The Austin Chronicle

Council Preview

Audibles and delays of game

By Michael King, January 25, 2013, News

City Council will go into their meeting next Thursday (Jan. 31; work session Tues­day, Jan. 29) with plenty to do. Last week (Jan. 17), with Mayor Lee Leffingwell in D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the six stay-at-homes punted more often than the New England Patriots – at staff recommendation, at the request of applicants with pending zoning cases, or just because. The delayed matters spread across the calendar, but a couple of vexed questions should definitely re-arise next week: notably, the Austin Hotel case (see "Hotel Project Sparks Down­town Skir­mish," Jan. 18), where Downtown neighbors are fretting over the project potentially spoiling their Capitol view, and the Bur­net Little Woodrow's case ("Council Preview: A Bar on Burnet?!?," Jan. 11), where nearby neighborhood associations say they're concerned the corridor is in danger of getting too bar-friendly. Friends of the bar beg to differ.

Also returning next week, on the preliminary agenda (to be finalized Jan. 25) is the proposed pilot program for 24-hour hike-and-bike trails – that was postponed without discussion, so presumably Leffingwell's vote matters. Meanwhile, matters are pending concerning Downtown minimum parking standards, as well as reinforcing bike parking standards (not yet for discussion, but just setting public hearings down the line), as, in its glacial way, Council slowly moves to alter policy and perspective concerning transportation options – and the lost opportunity costs of "free parking."

The much-vexed question of outdoor amphitheatres – a hot topic since the Prom­iseLand West "Dream City" project out on Hwy. 71 ("Then There's This: Fixing a Hole," March 2, 2012) – returns in the form of a public hearing on whether to make such amphitheatres a conditional use (requiring additional scrutiny) in all zoning districts. And though it's not yet on the agenda, it's likely the 10-1 "independent commission" will return in some form, if only at Citizens Communication. Advocates from Austinites for Geographic Represent­a­tion were volubly outraged last week when Council voted on consent to reimburse prospective commissioners for personal expenses in accordance with standard city employee practices – AGR insists that's insufficient (because it doesn't include mileage and day care), and reflexively accused Coun­cil of trying to sabotage the process. (The charter amendment cites "reasonable and necessary personal expenses.") Expect imprecations and fulminations.

Finally, the listed musical honorees are What Made Milwaukee Famous. But don't take any drinking bets, since last week Carrie Rodriguez performed admirably in the spot initially reserved (and trumpeted here) for Afrofreque, under the official explanation of "scheduling conflict" (aka "paying gig"). Don't worry, Afrofreque freques; they'll get their Council date later this year.

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