Parks Smoking Ban, More Up Thursday

No ifs, ands, or (37,000) butts: One smokin' council agenda

Imagine … where you want your bond dollars to go.
Imagine … where you want your bond dollars to go. (Photo courtesy City of Austin)

It's the season of giving, and City Council doesn't disappoint with a wooly, 139-item agenda this Thursday. A parks smoking ban, a Comp Plan, bond election love-in, and Austin Energy power moves are all up for consideration: We've listed the highlights below.

Item 2: An agreement between the city and the LCRA to increase the amount of water available to Austin Energy for cooling purposes at the Fayette Power Plant. The long term agreement lasts through 2024, although in his re-election kick-off, Mayor Lee Leffingwell called to ultimately abandon the city's stake in the coal-fired plant for cleaner fuels.

Item 4: And speaking of cleaner energy, this item inks a two-year agreement with the University of Texas' Clean Energy Incubator, at a cost of #265K annually. The money goes to the infrastructure services, research and analytics, support for the Austin Clean Energy Venture Summit, and “to advance and expand the use of clean technology and energy efficiency technologies.”

Items 13,14: Setting an assessment rate and adopting a plan for the E. Sixth Street Public Improvement District, recently postponed in the wake of a 6ixth Street Austin Association board shakeup.

Item 15: Adopting a Image Austin Tomorrow Plan-informed list of Guiding Principles and Funding Criteria for our next bond election. Those aspirational principles include spending on infrastructure, new initiatives, mobility, sustainability, with a cost-effective and balanced approach. See more here, and related item no. TK.

Items 18-20: The city's Law Department spending on legal counsel and settlements, including a $360K settlement with Trudy's over their long-fought patio skirmish with Trudy's South Congress Cafe.

Item 24:Action on the proposed ban on smoking in city parks. “Tobacco related litter is the most common form of litter,” reads the item's back-up, “and over 40,000 cigarette butts have been collected from 39 Parks and Recreation Department sites this year.” No word in back-up on what first time offenses cost, but they can run up to $2000; a “culpable mental state” is not required for fines under $500, raising questions regarding ticketing of those who will most likely be smoking in public – the homeless.

Items 31-69: the meeting's enormous purchasing office agenda.

Item 73: Finally moving on to items from council, 73 broadens the mandate of council's Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission to “include digital devices, networks, and software that allow people to create, access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.”

Item 74: Somewhat related, 74 asks City Manager Marc Ott to help the “Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission to develop recommendations for elements of an Open Government Framework that addresses open data, open source platforms, mobile applications, and social media” – data sets and sharing we discussed in a recent column.

Item 76: This item will notify Neighborhood Plan Contact Teams when, instead of sidewalk installation accompanying a new development occurs, a fee-in-lieu is paid instead – “so that the team is able to reprioritize the Neighborhood Plan if it chooses.” The backup continues, “This communication should include the amount of the fee paid, the address of the property, and language describing the timeframe and area where the fee will be spent.”

Item 78: Another renaming, this one rechristening the Oak Springs Branch Library as the Willie Mae Kirk Branch Library. According to the draft, Kirk “ has engaged in more than 50 years of philanthropy in the Austin community and has devoted most of her life to public service,” starting as a school teacher in 1947, to leading “a funding drive and bond initiative that resulted in dramatic improvements to the George Washington Carver Library” in the 1970s.

Items 86, 87: Council's 10:30am briefings include a presentation on “Guiding Principles and Funding Criteria for the Bond Development Process” (see Item 15), and a presentation on an economic incentives package for automotive plastics maker US Farathane Corp.

Items 93-13: A large Zoning agenda includes several proposed changes to properties in Future Use Land Map (FLUMs) along Red River (95), Chicon (101), the Central East Austin (101) and Montopolis (107) areas, and more.

Items 133-139: Closing things out with public hearings and possible action on several items, including council's previously adopted changes to the city's historic preservation program (137).

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