Point Austin: Beside the Point
Today's meeting (Thursday, April 28) promises to be a busy one, with the long-awaited commercial design standards on tap for a public hearing; a projected decision (perhaps) on the sale of City Hall's neighboring Block 21 (early handicapping still points to Stratus), but probably not yet the more perplexing Seaholm tract; and the return of several other previously delayed items.
But before we get to all that, the evening's live music performance is none other than the legendary Shiva's Headband, performing on this occasion in honor of acclaimed octogenarian music photographer Burton Wilson, who is up for a proclamation. In characteristic understatement, the band's Web site reports, "Describing Shiva's music is kind of like talking about God." So we suggest you get your butts on down there, or at least tune in to Channel 6 'long about 5:30pm, and don't blink.
On the morning's consent agenda, the Transit-Oriented Development Ordinance (Items 18 and 19) is scheduled for third reading, after much intermittent tinkering, and with a separate resolution "to establish goals for affordable housing" in TOD districts and station area plans. That is, the community campaign for percentage set-asides for affordable housing as opposed to "goals" appears to have fallen on fallow ground.
Solar voltaic panels are apparently sprouting all over the city, and there are a handful of items (7-10) to authorize rebates from Austin Energy for companies installing the panels: $100,000 to IBM, $98,700 to Hines Pool and Spa, $100,000 to Centex Beverage, $100,000 to American Youthworks. On the electrical agenda, Item 37 might raise a few more eyebrows: the return of the postponed authorization to buy another 90 Tasers for the APD ($75,291). The council was apparently persuaded by the rose-colored APD report a couple of meetings ago that Tasers are just keen and peachy. That will no doubt raise spirits in Phoenix, at Taser International.
The Community and Preservation and Revitalization Zone report, sponsored by Raul Alvarez and Danny Thomas, and glimpsed in a brief presentation a couple of weeks ago, reappears for a resolution, also in the morning. And Downtown revitalization should come up as well Block 21 and Seaholm are scheduled for executive session, but also potentially from the dais in motions (Items 57-58) for contract negotiation and (in theory) execution but look for the council to hold its fire on Seaholm, and perhaps on Block 21 as well. Major assets require careful handling.
Folks from the Galindo Neighborhood are not about to let the council forget their opposition to the South Austin Tennis Center renovations and expansion scheduled for their neighborhood park, and several have signed up for Citizen Communications to give the members another earful. The 2pm briefing promises to be less impertinent: an update on the city's financial forecast, which, judging from the reports coming out the state comptroller's office, continues for the moment on the upswing.
Later in the day, there is the customary brace of Old West Austin zoning cases, along with a number of others, and the compromise between St. Stephen's School and the neighborhood on the Gables at Westlake apartment proposal postponed some weeks ago returns under what appears to be brighter prospects. If we survive all that, the 6pm public hearing is to "provide direction regarding proposed design standards for commercial and retail development." Go thou and provide direction.