAP.

Item 123: C14-2019-0041 – 3706 Goodwin- Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 3706 Goodwin Avenue (Boggy Creek Watershed) from general commercial services-mixed use-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-NP) combining district zoning to general commercial services-mixed use-vertical mixed use building-neighborhood plan (CS-MU-V-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: To be vertical mixed-use or not to be vertical mixed-use? That is the question of this case, which Council Member Greg Casar has indicated he will pull for discussion today.

Item 144: Approve a resolution related to the prompt improvement of lighting, sanitation, and pedestrian mobility safety in the Red River Cultural District.

Monitor’s Take: Defend Red River? This resolution is part of an ongoing effort to make Red River – a cultural district that is beset by crime and violence – safer. It would direct Great Streets money toward lighting and trash receptacles and expedite a fence and gate installation launched by this resolution from 2017.

Item 148: Approve an ordinance adopting a Capital Improvement Plan for the expansion of the Convention Center Facility; authorizing an increase in the City of Austin Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax from 7% to 9% effective August 8, 2019 for the purpose of funding the Convention Center Expansion; and declaring an emergency.

Monitor’s Take: Though in the agenda addendum, this item didn’t escape our notice. It didn’t escape the notice of Travis County, either, which was hoping to have an extra 2 percent in HOT taxes itself (or at least use the money in negotiating with the city) and that plan would be thwarted if the city moves forward here. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt released a statement to the press explaining that she would be at City Hall to answer any questions. Seems fun.

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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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