Austin City Council

Austin
2:48 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Austin Council Members Consider Ending Gun Shows on City Land

The marketplace at a Houston gun show. Austin City Council members could act to end gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center.
flickr.com/glasgows

The City of Austin is considering policy changes aimed at reducing gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.

Council member Mike Martinez says "there is a broad national conversation about curbing gun violence," and he thinks the city has a responsibility "to do everything we can do." 

A subcommittee consisting of Martinez, along with fellow council members Laura Morrison and Chris Riley, will meet next Tuesday to consider legal options and to hear opinions from the Mayor's staff and Police Chief Art Acevedo.  

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Austin City Council
3:48 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

The Top 10 Austin City Council Stories of 2012

Changes to Austin's form of government, a mayoral race, transportation issues and more dominated the dais in 2012.
Filipa Rodrigues, Andy Uhler for KUT News

One mayor. Six council members. 10 stories.

While the Austin City Council lacked for an overarching theme in 2012 – nothing like the months-long roil of 2011’s open meetings act or Formula 1 controversies – it faced a decidedly full agenda.

But ironically, 2012 may be remembered more for the change it initiated to future councils that the actions of this one.  With the council safely on hiatus until Jan. 17, 2013, KUT News is taking a look back at the year that was.  

1. Switch to Single-Member Districts

Austin has rarely, if ever, had such an important local election.

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Austin City Council
8:28 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Council OKs F1 Track Team’s Bid to Tap Texas Trust Fund

The grandstands at this November's F1 race, held at the Circuit of the Americas.
flickr.com/michaelpaul

The promoters behind Austin’s Formula 1 racetrack may tap a state trust fund for more than F1. The Austin City Council authorized the team at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) to act on the city’s behalf in negotiating payments from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund.

The payments would be for four upcoming races, with the first scheduled for this spring. COTA's promotions group just received more than $29 million from the trust fund to help pay for costs associated with putting on November’s F1 event.

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Austin City Council
3:47 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

On Tap at Council: Beer & Wine Sales for New Wheatsville Co-op

Wheatsville's current location on Gudalupe. The co-op wants to sell alcohol at a new store, but needs the city council's blessing.
flickr.com/aged_accozzaglia

The Austin City Council is set to hear a request from Wheatsville Co-op on whether it can sell beer and wine at a new location on South Lamar Boulevard.

A respected local business looking to open a second location, with the backing of neighbors and local organizations: sounds like a slam-dunk, right? 

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Austin City Council
10:11 am
Thu December 13, 2012

City Council Preview: Circuit of the Americas’ Big Ask, Affordable Housing & More

City Hall is filled to the brim with council action today.
flickr.com/atmtx

The days go by so fast: Today marks the last Austin City Council meeting of the year. And at 98 items, it’s going out with a bang. Here ‘s what council has stuffed in their stocking:

Don’t Start Your Engines?: An organizing group with the Circuit of the Americas just received more than $29 million from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund to help pay for costs associated with putting on November’s Formula 1 event.

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City Council
1:12 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Reluctantly, City Council Gives Up $15M for Water Treatment Plant 4

Under-construction WTP4, as photographed last year.
Jessie Wang for KUT News

Austin City Council begrudgingly parted with $15.5 million Thursday to help complete construction of Water Treatment Plant No. 4  in northwest Austin.

The controversial plant was designed to provide the city’s growing population with more drinking water. But it’s been controversial since its proposal as environmental groups opposed its construction. Now many of those activists are saying I told you so.

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Business
7:28 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Council Approves $1.5M in Incentives for Visa

If Visa comes to Austin, the company promises to make about $27 million in capital investments.
flickr.com/MoneyBlogNewz

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a deal that offers the Visa credit card company about $1.5 million to bring almost 800 jobs to the area.

The city’s received some criticism for offering big companies these incentives. A council committee has been talking about adding a provision that would require companies seeking incentives to meet a minimum wage requirement of $11 an hour. While Visa doesn’t have to meet those requirements, yesterday they offered to anyway.

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City Council
9:56 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Council Preview: Visa Deal, City Ponders Partnership with State, Water Treatment Plant 4 & More

The gang's all here: Council convenes to a crowded agenda this morning.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin City Council dusts off the cobwebs for its first full meeting in nearly a month. And it’s let quite a backlog pile up: today’s 120 item agenda is stuffed with items sure to inspire discussion. Here’s a look:

  • The main event: a $1.5 million economic incentives deal with credit card giant Visa.

