Council Says Goodbye to 2018
After tackling one last mammoth agenda, members take a powder
The final meeting of the current incarnation of the Austin City Council adjourned just after 8pm last Thursday. Earlier in the day, the group celebrated departing CMs Ora Houston and Ellen Troxclair through a series of comments and proclamations recognizing their achievements on the dais. With those two properly retired, Council takes a couple of weeks off for the holidays, and will return to swear in Natasha Harper-Madison and Paige Ellis on Jan. 7.
Members finally approved Item 21, an agreement giving 33 acres of extraterritorial jurisdiction land, which sits in the Barton Springs zone, to the city of Dripping Springs. Another zoning case regarding ETJ, Item 20, passed on consent, and Lazy Nine Municipal Utility District can now annex and serve 124 acres of Austin's ETJ, also within the Barton Springs zone. Though development restrictions in the BSZ are generally a touchy subject, staff doesn't expect any adverse environmental impacts as a result of the deal. In other action:
• Austin Energy got $150 million for a new headquarters building at Mueller, to be built for the utility by Mueller master developer Catellus, which will help solve AE's long-running capacity and logistics issues.
• Members of city boards and commissions now face the same anti-harassment policies as other city officials.
• Council also expanded the Austin Fire Department's four-person staffing model to include all emergency response vehicles, and endorsed spending the money to reach the Austin Police Department's staffing plan.
• CM Houston got in one last hurrah by speaking against Item 44, a pilot program in partnership with Capital Metro to increase transit use, on the grounds that the city shouldn't be funding the transit authority's operations. Item sponsor Delia Garza disagreed, arguing that promoting transit use is good for the community overall. It passed 6-2, with Houston and Troxclair voting no and several members off the dais. Bless them.
• The plan to rezone the Sekrit Theater property on Perry Lane in East Austin passed on first reading. Local artist Beau Reichert has been searching for a way to keep his property and the art that resides there, and it looks like he'll have a chance with the plan to add 20 new residential units. It will, unfortunately, mean removing the giant, nonconforming outdoor movie theatre that initially made the place famous.