Public Notice: Major League
Pushed by mayor, City Council takes the leap
It's been a trying week on the local government front, as City Council griped their way through a number of contentious meetings, clearing the decks for next week's budget deliberations. The rancor perhaps peaked last Thursday as Council set a November ballot that's shaping up as far more contentious and muddled than it ought to be, then dove into a series of amendments to the term sheet for the McKalla Place soccer stadium. Council members fought over the ballot language for two citizen referendums – and indeed, the wording is now being disputed in court (see "Point Austin," Aug. 17) – and even over setting charter amendments. These are essentially nonsubstantial and noncontroversial, but they don't include any of the more substantial proposals recommended by the citizens' Charter Review Commission – notably an election finance reform plan, but also an independent Ethics Review Commission and budget officer, limits on referendum and recall petitions, moving the city attorney to directly under City Council instead of the city manager, and more. Instead, in what seems like a deliberate rejection of the task force, these will now be forestalled for two years – the minimum time allowed between charter election dates.
Then came the soccer stadium debate, and if that seemed every bit as contentious, at least it appears to be settled, for now. What struck me the most about these negotiations all along is how determined Mayor Steve Adler was to get this deal done, sometimes seemingly at all costs. That peaked last Thursday night as well, when hizzoner snapped at his colleagues, as it became clear that the sheer number of amendments being offered made approval that night impossible: "I'm ready to vote no on all the amendments, too [sight unseen]. That would also get us done." Yes, that is our mayor, saying he'd be willing to leave millions of dollars on the table in this negotiation – concessions that Precourt Sports Ventures had already agreed to – in order to get this discussion over with, and this deal done. And, okay, we all say things we don't really mean in the heat of the moment. But this was a fairly steady refrain from the mayor, who often seemed to be negotiating publicly for Precourt and against the interests of the city, and of Capital Metro. When CM Delia Garza first presented amendments to add additional payments from Precourt to Cap Metro, for example, the mayor's first reaction was to highlight Precourt spokesman Richard Suttle's claim that his side had already given every bit that it could. But despite those denials, it seemed likely that Precourt still had a lot of room to give – and indeed, they had agreed to those amendments, and quite a few more, before Council gave the final okay on Wednesday for staff to "negotiate and execute" the agreement.
But perhaps that's all water under the bridge now. And even if we didn't perhaps bargain as hard as we might have been able to, it's exciting to have that step out of the way, and to be on our way toward a Major League Soccer team. Full speed ahead.
The Tiny House movement, as a reaction to suburban sprawl and expanding living footprints, dates back at least to the counterculture Sixties, but it's really taken off just this decade, with many books and TV shows and a burgeoning startup industry trying to address the housing affordability crisis, and take advantage of advances in "smart home" technology. Next week's Tiny House & Simple Living Jamboree "aims to raise awareness about the small-living movement, re-address how we look at housing, educate about the latest developments across the nation, and serve as a platform to discuss issues such as affordability and attainability in the housing market."
It's an ambitious event, both indoors and outdoors at the Travis County Expo Center, with exhibitors and demonstrations – many of them local entrepreneurs representing everything from building materials to turnkey homes to real estate advisors – but also an industry confab, meeting on topics such as marketing, building certification, and "legislation concerning tiny living from county, city, and state government," and a keynote panel hosted by the city of Austin. They'll also be doing a live build of a house kit over the course of the weekend, with the completed home to be donated to Community First! Village, an East Austin community providing housing and support for the disabled and chronically homeless. They'll even have a tiny dental office, as Nomad Dental brings their dental office on wheels, and will be taking appointments.
The industry part starts Thursday, Aug. 23, with the trade show open Fri., 12:30-6pm; Sat., 10am-6pm; Sun., 10am-5pm, at Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker. Tickets are $25 at www.tinyhousejamboree.com, $30 at the door.
Austin Center for Events is still working on the procedures by which it will process event applications under the new Special Events Ordinance; weigh in 2-4pm next Tue., Aug. 21 at the Central Library, 710 W. Cesar Chavez, or at www.austintexas.gov/citystage.
The city of Austin, scrambling to create and update rules for scooters and other "dockless mobility" services, is hosting an online survey about citizens' experiences, to remain open through Aug. 31. See www.austintexas.gov/docklessmobility for the survey, and a look at the interim rules adopted in May.
The city's Development Services Department is seeking public input on proposed changes to the demolition permit process which staff is preparing to recommend to City Council. Give it Saturday, Aug. 18, 1-3pm at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St., or online at SpeakUpAustin.org through Sept. 2.
Planned Parenthood's Austin Annual Dinner, Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Hyatt Regency, will feature Cecile Richards. Tickets start at $400; sponsorships start at $4,000, online at www.ppgreatertx.org/AustinDinner.
Tribune Fest has released the full schedule for this year's event, taking place Sept. 27-29 at various locations Downtown; see festival.texastribune.org for more info.
Mexic-Arte Museum's fourth annual Catrina Ball will be Oct. 13 at the Fairmont Ballroom, 101 Red River. See more at www.mexic-artemuseumevents.org.