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TipSheet: City Council, 9.30.21

Thursday, September 30, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today, Austin City Council will make its way through another lengthy agenda. The meeting will be held both remotely and in person, which means that Council will continue its practice of taking public comment in two blocks – at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m. 

The biggest thing happening today, probably, is confirmation that Joseph Chacon will be appointed chief of police on a permanent basis. Though the choice of Chacon is not without its critics, Council is expected to move forward with the appointment. In other newsy moves, Council will vote on a resolution to provide legal resources for those challenging Senate Bill 8, the state’s most recent attempt to criminalize abortion. And in policy news, Council will take up items 99 and 110, which will set more ambitious goals for the Climate Equity Plan and lay out a strategy to implement it.

Today’s meeting also features a number of agreements and partnerships. Item 19 extends $3.6 million to the Homeless Outreach Street Team for more mental health professionals. Item 22 gives $290,620 to the Austin Tenants Council for education about tenant protection laws and community education. Item 27 allows the city to partner with the Trail Foundation to maintain the trail around Lady Bird Lake (details of the maintenance plan are laid out here, for the curious). Unlike the other agreements, this one does not come with a price tag for the city; in fact, the agenda backup clarifies that, over the past 18 years, the Trail Foundation has invested more than $17.5 million in the parks surrounding the lake. 

In other environmental news, Item 106 is a resolution that seeks to encourage electric vehicle use by city employees. Council will also contemplate an amendment to the city code that establishes new water conservation measures in line with the Water Forward plan.

Today’s agenda also highlights a proposal for a new program that fast-tracks permanent supportive housing in an effort to incentivize its construction. Read the full resolution here

In terms of development, items 4 and 118 both concern a tract on FM 620 that pits city recommendations against each other – we covered it the last time it was before Council and postponed. Council will also consider a floodplain variance for 1514 W. Koenig Lane; the case is a little tricky, but luckily we covered it when it was at the Planning Commission. We’re also looking forward to the discussions about potential rezonings of the cave-y Luby’s site and East Fifth’s Fair Market; a zoning case at Lamar Beach that promises long-awaited connectivity; and a rehash of a planned apartment building on South Lamar  though it’s hard to tell which cases will be heard today. Rest assured, we’ll be sure to let you know what happened.

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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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