Austin City Council

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.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A petition submitted by a political action committee attempting to recall Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen has been rejected by the City Clerk. The PAC Austin4All failed to notarize any of the petition's 989 pages, which was required to attest to the validity of the statement at the top of each petition: “The reason for [Council member Ann Kitchen's] recall is because she has purposefully hurt businesses that employ citizens of Austin.”

Miguel Guitierrez Jr. / KUT

Austin City Council members will decide Thursday whether to revisit an affordable housing deal approved by vote in December. But just how they might go about reconsidering it is complicated.

The deal – called Pilot Knob – would move anywhere from $50 to $80 million dollars normally slotted for Austin Water’s coffers and put it into the city’s affordable housing trust fund. That financial information though, many council members have said, was not available to them at that December vote.

Kathryn Decker from flickr

Sometimes, a potential law goes by two names.

But other times, it goes by one – while confusion has bred alternative monikers. For instance, Austin City Council members have spent the past year chewing over hiring requirements for private employers. But recently, Council Member Ellen Troxclair expressed some confusion about what to call this: "ban the box" or a "fair chance hiring" ordinance?

Council Adopts New Regulations for Short-Term Rentals

Feb 24, 2016
Eva Ruth Moravec/Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: City Council on Tuesday passed, on a 9-2 vote, new regulations governing short-term rentals that aren’t owner-occupied. Council also adopted plans to phase out all of the so-called STR Type 2 properties in residential zones by 2022.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

When word first broke that a local political action committee calling itself Austin4All had enough signatures to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen, most of her colleagues came out in force. Standing outside City Hall on Feb. 1, some council members joked they would be next.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

From the Austin Monitor: Although local political action committee Austin4All turned in a petition to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen to the city clerk’s office Friday, petitions to recall Council members are far from common. So it’s fair to say that the rules governing this process are little known.

According to a spokesperson for the city, the city clerk has 20 calendar days to certify the signatures. Should roughly 5,000 signatures (10 percent of the number of active voters in Kitchen’s District 5) be deemed valid, the council member has five days to leave her position. But Kitchen has said she will not.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Everything’s in place for a May 7 vote on rules governing ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. But which set of rules will drivers be living under until then? It gets a little complicated.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

There have been plenty of critics of the work the Austin City Council’s done over the past year. Tuesday night, Austin Mayor Steve Adler delivered his second State of the City Address – offering a defense of their work.

The Mayor was cautious in summing up the past year’s achievements.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Given that it’s in a government building, the painting that hangs outside Mayor Steve Adler’s office is a bizarre choice. It’s a portrait of a cat – its head crowned in what looks like a steel headdress, with an ornate keyhole at its center. Behind the cat’s head, canoes full of sushi float atop a body of water. Chopsticks stand in for paddles. If nothing else is clear – and little is – the cat wields enormous power over these pieces of sushi. The canoes carrying them appear to be rowing toward it in an act of obedience.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Updated: Feb. 9, 2:00 p.m. According to the City of Austin's website, the Austin4All PAC filed its treasurer appointment form Monday.

An effort to remove Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen may have hit a bump. On Friday, a local attorney filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the political action committee (PAC) organizing the recall.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Austin City Council continued discussing regulations for ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber at its work session Tuesday, in response to a petition that was validated Monday by the city clerk's office. 


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.


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.

A Look Back at Austin's Lesser-Known Petitions

Jan 27, 2016
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Petitions are having a moment right now.

But, despite their recent resurgence into the municipal zeitgeist, they’ve shaped the city in ways a lot of Austinites may or may not realize. There are well-known ones like the Save Our Springs ordinance or the 10-1 council reorganization petition, but what about the other times a petition's helped change Austin?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin’s city government underwent a massive shift just over a year ago with the swearing in of the first City Council under the new 10-1 system, in which Council members are elected from geographic districts. The documentary “Ten Won” focuses on the campaign that brought out over 70 candidates and might be the start of a change in Austin’s politics. Former television journalist Judy Maggio co-directed the documentary. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton talked with her recently about how they packed all of that into half an hour.


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.

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.”


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Supporters of Uber and Lyft are planning to collect at least 20,000 signatures to force the Austin City Council to back off new regulations it adopted for ride-hailing apps or put the issue to a public vote.

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