City Council Takes on a Safer Sixth Street, Project Connect, and More

Council tackles a 63-item agenda

Austin City Hall (Photo by John Anderson)

Like the rest of Texas, City Hall is focused this week on the March 1 primary elections; still, Council meets today, March 3, to take up a brisk 63-item agenda. We're watching a few items, including a resolution from Council Member Paige Ellis asking staff to explore all the ways the Land Development Code can be amended to make implementation of mobility bond projects a smoother process. The city is still working through projects approved by voters in 2016, 2018, and 2020, including active transportation investments championed by Ellis in the bond program approved alongside Project Connect's overhaul of the regional transit system.

Ellis wants staff to provide clarity on a range of issues where the planning for these mobility projects intersects with land use and development regulations, such as: impervious cover limits for street cross-sections; better discerning maintenance from reconstruction projects within the city's rights of way; and how to apply the environmental requirements now asked of road projects to railways of similar scale. Meanwhile, CM Ann Kitchen, who's also the vice chair of the Capital Metro board (where she can continue to serve after she's term-limited on Council in 2022), is asking that $21 million be appropriated from the Project Connect $300 million anti-displacement fund for affordable housing projects along transit corridors, along with $20 million to identify and implement other anti-displacement efforts using the equity tool developed last year by staff and community stakeholders.

And CM and mayoral candidate Kathie Tovo is bringing forth a wide-ranging resolution to move the ball forward on a safer Sixth Street. Notable components include a possible pilot program to support "small-scale activations in the right of way" along four blocks in the core of the entertainment district. The goal would be "adding more diverse uses and amenities" to Sixth Street and expanding the "audience of people who recreate in the area." Following last summer's shooting that killed out-of-town visitor Doug­las Kantor and wounded 13 others, Tovo's resolution also addresses safe firearm storage for people in Austin who've evacuated from disasters elsewhere, as well as a potential gun buyback program.

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Austin City Council, Paige Ellis, Ann Kitchen, Capital Metro, Project Connect, Sixth Street, Kathie Tovo, Douglas Kantor

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