Council: Not Enough Hours in the Day

How about a meeting about the meeting?

Like the apocryphal discount store that makes up in volume what it loses on every transaction, City Council has cut back on the post-midnight meetings and replaced them with nearly daily miscellaneous convocations. This week, they officially took Wednesday off – policy workshop Monday, work session Tuesday, regular meeting today (Thursday), and another couple of policy sessions (morning: economic development; afternoon: "cost of living and quality of life") on Friday. They were also scheduled to hold their first committee meeting early Tuesday afternoon – Audit and Finance, to begin consideration of Mayor Steve Adler's detoured request for more staff and more outreach money – but that meeting was swallowed by the work session that began at 9am and didn't adjourn until 4:30pm.

That followed a long and heated discussion of the Decker Lake/Long Metro­pol­i­tan Park golf course proposal, which has bounced from last year's Council to this one, had a public hearing, and is scheduled for a vote today – if Council can bring themselves to do it. Nominally, the public hearing is closed: Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo briefly suggested consideration of reopening (to no acclaim), while Council fault lines began to show on the project. District 7 Council Mem­ber Leslie Pool appeared firmly against the deal (as did Tovo) – though she suggested perhaps it could be moved to committee for further review – while D1 CM Ora Houston was equally adamant that the nearby neighborhoods have waited long enough for economic development, that this specific plan has been in the works for at least a year (in addition to decades on the parkland master plan), and that it's time to move forward.

Presumably, we'll find out today (Item 28, to approve negotiation and execution of the 50-year licensing agreement with Decker Lake Golf, LLC) where the wind blows elsewhere on the dais – some were asking for more delay.

Judging from the work session, other contentious subjects on the seemingly light 35-Item agenda include:

• Austin Energy solar energy/energy efficiency rebates (Items 2-8): Nominally on consent and previously noncontroversial, the rebates received a hearty work-over from some CMs on cost-benefit grounds.

• Austin Promise Zone (Item 12): A proposed interlocal agreement with AISD for a revitalization project in the Rundberg, St. John's, Colony Park, East Central, and Dove Springs areas under a federal HUD umbrella program involving various efforts to promote investment, affordable housing, and economic development.

• Onion Creek buyout (Item 14): Would authorize the purchase of 240 more properties in the 100-year flood plain, for a limit of $60 million – there were sharp questions about the cost and the broader issue of other flood-prone properties around the city.

• Garza Ranch (Items 30-31): This is back for second reading: In a late (and quite confused) Feb. 26 discussion, Council approved (9-2) on first reading a zoning variance that would allow 13,000 vehicle trips on a tract proposed for development near MoPac and William Cannon – but the number appeared plucked out of the air, and ready for plenty more scenery-chewing.

It's Ramsey Park Day, Women in Con­struction Week, and Women Veterans Month, and the musical honorees are the sweet bluegrass duo Fog & Bone – presumably with no political pun intended.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More City Council 2015
Council Proposes ABA Coverage
Council Proposes ABA Coverage
Advocates persuade Council on autism treatment benefits

Chase Hoffberger, May 22, 2015

Public Notice: Golf and Taxes at City Council
Public Notice: Golf and Taxes at City Council
Proposals before Council suggest change is in the air

May 22, 2015

More by Michael King
Dana DeBeauvoir Fought for Election Access in a Year of Barriers
Dana DeBeauvoir Fought for Election Access in a Year of Barriers

Nov. 27, 2020

Texas Book Festival 2020: Isabel Wilkerson on <i>Caste</i>
Texas Book Festival 2020: Isabel Wilkerson on Caste
Festival talk highlights structural foundations of U.S. divisions

Nov. 17, 2020


City Council 2015, Decker Lake

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle