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
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.

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.

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.

Photos: Austin Pride Parade 2013

Sep 9, 2013
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.”

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.

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.

Austin is now in the top 20 of the country’s most popular convention destinations. That’s according to event management company Cvent. It its 2013 rankings of the top U.S. cities for meeting and events, Austin ranks 20th out of the 50 top ranked U.S. cities.

Austin’s current position is four spots up from the company's 2012 rankings. And in its current location, Austin ranks right under major convention cities like Houston (19th) and Boston (18th).

The white-hot Austin real estate market just broke another record.

The Austin Board of Realtors says home sales were up 35 percent last month in the Austin area compared to last July. Some 3,135 homes were sold last month – the most homes sales ever recorded in Austin. And homes are selling faster – spending an average of 41 days on the market. A year ago, homes spent an average of 64 days on the market. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Perception means different things to different people. The perception of Austin as a place that embraces the weird and wild is something the city – and its listicle writers – have embraced throughout the years.

Yet if you don’t pay close attention, these perceptions can change just as quickly as the declining reservoir in Lake Travis. Now in its fourth edition, KUT News presents The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists, a compilations of the accolades and slights – some rigorously methodical, some seemingly made up – that Austin’s received in the last few months.

The City of Austin is looking to create a pedestrian advisory council.

The pedestrian group would look at safety and walkability issues, making recommendations to city staff and the City Council. The proposal comes as city policy prioritizes denser, more walkable development – and also at a time when pedestrian deaths are on people’s minds: There were 78 traffic deaths (including pedestrians) in Austin last year.

Natalie Krebs for KUT News

The City of Austin is drafting its first comprehensive Urban Forest Plan.

The city hopes to work with Austinites to pinpoint areas of problem tree conditions and to look at possible solutions to transform the drought-stricken city into a truly green one.

BOKA Powell + Design Workshop/City of Austin

Update: The city has named three finalists in its design contest reimagining the Seaholm Intake Structures. The three finalists are:

  • “Link,” Gumbully
  • “The Lakehouse,” BOKA Powell + Design Workshop
  • “Intake,” Gensler

Take a look at the three winning entries in the slideshow above, which are expected to inform the redevelopment of the structures. The Parks and Recreation Department says it will issue a proposal for public-private partnerships for the intake structures in the near future.

Austin’s seen its share of boom-and-bust food cycles: Think the explosion of cupcake places, or proliferation of upscale burger joints. One of the newest beneficiaries of Austin’s irrational culinary exuberance is the pizza place. The last few years has seen a marked increase in the number of posh pie purveyors: Umami Mia, backspace and Winflo, to name a few.

Austin’s pizza scene garners some shine in controversial rankings from TripAdvisor – controversial, as Austin’s sixth place ranking puts it just two spots behind behind pizza mecca New York City.

In 2008, the City of Austin's demographer Ryan Robinson compiled a list of the Top 10 trends in Austin’s dynamic demographic makeup. Five years later, he says each of those trends has continued to play out.

Five months ago, Austin cashiers stopped asking, “Paper or plastic?”  And since then, Austin retailers and customers have adjusted to the city ordinance banning single-use paper and plastic bags.

However, the Texas Retailers Association argues banning plastic bags does more harm than good.

Austin's already welcomed the Burmese, the Iraqis and the Bhutanese. But starting at end of this year, Austin will begin to welcome its newest round of refugees – the Congolese.

Over the next few years, the U.S. expects to resettle approximately 50,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the U.S. 10 percent of those refugees may end up in Texas, according to Erica Schmidt, the Austin-area director for Refugee Services of Texas.

Trey Shaar, KUT News

Update: Over the weekend, Austin Police identified the man killed as 32-year-old Larry Eugene Jackson Jr. The Austin Police officer who shot him was Detective Charles Kleinert. Kleinert has been an officer for almost 20 years.

APD is looking for a witness who might have seen what happened between Jackson and Kleinert.

Original Story (July 26, 7:58 p.m.): A man is dead after he was shot by an Austin police detective Friday afternoon near the intersection of 34th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard. Police describe the man only as African American. Police had not yet established his identity. No officer was injured in the incident.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s new MetroRapid buses don’t just hold more passengers – they hold traffic lights. 

"As the [buses] approach intersections – and if they are behind schedule – the traffic signal will remain green for up to seven seconds to give these buses additional time to cross the intersection," Capital Metro’s Joe Iannello said today. The group held a press conference to show off the new vehicles.

Ever feel like you’re working harder than everybody else? It might be because you are. According to recent rankings from real estate site Movoto, Austin is the fourth hardest-working U.S. city.

Basing results off six separate categories, including hours worked per week and lack of sleep, Motovo lists Seattle as the hardest working city in the states, followed by three Texas cities: Arlington, Fort Worth, and Austin.