Point Austin: Beside the Point

Ethics to smoke

Point Austin
Other than the budget presentation scheduled for 2pm (and the adoption of the budget hearing schedule through August), there is nothing equally dramatic on the council's agenda for today (Thursday). Among the consent items is an amendment to the ordinance governing the Ethics Review Commission, covering advertising for candidate forums (No. 10). In light of recent revelations that virtually the entire council (excepting only Mayor Pro Tem Danny Thomas) can't seem to determine the local provenance of their campaign cash (see "Benedict Charges," p. 20), perhaps someone can suggest a further amendment: Obey the law.

Under Council items, Council Member Raul Alvarez and Mayor Will Wynn are proposing a traffic calming study for the Guadalupe neighborhood (near Eastside, roughly between Seventh and Eleventh). Despite published rumors elsewhere to the contrary, various traffic calming methods remain confoundingly popular citywide – neighborhoods love it for themselves, hate it for everybody else – suggesting that's one portion of the city's proposed transportation budget that will be relatively secure.

Among the myriad zoning cases is one (Z-24) to create a Neighborhood Conservation Combining District for Hyde Park North (45th to 51st, Guadalupe to Red River), essentially linking the neighborhood's future plans to the larger Hyde Park NCCD to the immediate south. And the Gables at Westlake donnybrook is scheduled to appear (Z-25, 26) as well, but with the adversaries (Bunny Run and Gables Corp.) now looking to the city to sweeten the deal with additional road improvements along Loop 360, don't be surprised if this gets kicked to the curb, once again.

Not yet on the agenda is a decision on the three right-of-way procurement agreements governing parts of highways SH 71, U.S. 183, and U.S. 290 West, already signed by staff but not yet ratified after toll road opponents charged the agreement would commit the city to tolling those roads. Staff has posted the agreements and a justification on its Web site, insisting, "The Council's decision to ratify or not ratify the agreements does not state a pro- or anti-toll road position." Moral: The squeaky wheels get … an explanation.

Also not on the agenda, but bound to offer free public entertainment over the next month is a series of city-sponsored public meetings on the smoking ordinance, scheduled to take effect (and End Austin Civilization As We Know It) Sept. 1. Official smoke gets in your eyes at the following times and locations: Tue. Aug. 2, 6:30-8pm, Waller Creek Bldg., 625 E. 10th, Rm. 104; Tue., Aug. 9, 6:30-8pm, St. John's Community Center, 7500 Blessing, Conf. Rm. B.; Wed., Aug. 17, Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center Gym, 2800 Webberville Rd.; Tue., Aug. 23, 6:30-8pm, South Austin Neighborhood Center, 2508 Durwood. For more information, call Karina Moore at 972-5653 or e-mail karina.moore@ci.austin.tx.us.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin City Council, city council, ethics review commission, traffic calming, Hyde Park, smoking ordinance

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