Audrey McGlinchy

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

An annual study released by researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute shows just how universal the experience of sitting in traffic is for Austin commuters. Capital city drivers spent a total of 51 million hours delayed on the road in 2014, putting Austin at number 29 on a list of cities with the worst traffic delays.

U.S. Geological Survey

The story starts with six scientists and six glaciers. They set out to Alaska and Greenland to study earthquakes caused by glaciers breaking up. To do this, they hooked seismic sensors up to these big pieces of ice. However, when they pulled this data down, they heard something new: the sound of melting glaciers.

Tim Bartholomaus, a postdoctoral fellow at UT’s Institute for Geophysics, says the melting glacial water makes a buzzing, whirring sound. It’s a sound that the research team found completely by accident.

The City of Austin has its own department dedicated to auditing the police force – it’s called the Office of the Police Monitor. It’s supposed to issue an annual report summarizing all the year’s officer-involved shootings, complaints against police and investigations into the department.

But if you go to the Police Monitor’s website, the latest report is from 2012

The backlog is real.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

The city of Austin has released a report on health gaps throughout Travis County. It touches on high rates of teenage pregnancy, infant mortality and HIV among African-American and Hispanic communities.

But this report is just the first step toward helping the city and local non-profits find a way to use the city budget to bridge gaps between different communities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Fun Fun Fun Fest is set for November, but festival organizers don’t yet know how much of Auditorium Shores they’ll be able to use.

The battle, it turns out, is over a three-acre tract of dog park.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department says they never promised this area for festival use. Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers say at least part of this space is essential to making the festival work.

City Council will wade into the issue tomorrow.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Neighbors filed a lawsuit against Terry Black’s barbecue last week, saying the smoke from its pits was disruptive. But in a Health and Human Services Committee meeting Monday, city staff argued that complaints like these are mostly isolated incidents.

Vince Delisi with the city’s Health and Human Services Department talked to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality, which tracks air pollution complaints such as barbecue smoke.

“That report was a little bit disappointing," Delisi says.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin music leaders are suggesting changes the city could make to protect and enliven its live music industry. On Wednesday, they presented their recommendations at Holy Mountain, a downtown venue closing its doors later this year – partly because of rising rent.

The recommendations are aimed at five issues advocates say are plaguing Austin’s music scene, including affordability of commercial space, stagnant event revenues, venue preservation, permitting and code enforcement complications and a gap in community engagement.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The challenges of economic development and gentrification facing East Austin are nothing new. But they will get some new attention from a group of city council members convened by Mayor Steve Adler.  The group will be focusing on a part of the city some council members are calling the “eastern crescent.”

The exotic, almost alluring term “eastern crescent” was introduced recently into the city council lexicon. Council member Leslie Pool threw it out in a June audit and finance meeting. She was talking to city staff about a public improvement district in East Austin.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Although the city’s Parks and Recreation Department ordered the repair of an East Austin neighborhood pool in late April, it appears that the department had bids for the work for some time. This, even as department officials initially told residents that the pool would have to be closed for the 2015 summer season and then back-tracked under community pressure.

On Nov. 5, 2014 (see below), the Parks Department received a bid from Commercial Swim Management for Metz Pool repairs totaling $10,232.60. Those repairs included replacement of the plumbing in a pool wall drain and installation of new valves and piping. That bid was eventually approved, and a purchase request was made by the city on April 30, 2015.

Texas Eagle/flickr

Between January and March, Travis County residents called in more than 260 coyote incidents. Some of these were just sightings, but others called in because their pets had been attacked.

In November, the Austin City Council adopted its first-ever plan to handle coyotes. The main thrust of the plan? Handling them humanely.

But what does handling them humanely mean, exactly?

City of Austin

Earlier this month, Florida repealed its ban on adoption by same-sex couples. That’s never been illegal in Texas, but whether or not a same-sex couple can adopt a child has always come down to a judge’s opinion. But with the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges last month, judges in Texas can no longer discriminate based on a couple’s makeup.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Last week downtown Austin music venue Holy Mountain announced it will close its doors this fall because of rising rent prices. Advocates say more music venues will begin to fall as Austin rents increase — the club's neighbor Red 7 is also staring down a rent hike. So some Austinites and out of town music-boosters are floating a solution.

