City Council Preview: Welcome Back - Now Here's 145 Items
The break’s over: City Council reconvenes this Thursday with a 141 item-long agenda. (Oh, and a four-item addendum.)
As the recent city elections and plans for an urban rail system have preoccupied council members’ time, we’ve prepared a crib sheet for this Thursday’s long slog. (You’re welcome!)
Green Waters Run Deep: Certain to generate ample discussion at the meeting is Item 12, the sale of the former Green Water Treatment Plant site downtown, along Cesar Chavez Street, to developer Trammel Crow.
The company would purchase the land from the city for some $42 million; related Item 13 would then spend $20 million of that on infrastructure improvements to the nascent Seaholm District next door, which would be anchored by the mixed-use redevelopment at Green. The proposal was postponed by previous council action, including qualms over the low housing affordability requirements on the site.
On the Waterfront: Item 83 would create a Lake Austin Task Force to eyeball developments along the waters. The group would be comprised of 14 members, plus three “ex-offico” members of other city boards. Moreover, this item from council would also disallow the granting of development variances by city staff, should one be requested within 100 feet of the shoreline. (But shouldn’t it be the Lady Bird Lake Task Force?)
Incentivize This: With economic incentives like Apple’s recent spate of tax breaks roiling the water, the council is taking a closer look at the topic. Item 92 calls for creation of a “Special Committee on Economic Incentives” to tackle the issue. The committee would be comprised by City Council Members Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison, and Kathie Tovo (incidentally, the items sponsors).
Short-Term Talk: Item 140 is a public hearing on regulations for short-term rentals – residential properties rented by owners on sites like HomeAway. The city’s Planning Commission made recommendations on the topic recently; scuttlebutt is the hearing may be postponed.
Full Disclosure: Item 78 would amend city code to require rapid disclosure of campaign donations in the last nine days before a council election. Item 79 would similarly require enhanced disclosure of independent expenditures in city campaigns. Both are modeled on recommendations from the city’s Charter Revision Committee.
Keep it Moving: Who doesn’t love Interstate 35 gridlock? Not Item 45, which accepts $1.2 million from the Texas Department of Transportation “to extend the program limits of the IH35 Corridor Development Program to study mobility improvements.”
Gas Prices: Item 133 is a public hearing regarding Texas Gas Services’ request to raise rates on customers. The request was originally filed on February 10, 2012 and proposed to take effect April 10, but council suspended the implementation to review the proposal.
The meeting starts at 10 a.m. this Thursday, May 24. As always, you can watch on the city’s website.