Public Notice: Council’s Last Stand
Next week’s meeting tries to tie up some loose ends
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. There's understandably not much going on this week in terms of civic events, but things get going again next week, notably with a City Council work session, special called meeting, and regular meeting on consecutive days – Nov. 29-Dec. 1 – as the current lame-duck Council tries to finish up some unfinished business before riding off into the sunset. Wednesday's special is a staff briefing on Project Connect, and on the Light Rail Implementation Plan, which should be very interesting, given the discussions over cost increases and potential value engineering (i.e., cutbacks in the overall plan).
Notable on Thursday's regular session agenda is another effort to pass a resolution directing city staff to be more rigorous in their efforts to produce affordable housing on city-owned land. Kathie Tovo's original motion has run into somewhat surprising opposition on the dais; Mayor Steve Adler has proposed a substitute, much simpler resolution that essentially replaces the detailed instructions in the original with a set of more general and nonbinding recommendations – it can likely pass, but likely doesn't actually accomplish anything. Meanwhile, another resolution reasserts the city's interest in and opposition to a recent Hays County move to encourage a new highway across the Barton Springs water quality protection lands and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones. Elsewhere among the 15 items from Council are a plan to streamline site plan requirements for small (3- to 16-unit) multifamily residential developments, and a move to revamp and expand Austin Energy's Customer Assistance Program (see Lina Fisher's story here).
Expect a long public hearing on AE's revised electric rates and charges; no one's happy about that. And likely another long discussion of the proposed amendments to parking and compatibility requirements, and perhaps another about the proposal to allow residential uses in commercially zoned properties. Add in 25 zoning cases, climaxing with a third and possible final reading of the Statesman PUD proposal, and it could be a long day indeed.
The 62nd annual Preservation Merit Awards Celebration is next Thursday, Dec. 1, at Symphony Square, a fundraiser for Preservation Austin, honoring 11 outstanding preservation and rehabilitation projects. See preservationaustin.org for details.
Two nontraditional holidays this week remind us to contribute to the local community: Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26, comes right after Black Friday, and is a much more worthy shopping day. You know the stats – money spent at locally owned stores circulates seven times through the local economy, etc. – so act on it. Don't know where to go? Check out the city's Souly Austin program (austintexas.gov/department/souly-austin) or the Austin Independent Business Alliance's IBIZ Districts (ibuyaustin.com). Then celebrate Small Brewery Sunday, Nov. 27, sleep through Cyber Monday, then GivingTuesday, Nov. 29, opens the giving season, as a lot of worthy nonprofits kick off their year-end donation campaigns.