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City Council Preview: Running the Geographic Gauntlet

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin City Council faces a full agenda today. It’s the last scheduled meeting before a month-long break.

They may well need a break, considering what’s on the agenda.

Sure to be the center of discussion are City Council proposals for geographic representation. As KUT News reported earlier this week, Mayor Lee Leffingwell is proposing a hybrid 8-2-1 system – eight council members representing individual districts, plus two additional members and the mayor running at large. Council member Mike Martinez is proposing a 10-1 system – 10 council members in single-member districts, with only the mayor running at-large. In its numbers, Martinez’s proposal is similar to the 10-1 proposal brought forward by Austinites for Geographic Representation, which is wrapping up a signature drive to place the initiative on the ballot.

However, Martinez’s proposal does away with much of the language in AGR’s proposal relating to the powers of an independent citizen’s panel that would ultimately draw the district lines. Martinez says the language is overly broad and could open the city up to legal action; AGR counters that Martinez’s proposal would politicize the districting process.

The geographic representation proposals, plus other potential items for the November charter election – relating to the number of signatures required to place a citizen initiative on the ballot, fundraising, and council members’ terms – are all set for a 4 p.m. time certain hearing, meaning they will be heard no sooner than then.

Council members are set to take action on a proposal for a temporary terminal at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, to handle extra flights expected for November’s Formula 1 race. The Austin Airport Advisory Commission approved a plan for the $5 million dollar temporary customs and immigration processing facility yesterday.

Council members are also considering a contract for the completion of the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk trail.

The council is also scheduled to take a second vote onamending city codes for short term rentals. The changes would affect how many short term rentals can operate in a zip code.  

The meeting starts at 10 a.m., and you can watch the meeting online

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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