Council: Imagine Comprehensively

Zoning and proclaimations crowd next week's agenda

There's no City Council meeting today (Thursday, Oct. 31) – it's Halloween, y'all! – although it's also likely everybody wants to take a deep breath (or let out a werewolf howl) after last week's fairly exhausting and exhilarating session. Council managed to enact higher standards for the city's ­economic incentive programs – establishing a case for higher wages, domestic partnership benefits, and possibly a loan bank for fledgling subcontractors – and also raised and equalized water and wastewater impact fees for new developments, a change that may slowly have an impact on sprawl as well as city coffers.

Not so forward-thinking was the decision to end the pilot program allowing night-biking on some city trails. Painted as an unnecessary police expense when it was simply a step to integrate bicycling into the overall city transportation scheme, this is an idea that will have to develop critical mass before city management accepts it. Critical Mass – how's that for an overnight trails idea?

Next week's early agenda doesn't look quite so daunting, although there will be plenty to provide heartburn (Nov. 7). Public hearings are scheduled on revisions to both the "vested development rights" ordinance (i.e., the "grandfathered" developments change that raised strong opposition earlier in the year) and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan – as we say on Hallo­ween, you can't fear the unknown unless you imagine it first.

Meanwhile, proposed ordinances would create pilot multifamily rental registration programs in three neighborhoods: the North Austin/Rundberg area, East Riverside/Oltorf, and Central Austin (where it would include single-family rentals). This is an idea, to track rental property code compliance, that Council has been kicking around for some time, and now the city's trying to put it in place and get the details right -- striking fear in the hearts of slumlords everywhere.

There are also plenty of zoning cases on tap, some returning for second and third readings, and a brace of evening proclamations: It's not only Municipal Courts Week but Austin Recycles Month and Adoption Month, along with Pancreatic Cancer Month and Diabetes Day – choose your commemoration!

Nominally, the musical honoree is Nathan Felix (of the legendary Noise Revival Orch­estra), but since Council agenda-masters again pulled a fast one last week, substituting the undeniably talented Havilah Rand for the cheerfully ominous Manzanas Mala (thereby undermining some perfectly apt bi­lingual puns), we see no reason to trust them this week.

This week's motto: Revive the Noise!

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News, Austin economic incentives program, Austin water and wastewater impact fees, Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, Austin Recycles Month, Nathan Felix

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