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TipSheet: Travis County, 3.22.16

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda here. The County Clerk’s office hosts a copy at its website.

1. Receive comments regarding the issuance of a Mass Gathering Permit for Levitation to be held April 29 – May 2, 2016, at 9507 Sherman Road, Austin, Texas 78742. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Gomez)

Monitor’s Take: This will be only the second public hearing for a mass gathering permit request since the Commissioners Court revised the process last year. The organizers of Levitation have requested a variance on the guidelines established in the new process. That could set the stage for drama early on in Tuesday’s meeting.

6. Consider and take appropriate action to: a. Appoint Kim Williams as the Judge of County Court at Law #9; and, b. Approve a bond for Judge Williams. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The cliche about Texas politics is that the primaries are the only elections that really matter. To a lesser degree, that’s true for Travis County politics as well and here is a perfect example of it. Kim Williams won the Democratic nomination for the judgeship of the recently created County Court at Law #9. Because she has no Republican opponent, county staff are recommending that the Court fast-track her into office with an interim appointment.

6. Receive update from A/TCHHSD Health Authority Dr. Philip Huang on the Zika Virus in Travis County. (Commissioner Shea & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: As the world is gripped by anxiety over the Zika virus, Travis County health officials are taking proactive steps to brace for cases here in central Texas. Austin Travis County Health and Human Services Department Director Dr. Philip Huang will update the Court on the latest Zika developments here in Austin. According to a copy of his presentation attached to the agenda, 43 people have been tested for the virus and two cases have been confirmed. In both cases, the patients traveled to Colombia.

15. Consider and take appropriate action on the pending conveyance of a right-of-way easement to Louis and Pamela Williams on, over and across the paved portion of land located within Tom Hughes Park in Precinct Two. (Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: While discussion over short-term rentals have brought the city of Austin to the brink of civil war (Admittedly, that’s maybe overstating it a bit, but we’re journalists and our it’s our job to contrive a little drama here and there), Travis County has been spared of related sturm und drang by virtue of the fact that it has far less constitutional power to tell property owners how to run their business. This case in particular though is the rare exception because the property owners are seeking special privilege from the county be able to access their land via a public park. They’ve promised to build only two single-family homes on the lot, and indicated they might use one as an STR. Commissioner Brigid Shea, in whose precinct the property in question is, expressed concerns at a previous meeting that the agreement wasn’t strong enough to ensure the best interests of the county and asked staff to refine the outstanding questions a bit more.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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