Austin City Council

Austin
8:00 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Why an Independent Board for Austin Energy?

Jessie Wang, KUT News

The Austin city council moved one step closer Thursday night toward creating an independent board to oversee the city-owned electric utility – Austin Energy. The council approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance has to be approved on three readings.

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Austin
8:10 am
Fri April 12, 2013

First Step Towards (Weak) Austin Energy Independent Board

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council took the first step last night towards moving the governance of Austin Energy from the council to an independent board.

The council unanimously approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance will have to be approved on three readings.

Council members did make several changes to the original proposal last night – weakening the power of the independent board and giving more oversight back to council.

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Austin
5:21 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Austin’s Next City Council: Primarily Made of Newbies

Most of the present council will hit the city's term limit and won't be able to run in 2014.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

This May, Austinites will learn the names of the people who will be drawing the city’s 10 new district maps, and then the redistricting process will start to take shape. After the maps are drawn, Austinites will learn the district boundaries. Then people interested in running for City Council will know which district they can represent. 

Seems like a lot of changes. And the biggest one is that the next Austin City Council is likely to be made up of rookies.

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Austin
3:50 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Austin’s Affordable Housing Backers Trying for Bond Again

A bond to help fund affordable housing lost in the November 2012 election.
Mose Buchele, KUT News

Housing advocates in Austin and local religious and political leaders want to try again with a measure on November’s ballot for affordable housing dollars. So today they kicked off a Keep Austin Affordable campaign.

“As you know, the voters of Austin narrowly voted against the housing bonds last fall – not out of spite, or malice or unkindness,” said Marshall Jones with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

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Austin
9:54 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Austin is Full of Events – City Wants to Streamline Permitting

The African-American Community Heritage Festival is one of many events in Austin each year.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin is known for its festivals. Last year, the city received 136 applications for street events.

The city says as the number of events continues to grow, the permitting process is getting more challenging. City officials want to hear from people about ways to streamline the process.

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Austin City Council
11:17 am
Fri March 29, 2013

What’s Next After Austin Repealed its Project Duration Ordinance?

Construction cranes in downtown Austin. While the City Council voted to repeal the Project Duration Ordianance, the city will work quickly on a replacement.
flickr.com/joeyparsons

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 last night to repeal the city’s Project Duration Ordinance, rules limiting how long a development can remain “grandfathered” under land-use rules in place at the time of the project’s conception.

In contrast to last week’s hearing, which featured hours of citizen testimony, public input was closed this time. The council discussion lasted just 15 minutes. Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voted no.

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Transportation
5:15 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Austin Aims to Cut Back on Downtown Commuter Parking

A directional arrow inside parking garage in downtown Austin. Incentives for businesses encouraging car sharing and alternatives are getting a tryout at City Hall.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Austin City Council is experimenting with a plan to reduce the availability of parking. Today, it approved a pilot program discussed last meeting “to reduce parking requirements for commercial businesses utilizing trip-reduction strategies.”

Council member Laura Morrison said the program was designed “to work with businesses around town and do a pilot in terms of allowing a reduction in their parking if there are mobility friendly amenities added.”

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City Hall Hustle
4:13 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

City Hall Hustle: The Walking Dead (Agenda)

A zombie agenda lumbers back to life for the Austin City Council this Thursday.
flickr.com/mirsasha

Zombie projects, zombie agenda: What's up for council consideration this week.

They’re baaack!

With a relatively thin 57 items, the Austin City Council should make short work of this Thursday’s agenda. But rising, zombie-like, once more are several items the council’s dealt with before (albeit not with a slug to the head).

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Austin City Council
8:45 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Quick Turnaround Expected for Austin Energy Governance Study

Council members hope to review a study of utility governance before voting on whether an independent board should be installed at Austin Energy.
I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council has approved a study of public energy utilities governed by an independent board. But the city will have to work quickly.

The item comes as the council looks to create an independent governing board for Austin Energy. The council has traditionally overseen the utility, but that was before Austin Energy’s recent rate increase, which created political pressure that some feel could ultimately deregulate the city-run utility. Now a council majority appears supportive of handing off day-to-day operations.

