City Council: No Tubes for You!
Tubing, 24-hour bike trails, and zoning on this week's agenda
Seeing as how it's Austin City Limits Weekend II: The Shakedown, there's no City Council meeting this week – the next one is Thursday, Oct. 17. The early, draft agenda is relatively brief (only 80 Items as of Wednesday), although a few things generally shake out of the bushes by the Friday posting deadline. And as always, a few contentious matters were kicked down the road from previous sessions – Council actually adjourned before 9pm last week, in part because a few of the thorniest questions were postponed.
Or perhaps everyone was just bummed out by Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros' grim briefing on the continuing drought, on the cusp of becoming the Worst Texas Drought Ever – next to the apocalypse, zoning disputes have a way of shrinking in significance. (For more on the drought report, see "Point Austin," p.10.)
What promises consternation this week? Well, listed on "consent" are a few items that don't sound all that consensual. Council is poised to approve an ordinance that will formally end tubing on the eastern end of the Colorado – on a public safety and natural preservation argument, although everybody knows it's because the River Bluff NA got all hot and bothered over the summer crowds at East Side Tubes. No doubt by coincidence, there are also a handful of items dealing with "urban farm" regulations – some loosening, some tightening restrictions on city agriculture, another Eastside controversy. On that score, the Statesman has gone hyperbolic and hyper-ventilating about potential "slaughterhouses" in residential neighborhoods (because homeowners should never know where there food comes from) – and it's a safe bet that somebody will pull both these items from consent for heated discussion – and perhaps a few tuneless renditions of "Ol' Man River" followed by "Old MacDonald Had a Farm ..."
Also returning is the proposal from Council Member Kathie Tovo and Mayor Lee Leffingwell to end the 24-hour bike trails, due to the cut in police overtime for patrols. Council split on whether the patrols were even necessary, and that discussion resumes next week. Also déjà vu is whether to extend the Downtown Density Bonus Program into the Rainey Street neighborhood; last week's split vote to change the affordable housing regulations to require developer contributions only for additional building height might have an effect on this outcome as well.
Both the South Lamar Taco PUD (5-2) and the Bluff Springs Food Mart (7-0), returning today, have won preliminary zoning approval – the votes are unlikely to change, but there may be additional complaint from the dais or audience, at least about the still-controversial PUD. All in all, there are another 15 zoning hearings on the early agenda, including several bearing valid opposing petitions, so one or another may erupt.
The best early news is the rescheduling of the Hot Texas Swing Band as musical honorees – they missed their chance two weeks ago (presumably for an actually paying gig). They'll be followed, suitably, by a proclamation honoring the 10th anniversary of Austin Lyric Opera Artistic Director Richard Buckley – because that's how we swing, in the Live Music Capital of The World.
News, Austin City Council, Austin Water Utility District, Greg Meszaros, International City / County Management Association, River Bluff Neighborhood Association, East Side Tubes, urban farms, Kathie Tovo, Lee Leffingwell, South Lamar Taco PUD, Downtown Density Bonus Program, Bluff Springs Food Mart