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City Council Preview: Short-Term Rentals, F1 Briefing and Naming a Waller Creek Winner

Taxis, patios, Apples and more: City Council has a heady agenda today.
Callie Hernandez, KUT News
Taxis, patios, Apples and more: City Council has a heady agenda today.

The Austin City Council convenes this morning. It's tackling a 104-item agenda. Here’s a rundown of the hot topics:

The Return of Short-Term Rentals: After wreaking havoc and sowing division on the council dais mere months ago, short-term rental regulations returns to council today. As KUT News reported earlier this week, council is looking at whether more people would comply with recently-passed regulations if it were easier and less expensive to do so.

Council is looking at two rental-related items – one asking the city manager to look at revamping several areas, and another lowering the cost of neighborly rental notification to a flat $50 – but some council members have concerns. "Responding to the growing pains of getting these registered immediately is just really problematic to me," council member Laura Morrison said earlier this week. "Until we get some feel for how things are working under our belts, otherwise, I can assure you there will be another set that we need to be working on soon."

Everybody Love a Makeover:  Council is also considering a makeover for a stretch of East Fifth Street estimated to cost about $5.3 million.

The proposed construction would repair the area just east of the Interstate 35 frontage road all the way down to Onion Street on the evolving east side of Fifth Street.

The repairs are set to include replacement and installation of waterlines, installation of storm drainage lines, street reconstruction, the adding of street lighting, and pedestrian improvements like sidewalks and landscaping.

Currently, the street looks like an alleyway meant mostly for delivery trucks, but with Austin’s East Side becoming a destination for nightlife, the changes could spur interest in Capital Metro’s MetroRail line as way of getting home. The rail line borders the edge of the construction just near Onion Street.

If approved by the City Council, construction on East Fifth is scheduled to begin this November just after the Formula 1 race weekend. The construction allows 400 calendar days for completion, but construction will be halted during next March’s South by Southwest festivals.

Winning Waller: Council will name the winner of the Waller Creek design competition this morning. Competition overseer the Waller Creek Conservancy narrowed dozens of design pitches down to a final four from which one winner emerges today; KUT News live blogged the finalists’ design presentations.

Formula 1 and More: Among council’s 10:30 a.m. briefings are an overview of Formula 1, along with a strategic assessment of the city’s facilities. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.; as always, 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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