Austin

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

Screenshot via YouTube

In May, Austin voters will decide the future of ride-hailers Uber and Lyft, putting to rest an escalating debate about how the city should regulate these businesses. 

But the city has seen this fight before – 100 years ago.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

When you Google image search Rachel Kania and Tori Moreland, you'll find each of them in similarly staged photos, each wearing a collared shirt and pearls, each standing in front of what looks to be a tall wooden fence – as if they're keeping someone out, but in a friendly way, like a genial neighbor would.

The Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: The cost of a large expansion of U.S. Highway 183 in Northwest Austin officially nearly tripled on Monday night.

At its monthly meeting, the Transportation Policy Board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to amend its long-range plan to increase the price of the 183 North Mobility Project from $225.7 million to $650 million.

UPDATE: After seven days of voting, we have a winner for the next round of ATXplained. We're already hard at work getting the answer to the winning question, so stay tuned!

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

It’s been just over a year since the City of Austin’s hands-free ordinance went into effect and, in 2015, Austin Police officers cited more than 5,000 drivers in Austin for using devices while behind the wheel.

While that number may seem steep to some, it’s just the start, as APD plans to diversify enforcement efforts and work to integrate hand-held enforcement efforts into the city’s Vision Zero plan.

Lyft via youtube

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler on Sunday revealed that he has been working with a representative of Lyft, one of the transportation network companies that has been backing an initiative on the May 7 ballot to prevent the city from enforcing mandatory fingerprinting for TNC drivers. Adler said he has been discussing with attorney Michael Whellan, who represents Lyft, the idea of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the TNCs.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Updated: Feb. 9, 2:00 p.m. According to the City of Austin's website, the Austin4All PAC filed its treasurer appointment form Monday.

An effort to remove Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen may have hit a bump. On Friday, a local attorney filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the political action committee (PAC) organizing the recall.


Photo Illustration: Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

It appears more likely voters will decide the future of regulations for ride-hailing companies in Austin.

Next week the Austin City Council will decide whether to adopt rules written by Uber and Lyft, or put them to a public vote. A petition by Ridesharing Works for Austin calling for those rules was certified Tuesday by the city clerk. The rules do not include fingerprint background checks for drivers – as some council members would like to see.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

The Austin Monitor reports: While the city clerk still has not received a promised petition seeking the recall of Council Member Ann Kitchen, the Texas Ethics Commission has received four complaints filed against the group behind the alleged effort.

Austin attorney Fred Lewis filed the four complaints on Friday morning. They name Austin4All PAC, Rachel Kania, Tori Moreland, and Joe Basel as respective respondents.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Antonio Mancinas, 68, leans against a tree in his front yard. He lives in a house with his wife at the end of Sam Rayburn Drive in the Rundberg neighborhood. Despite having spent roughly a quarter of a century on the street, he thinks back just a few years.

“Just imagine,” he says. “We were always afraid. It was dangerous, never knowing when there was going to be a shootout.”


April King via Wikipedia

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone and, despite the predictable smattering of Bill Murray-related memes, there’s not much solace in the promise of an early spring in a state like Texas. The state has its own version of the holiday based right here in Central Texas and, as one Waco writer put, “the groundhog knows no more about the weather than a man who has only been in Texas two days.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Austin City Council continued discussing regulations for ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber at its work session Tuesday, in response to a petition that was validated Monday by the city clerk's office. 


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

After news that a Political Action Committee had gathered enough signatures to recall an Austin City Council member, neighbors and fellow council members came out Monday to show their support.

“My experience with the Council member is that she is so hard-working and diligent and cares so much about this community,” District 4’s Greg Casar said of Kitchen.


MIguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

The Austin City Council today passed a plan to further regulate ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The language in the ordinance is not entirely clear – but it calls for the “preferred ability” of drivers who do get fingerprinted to pick up and drop off passengers in the downtown entertainment district and around major events such as South by Southwest. Drivers who don’t get fingerprinted would pay higher fees and be barred from some wait areas. They may also be restricted from operating during certain hours.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Austin is riddled with petition fever, or so it seems lately. Last week, local group Ridesharing Works for Austin – a political action committee funded by Uber and Lyft – handed 23,000 petition signatures over to the Office of the City Clerk, making it highly likely that its ordinance will go in front of City Council, if not in front of the public for a city-wide vote.

A Look Back at Austin's Lesser-Known Petitions

Jan 27, 2016
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Petitions are having a moment right now.

But, despite their recent resurgence into the municipal zeitgeist, they’ve shaped the city in ways a lot of Austinites may or may not realize. There are well-known ones like the Save Our Springs ordinance or the 10-1 council reorganization petition, but what about the other times a petition's helped change Austin?

Photo by KUT News

“Austin is growing.” By now this maxim has become the resounding, if not infuriating, anthem of the city. It affects various sectors of life in Austin, from transportation to housing to health. And, as it turns out, it also affects how the city of Austin runs its 911 call center.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Last month KUT asked our audience to suggest stories they wanted us to report on. The story that listeners chose is about Austin’s African American population.  Specifically, why is it shrinking, while every other group in the city grows?  In the first installment of a project we’re calling ATXplained, KUT’s Mose Buchele reports. 

KUT News

Short-term rental website Airbnb has announced it wants to team up with cities throughout the country to collect taxes from people renting out rooms and homes on its website.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin’s city government underwent a massive shift just over a year ago with the swearing in of the first City Council under the new 10-1 system, in which Council members are elected from geographic districts. The documentary “Ten Won” focuses on the campaign that brought out over 70 candidates and might be the start of a change in Austin’s politics. Former television journalist Judy Maggio co-directed the documentary. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton talked with her recently about how they packed all of that into half an hour.


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