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Capital Metro will brief the Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday on the transportation authority’s policies, procedures and limitations regarding its bus service in the county. The meeting is in response to commissioners’ concerns about the county’s Growth Guidance Plan. The plan, approved for public review and comments July 1, seeks to create high-density, low-impact transit areas in unincorporated parts of the county. Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez worried that these areas would not get sufficient public transportation from Capital Metro to allow citizens the option to leave their cars at home.
The court will also get an update this Tuesday on the county’s work to identify legislative and legal remedies to fix what citizens and officials are calling a broken property tax appraisal system. There has been rising public outcry against the inequity of low-balled commercial property appraisals, which many taxpayers say shifts the burden of paying for services onto the residential homeowner and renters.
The Land Development Code Advisory Group and CodeNEXT meet at 4 p.m. at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road . . . The Arts Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Cultural Arts Division Offices at City Hall . . . The Electric Utility Commission meets at 6 p.m. at Town Lake Center, 721 Barton Springs Road . . . The Urban Renewal Board meets at 6 p.m. in the Street-Jones Building, 1000 East 11th Street . . . (Be aware than many meetings have been moved to different sites due to the remodeling of Council Chambers at City Hall.)
The Hays County Government Center at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos will be closed today for ongoing plumbing repairs. The county says the building is expected to open on Tuesday at its regular time. All other Hays County buildings will be open as usual today.
With 11 slots to fill in the new City Council system, there is great need for the public to become informed about those running. The League of Women Voters and the city’s Ethics Commission have teamed up to sponsor such forums, beginning on Sept 4, according to Lara Foss, a new member of the city’s Public Information Office team. Each of the forums will be held in or near the districts of the candidates appearing although some will be combined in order to complete all the forums within a month. The final forum will be for mayoral candidates on Oct. 1 at the Convention Center. There is also a forum planned for those who make it into a runoff, scheduled for Nov. 21. Of course, there will be a number of other forums, including several co-sponsored by the Austin Monitor, KUT and the Austin Chronicle. Foss said she is putting together a Council candidate Q &A archive so that when one candidate asks a question, all the other candidates and the general public can read the answer. She expects that to go live on Monday, the first day candidates can officially file for one of the spots on the November ballot.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Ellen Gilinksy, senior adviser for water for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed their support Wednesday for an EPA proposal to clarify which waterways are protected under the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA proposal would restore protections to smaller streams and wetlands that only flow seasonally but which, during rainy seasons or after storms, flow into larger waterways that serve as the drinking water sources for over 117 million Americans. This includes 11.5 million Texans and 864,000 people in Travis County. Gilinsky is traveling in Texas to hear perspectives on the proposed rule, also known as Waters of the U.S. Leffingwell was joined in his support for the EPA by the environmental groups Clean Water Action and Environment Texas. The groups delivered thousands of comments from their members. The comments will form part of the official public record on the proposed rule. The comment period ends Oct. 20, after which EPA will make a final determination.
District 4 candidate Gabe Rojas told the Austin Monitor Thursday he is suspending his campaign, although he has hopes that he might launch another race for the same spot either two years or four years from now. Rojas is a member of the Zoning and Platting Commission and said he would continue that service as well as work in the community. However, this year is “not the right time for my family,” Rojas said.
Austin State Rep. Donna Howard announced Thursday that she would lead a statewide series of Listening Sessions on women’s health issues. The Women’s Health Tour, sponsored by Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives, will host sessions in seven cities: El Paso, Dallas, McAllen, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston and Galveston. The sessions are free and open to the public. These forums will begin with a brief overview of legislative actions on family planning and women’s health issues. Lawmakers will then listen as community members share their thoughts, concerns and experiences related to the subject matter. Details on the tour are available here.
Texas Folklife presents a public listening party and reception for audio documentaries produced by teachers and students in the Stories from Deep in the Heart Summer Institute program. Stories from Deep in the Heart is Texas Folklife’s award-winning youth radio program that teaches high school students and teachers how to document family and community traditions through audio documentaries, presented in collaboration with the Asian-American Resource Center. The party is set for 6 p.m. today at the Asian-American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road. For more information, visit the web site.
Thursday, July 17, 2014 by Michael Kanin
If you’ve been downtown this week, you’ve probably noticed two closed lanes on 6th and 7th Streets between Congress Avenue and Brazos. Those closures were required in order to work on aging wastewater lines. But the Austin Water Utility is expecting to reopen those lanes as of 6 a.m. today. However, starting at 7 a.m. on Monday all lanes on 6th and 7th Streets between Congress Avenue and Brazos will be closed to through traffic.
Thursday, July 17, 2014 by Michael Kanin
The Austin Animal Center experienced a record-breaking number of adoptions over the July 12-13 weekend. Officials say 228 homeless pets were adopted – 36 dogs and 192 cats – into forever homes. In part, the center attributes the high number of adoptions of kittens and cats to the annual Kitty Palooza event where they displayed hundreds of cats and waived adoption fees. The record number of adoptions comes on the heels of Austin being named “DogTown USA 2014” by Dog Fancy magazine. The publication announced the annual award winner, given in recognition of America’s best city for dogs and their human companions. The magazine’s editor, Ernie Sloan, credited innovative programs and dedicated animal lovers in both public and private organizations in Austin for the award. He pointed out that Austin saves the lives of more than 90 percent of the animals who enter shelters, making it the largest metropolitan city to sustain a no-kill goal.