Austin City Council

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From the Austin Monitor: The non-senior Austinite who owns a median-priced home and uses an average amount of water and electricity can expect his or her bill for taxes, fees and utilities to increase by about $12.48 per month for the 2017 Fiscal Year, under a proposal from the city’s budget staff.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Austin is facing legal action over its rules governing short-term rentals, like those you’d find on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway. But some in the hospitality industry say those rentals should have to follow the same rules. The two sides sparred over the issue in a debate Thursday.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin City Council candidates scouting for new or incumbent leadership filed their first campaign finance reports Friday. Sure, it's still early going, but the fundraising cycle has ramped up in the five Council districts with races on the ballot in November.

Jenna VonHofe for KUT

Natalie Gauldin’s backyard plays by its own rules. The grass tickles our calves and her almost 3-year-old daughter has left some toys scattered around. Dogs bark at us from inside her house in Austin’s District 7. But all these distractions, we tune out. We’re here to talk about one sentence on her campaign website.

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

In a vote that pit representatives of the city’s lowest-income districts against their colleagues, Austin City Council members narrowly approved an 8 percent homestead exemption on Wednesday – an increase of 2 percent over last year’s exemption. To a resident with a home worth $250,000, that equates to a nearly $23 in annual savings on their property taxes.

KUT News

The Austin City Council met Thursday for its final meeting before the July recess. Council met past midnight and into early Friday, passing several measures, including the approval to move forward with a $720-million mobility bond.

Gabriel Cristóval Pérez / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: While most of Austin slept early Friday morning, City Council gave the green light to a mobility bond with little historical precedent.

Just after 1:30 a.m., following a tortuous and fraught discussion marked by simmering tensions that at times neared outright hostility, Council voted 8-3 to direct staff to prepare ballot language for a $720 million grab bag of road, sidewalk, bike and transit infrastructure.

KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: After years of decline, Austin’s African-American population appears to be growing again.

In a presentation during a City Council work session Tuesday, city demographer Ryan Robinson explained to Council members that the black population within Austin’s city limits increased by an estimated 8,000 in the four years following the 2010 census. In the entire Austin metropolitan area, it grew by an estimated 20,000.

City Faces Lawsuit Over Short-Term Rental Ordinance

Jun 21, 2016
Jon Shapley for KUT

This story has been updated with a comment from the City of Austin.

A group of homeowners and renters are suing the city of Austin over its effort to regulate short-term rental units, or STRs, like those you’d find on sites such as Airbnb or HomeAway.

From the Austin Monitor: According to a poll conducted for the Austin Monitor, a majority of those polled in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s district — 52 percent — approve of how Council handled the Uber/Lyft election issue. At the same time, 51 percent said they would vote to re-elect their Council member, who was not mentioned by name in the question.

Audrey McGlinchy / KUT

It looks like either way you slice it, there will be a mobility bond up for a public vote in November. The real question is, what will Austin voters be deciding on? 

Mayor Steve Adler has drafted one proposal, while Council Members Greg Casar and Leslie Pool have written another. And then there's Council member Ann Kitchen's proposal.  

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In a dark room usually reserved for musical performances in South Austin’s Strange Brew coffee shop, four Austin residents met on Monday to talk about the process of citizen petitions — the most recent of which resulted in Proposition 1 — and the debate over local regulations for ride-hailing companies.

Graphic by Andrew Weber/KUT

From the Austin Monitor: A poll commissioned by the Austin Monitor with the help of sponsors shows that more people approve of Mayor Steve Adler’s job performance than that of City Council as a whole — with 51 percent of respondents endorsing Adler’s leadership, compared to 40 percent approval for Council.

Council Votes to Permanently Tighten Water Restrictions

May 6, 2016

Central Texas is drought-free. The Highland Lakes are full and for the first time in years, Austin was on the brink of ending its water use restrictions. But not so fast – yesterday the Austin City Council passed new water conservation guidelines, which include some permanent restrictions. The city won’t be going back to the way things were before.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr. / KUT

At the City of Austin’s budget season opener Wednesday, council members heard again of Austin’s two cities: the city’s widening economic divisions amidst claims that the city is “an economic star.”

“This is extraordinary growth,” economic consultant Jon Hockenyos told council members as he pointed out a 4.6 percent increase in jobs last year, plus an anticipated 7 to 8 percent gain in personal income in the coming year. “It is hard to imagine any other community that has consistently grown in the aggregate that the Austin metro area has.”

On Thursday night, KUT and the Austin Monitor hosted a live debate at the North Door on the May 7 ballot question about regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. 

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin voters will head to the polls on Saturday, May 7 to vote for or against Proposition 1. How did we get here? In December, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that, over time, requires Uber and Lyft drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks, among other things. The companies have said they cannot operate under these mandates.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have spent nearly $2.2 million so far this year to fund a campaign to collect petition signatures to get an initiative on the ballot in Austin and advocate for that measure.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr/KUT

Join KUT and the Austin Monitor on Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm at the North Door (502 Brushy St.) for a live debate on the ride-hailing regulations that will be on the ballot in Austin next month.

RSVP here.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Austin's ridesharing vote will go ahead as planned, it seems.

The Texas Supreme Court denied a request to order a rewrite of ballot language that Austin voters will consider in May regarding regulations for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

Austin resident Samantha Phelps filed a writ with the Supreme Court last week, arguing the language approved by the Austin City Council would mislead voters.