What’s on City Council's Agenda This Week?
Council has its hands full. Here are some of the agenda items we're watching.
It's been a busy week for City Council, with a joint Capital Metro board meeting on Monday, work session Tuesday, and a regular voting meeting split across Wednesday and Thursday, due to a lengthy agenda and the final budget hearing scheduled for this Thursday. Also on Thursday, Council will hear more than 40 zoning cases, which have built up throughout July.
Here are some of the Items to note on the July 29 agenda. As the Chronicle went to press on Wednesday, Council had approved all of them except Item 74, which will be discussed later in the day.
• Item 73: Did you think the Land Development Code Revision was dead? Maybe not! Council approved the extension of a contract with planning consultant Peter Park, who has been a central figure in the city's long effort to comprehensively revise its land use rules. A staff memo indicates Park's consultation doesn't have anything to do with the appeal the city has filed against a court ruling that invalidated the most recent LDC Revision attempt, but the contract could provide a way for the city to change the code through other means.
• Item 74: Here, Council is set to approve a $1.7 million contract with Relief Enterprises of Texas Inc. to conduct cleanups of homeless encampments under highway overpasses in the city. As we reported previously, the cleanups often function more as sweeps – disrupting lives and displacing people by throwing away belongings and structures they need to achieve more stability in their lives.
• Item 85: Juneteenth has long been a celebrated holiday for Black Texans; this Item directs City Manager Spencer Cronk to make June 19 a paid holiday for city workers, giving them time to celebrate and reflect on the day that commemorates when Texas slaves finally learned they had been liberated – two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
• Item 88: Prohibiting public consumption of alcohol in some parts of cities has been one of the many tools used in the past to over-police minority communities, so Council is directing Cronk to develop an ordinance that removes those restrictions in Austin. It could come before Council in October.
• Item 89: As local school districts delay the reopening of in-person classes, panic is growing among parents seeking affordable child care. This resolution directs staff to return to Council by Aug. 13 with recommendations on how to bolster the city's child care system. One recommendation could include creating a "child care stabilization fund" that could award "immediate and ongoing" grants to child care providers.
• Item 90: Now that Council has settled on a system plan and funding mechanism for Project Connect (see "Council and Cap Metro Prepare to Hand Transit Plan to Voters"), they're set to direct staff to find ways of ensuring that the multibillion-dollar transit plan wouldn't accelerate gentrification in vulnerable communities, primarily by setting aside funds to buy land around proposed bus or rail stations to help keep housing affordable. The resolution would also instruct staff to develop a plan to fund sidewalk improvements, new bike lanes, more urban trails, and other active transportation projects that could go on the ballot alongside Project Connect.
• Item 91: This third in a trio of Items introduced by CM Natasha Harper-Madison (with 85 and 88) intends to take steps toward undoing Austin's legacy of white supremacy. This resolution directs staff to work toward the goal of renaming all city assets that honor the Confederacy or white supremacy and instead "recognize esteemed state and local heroes, places, and concepts that uphold the noble ideals of liberty, democracy, and self-determination."
• Item 117: At long last, Council will affirm support for a plan to redevelop abandoned lots in the St. Johns neighborhood that have become a symbol of municipal neglect of Black and Latinx communities. The resolution authorizes Cronk to solicit proposals to transform the old Home Depot and Chrysler dealership into a mixed-use development with some income-restricted housing, dedicated parkland, and community services.