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TipSheet: City Council, 9.19.19

Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today’s City Council meeting is its regular meeting, following a Wednesday special called meeting dedicated solely to issues around homelessness. That special meeting will continue Friday, but it won’t be part of today’s meeting. Below is a sampling of items from today’s meeting – to be specific, the items we think may be the most interesting. As always, the entire agenda can be found at the Office of the City Clerk’s website, here.

Item 12: Authorize negotiation and execution of a professional services agreement with Smith & Company Architects, (MBE) (staff recommendation) or one of the other qualified responders for Request for Qualifications Solicitation No. CLMP260 to provide Master Planning Services for the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural & Genealogy Center Master Plan in amount not to exceed $300,000.

Monitor’s Take: According to the backup for this agreement, there is a lot of cool stuff that will potentially come to the Carver Museum. This item would revisit plans for things like a recording studio, education building and outdoor concessions, to see how and if the center could expand, as was originally planned.

Item 140: Approve a resolution authorizing the City Manager to award, negotiate and execute cultural arts services contracts for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 in an amount not to exceed $8,654,255, and authorizing payment in the amount of $60,000 for Zachary Scott Theatre Center maintenance required under a separate operations agreement and authorizing payments of $25,000 each to Austin Fine Arts Alliance, Capital City Black Film Festival, and Mexic-Arte Museum for marketing through the Austin Convention Center Department’s operating budget.

Monitor’s Take: Though cultural arts services contracts have caused quite a stir in years past, things seem a bit calmer this year. Nonetheless, we’ll keep an eye out.

Item 24: Discuss and potentially take action regarding an ordinance creating the Rainey Street District Special Revenue Fund funded with right-of-way fees, alley vacation sales payments, and license agreement fees for developments within the Rainey Street Historic District and Subdistrict for Improvements within the Rainey Street Historic District and Subdistrict.

Monitor’s Take: The last time this was up, Council was split and asked for more information on a mechanism intended to fund improvements within the district. Hopefully, this time around things will be a bit more clear on the history (and future!) of the fund. Update: Council Member Kathie Tovo has asked that this item be postponed, so the clarity might take place another day.

Item 28: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 2-1 (City Boards) to modify the circumstances under which some city employees are eligible to serve on City boards and commissions.

Monitor’s Take: Interestingly, this change would “remove the prohibition of city employees serving on boards if the subject matter is within the scope of the department in which the employee is employed, and instead only prohibit serving on the board if the service could reasonably be expected to impair the performance of the employee’s job duties.” There hasn’t been much talk about the shift, but it would be a change.

Item 29: Authorize negotiation and execution of an agreement with the Urban Renewal Agency relating to the roles, responsibilities and processes for the redevelopment of East 11th and 12th Streets for an initial term of 12 months with five 12-month optional extensions.

Monitor’s Take: This item has seen some pushback from Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison in the past two work sessions. Though she seems very outnumbered in her questioning about whether this board is still of use, it’s an interesting question to raise (if something of a political minefield).

Item 37: Approve adoption of the Asian American Resource Center Master Plan.

Monitor’s Take: If you check out Jo Clifton’s story today or mosey on over to the City Council Message Board, you’ll see that Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has expanded the Asian American Resource Center plan to include the city’s Rutherford Lane campus for a plan that would cover 47 acres, instead of just the center.

Item 42: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 10-3 related to the regulation of farmers markets in compliance with House Bill 1694 and Senate Bill 932 of the 86th Legislature.

Monitor’s Take: As we reported previously, a state move to cut fees will cost the city (though there’s not much to be done about state legislation, which supersedes the city’s).

Item 64: Authorize negotiation and execution of a contract with Police Executive Research Forum D/B/A PERF, to provide a comprehensive evaluation of reported sexual assaults, in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000.

