Austin

Austin
8:16 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Even An 85 MPH Highway Can't Fix Austin's Traffic Tangle

Texas Highway 130, a new Austin bypass toll road, is so far east of the city that it sees little traffic. The state recently raised the speed limit there to 85 mph in hopes of boosting its use.
Wikipedia

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:30 pm

Four decades ago, Austin, Texas, had a population of 250,000 and a reputation as a laid-back oasis of liberal politics and live music. Today, the Austin metro area is home to 1.8 million people and has some of the nation's worst traffic congestion.

For years, the city has done little to address the growing problem. But most in the Texas capital now agree something has to change if Austin is to save what's left of its quirky character.

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Mopac Improvement Project
12:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Weather Postpones New MoPac Construction (Update)

Construction work this week on MoPac includes restriping lanes.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Update: Austin's latest surge of winter weather means postponement of lane restriping work on MoPac.

While lane closures continue, lane restriping  probably won't begin until after Friday's expected rains, and possible freezing precipitation on Saturday. See the tweet below:

Original story (Dec. 9): Construction work on MoPac is about to get underway. Overnight lane closures begin tonight as crews install construction signs in preparation for restriping portions of the road.

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JFK Assassination: 50 Years Later
4:23 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

After Dallas, Austin Would Have Been JFK's Next Stop on Texas Tour

Among the stops planned for President Kennedy in Austin: a fundraiser at the Municipal Auditorium and Convention Center, where the Long Center for the Performing Arts now sits.
Austin History Center/Image No. PICA 07067

It was supposed to be a five-city tour of Texas.

Over the course of two days in November 1963, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were scheduled to visit San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas – ending with a stop in Austin. 

The Kennedys arrived in San Antonio Thursday, Nov. 21. From there, they traveled to Houston and before packing it in at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth.

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JFK Assassination
4:37 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Where Were You? Austin Recalls the JFK Assassination

As a teen DJ, John Aielli broke the news to Killeen that President Kennedy had been shot.
KUT

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, KUT asked Austinites to share their personal stories about where they were on that day.

From Boulder, Colorado to Tripoli, Lebanon, Austinites remembered precise details from what could have been another normal Friday in November, fifty years ago.

KUTX's John Aielli was a 17-year-old DJ at a local station in Killeen when he had to break into programming to announce the president had been shot in Dallas.

"I'll never forget it." 

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Formula 1
6:02 am
Fri November 15, 2013

F1 is Back in Austin – So What's Actually Happening On the Track?

An aerial view of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.
Judi Radice Hays

A version of this story first ran Nov. 16, 2012.

Formula One events begin today at the Circuit of the Americas track.

F1 doesn’t have a huge following in the U.S. – it’s only in its second year in Austin – and a lot of people may not know the first thing about the sport. Here's what we learned about the basics.

First things first: what is the “formula”?

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Colony Park
4:14 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Survey Asks Colony Park Residents What They Need from the Neighborhood

Residents participate in a public input meeting for Colony Park planning last month.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

The southeast Austin neighborhood of Colony Park is being re-imagined as a model civic space. And the city’s asking the neighborhood for input on the changes.

A door-to-door survey of Colony Park residents starts today. Through the middle of the month, volunteers hope to complete 450 surveys. That’s about 10 percent of the number of households in the five Colony Park census tracts.

As KUT News previously reported, a new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to remake the area. The city’s in the process of planning the use of 200-plus acres of vacant, Austin-owned land near Overton Elementary School.

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Adoption
4:46 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Why One Couple Chose to Adopt Six Siblings at the Same Time

Michael, Jeremiah, Dominick, Jasmine, Aliana and Jermain Velez celebrate a birthday as a family at their home in Killeen.
Joy Diaz for KUT

This Thursday is Adoption Day, and about 6,500 children are waiting to be adopted in the Texas Foster care program. Last year, more than 1,000 didn’t find a home.

