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City Council Preview: Of Pedicabs and Charter Changes

A pedicabber counts his cash during South by Southwest 2012.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News
A pedicabber counts his cash during South by Southwest 2012.

It’s relatively light work for the Austin City Council today, what with a scant 40-item agenda and nary a single zoning item. Still there’s a few items of interest for intrepid council watchers.

Pedal Power: On the agenda are a couple of items regarding pedicabs, those ubiquitous, people-powered cabs pedaling all over Austin’s entertainment districts. The biggest change is a moratorium on new pedicab permits for six months.

Items 21 and 22 include new rules over how pedicabs can operate in the Sixth Street area. In addition to defining acceptable areas of operation, other possible changes include how customers may pay a pedicabber:  both customers and pedicabs must form lines, and a customer may only hire the pedicab at the front of the line.

To expedite the changes, the city will also consider adding street markings to designate specific staging areas. The designated areas proposed lie within the Sixth Street Entertainment District, from the 200 block and 700 block of East Sixth street. and all crossroads between East Fifth and East Seventh streets. 

City Charter, err, City Code Changes Afoot: Items 20 and 23 both pertain to recommendations issued by the 2012 Charter Election Committee. While the committee most famously grappled with the question of geographic representation, the group also issued several other recommendations.

Item 20 would place one such realignment before voters, where city council members would hire their own staffs (technically, they’re currently hired by the city manager).

Item 23 prepares several ordinances that council will consider at their April 26 meeting. Council members had previously discussed passing several such measures themselves instead of putting them before voters, as not to clutter up the ballot. They include:

Expanding the jurisdiction of the Ethics Review Commission to include campaign finance violations, requiring special reporting of campaign contributions made in the last 9 days before an election, enhancing reporting of independent expenditures in City elections, creating a campaign finance database, enhancing required reporting regarding bundlers of campaign contributions; and creating limits on the amounts of campaign contributions that may be bundled by lobbyists.

The meeting is already underway (and as of this writing, Item 20 passed unanimously.) You can watch online on the city’s website

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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