Monitor’s Take: Earlier this year, Council asked for a third-party evaluation of how the city processes and investigates sexual assault cases after an audit found that APD misclassified cleared cases. From the backup: “The consultant will undertake a comprehensive evaluation of how sexual assaults that are reported to APD are investigated and processed, including why a significant number of reported cases do not proceed to prosecution within the criminal justice system. The consultant will provide a report with recommended necessary improvements and reforms to improve system responses for survivors of sexual assaults such that justice is best ensured. In addition, through the engagement of these services, the City would benefit from analyzing, determining, and addressing best practices with respect to victim healing and survivor-focused approaches and the barriers that might exist to their implementation.” To that end, the city has chosen the project team of Police Executive Research Forum and its subcontractors the Women’s Law Project and the Wellesley Centers for Women as the most qualified.

Items 68-74.

Monitor’s Take: This bundle of ordinances lowers speed limits (mostly around Montopolis). From the backup: “This ordinance change is part of ATD’s initial group of speed modification reports to evaluate operating speeds and safety on the city’s primary arterial streets to recommend appropriate speed limits based on factors affecting roadway safety. This effort is included in ATD’s Vision Zero initiative and its emerging Speed Management Program. ATD is also evaluating the appropriateness of a citywide arterial speed limit alternative to discuss with Council at a later date.”

Item 83: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to review railroad crossings for public safety improvements, report back to Council with findings, and seek opportunities to coordinate improvements as parts of other infrastructure projects and with relevant partners when feasible.

Monitor’s Take: Here’s some background on this item, which comes out of Council’s Mobility Committee, for the curious.

Item 84: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 3 and City Code Section 2-1-102 relating to: (a) impounded animal regulations – adding definitions, requiring core immunizations, mandating sterilization, addressing fee waivers, requiring notice to rescue organizations and revising reporting requirements; and (b) expanding advisory scope of the Animal Advisory Commission, respectively.

Monitor’s Take: Animal Services items usually attract a lot of attention and we don’t expect this one to be an exception. The most current copy of the ordinance, with changes, can be found here.

Item 149: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Section 11-2-7 (Allocation and Use of Hotel Occupancy Tax Revenue) and adding a new City Code Section 11-2-8 (Additional 2 Percent Hotel Occupancy Tax for Convention Center Expansion), to allocate additional funds for local music and historic preservation consistent with Chapter 351 of the Texas Tax Code.

Monitor’s Take: When Council voted to take an extra 2 percent in Hotel Occupancy Taxes, there was a lot of talk about how that vote did not officially mean they were voting to expand the convention center. They still aren’t – but that extra 2 percent is being earmarked for an expansion. There is, however, money that will now be going toward music in some form or another. Stay tuned!

Item 100: Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending various sections of City Code Title 25 (Land Development) to address density bonus increases, use regulations, and sign regulations in the University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO) district.

Monitor’s Take: There were some differences between the Planning Commission and staff recommendations, likely to be parsed out at today’s meeting. Here’s a recap!

Item 119: 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 120: 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: This could be the third and final vote on the so-called Domain on Riverside, which has been the subject of heated debate off of the dais, with several arrests of protesters and counting. The public hearings have actually been kind of tame, as those most opposed to the project have eschewed the official public process as theater, but who knows what could happen in this final push.

Item 125: C814-2012-0160.01 – 211 South Lamar – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 211 South Lamar Boulevard Northbound and 1211 West Riverside Drive (Lady Bird Lake Watershed). Applicant’s Request: To rezone from planned unit development (PUD) district zoning to planned unit development (PUD) district zoning, to change a condition of zoning. This ordinance may include waiver of fees, alternative funding methods, modifications of City regulations, and acquisition of property.

Monitor’s Take: Taco PUD lives! R.I.P. Taco Cabana.

Item 137: C14H-2019-0111 – Tuke-Lyon Grocery Store – Conduct a public hearing and approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 25 by rezoning property locally known as 220 Comal Street. Applicant’s Request: To rezone from neighborhood commercial – neighborhood plan (LR-NP) combining district zoning to neighborhood commercial – historic landmark – neighborhood plan (LR-H-NP) combining district zoning.

Monitor’s Take: This small grocery store has been the site of much debate, first at the Historic Landmark Commission, then at the Planning Commission. We’re expecting more of the same at City Council, as the rapidly changing landscape of East Austin continues to unsettle.

This post has been updated to reflect new language on Items 22 and 91 (now 140 and 149) and to add a note about Item 24’s likely postponement.

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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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