And in Other Council Business ...

After a month's break, City Hall has a long, long, long agenda

Take a month's vacation, and stuff just piles up in the inbox – as the City Council finds out every year right about now. Returning today (Thursday, the 29th) from the annual summer break, Austin's finest will not only get their first official look at the new city budget (see p.20) and tackle the fate of Maria's Taco Xpress (see above), but will also take up a host of other interesting items:

At 10:30am, with appropriate ceremony, the council is expected to waive the usual rules governing such things and rename the Austin Convention Center to honor the late Neal Kocurek. The longtime civic leader – former Radian Corp. and St. David's Health Care System exec, chair of the UT electrical-engineering department, board chair of Envision Central Texas – passed away in March; in the late 1980s, he was among the staunchest advocates for building the center.

The city will accept more than $750,000 in federal homeland security funding, most of which is slated for equipment. This is funding that was awarded last year; the feds' current-year homeland security support has "yet to be allocated."

The council will consider vacating the 2900 block of University Avenue to the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, which is offering a 25-foot-wide strip of its own land in exchange for a future bike-and-pedestrian trail.

The North University neighbors – who endorsed the seminary's proposal – may finally see final approval of the Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, covering NUNA and other UT-area neighborhoods. The plan, its associated rezonings, and its marquee item, the University Neighborhood Overlay – designed to bring unprecedented urban density to West Campus – are up for second and third readings.

To the north, two cases involving the North Loop neighborhood planning team – and not in an uncomplicated way – are in the spotlight. Up to Me, a transitional-housing program for female felons, is seeking to move in on North Lamar, in a space recommended to the program by the planning team, unbeknownst to its actual neighbors, who are now fighting a conditional-use permit for the facility (a fight that they seem likely to lose.) A few blocks west, a planned mixed-use project at 100 E. 51st has likewise riled up its neighbors – but is being proposed by a member of the North Loop planning team and was endorsed by other team members at Planning Commission (though it would require the plan itself to be amended). The commission sided with the neighbors in both cases.

The council will consider a wholesale rewrite of the city Aviation Code – rules governing airport use that haven't been updated since the airport moved to Bergstrom in 1999 – along with a deal with Iron Rock Motorsports to establish a go-kart racing club on surplus airport property.

The first four commercial solar rebates to come to council are on the agenda, with a total value of over $200,000. Prospective recipients include the Lower Colorado River Authority, installing solar panels at its facility in Montopolis, and the Garden Terrace supportive-housing community in South Austin.

And, setting the agendas to come in the post-budget season, the council will vote on a passel of resolutions directing staff to explore establishing a clean energy R&D center in Austin, investigate "integrating the electric utility and transportation sectors" (another clean-energy initiative), begin creating a transit-oriented development ordinance, and move the city's designated cross-town rail corridor (linking the Convention Center to Seaholm, maybe, someday) from Fourth Street to Third Street.

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City Council, Austin Convention Center, Neal Kocurek, homeland security, University Avenue, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, North University, Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, University Neighborhood Overlay, North Loop, Up to Me, Aviation Code, solar rebates, clean energy, transit-oriented development

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