But a group of six Killeen siblings, the dream of staying together as a family — an unlikely prospect for many siblings in foster care — became a reality when Hipólito and Carmen Velez entered their lives.

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Education
2:18 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

New School Offers Some Relief, But Doesn't Solve Overcrowding Problems in Austin

Lawmakers, school board members and members of Janice Guerrero Thompson's family attend a ribbon cutting for the dedication of the new elementary school named in her honor. The school is one of two that will open to relieve overcrowding in the area.
Oscar Palomo, AISD

The brand new Janis Guerrero Thompson Elementary School is more than 78,000 square feet with 32 classrooms. Inside, the walls are painted bright orange and purple, and the floor is covered with colorful tiles. On Sunday, more than a hundred people came to dedicate the school to the late district employee and tour the new campus, which looks to mitigate overcrowding in Austin schools.

“Everyone’s been so excited. We’ve been working toward dedication and now it’s official, like we’ve been announced as a school," says Principal LaKesha Drinks.

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Austin
1:45 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Austin Audit Finds City Vehicles Spend Too Much Time in Repair Shop

The audit found the City of Austin especially has a hard time keeping emergency vehicles out of the repair shop.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The City of Austin Auditor’s office says city vehicles seem to have a problem with breakdowns.

The vehicles aren’t always getting preventative maintenance and they’re spending more time in repair shops than the best practices standard.

Local politics news service In Fact Daily reports that the city’s Fleet Services Department doesn’t have enough repair space.

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Development
4:58 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Colony Park: Can Austin Transform a Community Without Displacing it?

Residents in Colony Park expressed concern over the weekend about the possible gentrification of the neighborhood as the city develops the area.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

A new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to revitalize the area. The project resembles the planning of Mueller in scope and ambition, but some residents are concerned the project might eventually displace them.

At a Saturday community engagement meeting, residents in the Colony Park area said they were concerned the city might move on to implementation of the plan without their approval.

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Technology
7:05 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Startup Week: What Does Austin Need to Become a Legitimate Tech Hub?

Capital Factory founder and executive director Joshua Baer says Austin is in the cycle to becoming a tech hub.
Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s Austin Startup Week – when the technology community invites people to visit to see why they should start their business in Central Texas. But is Austin a legitimate tech hub?

KUT’s Laura Rice put that question to Joshua Baer – the founder and executive director of the tech startup incubator Capital Factory:

Is Austin a Legitimate Tech Hub?

"I meet people every day and every week who are moving here, that picked up and are moving their whole company here from Silicon Valley or from New York or from somewhere else. But these things don't develop overnight. They don't even develop over the course of one or two years. Really, the lifecycle of a tech company is five to ten years. So to get through a few cycles of that, you're talking 20 to 30 years. That's how long it takes to build up a tech community. Silicon Valley? They've had that going for a long time. Austin? We're still a little earlier in that cycle – but we're in that cycle."

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Affordable Housing
8:46 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Learn More About Austin's $65 Million Affordable Housing Vote Tonight

Affordable housing bond dollars would go to new construction, rental assistance, home ownership initiatives and repair programs.
flickr.com/dymllc

A year after voters narrowly rejected the proposal, the Austin City Council is once again asking voters to approve tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing.

The City of Austin will host the first of four community information sessions today about this November’s $65 million affordable housing bond.

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Video
2:18 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

WATCH: An Amazing Six-Minute, Stop-Motion Tour of Austin

A screenshot from "Spectral Austin," the latest video from UT student Andrew Takano.
Vimeo

Remember this haunting time-lapse video of Austin at night? Well, University of Texas grad student Andrew Takano is back with a sequel of sorts to “Sleepwalking Austin.”

His new video? “Spectral Austin,” which applies Takano’s smooth stop motion technique to Austin during day and night.

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Austin Recycling
1:19 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Starting Today, 680 Austin Apartment Complexes Have to Offer Recycling

A new phase of Austin’s recycling ordinance is making many ecological advocates happy.
flickr.com/tarsands78

Beginning today, a total of 680 Austin apartment complexes – serving approximately 140,000 households – must offer recycling.

