Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

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Many predict this year’s South By Southwest will be pared down compared to years past. While the days of giant Doritos vending machines are gone, there are still a couple of corporate-backed buildouts and events to lure in fest-goers.

So, we decided to rummage through city permits to preview some of the stranger requests from South By sponsors.

Liang Shi/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Those familiar with the previous City Council’s strict adherence to procedural rules have been left dizzy by the new Council’s first few meetings. Last week, during the Garza Ranch discussion about the maximum allowable number of vehicle trips per day on the tract, that confusion reached new heights — and after some investigation, the Austin Monitor remains unable to determine who, if anyone, made the final amendment to the motion that was approved on first reading.

There's a lot of music on this page — 100 songs, to be exact, each from an artist worth discovering at this year's SXSW Music Festival. It represents more than six genre-defying hours of music.

Still, we started out with far more to choose from. It took an enormous amount of effort to get here: Thousands of acts play SXSW each year, enough that winnowing them down to 100 required months of seeking, listening, culling and decision-making. What remains are some of SXSW 2015's most thrilling discoveries and highlights.

The Austin 100

Mar 3, 2015

Put on your headphones and listen to NPR Music's 100 picks from SXSW 2015.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

12:30 p.m. update: The winter storm warning in effect for Travis and Williamson counties has been extended until 2:00 p.m. Saturday. Light freezing rain and freezing drizzle may still fall and continue to impact roads until then.

9:00 a.m. update: Austin Community College has now canceled all activities and closed all campuses for Saturday. Williamson County officials say that Ih-35 through Georgetown is closed in both directions because of icy conditions. The City of Austin's Parks and Recreation Department has announced that all of their department's facilities will open at noon today.

Saturday morning update (7:30 a.m.): A winter storm warning is in effect for Travis and Williamson counties until noon on Saturday. Freezing drizzle and freezing temperatures are expected to continue until noon today, making for hazardous driving conditions. Multiple accidents have been reported in Austin due to icy conditions. Austin and Travis County public safety officials are urging drivers to stay off the roads until temperatures start warming up.

Austin Community College campuses and centers will open at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. All classes and activities scheduled prior to then are canceled. Many area school districts, including the Austin Independent School District, have postponed or canceled events for today.

Courtesy of the couple

Stouthaus Coffee Pub in Sunset Valley faced major social media backlash this week when one of the owners asked a nursing mother to cover herself while dining with her friends Wednesday morning.

Afterwards, one of the women’s companions posted a one-star Yelp review of Stouthaus, calling out the owner Sandy Hughes for “shaming” her friend for breastfeeding.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of regulations which enact so-called "net neutrality." The vote allows the agency to penalize “throttling” — leveraging Internet speeds to clients on a case-by-case basis — by broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T.

The FCC’s order prohibits a broadband provider from blocking (legal) content, slowing any speeds on the basis of content or providing “fast lanes” for preferred customers on any Internet-enabled device. As nearly 4 million public commentators argued, if left unabated, throttling could limit the ability of the “little guys.”

Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Mayor Steve Adler is trying to boost the chances that his 10 City Council colleagues will vote for a resolution directing the city manager to identify funding options for five new members of the mayor’s staff — at a projected annual cost of $490,645.

Even if Council approves the resolution today, it does not guarantee that his colleagues will vote to spend the money when the answers come back.

Last night, employing a tactic heretofore unseen by the Monitor, Adler sent out an email asking his supporters for help in approving a larger staff for his office. Adler took the unorthodox step of requesting that his supporters email other Council members to promote his plan.

Tyler Pratt/KUT

In today’s Wayback Wednesday, we remember the 179th anniversary of William Barret Travis’ letter from the Alamo. The letter, in which the garrison commander requested reinforcements to the besieged Bexar mission, was sent on February 24, 1836, and he famously signed his letter “Victory or Death.”

It served the purpose of rattling the sabers of Texas rebels before Santa Anna’s massacre of around 200 troops on March 6.

Austin Aquatic Center/flickr

The area around Lamar Beach, along Cesar Chavez near MoPac, is beautiful but hard to redevelop. It floods, and there are utilities running under and over it.

