City of Austin

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin has been tapped by Google to be the second city in the U.S. to get Google Fiber, the search giant’s super fast gigabit internet service. Kansas City was the first city to dive in with Google. And it’s learned some lessons.

Some of Central Texas’ largest Internet providers also serve Kansas City, Missouri. Think Time Warner and AT&T, among others. Kansas City Assistant City Manager Rick Usher says as soon as word spread that Google was getting some deals –  waived fees, right-of-way access and more – his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 last night to repeal the city’s Project Duration Ordinance, rules limiting how long a development can remain “grandfathered” under land-use rules in place at the time of the project’s conception.

In contrast to last week’s hearing, which featured hours of citizen testimony, public input was closed this time. The council discussion lasted just 15 minutes. Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voted no.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

More than a dozen streets in Austin are about to be invaded with bulldozers whose mission is to re-shape them. Once the streets are re-worked, the hope is they will in turn help slow down the drivers who use them. On the first week of April, the city will unveil which so-called “traffic calming” projects it will fund.

Twice a year, Austin’s Transportation Renee Orr reviews dozens of applications from Austinites who believe their streets would be safer if there were a way to make drivers slow down.

KUT News

There is one week left to apply for the five-member Municipal Civil Service Commission. It's part of Proposition 10 that Austin voters approved in November. It establishes a municipal service system for most city employees.

According to the City of Austin, the Municipal Civil Service Commission will help to establish certain personnel rules. The commission will then make final decisions on appeals of disciplinary actions by most City of Austin employees. The commission is expected to hear cases from city employees or are fired, demoted or denied a promotion.

When planning to book a public venue in Austin, keep in mind the city is going to charge a bunch of fees, some are for permits, maintenance and cleanup. Organizers of large and well-attended gatherings have no problem paying those fees. But non-profits sponsoring smaller events sometimes ask the city to waive them.

This week, the city council will vote on five such waivers. With so many of these smaller events taking place, what happens when fees are waived?


Austin’s Bag Ordinance goes into effect soon. Starting March 1, the majority of Austin businesses will stop providing single-use paper and plastic bags. That’s because the City of Austin has a goal of zero waste by the year 2040. This measure is among the first steps toward that goal. Businesses and customers alike are already making some adjustments.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Planning to put an event on this South By Southwest? Well, you'll need a permit for that.

With just over a month until Austin’s South by Southwest festival begins, the city’s special events office has received a flurry of permit applications – everything from noise permits, to food service, to construction permits for big soundstages.

KUT News

The City of Austin has started a new program to welcome foreigners moving to town.

The Welcome to Austin program provides language resources, offers local advice and teaches newcomers how to navigate the city's local schools, law enforcement and public transportation. Here's a look at the agenda.

Walkable and Livable Communities Institute

During 2012 alone, 22 pedestrians were killed in Austin. As a means of transportation, or commuting to and from work, walking is tough. The city is too spread out, and outside the urban core, the transportation system doesn’t encourage walking. 

But some Austin officials want to change that. That’s why they invited a “walkability” expert to learn how some streets can be transformed into walkable spaces. 

City of Austin

The Celebration

The City of Austin’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march kicks off at 9 a.m.

The march will begin at the MLK statue on the University of Texas at Austin campus—near Speedway and West 23rd Street. Marchers will make their way to the State Capitol to see a Gospel music performance by Sweet Home Baptist Church Choir. Then, participants will walk down 11th Street to Huston-Tillotson University.

Several roads will be temporarily shut down to make way for the procession—including San Jacinto Boulevard on the UT campus, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between San Jacinto and Congress Avenue, Congress Avenue north of the capitol and 11th Street between Congress and Chalmers Avenue.

Starting next week, citizens can apply to serve on the independent redistricting commission that will draw Austin's 10 city council districts. 

Commission applicants will be sorted through by a group of three certified public accountants. They will be in charge of getting the redistricting commission going by creating a pool of the 60 most qualified applicants. Out of those candidates, a group of 14 will ultimately draw Austin's first district maps. (Click here for an overview of the redistricting process.)

But the timing is a little crazy, because W-2 forms are in the mail as we speak. And right about now is the kick-off of the busiest time of the year for CPAs:  tax season. But Austin needs CPAs to apply as volunteers now, in order to kick off the entire district-drawing process. 

