Austin

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

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin music leaders are suggesting changes the city could make to protect and enliven its live music industry. On Wednesday, they presented their recommendations at Holy Mountain, a downtown venue closing its doors later this year – partly because of rising rent.

The recommendations are aimed at five issues advocates say are plaguing Austin’s music scene, including affordability of commercial space, stagnant event revenues, venue preservation, permitting and code enforcement complications and a gap in community engagement.

Milton Hinnant/The Dallas Morning News

Tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys start a month-long training in Oxnard, Calif., ahead of the 2015-2016 season. The state of California has long been a staple base of operations for the Cowboys – California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks served as the team’s longest-serving venue for camp from 1963 until 1989, and the state’s hosted 10 camps since 2001.

But, before the Cowboys migrated back to California for camp, the team spent its most productive (and controversial) summers right here in Austin, when the team used St. Edward’s University as a base of operations during their Super Bowl runs of the 1990s.

Brad Flickinger/flickr

Federal housing officials were in Austin Tuesday — not to give direction,  but to learn from the local housing authority's successes in closing the digital divide. The federal government is taking a model for digital inclusion from Austin to other cities around the country.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor:

City Council Member Don Zimmerman, who plans to run for re-election in 2016, has filed suit in federal court against the city of Austin, seeking to overturn four important provisions of the city’s campaign finance rules. If he wins, the changes would have an immediate and lasting impact on how elections are conducted and financed in Austin.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the City of Austin's campaign finance restrictions, which he argues violate First Amendment freedoms.

In particular the suit addresses fundraising caps and blackout periods, arguing that these restrictions impede the council member's ability "to serve as a strong voice of fiscal restraint and liberty on the Council...[and] to communicate my views with my constituents and my city," according to the press release from Zimmerman's office.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The challenges of economic development and gentrification facing East Austin are nothing new. But they will get some new attention from a group of city council members convened by Mayor Steve Adler.  The group will be focusing on a part of the city some council members are calling the “eastern crescent.”

The exotic, almost alluring term “eastern crescent” was introduced recently into the city council lexicon. Council member Leslie Pool threw it out in a June audit and finance meeting. She was talking to city staff about a public improvement district in East Austin.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There are thousands of rental properties in Austin – after all, most people who live in Austin rent – and of those thousands, there are more than two dozen that have racked up 300 code violations from the City of Austin. A new study provides suggestions on how to handle the so-called “repeat offenders.”

The study’s author argues that the city could be focusing more on these violations, rather than dedicating more Code Compliance resources towards the policing of short-term rentals.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

Demonstrators gathered last night for a vigil remembering Sandra Bland in a march that ran from Victory Grill in East Austin and ended in a silent vigil at the Texas State Capitol. Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell on July 13 after being arrested for an altercation with police that stemmed from a traffic violation.

Her case has drawn national attention after her family suggested her death wasn’t the result of a suicide, though an autopsy report has suggested there was no evidence Bland’s death was a homicide.

Above you can view a photo gallery of the march through East Austin and the vigil at the Capitol.

Mose Buchele/KUT

In the past, hydrilla carpeted whole swaths of Lake Austin. The invasive plant ruined recreation and damaged ecosystems on the lake. So to counteract that, the City of Austin occasionally introduced tens of thousands of sterilized grass carp to eat the hydrilla. But the city is now on the lookout for unintended consequences.

You’ve got to hand it to the grass carp: They did their job swimmingly. There’s no hydrilla problem in the lake right now, but there is concern the thousands of hungry fish have turned their attention to native plant species, and even other fish.

“Yeah, some of the anglers have talked about while they’re off fishing that they’re actually able to catch grass carp on crank baits. So, that’s what really got their hackles up,” says Dr. Brent Bellinger, an environmental scientist with the Watershed Protection Department. “Well, if they’re going after something that looks like shad on crank baits, they might be going after shad in general.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Although the city’s Parks and Recreation Department ordered the repair of an East Austin neighborhood pool in late April, it appears that the department had bids for the work for some time. This, even as department officials initially told residents that the pool would have to be closed for the 2015 summer season and then back-tracked under community pressure.

