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TipSheet: City Council, 9.2.21

Thursday, September 2, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

This week’s City Council meeting promises to be another blessedly short affair. As usual, you can read the entire agenda online, but for those with less time on their hands, we have collected the items that look the most interesting in this here TipSheet. It’s worth noting that today is the first meeting to be held after the expiration of state emergency orders that suspended some open meeting rules. That means all public testimony will be taken in person, and though Council is still working out the details about how meetings will be conducted moving forward, speakers will be taken up in two “chunks.” The first group of speakers on the general agenda will be heard in the morning, and the second will be heard at 2 p.m., prior to zoning cases.

Today, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison has sponsored a resolution that will create an African American Cultural Arts District on the east side. Among other things, the creation of such a district is intended to help incubate and fund cultural arts and guide growth of the area in a way that fosters the arts. It also calls for a mixed-use development that will include performance space, studios, an art gallery and community meeting space as well as affordable housing on the 1100 block of East 11th Street. That’s Item 48.

In Item 50, Council Member Leslie Pool has sponsored a resolution that would turn off city lights during bird migration season, and encourage business owners to do the same. (We have written previously about the Lights Out Initiative.) 

And in fairly depressing news, Item 47 lays the groundwork to allow this year’s Trail of Lights to be a drive-through event if the pandemic, once again, makes that necessary. 

The Morrow Pork Chop is now gone, and with Item 77, its pesky little brother, the Crestview Gate, could also be a thing of the past. For those who are unfamiliar: The gate was put into place by developers as a concession to neighbors who didn’t want traffic going through their neighborhoods, but it has irritated people who would like to drive to other parts of the neighborhood ever since. A recent story by KVUE put the price tag of the ongoing gate battle at $15,000.

Speaking of zoning, Council also has the opportunity to review a few familiar cases today. Item 64 is a proposed rezoning that the Zoning and Platting Commission passed on to Council without a recommendation. Item 65 is a recently annexed tract near McKinney Falls that is seeking new zoning. And Item 66 will allow the facades of three Congress Avenue buildings to be deconstructed, then reconstructed. It’s complicated, and we wrote about it here. Finally, items 54, 60 and 61 all concern rezonings within the urban renewal zone on 11th and 12th streets – that’s likely to be postponed today, and it’s also complicated. Council did discuss all three items during Tuesday’s work session, though, for the curious.

In good news for East and Southeast Austin, items 7, 12 and 16 pave the way for a new health clinic in Colony Park and Item 8 concerns expanded pre-K for Del Valle (here’s our story on the county’s side of this effort).

And finally, Item 49 checks in on the Special Events Task Force. IYKYK.

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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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