A 500-plus signature petition on change.org is proposing a simple solution to the Austin City Council: rent control. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: The battle rages bloodless over a 3-acre tract of dog park.

The Parks and Recreation Department and the organizer of Fun Fun Fun Fest, Transmission Events, are ensnarled in a dispute over festival planning. At the center of that dispute is the new off-leash area at the renovated Vic Mathias Shores, formerly Auditorium Shores. If there isn’t a resolution by this Thursday, City Council may intervene.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day when African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally granted their freedom – two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and just over two months after the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox.

The day of celebration started as a Texas tradition but has since become a nationwide tradition, and in the late 1990s two Texas artists built statues to commemorate the holiday.

Those statues have now been installed in Austin’s George Washington Carver Museum, but the statues have had a long journey to what will likely be their permanent home. 

wikimedia commons

After a shooting early Saturday at the police headquarters in Dallas, officials there are calling for more building security. One of the improvement measures they are considering is installing bulletproof glass.

Austin had its own shooting on police headquarters back in November, and repairs on the building will start in a few weeks. But the department did not have bulletproof glass before the shooting, and there are no plans to install it now.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

This week, Austin City Council will start discussions about increasing the enforcement of short-term rental property regulations. Currently, the city requires short-term rental operators to hold a license, and renters must agree to certain rules.

But those rules have proven difficult to enforce, and council will hear recommendations on the license program and enforcement of  illegal rentals this afternoon.

Audrey McGlinchy/Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor:

Residents opposed to a proposed 65-room boutique hotel at 1207 East Cesar Chavez St. told the Planning Commission on Tuesday night that they do not want to see their neighborhood become “another Rainey Street.” At the meeting, several residents held signs that read, “Don’t Rain-ey on our Chavez … No East Side Hotel.”

Commissioners agreed that the hotel should not go up in East Austin, and a motion to approve a conditional use permit failed (Commissioner Richard Hatfield created the motion, but none of the other four commissioners present seconded it).

City of Austin

From the Austin Monitor

While City Council members have almost 300 spots to fill on commissions and boards before current membership expires on July 1, some groups have adjourned their June meetings still uncertain about who will be seated next month.

With Commissioner Reynaldo Moreno absent, the Public Safety Commission last week voted unanimously to cancel its July meeting because members were not assured they would have a majority, or quorum, present.

“I’ve been putting the pressure on the mayor and Council to continue making appointments,” said Boards and Commissions Coordinator Deena Estrada. “There’s a lot of guilty emails going out, or my stomping of feet in front of the mayor’s office. I’ll send an email saying we now have only five boards that are able to meet quorum. … I can handle the guilt trip pretty well.”

Audrey McGlinchy/flickr

School’s letting out for summer, and swimming pool season’s getting underway. But some of Austin’s pools aren’t ready for swimmers, at least not yet.

During last week’s floods, images circulated of Barton Springs Pool looking like a raging river. The water’s receded since then, but now, small islands of drying mud float atop murky, green water.

But there aren’t any swimmers. “Just a few ducks and some divers,” said Andrei Mellin, who was in town visiting from Cincinatti. He and his family showed up to Barton Springs, towels in hand, only to find out that the pool isn’t open.

Nikasucha/pixabay

Texas law requires that a dog who’s attacked a human be placed on a “dangerous dog list.” These lists are updated by municipalities and counties, and many publish the dog owners’ names and where they live.

Austin has its own dangerous dog ordinance, but instead of "dangerous," the city uses the word “vicious.” The ordinance was passed more than two decades ago and is less forgiving than state law. But after an increasing number of complaints about recourse for those dogs who violate the city law, members of the Animal Advisory Commission say they’ll reconsider what it means to be a vicious dog in Austin.

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