Council: Not According to Code

Parks, plumbing, and miscellaneous

Last Thursday’s City Council meeting (June 8) scored rather low on the Richter Scale, although there were a few tremors in the morning over a task force appointment.

What most of us know about plumbing (Illustration courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston had nominated gun shop owner Michael Cargill, one of her 2014 opponents, to the Bond Election Advisory Task Force – evoking, in most instances, a routine Council approval.

But Cargill’s history in advocating campus carry (and even City Hall carry) didn’t help him, and his nomination triggered strong opposition that lit up Council emails. You can read the details here (“Council on Cargill: Not Today,” June 9); one aftermath was that the TV news coverage generally took Cargill at his word that the rejection was over “gun rights” rather than the reasons cited from the dais: that a majority of Council members doubt Cargill’s ability to engage in “respectful discourse and collaboration.”

Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet and relatively efficient meeting (formal business ending about 5:30pm, just before music and proclamations), although there were a few items that raised some rhetorical dust. On a request by Parks & Rec for approval to negotiate a contract for restoration design of the Barton Springs Pool Bathhouse, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and D8 CM Ellen Troxclair – pondering upcoming budget decisions – wanted to know if the money couldn’t come out of the hotel tax fund as opposed to 2012 bond monies. They were told, well, this was a bond-designated project and hotel/tourist funds were already allocated – but there may be ways to shuffle categories in the future.

Also park-related was the proposal, originating from the Parkland Events Task Force, to define day-limits to special events in major parks, and perhaps (in principle) to “share the wealth” of events in a wider range of neighborhood parks (e.g., CM Houston suggested that Walter Long Park is under-utilized). There was some doubt on the details, and D5 CM Ann Kitchen (absent on Capital Metro business) had asked Mayor Steve Adler to postpone the vote if there might be substantive amendments. So expect that resumption this week. (A related annual 20-day event limitation covering Republic Square Park was also punted to June 15.)

Council did approve the work plan of the City Manager Search Advisory Task Force, primarily focused on public outreach and input over the next couple of months. D7 CM Leslie Pool questioned the schedule – saying her office might need more time to gather district input – but other members were impatient to move forward toward a potential fall appointment. Submit your two cents soon.

The highlight debate of the afternoon was a bit of a surprise: over plumbing standards, specifically whether to adopt the current Uniform Plumbing Code (as recommended by Council’s appointed professional board) or to use, instead, the International Residential Code for one- and two-family homes and the UPC for other construction (recommended by city staff). During the very technical testimony, there were staunch partisans on both sides, and more than one Council member will be scratching their heads over the choices – vote postponed until next week.

Council had also met Wednesday, for an afternoon work session on CodeNEXT, that one focusing on “McMansion” issues and general compatibility standards. Those discussions continue this week, with Council using the first hour of the Tuesday work session and Wednesday afternoons to consider major topics, e.g., CodeNEXT and the comprehensive plan.

In addition to those returns of parks and plumbing regs, this week’s agenda (June 15) will revisit the juvenile curfew discussion, which raised dais questions a few weeks ago. For more on City Council, follow the Daily News and this week’s print edition.

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City Council 2017, Michael Cargill, CodeNEXT

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