Council Preview

Much ado on the dais

Another relatively sleepy meeting for City Council this Feb. 4 doesn't mean there's no drama on the dais. Below, highlights for upcoming council meetings:

GREEN MEANS GO This meeting has several eco-friendly items. Item 2 accepts $7.5 million in federal stimulus funds to make city buildings more energy-efficient, creating as many as 100 temporary jobs in the process. Item 3 establishes a more equitable solar rebate program. The previous rebate program had to be shuttered as a victim of its own success, as commercial and multifamily developers took most of the rebate cash. Now homeowners can take advantage of solar rebates while commercial/multifamily users will be refunded via "performance-based incentive payments." And Item 38, set at 6pm, is a public hearing and possible action on the city's long-gestating Heritage Tree provisions.

PLAY BALL An addendum to the agenda, Item 39 takes up use of city fields by youth athletics programs, an item postponed from last week. As we previously wrote, under the agreement, the city would cover the costs of lighting fields for sports programs such as Little League up to a certain amount acceptable in the Parks and Recreation budget. In exchange, teams would maintain and improve the fields.

ZONED OUT A brief agenda doesn't mean there's no zoning-related fun! Item 28, from lead sponsor Laura Morrison, asks the city manager to have the city work with the University of Texas and the Heritage Society of Austin in applying for as much as $250,000 of federal Preserve America grant funds to develop "an historic survey web tool" as part of the city's overall preservation program. Elsewhere, Item 30 sets a hearing for a zoning variance request from the neighborhoodniks' favorite boogeyman, Richard Suttle. Suttle is representing barbecue joint and live music venue Stubb's Bar-B-Q, which is seeking to have existing structures built in the floodplain validated. The hearing is slated to be set Feb. 11.

ON TO THE NEXT Council's Feb. 11 meeting should be a doozy, marking the birth of new contentious issues and the return of old ones. Chief among the 10:30am briefings is a presentation on proposed economic incentives to entice LegalZoom into moving its headquarters here. Public comment is allowed on this presentation and additionally on Feb. 18, when council has tentatively set a second public hearing and possible approval of the incentives. (For more on LegalZoom, see "City Hall Hustle.") And a contract with Greenstar North America to recycle the city's single-stream recyclables is back, after being punted from the Feb. 4 draft agenda. The delay was likely created by the city's charge that Greenstar and competitor Texas Disposal Systems both violated the city's anti-lobbying ordinance; as both teams are expected bidders on creating a local materials recovery facility, the backbone of a recycling system, the ethics snafu may affect the timeline of the contract.

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