Public Notice: City Hall Shark Tank
Council might be no fun, but there's lots of cool stuff going on this weekend
It's blood in the water time at Austin City Council, and the lobbyists are circling. Lame duck council members only have a couple more meetings to keep spreading the regulatory chum, and there are so many mouths to feed ... but alas, time is getting short.
Among the hot items at last Thursday's meeting, with Bill Spelman absent, were two stalemated 3-3 votes in a row – on abolishing parking requirements for microunits, and on overruling city staff and consultants on CodeNEXT, and going with the lobby-favored plan for rewriting our building codes. In both cases, it was Mike Martinez joining Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison on the didn't-we-work-out-all-these-plans-and-preferred-corridors-and-compatibility-requirements-for-a-reason? side, and as usual, Lee Leffingwell, Sheryl Cole, and Chris Riley in the let-the-builders-get-on-with-their-work-at-whatever-cost-and-why-are-you-bothering-me-with-this? camp. Spelman, though he presumably knows better, has sided with that faction of late, so perhaps those initiatives can pass 4-3 on Nov. 20. But as I noted last week, such decisions would be a huge act of hubris on the part of this Council, and could well be rolled back by the next one.
The roles are reversed regarding an ordinance regarding late-night construction work – mostly concrete pours – currently allowed Downtown. Builders want to expand the area in which they can work 24/7; Council backed an ordinance on first reading that would grant the expansion, but ban construction altogether after 2am. So it's the builders who are dragging their heels on this one: asking for time for stakeholders to examine the "unintended consequences" of such a rash action. That'll probably work, given the time frame, but when it comes back after Jan. 6, it's hard to see the new 10-1 Council looking more favorably on 24/7 construction.
Meanwhile, the Walter E. Long private golf resort on public parkland scheme seems improbable, Accessory Dwelling Units are mired in rewrites, and a raft of other vaguely sketchy proposals are trying desperately to get fast-tracked, with the knowledge that any proposal that doesn't get into a lifeboat on Nov. 20 or Dec. 11, will be facing a whole new pack of unpredictable predators in January.
But on the cheerier side, there's a lot of fun stuff happening around town this week:
Support Your Pet Supporters: I hope this is more synergy than competition, but Saturday, Nov. 15 offers two very different takes on supporting your local animal shelters. Yes, the press releases for both events use the phrase "forever home" – but they follow different creative paths to that shared goal. You should have just enough time to get from one Downtown event to the other – and support both the nonprofit Austin Humane Society, and the city's Austin Animal Center – but given the nature of the events, fashion strategies will clearly have to be plotted.
The first-ever Dog Beard and Moustache Competition runs from 2-6pm at the Mohawk, 912 Red River. It's produced by the Austin Facial Hair Club, who are always thinking, as a benefit for the Austin Animal Center, "the largest no-kill municipal animal shelter in the U.S." Dog lovers throughout Central Texas will compete in a variety of categories, including: Dog & Owner look-a-like contest; Gnarliest Beard; Sideburns/Chops; Fantasy; and a costume contest. See www.mohawkaustin.com for more contest info. Admission is free, with a $5 suggested donation going to the Animal Center.
The Rags to Wags gala is the Austin Humane Society's largest fundraising event, an annual seated dinner and runway show at the Four Seasons Hotel, with celebrity dog walkers (in Wild West costume for this year's theme, Wild Waggin' West), live and silent auctions, and – a rarity at Four Seasons dinner parties – adoptable dogs and cats in attendance. 6:30-10:30pm; 98 San Jacinto. More info and advance tickets ($200) at www.austinhumanesociety.org.
Duncan Park VISIONING: Austin PARD, Shoal Creek Conservancy, Austin Parks Foundation, and other stakeholders invite the public to provide input on what current and future parks users wish to see in the park (along Shoal Creek between Ninth and 10th streets).
Saturday, Nov. 15, 10am-1pm: A day in the park itself! Family activities, info about Duncan Park, and a chance to provide your thoughts on the future of the park.
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 6-7:30pm: Open House at the Austin Recreation Center, 1301 Shoal Creek Blvd. Drop by any time; short presentations will be given at 6:30 & 7pm.
Party Weird: Meet Howie Richey, the author of Party Weird: Festivals and Fringe Gatherings of Austin on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 6:30pm at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe. From Spamarama to ACL and SXSW, Richey covers hundreds of festivals and gatherings of all sizes and themes, and how they have shaped Austin's cultural history. With a foreward by Margaret Moser. See more info at library.austintexas.gov/ahc.
B-social Art Ride: Austin B-cycle and Big Medium team up to provide an organized group ride on Austin B-cycles to various studios participating in EAST, for an up-close and personal experience with the artists. $50 includes reserved bike, T-shirt, food and drink at each stop, and a 24-hour bike pass; reserve in advance at austin.bcycle.com. Wednesday, Nov. 19, leaving at 6pm from the Brixton, 1214 E. Sixth.
Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park Golf Course Project: Join the Austin Parks and Recreation Dept. on Monday, Nov. 17, from 4:30-7:30pm at Morris Williams Golf Course, 3851 Manor Rd., to learn about the proposal from Decker Lake Golf LLC to develop and operate two "world-class" golf courses on Northeast Austin parkland. Attendees are invited to "comment on the plan, as well as ask questions and share ideas" – and boy howdy, I bet they will.
Attention nonprofits and public service groups: Help us help you help others! Watch your email for an invitation to participate in the 2014 Austin Chronicle Holiday Wish Lists program. Join us as we roll out new features to highlight your lists. Make sure your organization is on the list: Send contact name, phone number, and email by Dec. 3 to: email@example.com. See austinchronicle.com/WishList.
Send gossip, innuendo, dog videos, and other useful grist to firstname.lastname@example.org.