Audrey McGlinchy

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Antonio Mancinas, 68, leans against a tree in his front yard. He lives in a house with his wife at the end of Sam Rayburn Drive in the Rundberg neighborhood. Despite having spent roughly a quarter of a century on the street, he thinks back just a few years.

“Just imagine,” he says. “We were always afraid. It was dangerous, never knowing when there was going to be a shootout.”


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

After news that a Political Action Committee had gathered enough signatures to recall an Austin City Council member, neighbors and fellow council members came out Monday to show their support.

“My experience with the Council member is that she is so hard-working and diligent and cares so much about this community,” District 4’s Greg Casar said of Kitchen.


MIguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

The Austin City Council today passed a plan to further regulate ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The language in the ordinance is not entirely clear – but it calls for the “preferred ability” of drivers who do get fingerprinted to pick up and drop off passengers in the downtown entertainment district and around major events such as South by Southwest. Drivers who don’t get fingerprinted would pay higher fees and be barred from some wait areas. They may also be restricted from operating during certain hours.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Austin is riddled with petition fever, or so it seems lately. Last week, local group Ridesharing Works for Austin – a political action committee funded by Uber and Lyft – handed 23,000 petition signatures over to the Office of the City Clerk, making it highly likely that its ordinance will go in front of City Council, if not in front of the public for a city-wide vote.

Photo by KUT News

“Austin is growing.” By now this maxim has become the resounding, if not infuriating, anthem of the city. It affects various sectors of life in Austin, from transportation to housing to health. And, as it turns out, it also affects how the city of Austin runs its 911 call center.


KUT News

Short-term rental website Airbnb has announced it wants to team up with cities throughout the country to collect taxes from people renting out rooms and homes on its website.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

As Mike Blizzard describes it, Wednesday morning began like any other. Then, came a knock at his door.

“A lot of people come through the neighborhood trying to get you to replace your windows, and I thought that’s who it was,” said Blizzard. “But instead it was a canvasser with a petition to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen.”


Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

A local group funded by Uber and Lyft has turned into Austin City Hall a petition with the signatures of 23-thousand local voters, with the hopes of putting an ordinance on ride-hailing regulations it’s written to a public vote. To do that, a petition must have at least 20,000 valid signatures from local voters.

But that 20,000-signature threshold isn’t just a magic number for a city petition: It’s also a state threshold.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News.

This story was produced as part of a reporting partnership between KUT and the Austin Monitor

Without much pomp save for the “Shine On” T-shirt she wears, Monique Mitchell stands with fellow Lyft driver Mo Ratel at the edge of Austin’s Zilker Park, scanning the field below. It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon; dogs and their owners dot the grass. Mitchell and Ratel each grip a pen and a clipboard brimming with blank petitions.

flickr/nomadicsun

The City of Austin is considering adding some structures to the downtown landscape: 24-hour public restrooms.

But, the initiative could benefit more than just tourists stuck downtown without a place to go. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

There are parts of Austin parks where you can drink alcohol without a permit, but sometimes the rules aren’t so clear. That’s the basis of the City of Austin's decision to redefine some of the parks’ alcohol-free zones.


The city of Austin continues to disfavor minority- and women-owned businesses in its contracting, a 750-page study finds.

Jon Wainwright, a senior vice president with NERA Economic Consulting, which authored the study, spoke to City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee on Monday. “We examined a total of over $4 billion across more than 3,500 prime contracts and over 8,500 subcontracts over this six-year period (from 2008 to 2013),” he said. “M/WBEs (minority- and women-owned businesses) received 18.75 percent of those dollars.”


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Demolition, it seems, follows Robin Wilkins.

Wilkins, 54, moved into the Lakeview Apartments on South Lakeshore Boulevard after another apartment building she was living in was slated to be torn down. She stayed for five years, paying no more than $720 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. Nonetheless, throughout that stay she knew the fate of the building: oblivion.


flickr.com/amorton

The City of Austin has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since 2010. That means you cannot wash your car at home, and restaurants cannot serve water unless a customer asks for it. Presumably all of these restrictions are temporary, as the City of Austin has the ability to declare a new Level at any time, from the lowest Level 1 up to the most restrictive Level 4.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin Police Department has some ideas how reducing pedestrian traffic fatalities in the new year, some of which they shared with the city’s Public Safety Commission Monday night.

In 2015, more than 100 people died on Austin’s roads. That’s nearly double the number of traffic fatalities the year before. Roughly one-third of those deaths in 2015 involved a pedestrian, which is why APD is considering ways it can make more unsafe pedestrian behavior illegal.


The equipment on Austin’s playgrounds is slowly, but surely, being replaced, and the new equipment looks a little different.


KUT News

UPDATE Friday 1:15 a.m. – The Austin City Council moved forward on new regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft last night.

On a 9-2 vote, the Council passed a framework that, among other things, would require fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. The expanded background check requirement would be phased in over the next year. But some key details remain to be worked out, including what the penalties will be for failing to comply with the law.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

As James Maxwell tells it, the first journey nearly broke him. “I almost gave up bike riding,” he said. “These are something else.”

Maxwell, 68, stares down a line of five glossy, red tricycles. While at the moment they’re idling in the rear parking lot of East Austin’s Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, later in the morning they’ll hit the road as part of an adult trike-riding program at the senior center. As local nonprofit organizers have pitched it, it’s a chance to bring mobility and activity to some of Austin’s more seasoned and minority residents. 


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

If you’re curious about how Austin City Council candidates fund their campaigns, you’re in luck: Beginning next year, that data will be more accessible to the public.


Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler will sponsor an item on next week’s City Council agenda authorizing fee waivers and payments by the city in connection with the 2016 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival for up to $309,310, according to Jim Wick, the mayor’s director of community engagement.

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