Council: All You Can Eat!
Council gets stuff done
City Council members were somewhat prematurely pleased with themselves last week, having plowed through a 129-Item agenda by the relatively early hour of 10:30pm. The catch was the postponements (partly influenced by the absence of Council Member Bill Spelman, recuperating from surgery) of at least 39 Items (more, if you count "first readings only"), some of them burrs-under-the-saddle, like the Decker Lake golf course proposal and the pending CodeNEXT revision – both land-use questions that have bedeviled the agenda for weeks. With no meeting today, Nov. 13, the Nov. 20 draft agenda (finalized tomorrow) is a smorgasbord of 165 Items, and counting.
What did they do (or not) last week?
• Approved a revision of amplified sound regulations that change the technical specs and move more of the process from Parks & Rec to the Music Office.
• Approved (second reading only) an ordinance banning discrimination against "source of income" rents for managed rental properties.
• Approved (for negotiation) a proposal to sell two tracts of Cedar Park land (currently used for quarries) to the city of Cedar Park – Council wants environmental assurances.
• Approved (for negotiation and execution) the interlocal agreement governing arrest bookings with Travis County – Council still intending to separate nonfelony arrests and federal "Secure Communities" (undocumented immigrant hunting) policy.
• Approved a singular waiver of the anti-lobby ordinance to allow Council to hear presentations on the golf course facilities proposed at Decker Lake/Walter E. Long Park.
• Finally approved (on second and third readings) the long-simmering South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan.
And then there were the vexed postponements, including high-profile Items due for wrangling next week:
• Amendment to tighten restrictions on Downtown concrete-pours during late hours – a stop-gap proposal sponsored by CM Laura Morrison.
• The much delayed "coyote conflict management strategy," with stakeholders reportedly still at loggerheads over animal protection vs. vermin extermination.
• A resolution to direct the city manager to report on living wage issues affecting social service contracts.
• A whole bundle of postponed zoning cases, including the polarized Springdale Farm battle (see "Next Target: Springdale," above).
• The public hearing on what's next for "CodeNEXT," the proposed revision of the land development code that is pitting supporters of urban density against defenders of traditional neighborhoods.
• And "source-of-income" will return for third reading ... sometime.
The official calendar lists only the Nov. 20 meeting (work session Nov. 18) and a Dec. 11 meeting to finish out the year – and effectively, the incumbent Council's tenure on the dais. So the tension playing out in the newly redesigned Council chambers is effectively What-Needs-Doing-Now? vs. What-Can-Wait-Until-10-1?, with city staff – anticipating at least six months of learning and dithering by the newcomers – reportedly leaning heavily on the first question, and public skeptics leaning on the second.
Expect many split decisions.