Public Notice: The New Industrial Revolution?
Is Mayor Adler our Teddy Roosevelt?
Mayor Steve Adler is pushing hard for his Thumbs-Up solution to the standoff with Uber and Lyft. And I must say, the most compelling part of his long and excellently argued press release on the matter is when he takes the broad view: "A hundred years ago, government responded to the Industrial Revolution by creating new kinds of regulations to protect people and the environment in ways that were not previously necessary. Today, a new sharing economy is developing, in which many of Austin's residents participate .... The old ways of regulating may not be those that best apply to the new world. In this light, the way government should engage with Uber, Lyft, and GetMe may have as much in common with Airbnb as it does with Yellow Cab." He pledged to help birth "a new way for government to meet its responsibilities in this new sharing economy."
And indeed, he's right. The new global "sharing economy" is evolving far faster than governmental regulations can keep up with. Much as railroads and banks were gaining unprecedented, monopolistic control of the economy in the 1890s, today's digital behemoths have outgrown their traditional masters, and created sprawling, worldwide empires that are far larger than the governments that are trying to wrap their regulatory arms around them. So, more power to you, Mr. Mayor. If you can solve this big, sticky mess, you will have done the world a favor possibly as large as what Teddy Roosevelt did when he brought us antitrust legislation, labor reforms, meat inspection, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and national parks, among many other innovations that began to define the rights of the individual in the industrial age. But, where's your big stick?
The Question of the Hour at Austin Water is whether Austin should make once-a-week watering restrictions permanent. They'll hold three open house meetings this week to gather input on that and other issues; drop by anytime between 6-8pm, or provide feedback online at SpeakUpAustin.org. See www.austintexas.gov/onedayperweek for more info.
• Thursday, Jan. 21 at Carver Library, 1161 Angelina.
• Monday, Jan. 25 at Austin Board of Realtors, 4800 Spicewood Springs Rd., 6-8:30pm.
• Tuesday, Jan. 26 at Spicewood Springs Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.
Then there'll be a Public Workshop/Wrap-Up Meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 6:30-8:30pm at Waller Creek Center, 625 E. 10th, Rm. 104.
Off-Leash Dogs Off-Limits. Starting Monday, Jan. 25, park users who let their dogs off-leash outside of the designated off-leash area of Auditorium Shores may be issued a citation with a fine of up to $500.
The city of Austin's Music & Entertainment Division will host a Music Venue Summit next Monday, to discuss areas of interest specific to live music venue owners and management. The Fire, Police, and Development Services departments will present info on: Security and Safety Planning, the Sound Ordinance, Occupant Load Cards, the proposed Entertainment License, and the Music Venue Loan Program. City Music Czar Don Pitts noted that the summit "is in direct response to the Music Industry Census" his department did last summer, where venues cited "an inconsistency with city communication and enforcement as an issue for their business." Monday, Jan. 25, 3-5pm, at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. It's free and open to the public, but pre-registration is encouraged via: www.goo.gl/forms/3ScKjvp1UU.
What to Do for the Next 11 Months? The Land Development Code Advisory Group will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 4-7pm, to discuss the 2016 work plan, and to elect new officers. Sign up for regular CodeNEXT updates at www.austintexas.gov/codenext.
The City's Art in Public Places Program seeks to commission artists for three unique public art projects: the Austin Convention Center Garage, some number of fire stations, and the TEMPO 2016 Temporary Public Art Project. They're holding an Artist Information Meeting on the first of those at the Cultural Arts Division offices at 201 E. Second, on Thursday, Jan. 28, noon-1pm. See info on all three projects at www.tinyurl.com/austinaipp.
Free Energy for Businesses! That's more or less what this innovative, Travis County-backed PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program offers: financing for commercial properties to install energy-efficiency improvements such as lighting, solar, HVAC, or water conservation, repaid over time with money saved from the lower utility costs. "In almost all instances, this will result in an instantaneous positive cash flow." Learn more at a meeting, Thursday, Jan. 28 at St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth, 7:30-9am. More info at www.texaspaceauthority.org, and register at www.eventbrite.com/e/daa-presents-travis-county-pace-program-tickets-20002584268.
PARD Public Planning Process
The new Montopolis Recreation and Community Center will be a joint use facility between Parks and Recreation and Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. Two Community Visioning Workshops will describe "the planning of access to the new facility, how it connects to the community, and how the building and its amenities fit on the site." Thursday, Jan. 21, 6:30-8:30pm at Allison Elementary School Cafeteria, 515 Vargas; and Saturday, Jan. 23, 10am-noon at Montopolis Rec Center, Rm. 1, 1200 Montopolis Dr. See the project page at www.austintexas.gov/department/montopolis-recreation-and-community-center-project.
Little Stacy Park improvements: PARD will host a final public meeting to show the latest design concepts and get community feedback. Saturday, Jan. 23, 9-11am at Travis Heights Elementary School, 2010 Alameda. See the project webpage at www.austintexas.gov/department/little-stacy-park.
The Lamar Beach Master Plan: PARD will host a public meeting, to present the refined draft master plans for this massive area of parkland on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake, running from Lamar Boulevard west to Austin High School, and encompassing Austin Pets Alive, the Texas Rowing Center, and youth athletic fields. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 6:30-8:30pm in the Austin High Cafeteria, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez. More info: www.austintexas.gov/department/lamar-beach-master-plan.
Govalle Pool improvements: PARD will host a first public meeting, with design consultant Asakura Robinson presenting the key elements of a neighborhood pool, design constraints, and layout options, and taking feedback on priorities for programming. Thursday, Jan. 28, 6:30-8pm at Parque Zaragoza Rec. Center, 2608 Gonzales. See more at www.austintexas.gov/department/govalle-pool-improvements.