The Austin Chronicle

The Daily Hustle: 4/6/10

By Wells Dunbar, April 6, 2010, 9:01am, Newsdesk

TDH explodes into a veritable orgy of agendas, items, and bullet points below the fold.

City Council meets this Thursday, and while, at 58 items long, it's not a particularly long agenda, it's still filled with several items of interest. And as Laura Morrison's "conservation of controversy" theory bears out, you never know what will prove controversial - only that something will. So let's get to it; you can find the agenda here.

Items 17-19: Allocating over $5.5 million in federal recovery bucks to local and state companies for home weatherization, energy audits, and final energy inspections.

Item 20: $280,000, with four possible one-year extensions at $125,000 each, with North Carolina-based contractors Bernard Hodes Group for minority recruiting outreach for the Austin Fire Department.

Item 22: A $29,000 extension with Baytown, Texas’ Liberty Tire Recycling – bringing the total to $80,000 – to finish the job of recycling COA scrap tires, which Jordan Smith has written about aplenty.

Item 27: Item from Bill Spelman, Laura Morrison, and Mike Martinez requiring disclaimers at "crisis pregnancy centers."

Item 28: Item from Lee Leffingwell, Martinez, and Chris Riley naming the Mexican Free-tailed Bat Austin's official animal, and scheduling "Night of the Bat" festivities annually, on the first Sunday in June.

Item 30: Creating an Invasive Species Management Plan for city parkland; sponsored by Martinez and Riley.

Item 31: A resolution calling for a national museum of the American Latino, sponsored by Martinez, Leffingwell, and Sheryl Cole.

Item 32: An interesting item from Martinez and Morrision contemplating possible exceptions to the so-called it/lie ordinance, designed to prevent homeless loitering Downtown, on medical grounds. Potential exemptions could include:

– Official documentation from local, state or federal agencies stating disability;

– Official documentation from a doctor or a hospital stating disability;

– Waiting in line for health clinics; or

– Utilization of other mobility aides besides wheelchairs like canes, crutches or walkers.

Item 33: An item supporting the appeal on the TCEQ-approved expansion of the Allied BFI and Waste Management Community landfills.

Item 34: Morrison, Spelman, and Randi Shade make the city an annual co-sponsor of Austin PRIDE events, kicking off June 3.

Item 38: a 10:30am briefing Austin Energy's generation plan.

Item 54: Garnering some negative attention from neighborhood interests, Item 54, part of a suite of development tweaks up for public hearing and possible adoption, deals with the eyeball-glazing topic of "permit application and expiration requirements," but the proposal to reactivate permits on delayed developments has 'hoodistas crying foul. As Austin Neighborhood Council president Cory Walton writes on the ANC listserv:

Outwardly, this could simply save builders and contractors from having to shell out a couple hundred more bucks if they're unable to complete a job they'd been working on.

But the unfortunate reality, as most of us have seen in our neighborhoods, is that such an ordinance opens up a can of worms, is sure to be gamed, and is bound to produce undesirable results.

For example:

Let's say for whatever reason, a builder, developer, contractor doesn't get the variances or zoning changes he was betting on so his site plan isn't approved. And a half year, a year, or two years later, he reactivates those building permits and claims he's been working on that project all along--just ran out of time. He still doesn't have an approved site plan or the variances he needs—yet he's got tacit approval from the City to continue building an illegal project. Or contrarily, codes and ordinances have changed and what may have previously been an approved site plan is no longer code compliant.

If he's allowed to re-activate those earlier permits, what do you think the chances are that an already overworked City review staff is going to check the site plan against current code?

And what if in the interim, the McMansion Ordinance is extended into the Southwood neighborhood? Would the ordinance be upheld when building resumes in that neighborhood under an old set of permits?

5:30pm brings live music from the Marshall Ford Swing Ban. Proclamations include honors for Ecology Action's 40th anniversary. And then the Hustle does the collapse.

What the hell else is happening?

Capital Metro holds a public hearing on their proposed August service plan changes at their offices, 2910 E. Fifth, 5pm. Just prior to that, at 4:30, the Board of Directors convenes for a special-called meeting, discussing an interlocal agreement with the city on regional mobility funding.

The Minority/Women/Small Business Contract Procurement Program Advisory Committee wins the award for biggest municipal mouthful, and to celebrate, the Mibbie-Wibbies meet in the Board and Commission room at City Hall, 310 W. Second, 5:30pm. Among other business, they’ll receive a report from Small & Minority Business Resources on contracts awarded by council.

The almighty Zoning and Platting Commission meets in council chambers at 6pm. On the ZAP agenda: 21 public hearing items.

The executive committee of the HIV Planning Council meets at Rutherford Lane Center, 1520 Rutherford, at 6pm.

The Waller Creek Citizen Advisory Committee convenes at the Mexican-American Cultural Center, 600 River, 6pm. The Waller Creek crew also hosts an open house tomorrow.

Got something you wanna show the Hustle? Email it to wells [at], tweet it @CityHallHustle, or leave a comment in the section below.

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