It's the second phase of the City of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance, affecting businesses and multi-family residences, which kicks in today. Here’s who’s affected:

  • Apartments and condominiums with 50 or more dwelling units
  • Commercial offices that are 75,000 square feet or larger
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Affordable Housing
5:10 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

These 'Affordable' Apartments Operate Tax Free. Too Bad They Have the Most Code Violations in Austin

The walkway leading to Oak Hollow resident William Towne’s apartment was redone a couple of months ago. But the wood was untreated and is already curling up. Chipping paint is very common throughout the complex.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Oak Hollow is a community of 429 apartments in northwest Austin. It’s operated as affordable housing by a group called American Opportunity for Housing.

Built in 1972, keeping up a property like Oak Hollow can be expensive. The main source of income for American Opportunity for Housing is rent. And as a nonprofit, the community has a 100 percent tax exemption. The City of Austin estimates, over the last decade, that it has foregone upwards of $1 million in taxes from Oak Hollow.

But it’s a property with a reputation among renters’ advocates.

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Energy & Environment
3:45 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Energy Efficiency Report, Austin Gets High Marks

An Austin Energy lineman makes a repair in the West Campus. Austin recently ranked sixth in a study of the most energy efficient U.S. cities.
I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

Texas policymakers searching for ways to curb energy use across their rapidly growing state might want to examine efforts in their capital city.

Austin is among large U.S. cities doing the most to conserve energy, according to a study released Tuesday by a national group that promotes energy efficiency. The Washington D.C.-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy analyzed conservation efforts across the country’s 34 most populous cities, ranking Austin sixth behind Boston, Portland, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.

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City Budget
10:00 am
Tue September 10, 2013

How the Hyde Park Flag Store is Impacting Austin's City Budget

The Hyde Park Market, photographed in 2010. The city’s Code Compliance department briefly forced the store to remove its flags before its decision was reversed.
flickr.com/cote

The Austin City Council returns to the dais as 10 a.m. this morning to finalize the city's Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Yesterday, council members voted unanimously to hold the line of property tax rates. They also spent most of the day funding initiatives that weren't in City Manager Marc Ott's initial budget proposal.

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AUSTIN PRIDE
8:07 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Photos: Austin Pride Parade 2013

Two Pride participants share a moment during Saturday's parade.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: Austin Pride festivities paraded through down Austin Saturday night. KUT was there to document it all; take a look at our slideshow below, powered by the KUT Flickr page.  

Original post (Sept. 6): Austin’s annual Pride celebration, which kicked off Sept. 1, builds to a close this weekend. The theme of this year’s events, held by the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation? “Love Unites.”

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Austin
6:05 am
Fri September 6, 2013

How These Austin Businesses Are Creating Jobs for Refugee Women

An unnamed employee of Open Arms from Burundi sorts through donated fabric. Open Arms pays refugee women a living wage to make clothes.
Natalie Krebs for KUT News

Out of a small room in the Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin, a company called Open Arms makes women’s clothing. It was started about three years ago, with idea of paying refugee women a living wage. More than 4,000 refugees have resettled in Austin since 2001 with many coming from Vietnam, Burma and Iraq with the newest group, which is expected at the beginning of next year from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Austin
12:05 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

UT Halts Partnership With Controversial Austin Aquarium

The Austin Aquarium is set to open this November despite two citations from the city and allegations of illegal animal trafficking surrounding one of the owners.
Facebook.com/AustinAquarium

After construction violations from the city's code compliance office last month and a recent guilty plea to animal trafficking charges from one of the owners of the new Austin Aquarium, the University of Texas' Texas Advanced Computing Center has put a potential partnership with the effort to bring an aquarium to North Austin on hold. 

Brothers Vince and Ammon Covino have been embroiled in legal squabbles since opening up aquariums in Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

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