Top 10 City Council Stories

Laura Pressley (Photo by Jana Birchum)

1) District Politics

The new 10-1 City Council got a year of governance under its belt – with a slow start but more effectiveness over time – and began to reflect a greater range of public priorities.

2) Selling Short

The fate of short-term rental units – or at least the "Type 2," non-owner-occupied variety – entered 2015 on a short leash and exited 2015 on a shorter one, and in the New Year, more renter control awaits.

3) Smoke Busters

In an early misstep, council members attempted to address some hyper-local disputes over barbecue smoke with a citywide policy on scrubbers – it never got past the discussion stage before withdrawal, but evoked national foodie outrage and PR embarrassment.

4) Home$teading

A property tax "homestead exemption" was popular on the 10-1 campaign trail, but less popular on the dais, where it was winnowed from an expensive 20% to a symbolic 6% – with promises of a higher phase in.

5) Zimm City

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman provided steady opposition and entertainment on the dais, from his wacko commission appointments, his angry denials of climate change, his outrage over gay marriage ... and a campaign finance lawsuit against the city.

6) Unappealing

The city challenged, unchallenged, sued, and is now deciding whether to appeal the dismissal of its challenge lawsuit against the Travis Central Appraisal District, on its claim that commercial property valuations are too low, to the disadvantage of homeowners.

7) Very Sore Loser

Despite a run-off loss and a recount loss, defeated District 4 Council candidate Laura Pressley refused to concede defeat, filing a contest and then a lawsuit she also lost, and then was hit with hefty sanctions. Never-Say-Die Appeal awaits.

8) In the Money

Thanks to an unprecedented 12.5% growth rate, Council was able to produce an FY 2016 budget that provided a homestead exemption, increased social services, and (slightly) cut tax payments. But everybody still hates growth ....

9) A Roof for Granny

After months of preparation, Council greatly expanded the ability of homeowners to build "accessory dwelling units" (aka "granny flats") on single-family lots, potentially adding thousands of rental units and (in theory) bending the housing cost curve.

10) Throwing a Finger

In its final 2015 meeting, Council adopted "incomplete" regulations for transportation network ("ridesharing") companies, with driver fingerprinting "benchmarks" that Uber and Lyft reject – next year we'll learn if reasonable minds prevail.

Don Zimmerman (Photo by John Anderson)

Top 10 City Council Members

1) Greg Casar

2) Delia Garza

3) Kathie Tovo

4) Pio Renteria

5) Ann Kitchen

6) Leslie Pool

7) Steve Adler

8) Ora Houston

9) Sheri Gallo

10) Ellen Troxclair

Honorable Mention: Don Zimmerman

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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 10-1 City Council
The Long and Winding Road to 10-1
The Long and Winding Road to 10-1
The steps to a December adoption of a district plan

Mike Kanin, Feb. 1, 2013

More by Michael King
Point Austin: The Never-Ending Story
Point Austin: The Never-Ending Story
Millions of guns, and countless murders

Feb. 20, 2024

Paxton’s Impeachment Circus Continues Into 2024
Paxton’s Impeachment Circus Continues Into 2024
Dan Patrick’s denunciation of the House decision to impeach confirms entire trial was tilted in Paxton’s favor

Dec. 15, 2023


10-1 City Council, short-term rentals, homestead exemption, Don Zimmerman, Travis Central Appraisal District, Laura Pressley, accessory dwelling units, transportation network companies, uber, lyft, Mayor Steve Adler, Ora Houston, Delia Garza, Pio Renteria, Greg Casar, Ann Kitchen, Ellen Troxclair, Sheri Gallo, Leslie Pool, Kathie Tovo

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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