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Council: Isn't That Special?

City punts on special events ordinance

By Michael King, Fri., Nov. 15, 2013

How do you know when City Council would rather punt than fight? When it appoints a special committee.

That's what's scheduled to happen at next week's Council meeting (Nov. 21), when a "Council Special Committee on the Spec­ial Events Ordinance" will presumably be formed to "hold public meetings and compile and report findings." There's already been a staff/stakeholder group on the subject meeting for some months (see "Event Horizon," July 12); apparently, whatever they've accomplished hasn't quite reached sufficient consensus for Council action. So, while the latest subcommittee is gathering public input and answering big questions (e.g., "What makes an Event really Special?"), maybe they can also decide which Council committees get to be called "Special." And is a special committee like a blue ribbon task force?

Although the agenda won't be finalized until this Friday, Nov. 14, it's already a substantial list, including many zoning cases pushed back from the Nov. 7 session, abbreviated so that city staff could continue helping with the Onion Creek flood recovery efforts. There's also the anticipated return of the urban farms ordinance: There's a public hearing scheduled along with revisions to the relevant ordinance, but we won't be surprised if both are delayed; the various parties (e.g., neighborhood associations vs. urban farmers) are still contentious, and may not have had time to resolve their differences since they first clashed before the dais.

There are also a series of pilot proposals covering registration of rental properties (primarily for Code Compliance reasons) in various neighborhoods – Rundberg, East Riverside/Oltorf, Hyde Park, North Loop – that have raised sparks in previous appearances, and might well do so again.

Similarly, revisions are proposed to the city's Minority- and Women-Owned Busi­ness Ordinance (aka MBE/WBE, or more mellifluously, "Mibby-Wibby"); no surprise here if that item gets extra public scrutiny. Likewise, one consent item: a long-term, $2.4 million contract with Taser Interna­tion­al, Inc. for the shockers and their accessories; no Austin Police Department ensemble is apparently complete without the latest zappers and holsters. The scheduled musical honorees are the soulful Nightowls.

All of this, of course, if the Lord is willing and the creek don't rise – a prayer we might all now recite with additional enthusiasm. Check this space next week for a confirmed agenda and, as the mayor likes to say: "changes and corrections."

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