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

From the Austin Monitor: Yesterday, Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes resigned.

Snipes had arranged the March training event designed to help staff deal with the deluge of female City Council members. That training drew national ridicule to City Hall and sparked widespread outrage.

In a memo to Mayor Steve Adler and Council, City Manager Marc Ott explained that he was verbally informed about the results of last week’s investigation into the training.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Texas Governor Greg Abbott took a helicopter tour of the areas devastated by weekend floods yesterday, which culminated in a disaster declaration in 24 counties in Texas. Hundreds of families in Wimberley lost everything, and more than 1,000 were in shelters Monday night. Two are confirmed dead in Hays County.

Update 3:30 p.m. Earlier today, 30 were still unaccounted for in the county, but sources are starting to report that most of those have been contacted. Thirteen are supposedly still missing.

Update 3 p.m. Gov. Abbott has added 8 more counties to the state disaster declaration. You can view a full list of counties, and the governor's statement, here.

Update 1:15 p.m. In a press conference in Wimberley this afternoon, Hays County officials said that there are still 30 people unaccounted for in the wake of the weekend's storms. Hays County Commissioner called the storm a "tsunami." President Obama declared Texas an official disaster area, which opens the door to the state receiving federal funding for recovery.

Original story: Still, after a record flood of the Blanco River, more rain is expected to fall throughout the week as those in the town continue rescue and clean-up efforts.

But, yesterday, one family celebrated Memorial Day as they always do – together – in spite of the floods that ravaged their home.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Storms swept through the Austin area Monday afternoon, causing businesses and roadways to flood. The National Weather Service says Austin should expect more rain and thunderstorms this week, with chances as high as 50 percent on Friday.

Storms across the state resulted in a total of seven dead in Texas, including one in San Marcos, one in Wimberley, one in Cameron, one in San Antonio and three more in Houston. At least 30 people are still unaccounted for in Hays County.

Meanwhile in Austin, clean-up efforts are underway. You can get the latest information from the city of Austin here.

4 p.m. The body of one man, still unidentified, has been recovered in northeast Travis County.

1 p.m. CapMetro says its rail service will be restored as of 3:44 this afternoon. Its buses are running normally, say CapMetro officials.

12:45 p.m. You can call Austin Disaster Relief Network if you're affected by the flood and still need help.

12 p.m. An update from CapMetro says that MetroRail is offering partial service today:

11:15 a.m. The North Austin Red Cross shelter housed five people last night, and the South Austin shelter housed two. The shelters in San Marcos housed 80 overnight. Updated Red Cross shelter information for those in need Tuesday:

10:45 a.m. ATXfloods is reporting that nearly all of Austin's roads are open.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Update Monday: Another round of storms swept through a large part of Central and South Central Texas Monday afternoon, bringing inches of rain, hail, strong winds and some reports of tornadoes touching down.

For more in-depth information on conditions in Austin resulting from Monday's storms, visit our post here, listen to 90.5 FM, and/or follow @KUT on twitter.

Home prices in Austin hit another record last month.

The numbers come as new Census data confirms Austin has continued its explosive growth in recent years.

The Austin Board of Realtors says the median home price was up 14 percent in April 2015, compared to the same month last year, to $274,000. The number of homes sold also hit a record for the month of April.

Austin History Center, PICA 02530

In 1905, 110 years ago this week, the City of Austin began paving the city’s main street: Congress Avenue. The paving was meted out in segments – the stretch of Sixth Street to what’s now Cesar Chavez getting the rollout first.

While the pavement signaled a new era in Austin, it also meant the beginning of the end for Austin’s streetcar system, Austin Electric Railway – the latest corporate iteration in a revolving door of companies with Congress Avenue right-of-way – which had been operating at a loss since 1891 and, at the city’s insistence, had to pay for and implement a good portion of the buildout.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Following the release of a report stating that Austin commercial property in Travis County is “significantly undervalued,” City Council is considering an appraisal challenge that could reduce the burden on residential property taxpayers.

Council discussed the potential move at a Tuesday work session, during which Budget Office and Law Department staff said the city would have to file a petition with the state’s Appraisal Review Board by June 1 in order to move forward this year.

If the independent board were to rule in favor of the city, the Travis Central Appraisal District would have to reappraise the Austin commercial properties for which it is responsible, potentially increasing their valuation.


Authorities in Waco are still on alert after Sunday's shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant, which involved five biker gangs and ultimately left nine dead and 18 injured. The gun battle centered around two Texas motorcycle clubs: the Bandidos and the Cossacks, an upstart gang that crashed a Bandidos meetup at the restaurant.

While the news stunned many in Texas and garnered national attention, the news was especially shocking to Texas Monthly's Skip Hollandsworth, who wrote about the Bandidos for the magazine in 2007.

Hollandsworth spoke with KUT's Nathan Bernier about his experiences with the Bandidos, the fierce loyalty and business savvy of its members and the impact Sunday's shooting will have on the group in the future.

