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City Council Preview: Coming Down Like Cats and Dogs (And That's Just the Animal Shelter)

City Hall is hosting a council meeting that should stretch well into the evening.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News
City Hall is hosting a council meeting that should stretch well into the evening.

At 142-items long, saying the Austin City Council faces a full agenda today is an understatement.

Today’s regular meeting is filled with a number of contentious and convoluted issues – certainly not the stuff incumbent council members up for re-election would prefer to address on the eve of early voting. Here's a roundup of three big items up today:

1. Speaking of Voting: Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would create a task force to study options on organizing the city into council districts. The task force would be made up of Austin voters. (Currently council seats are elected at-large.)  The proposal has garnered pushback from a citizens group, Autinites for Geographic Representation, which is collecting signatures to put their 10-1 district plan on the ballot.

Group members are holding a press conference this morning to voice their opposition to the council resolution. They oppose it on the grounds it would begin drawing districts in advance of a vote on geographic representation; they would prefer an independent citizens panel draft the districts.

Also up are measures related to other proposals from the Charter Revision Committee, the group that endorsed a change to geographic representation. The measures include putting to voters whether municipal elections should move from May to November.

2. New Leash on Life: Council members will also vote on whether to expand Austin Pets Alive’s use of the Town Lake Animal Center. As KUT reported previously, Austin Pets Alive has been using a portion of the Town Lake Animal Center since the city shelter moved five miles east to the Austin Animal Center, and now the nonprofit wants to operate out of the entire building. A public hearing is set for this afternoon, but with an agenda this long, it likely won’t be heard until late this evening.

3. Safe as Houses?: The council also plans to vote on a new contract with Front Steps—which would provide more permanent housing for some frequent users of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.

Rounding out the agenda area initiatives that would create an advisory task force on solar energy, changes that would potentially reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements for downtown, and a public hearing amending zoning constraints on “alternative financial services businesses,” aka payday lenders. Oh, and about 135 more items.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m.; you can watch the fun online

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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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