On Nov. 5, 2014 (see below), the Parks Department received a bid from Commercial Swim Management for Metz Pool repairs totaling $10,232.60. Those repairs included replacement of the plumbing in a pool wall drain and installation of new valves and piping. That bid was eventually approved, and a purchase request was made by the city on April 30, 2015.

Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.

hermitsmoores/flickr

Central Texas is under attack. No, not Jade Helm, or even the summer swarms of mosquitoes. We’re talking about an invasive species. Zebra Mussels? Nope. Fire ants? Try again. We're talking about an even more supposed "invasive" species: Californians.

They arrive with their telltale license plates, often heading straight to In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe's. As Austin continues to grow at a rapid pace, plenty of anecdotal blame has fallen on people moving here from California. Except … they’re not?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

The triple-digit summer heat typically leads more Central Texans towards pools and lakes to cool off. Unfortunately, it also raises the risk of drownings. Seventy-three children drowned in Texas last year. And this year is looking just as bad – so far 44 kids have drowned — most of whom were children of color.

Global sea levels are rising, and that's going to have a major impact on the Texas coastline, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual report card.

According to the report, global sea temperatures and levels hit modern highs last year in what was the warmest year on record. In Texas, that’s bad news for the Gulf Coast.

flickr.com/mdennes

Most people feel in over their heads when they first enter a challenging situation or even a new job. And, while conventional wisdom suggests those with trepidations about trying new things should "fake it 'til they make it," it may not always be the best course of action.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman discuss what's known as "imposter syndrome" — the practice of pretending to be the person you want people to see you as rather than who you truly are — and explain why it may just be better to just start working towards your goals instead of faking it.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler reported Wednesday that his campaign still owes him more than $418,315. Adler’s campaign finance report indicates that he paid himself back $31,077 in January. However, the campaign has no money remaining to repay the rest.

Other mayors in the same situation, such as former Mayor Lee Leffingwell, have relied on fundraising after they left office to recoup some of their expenses. Leffingwell reported Wednesday that he had repaid himself $56,000 this year, leaving a debt close to $35,000.

Campaign finance reports were due on Wednesday from all City Council members and all Council candidates who had not previously closed down their accounts, as well as anyone else still spending or collecting funds.

Austin History Center

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Iranian government and six other nations, including the U.S., agreed to a deal that would limit the country’s nuclear program in what some see as a historic moment for the country’s foreign relations.

Since country’s regime change, relations between Iran and the U.S. have been peppered with crises. However, shortly before the overthrow of the Shah in January of 1979, the U.S. hosted his family and Austin’s Bergstrom Air Force Base (now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, even hosted the exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi in 1978.

KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Bicycle theft is an issue in every city, and Austin, with its enthusiastic cycling community, is no exception. Data that the Austin Monitor obtained from the Austin Police Department show that the number of reported bicycle thefts has increased slightly in the past year, though that corresponds with a spike in the average number of bicycles registered with the department every month.

From July 2014 through June 2015, there was an average of about 121 cases reported to the APD every month, a two-per-month increase over the previous 12-month period. During the same time frame, average monthly registrations increased from about 51 to about 79.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’ve ever had a house or business project held up by the city’s convoluted permitting process, there may be hope for improvements ahead.

Today the city released an action plan in response to an outside review (done by California-based Zucker Systems) of its planning departments. That review found Austin’s code and regulations lacking, well below the standard set by other cities.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

The number of Austinites officially entering into the "third act" of their lives is growing by leaps and bounds – that's because Central Texas' 55-and-older population is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. And its 65-and-older population is growing the second-fastest in the country.

Both men and women in those age demographics are moving forward into their third acts. But, when broken down by gender, it turns out a woman's third act often looks very different from that of a man.

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