Bryan Winter for KUT

After this weekend's rain, the city imposed a temporary ban on boating and recreational use of Lady Bird Lake. But even with that ban lifted, there's still one thing you definitely can't do in the lake: Go swimming. 

It may be well-known to longtime residents (who probably still call it Town Lake), but swimming in Austin’s “crown jewel” is illegal. Seems it has been for 50 years. 

Still, when contacted, public information staff at several city departments seemed surprised to hear such a ban exists.

Dean Terry/flickr

For the past year, forecasters have been watching the Pacific Ocean with bated breath, waiting for the weather pattern known as El Niño to arrive.

Well, it’s here, but it’s not like anything we’ve seen before.

When you hear or read reports about the oft-elusive weather system, you can’t help but think of Chris Farley’s classic skit from “Saturday Night Live.”

UPDATE 11:05 a.m: The flash flood warnings for the Austin area have expired. Heavy rain has moved out of the area for the time being. A flash flood watch remains in effect until 3 p.m.

145 low water crossings in the Austin area are closed. The latest conditions are here.


Last night marked the end of an era in music with the passing of B.B. King. The quintessential bluesman and last of the blues’ “Three Kings” died at the age of 89 last night. From his earliest days. King was perennially on the road. Some of his earliest shows were in East Austin at the Victory Grill, back when the city was still segregated, and he continued to be a fixture in the Austin music scene throughout his prolific career.

Take a look back at Austin’s history with the King below.

KUT News

From our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor:

The Austin Monitor has learned that Austin City Manager Marc Ott has placed Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes on paid administrative leave. The move comes after news broke that Snipes had organized a controversial training designed to help staff cope with a female-majority City Council.

Austin History Center, via Portal to Texas History

This week marks the 127th anniversary of the Texas State Capitol’s dedication. Well, not necessarily. May 14 marked the completion of the Capitol, along with a week-long celebration to dedicate it, but the state didn’t accept Pomeranian builder Gustav Wilke’s granite-domed monument to Texas because of structural issues — chiefly, the copper roof leaked.

The building was officially dedicated seven months later, but Wilke’s architectural prowess wasn’t blamed for the building’s initial shoddiness — he would later go on to build some of the world’s first skyscrapers. Ultimately, the capitol building’s inconsistencies, exacerbated by a Chicago-based syndicate bankrolling Wilke’s operation, a years-long labor strike and a handful Texas convicts and Scottish strike-busters, contributed to the project’s hamstringing.


Texas law requires that a dog who’s attacked a human be placed on a “dangerous dog list.” These lists are updated by municipalities and counties, and many publish the dog owners’ names and where they live.

Austin has its own dangerous dog ordinance, but instead of "dangerous," the city uses the word “vicious.” The ordinance was passed more than two decades ago and is less forgiving than state law. But after an increasing number of complaints about recourse for those dogs who violate the city law, members of the Animal Advisory Commission say they’ll reconsider what it means to be a vicious dog in Austin.

City of Austin

Austin city officials gathered for a press conference today to respond publicly to news, first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, about a training that city staff attended in March on how to work and interact with women. The training session, called "The Changing Dynamics in Governance: Women Leading in Local Government," apparently attempted to address "techniques" for working with the city's new majority-female city council.

City staffers attended the session, led by Jonathan Allen, now-former City Manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, in which he taught that "if you attempt to use the same communication techniques, management techniques, that you use or attempted to use in a predominantly male environment, you will be making a serious error in your professional development. Because they don't process things in the same way."

Norr, via City of Austin

It's far from a done deal, but a golf course may be coming to Distict 1 in East Austin.

The Austin City Council is not ready to make a final decision on the course at Walter E. Long Lake proposed by Decker Lake Golf LLC, so in the meantime, several city committees are considering the proposal.

This week, the city's Economic Development Committee showed some support for the golf course, precisely because District 1 is in dire need of economic development.

From the Austin Monitor: After hearing from several opponents of the proposed ordinance to require scrubbers on the smokestacks of restaurants that smoke meat, the City Council Committee on Economic Development voted unanimously Monday against supporting the ordinance.

Council Member Ora Houston made the motion not to pursue an ordinance initially proposed by Council Member Pio Renteria. Houston moved that individual complaints be referred to Code Compliance or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Mengwen Cao/KUT

The Austin City Council’s switch to geographic representation was aimed at electing a council that’s more in touch with their constituents’ concerns. The change has also brought voices to the council representing viewpoints that weren’t heard on the old at-large council.

One of those voices belongs to District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman. The council member’s controversial board and commission nominations prompted two hours of debate at the dais last week. Typically, approval for nominations takes minutes of the council’s time. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton spoke with the Austin Monitor’s Michael Kanin about the move, which is the latest in a series that has put Zimmerman at odds with the council at large. It’s also demonstrated his effectiveness as the council’s chief dissenter.

Jon Shapley/KUT News

It’s no secret that there's not enough housing in Austin. The city has few homes with more than three bedrooms, and it doesn't have enough affordable housing.

There’s even a scarcity of upscale homes. Rents have risen as that market has gotten tighter, too. Has the housing demand led more landlords to engage in unfair housing practices?