Austin

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

KUT News

Travis County residents can now use their phones to register to vote, with a new text-based system available to any eligible voter in the county.

Former State Senator Joe Christie spent the last two years helping to develop the tool, in part to encourage more millennials to get registered.

wallercreek.org

With all of the cranes and construction going on downtown, you might not have noticed one of the biggest projects of them all.

Austin will soon be home to the largest urban creek renewal project in the country’s history. Waller Creek, which winds through downtown and connects to Lady Bird Lake, is set to be transformed into a chain of parks, part of a long-term revitalization project. [See more project details here.]

KUT spoke with Peter Mullan, CEO of the Waller Creek Conservancy, to learn more about the project and how the public can get involved in the planning.

Man Ray, via the J. Paul Getty Museum

Forty-two years ago today, Vander Clyde died of a drug overdose in Round Rock.

Clyde, who performed as Barbette, wasn’t an archetypal Round Rocker (if there is such a thing) in the sense that, for a stretch of his 68-year life, he was a sensation in Paris’ vaudeville scene, became the muse of a proto-surrealist avant garde poet and filmmaker, and went on to become a circus director for Ringling Barnum Circus.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Fun Fun Fun Fest is set for November, but festival organizers don’t yet know how much of Auditorium Shores they’ll be able to use.

The battle, it turns out, is over a three-acre tract of dog park.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department says they never promised this area for festival use. Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers say at least part of this space is essential to making the festival work.

City Council will wade into the issue tomorrow.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Neighbors filed a lawsuit against Terry Black’s barbecue last week, saying the smoke from its pits was disruptive. But in a Health and Human Services Committee meeting Monday, city staff argued that complaints like these are mostly isolated incidents.

Vince Delisi with the city’s Health and Human Services Department talked to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality, which tracks air pollution complaints such as barbecue smoke.

“That report was a little bit disappointing," Delisi says.

flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder

Seventy-three children died in Texas last year from a single cause. And so far this year, 56 children have died as a result of that same cause: drowning.

And, while there are efforts at both the statewide and local levels to educate adults on how to avoid drowning deaths, children of color are disproportionately represented among the victims.

Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor

Despite Austin being the country’s only large, fast-growing city with a waning African-American population, businesses owned by black residents in the greater area appear to be outperforming those in the rest of the state.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics that Greater Austin Black Chamber board member Hopeton Hay presented in July, Travis County topped the state in average receipts for firms owned by black residents in 2007, with $131,400 per company. That is more than double the average for Dallas County, which came in second place at $63,200 per company.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin's roads are busier than ever, and there’s more than just cars and trucks on them. As more and more Austinites choose bikes to get around, where exactly are they allowed to ride?

It can be a little confusing knowing where it’s okay to ride your bike. For instance, you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk in parts of downtown Austin. But when it comes to the road? Well, a bike is welcome pretty much everywhere. It’s right there in the Texas Transportation Code.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Food can be delicious, heart-warming and life-sustaining. So, how did eating become a constant battle with the refrigerator?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Arthur Markman discuss the challenges in maintaining a healthy diet and how changing our perspectives on food may be a vital approach to solving these problems.

Photo by KUT News

The City of Austin today presented its proposed budget for FY 2015-16 to the new 10-1 City Council, which will work on finalizing the proposal before the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.  [View the proposed budget in full here.]

The proposal calls for spending a total of $3.5 billion, a $39-million increase from last year. The increase in property tax revenue for the city would total about $36 million.

Terrence Henry/KUT

Austin’s well-known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but it’s also becoming known as a place that’s running out of room. There's one neighborhood in town where old-time residents are probably going to be moved out in order to make way for new development. And it’s ruffling some feathers.

We're talking, of course, about monk parakeets. In particular, the two hundred of them that live at the University of Texas at Austin Whitaker Intramural Fields, in Central Austin on Guadalupe. Head there at dusk, and you'll see not just soccer or lacrosse scrimmages, but you'll see hundreds, if not thousands, of birds. 

And the most colorful and charismatic of them are the monk parakeets. But soon they're likely going to have to move out of their longtime home. 

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.”

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