Top 10 City Council Stories

The best from this year's dais

Mayor Steve Adler bikes to work on Bike to Work Day in May. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

1) Just Don't Call It "Sharing" As Mayor Steve Adler put it, the citywide public argument over "ridesharing" "sucked all the oxygen out of the room." In May, after two years of wrangling and several months of City Council hearings, petitions, and an explosion of campaign spending, Uber and Lyft were defeated at the polls.

2) Austin Moves On In a risky decision to sell a major transportation bond on short notice and uncertain Council support, Mayor Adler arm-twisted a $720 million "Go Big" Mobility Bond – then convinced the voters to endorse the expensive package. Now the roads need to meet the rubber.

3) Attack of the PUDs No, not "people-eating underground dwellers," but "planned unit developments" that spring up all over town and devour Council time and debates like so much buttered popcorn. The two big ones this year were Pilot Knob and the Grove at Shoal CreekAustin Oaks soon to follow.

4) Knobby Problems The far southeast Pilot Knob PUD arrived as a development breakthrough and a new Council effort to fund long-term affordable housing, via redirected Austin Water fees. A lawsuit and an updated ordinance later, the affordability funding remains in limbo.

5) Deep in the Grove The Grove at Shoal Creek also garners a Top 10 highlight, as the PUD roiled neighborhood listservs, land-use debates, and Council maneuvering for roughly two years. It was approved by Council on Dec. 15.

6) The Zimmerman Files How to summarize Council Member Don Zim­mer­man's meteoric two-year tenure? There was the stream-of-consciousness ranting, anti-government posturing, self-aggrandizing lawsuits, berating of city staff, condescension to witnesses (even children) ... oh, and the November defeat! Buh-bye!

7) Satan Says Hello His Satanic Majes­ty didn't make a personal appearance, but CM Zimmerman attempted (as a prank) to smuggle him into a Council resolution on tolerance, and then took the bait in panic when the Satanic Temple was scheduled for an invocation (postponed). Who will protect us now?

8) Less Than Total Recall After Uber and Lyft targeted District 5 CM Ann Kitchen as the sponsor of regulations they disdained, Kitchen became the target of a petition recall effort by right-wing groups that foundered when they failed to follow campaign rules. Better luck – or brains – next time.

9) You Look (Almost) Familiar The first re-election campaign under 10-1 produced a mixed result – the return of CMs Delia Garza, Greg Casar, and Leslie Pool, but defeat for Don Zimmerman by Jimmy Flan­nigan, and Sheri Gallo by Alison Alter. We'll learn the effects on the dais in 2017.

10) Ott In, Ott Out After the 2014 election, City Manager Marc Ott seemed to be a short-timer, after several Council candidates ran on a City Hall clean-out. But Council huffed, puffed, and punted. Ott survived into 2016, even garnered a raise and Council vote of confidence – prior to confirming his departure for a D.C. directorship.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 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
Council: Child Care “Scandal” Highlights City’s Own Failures
Council: Child Care “Scandal” Highlights City’s Own Failures
CMs also mull fate of APL’s Recycled Reads

Nina Hernandez, Feb. 15, 2019

Council Says Goodbye to 2018
Council Says Goodbye to 2018
After tackling one last mammoth agenda, members take a powder

Nina Hernandez, Dec. 21, 2018

More by Michael King
Lege Lines: A Win for Brewers, a Scam for Paxtons, and More
Lege Lines: A Win for Brewers, a Scam for Paxtons, and More
This bill's for you

Feb. 22, 2019

Govalle Neighbors Rally to Save Pecan Grove
Govalle Neighbors Rally to Save Pecan Grove
City-owned property slated for affordable housing

Feb. 22, 2019


City Council, Steve Adler, Don Zimmerman, Delia Garza, Greg Casar, Sheri Gallo, Marc Ott, Alison Alter, Jimmy Flannigan, Uber, Lyft, Ann Kitchen, Grove at Shoal Creek

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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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