Austin City Council Prepped to Tackle Palm District, Micro-Mobility, and More

A preview of the May 23 Council meeting

City Council is meeting Thursday, May 23 at the usual time and place (City Hall, 10 am); here’s our preview of where we expect the action to be:

Photo by John Anderson

Likely the most time and attention will be spent on Item 29 on the agenda, Council Member Kathie Tovo’s omnibus resolution covering the southeast quadrant of Downtown – Convention Center expansion, Palm School, Waller Creek, Rainey Street, a tourism-based public improvement district to fund social services, and more. Tovo, Mayor Steve Adler, CM Pio Renteria, and representatives of these many stakeholder groups will explain all the moving parts at a pair of pre-meeting press conferences (9am and 9:30am in the City Hall media room under the stairs). An amendment to the lengthy resolution – which at last count had 71 “Whereas” clauses – by CM Ann Kitchen is already posted on the council message board; expect other amendments from the dais.

The other big-deal topic (comprising Items 24-25 and 58-59) is the long-anticipated arrival of final micro-mobility regulations for scooters, dockless bikes, and their ilk. These include both proposed rules of the road (and sidewalk) for riders and users and potential penalties (fines) for their violation, as well as future agreements between the city and operators (Bird, Lime, Uber, etc.) governing those firms’ obligations to the community and allowed uses of the public rights-of-way. Staff’s proposed direction on both of these fronts has drawn criticism from different parts of the dais; at Tuesday’s work session, CMs Leslie Pool and Alison Alter raised concerns that the proposed safety rules did not properly govern riders’ use of parkland and trails, while CM Jimmy Flannigan voiced his opposition to the Austin Transportation Department’s recommendation that the city move from the current permit model for operators to a franchise model, as is used with taxis and pedicabs.

Other items of note: Item 11 authorizes a design-build solicitation for a new $12.4 million neighborhood health center in the Dove Springs neighborhood, approved by voters as Proposition E in the November 2018 bond package. Item 16 is for another $290,000 in funding for parent support specialists as part of an interlocal agreement with Austin ISD, included in the city budget rather than the fiscally stressed school district ledger. And Items 55-57 and 60 award emergency engineering contracts to firms helping the city stabilize the Shoal Creek landslide that’s blocked the creek and trail near 24th Street and worsened with recent rains.

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Austin City Council, City Council, Palm District, Palm School, Convention Center, Waller Creek, Rainey Street, scooters, dockless mobility, micro-mobility, Dove Springs, Austin ISD, Shoal Creek landslide

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