A new facility for older Austinites is scheduled to open soon in south Austin. It will serve those with memory impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The “Silverado Senior Living” plans to house 90 people.  Right now, the only facilities like it are in Round Rock.  But, the needs of Austin’s elderly population continue to grow at a fast pace.

Silverado Senior Living is a private facility. Loren Shook is the company’s CEO.  He says “there are thousands of people within the city of Austin that are suffering from this disease [Alzheimer’s] and we are very confident there is sufficient resources in the market for people to afford our services ”

As we wrap up the holiday season, the Christmas decorations will soon head to into storage.

The City of Austin is encouraging residents to recycle their live Christmas trees. If you have curbside collection, just put the tree there by 6:30 a.m. on your trash day. Make sure all decorations are removed. Trees over six feet should be cut in half.

If you live in an apartment or somewhere else where you don’t get curbside collection, you can drop trees off at Zilker Park this weekend or next weekend.

Update: Despite some rain in the forecast for this evening, the City of Austin’s New Year’s Eve event at Auditorium Shores is a go. At least for now.

The city says as long as the skies stick to rain and drizzle and not high winds and thunderstorms… the live music, activities and fireworks will happen.

“Bring your ponchos, bring your umbrellas, bring a lawn chair. But if it’s a little drizzle-y we will hopefully still have an event and still have some fireworks for everybody to enjoy," City of Austin spokesperson Samantha Park says.

KUT News

Please don’t say your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. As full of merit as your resolution is, it may not be tweeted out by city staff.  

Starting today and through Dec. 31, the city of Austin is encouraging Austinites to text their New Year resolutions to 512-518-5879.  But there’s a catch: you need to think about how your resolution will make the city better. City staff will then go through them and pick the most interesting responses.  

Wells Dunbar/KUT News

It may seem like government offices are in slow mode during the holiday season, but Austin's City Auditor is working against the clock. That's because there’s a very strict timeline the auditor needs to meet in order to put together the group that will draw Austin’s new city council district maps. 

The auditor is following the guidelines and timeline laid out in Proposition 3. That was the citizen-initiated charter amendment passed by Austin voters last month. But some of the terminology in Prop 3 needs to be tweaked into more official legal terms in some cases. In others, it just needs to be clarified. So, the City of Austin's Auditor, Kenneth Mory, is asking for citizen input.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

*Updated to include response from Austin-Travis Co. EMS

Austin’s City Auditor says billing collection processes at Austin-Travis County EMS are so poor that the department is at risk of having money stolen or bills miscalculated and not even realizing it.

A report by the Auditor’s office says EMS does not comply with the city’s cash handling policy and isn’t taking measures to ensure the department is depositing all the revenue it receives.

In one instance, the Auditor’s office found more than $200,000 dollars in undeposited collections stored in an open and unattended plastic storage container.

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Austin taxi drivers are working more but seeing a decline in income and business. And, as you might imagine, many aren’t happy about that. The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin (TDAA) is even more upset that the trend may be exacerbated if the Austin City Council approves 30 new cab permits on Thursday.

The TDAA says the noticeable decline in business happened after a first round of new cab permits approved by the Austin City Council hit the streets in July. Because, while more taxis on the streets means more options for riders, it means more competition for drivers.

A new report released by the City of Austin’s Transportation Department finds the average cab driver made about one fewer trip in July 2012 than in July 2011. Cab drivers made an average of $461 less this July than last—equivalent to a drop of $2.40 an hour. That’s despite an increase in cab fares but doesn’t take tips into account.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: Oct. 25, 2012 at 9 a.m.:

After airing this story on Monday, listeners have been wondering what happened to the Yount family.  The first thing was that a listener drove by the parking lot where they were and gave them a cell phone.  Others have called asking for ways in which they can help.  KUT now has a way to get in touch with the Younts.  If you have any interest in helping them, you can contact KUT.

Original Story posted on Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.:

The city of Miami claims to have taken almost half of its homeless population off the streets in the last 10 years. In Austin, where homeless services are stretched to the limit, the City Council is looking for new solutions. Last night, council members met with officials from Miami. The challenges of one local homeless family that is struggling on the streets show how complex the problem can be.

KUT News

Some members of the Austin City Council will avoid prosecution for alleged violations of open meetings laws.

On Wednesday, the Travis County Attorney’s Office said it finished its investigation into a nearly two-year-old complaint that council members deliberated among themselves in ways that may violate government transparency laws.