But the YMCA, the animal shelter now run by Austin Pets Alive and a sports organization are still able to use it.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Austin Mayor Steve Adler wants to hire more staff. The rationale for his request: The city's needs are great and need more people to be solved. City Council members agree with that. What they don't agree on is how to pay for additional staff.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Austin-Round Rock is the third most economically segregated metropolitan area in America, according to a University of Toronto study released this week. It ranks highest among the country’s large metro areas.

The study, led by urban researcher Richard Florida, measures how much residents concentrate by income, occupation and educational attainment. Only Tallahassee and Trenton are more segregated than Austin.

From the Austin Monitor:

Terrell Blodgett, professor emeritus at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has written to Mayor Steve Adler and his City Council colleagues expressing concern about the mayor’s plan to add more staff for his office and lecturing him on the fact that the mayor has no more power than any of his Council colleagues or mayors before him.

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Update (7:00 A.M.): Capital Metro has lifted detours, and is now following its regular routes.

Tuesday morning update (4:15 A.M.): The City of Austin has announced all City offices and facilities will open at 10 a.m. today.  That includes Austin Municipal Courts and the Downtown Austin Community Court. The City Council work session will begin at 10:30 a.m. Capital Metro will detour some bus routes because of possible inclement weather this morning.

City of Austin

South by Southwest is coming up. That means a crush of visitors and extra cash in the pockets of people renting space to those visitors.  But the City of Austin has a message for potential short-term landlords: You've got to register your home by Feb. 28th if you hope to rent the space legally.

"Before every major event we see a number of applicants that come into our office," says Marcus Elliot with the Austin Code Department. "They're really interested in that last-minute rush to try to get the license." 

Screengrab via the City of Austin's YouTube

Cleaning up after four-legged friends is a paramount part of dog ownership.

As many can attest, there’s nothing worse than stepping in a canine’s gastrointestinal afterthoughts, not to mention the host of health hazards to other pups that could be transmitted by not picking up after one’s dog.

Being the dog-friendly city it is, many an Austin apartment manager struggles with those who refuse to clean up after their pets. Now, one apartment complex is taking fecal matters to the next level by using DNA testing to sniff out irresponsible owners.

National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio

Update 8:55 a.m.: Capitol Metro has ended its detours and returned to regular routes.

Police in Pflugerville and Cedar Park are reporting icy conditions on bridges and overpasses in the area.

Update 7:25 a.m.: The National Weather Service reports light icing in towns northwest of Austin, stretching from Cedar Park to Kerrville.

Area schools continue to publish updates to today's class schedule:

  • Burnet CISD will cancel classes today. All BCISD schools and offices are closed, and all afterschool activities have been canceled.
  • Marble Falls ISD will also cancel all classes today.
  • All other area schools, including Austin ISD, will operate on a regular schedule.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

After hearing strong opposition from his colleagues as well as others, Mayor Steve Adler is proposing a complete revamp of his plan for additional staffing in the Mayor’s office.

Adler told the Austin Monitor Thursday that he would be pulling down his proposal to fund additional staff for the Mayor’s office through the Better Austin Foundation. Adler said he expects to have a total of nine staff members. He currently has four on his staff plus Sara Hartley, who is on loan from the public works department.

Courtesy of Goodfriend and Bryant.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant were married Thursday morning in Austin. The county clerk issued the couple a marriage license based on a court order. Theirs is Texas' first same-sex marriage.

The order, the county clerk's office confirms, will only apply to this one couple, one of whom is "medically fragile." [See the judge's order here.]

KUT's Nathan Bernier spoke with Goodfriend and Bryant earlier this afternoon.

Update Friday 1:36 p.m. Texas Attorney General Paxton filed a petition asking the Texas Supreme Court to rule that the same-sex marriage license issued yesterday is void. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Officially, the Austin City Council meets every other week. This would've been an off week. But, this new council has so much to learn and so much to do that unofficially, it meets virtually all the time.

In a special called meeting today, the council will try to work out how the new meetings system will work.

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