Top 10 City Council Stories
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.
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.
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.
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