The company plans to expand its operations in Austin and promises almost 800 new jobs. The city is offering $1.5 million in tax incentives; the state is offering some $8 million more.

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City Council
1:58 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The Process for Drawing Austin’s City Council Districts Begins

Four new seats are coming to the dais in city council chambers.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Now that Austin’s 10 district plan for geographic representation has passed, the real work begins.

Austinites voted last month to change the way city council members are elected. Instead of all members being elected at-large, the city will be split into districts. Ten city council members will be elected through those districts and only the mayor will represent the entire city.

The City of Austin’s Office of the City Auditor, tasked with much of the legwork in implementing the plan, has created a website, 10 One, looking for volunteers to get the process going.

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Austin
7:54 am
Wed November 14, 2012

With Bag Ban Looming, the City's Taking Local Business to School

The Bag Ban will start in March of 2013, but some items are still up in the air.
www.flickr.com/photos/arselectronica

Confused about Austin’s coming bag ban? You’re not alone.

Austin Resource Recovery, tasked with reaching the city’s zero waste by 2040, is hosting carryout bag training sessions for local businesses at the Austin City Hall this morning.

The training is designed prepare businesses for the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Originally, the ban barred the use of most single use paper and plastic bags, but late last week the City Council approved adding some exemptions. Now, restaurants will largely be exempt.

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Mexican American Cultural Center
11:28 am
Tue November 13, 2012

What Do You Want to See Next to the MACC? (Updated)

The city wants to find a use for the empty lot that will benefit the cultural center.
flickr.com/mirsasha

Update: The first of two community meetings on what to do with land next to the Mexican American Cultural Center is occurring tonight. Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department “is seeking community input to develop a range of options” for the parcel neighboring the center. The meeting is at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St., at 6:30 p.m.

Original Post (Nov. 2, 11:11 a.m.): The Mexican American Cultural Center is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” with a family-friendly event tomorrow.

But sugar skulls aren't the only attraction. The public is also invited to use the event to share input on what should happen to the lot next to the cultural center.

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The Lead
8:52 am
Fri November 9, 2012

The Lead: Helicopters OK'd for F1 (But Cap Metro Could Strike); SXSW Music and More

Good Friday morning to you. Austin’s in for a warm and breezy weekend until a cold front blows in Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Though it’s only November, the springtime music conference that takes over Austin each year, South by Southwest, is already beginning to take shape.  Thursday, organizers released the initial lineup.”

“Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith is working to do something about the thousands of service members affected by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). …

Smith is the founder of a new program to help promote soldiers’ healing through music. Texas Music Matters’ David Brown reports from a camp outside Fort Hood, site of a recent Songwriting with Soldiers retreat.”

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Austin City Council
4:58 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient?

Some retailers thanked council today for exempting restaurants from Austin's bag ban; others felt it created a loophole.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.) 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative – newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it – obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."

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Transportation
3:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

The City Hopes These Signs and Kiosks Will Help You Navigate Downtown Austin

Design plans also include signs displaying parking garage capacity.
MERJE, via the City of Austin

The Austin City Council hopes to make downtown Austin easier to get around.

The city's Planning and Development Review Department presented progress on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding System this morning. Under this plan, inconsistent and vague signs downtown would become more uniform and detailed. Gateways into downtown (like the passage under I-35 on Seventh Street) would also get a facelift.

In addition to increased signage, the design firm the city has contracted with – Pennsylvania-based MERJE – has created signs that are in step with international logos for parking, transportation, information and more, with an Austin flair. 

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Austin City Council
9:52 am
Thu November 8, 2012

City Council Preview: F1 Coming In for a Landing

Back at it: City Council shakes off its election hangover today.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Thanks to this week’s election fever, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there’s an Austin City Council meeting this week. But there is (albeit mercifully, the 98-item agenda isn’t a terribly contentious affair). Here’s a few agenda highlights:

Raising Hel(icopters): A pair of items related to helicopter permits hover onto the dais this week. The impending Formula 1 race (eight days away and counting) means charter helicopter companies are looking to ferry high-rolling race attendees to and from the track via chopper.

Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo have sponsored two resolutions (Items 51 and 52) relating to both temporary and permanent “helistops.” The former would limit temporary stops to a cumulative total of 18 trips, far fewer than the dozens anticipated. The Austin Chronicle says that “judging from Tuesday's work session, it won't be an easy sell, at least not quickly – other members were skeptical that they knew enough yet to regulate the process and, even should such an ordinance pass, it could not take effect in time for this month's race.”

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