Council: Back to the Future!
Seven-member Council on an 11-seat dais
Whatever else happens, we'll all get a look at the new City Council digs come Thursday morning (Nov. 6) – on Channel 6 if not in person. After weeks of exile over at the Travis County Commissioners Court, a relatively paltry seven-member Council returns to a dais now designed for 11 (with the city attorney and city manager, we'll have a Last Supper!).
Hard to predict what today's mood will be, what with political fates decided (and not) for Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Members Mike Martinez, Chris Riley, and Kathie Tovo. Maybe they'll all just be catching their breath for the Dec. 16 run-offs ....
They won't have much time to think about it, with an over-stuffed agenda of 129 Items, quite a few of which will likely draw controversy, even before they arrive at the 27 zoning cases. ... A few likely high (or low) lights:
• A couple of items (21 and 22) on sound amplification intended to add technical "C-Weighting" to the regulatory mix and work out potential turf confusion between the Music Office and the Parks and Recreation Department; these are on Consent, but don't be surprised if they evoke audience input.
• Also on Consent (Item 23) is the proposed adoption of the "Community Wildfire Protection Plan" – not terribly controversial, but the proof is in the public pudding, as the briefing paper declares: "Wildfire is everybody's fight ...."
• Returning for second and third reading (Item 27) is the ordinance that would ban "source-of-income discrimination" in housing rentals, aimed at protecting tenants using Section 8 vouchers, still stoutly opposed by some landlords.
• Also returning (Item 34) is a tightening of the regulations on overnight concrete pouring, primarily a Downtown practice; residents are bullish on the regs, contractors bearish, and Council members an intermediate species.
• Items from Council members include the recurring return (Item 56) of the "coyote conflict management strategy," with advocates apparently split between those wanting protection from the wily canids and those wanting protection for the cuddly tricksters. (Maybe this Council should bequeath this lose-lose argument to their oh-so-eager successors.)
• Item 58 concerns the proposal for a golf course (or two) at Decker Lake – CMs Martinez and Tovo would waive the restrictions on contractors presenting directly to Council members so that they might actually find out what's being proposed (somebody call the county attorney!).
• Mayor Lee Leffingwell and CM Riley co-sponsor a resolution (Item 64) to allow certain mobile vendors (homeless folks working with nonprofits) to work city sidewalks.
On the list for zoning decisions (hearings closed) are both the proposed Seventh and Congress hotel (Item 83) and the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan (Item 85) – on tap for second and third readings, therefore ripe for dais amendments. Among zoning public hearings are a couple of items (92 and 93) re: Springdale Farm, on the still-simmering question of how to regulate farms as occasional event venues.
Among several public hearings after 4pm, is an omnibus discussion (118) that combines (deep breath) the Bicycle Master Plan, the Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan, and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.
There's plenty more (CodeNEXT, Torchy's Tacos, and both SMART- and micro-housing), so by the time they get to the 5:30pm return of live music – the Austin Community Steel Band – we all might be ready for a breather. It's Pancreatic Cancer Month, Municipal Court Week, and Adoption Day. And of course, Old Home Week: Welcome back!