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Austin City Council
6:20 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Council Delays Vote on Project Duration Ordinance (Update)

At a press conference on Wednesday, Save Our Springs Alliance director Bill Bunch said repealing expirations could harm Austin.
KUT News

Update: The Austin City Council decided to delay their vote Thursday night, citing concerns that they did not have enough information.

City staff will return next week with a sampling of how many properties repealing the Project Duration Ordinance would affect. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the only council member against the delay last night.

Original Story (March 20, 7:22 p.m.): Permits for building projects may lose their expiration dates, depending on a vote at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.

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Austin City Council
5:22 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

City Council Examines Alley Activation & Parking Overload

Seattle developed this concept art when the city began "activating" its alleyways in 2010.
UW Green Futures Lab/Scan Design Foundation/Gehl Architects

The Austin City Council had parking on its mind today. And now Austin is one step closer to eliminating minimum parking requirements for many downtown businesses, and looking at a program could to lessen the number of cars entering downtown. 

Pilot Parking Program

The council heard a briefing on parking program encouraging businesses to reduce car commuting. The program could begin as soon as April, if the council approves a measure next week.

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City Hall Hustle
5:06 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Luxury Hotels, Affordable Housing & the Zoning Brawl Over Downtown Density

How (or whether) to capture public benefit from increased zoning density Downtown is consuming the council's attention.
flickr.com/dingatx

The City Council adopted the Downtown Austin Plan in late 2011. With it, the council OK’d what’s called the Downtown Density Bonus Program. It basically says that developers who want to build more densely than the standards allow would have to offer certain community benefits: things like on-site affordable housing or a paying into a fund for affordable housing elsewhere.

But nearly a year and a half later, Austin’s still waiting on specific guidelines for the Density Bonus Program.

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Austin
9:49 am
Wed March 20, 2013

With Austin In the AG’s Sights, Will the City Grandfather Its Building Permits?

Austin may be forced to do away with an ordinance that rescinds buidling permits if progress hasn't been made.
flickr.com/dingatx

Story as it aired on KUT News 90.5 FM

There’s an old rule in Austin that the City Council will revisit Thursday.

A 1997 ordinance gives building permits an expiration date of between three and five years, regardless of whether the project has been completed or not. Oftentimes, builders need to re-apply for permits and adhere to any new construction rules. But, a recent opinion by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has moved the ordinance front and center at City Hall because Abbott says the ordinance contradicts state code. 

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Austin City Council
5:37 am
Tue March 19, 2013

How the City Council Decides Which Event Fees to Waive

The Mighty Texas Dog Walk is one event that might get a fee waiver this Thursday.
facebook.com/Ilikeservicedogs

Story as it aired on KUT News 90.5 FM

When planning to book a public venue in Austin, keep in mind the city is going to charge a bunch of fees, some are for permits, maintenance and cleanup. Organizers of large and well-attended gatherings have no problem paying those fees. But non-profits sponsoring smaller events sometimes ask the city to waive them.

This week, the city council will vote on five such waivers. With so many of these smaller events taking place, what happens when fees are waived?

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Austin
10:15 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Can the Lowly Alleyway Transform Downtown Austin?

An art installation called “20ft Wide” is planned for an alley on Ninth Street between Congress and Brazos Streeets.
Art Alliance Austin/Creative Action and TBG/Dan Cheetham (Fyoog) and Michelle Tarsney

Why is Austin considering an alley "master plan?"

When you think about downtown Austin, do you ever think about the spaces between the buildings?

Probably not, and you're not alone. That’s may be because alleyways – in movies, and sometimes in real life – are usually shady, dirty and even dangerous places. But some local leaders want to bring the city’s alleys back into the light.

In an alley downtown, I met with Meredith Powell and Dan Cheetham. Powell is with the Art Alliance Austin. The alley, she says “was laid out in the original 1839 map by Edwin Waller and it is on Ninth Street between Brazos and Congress.”

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