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City Council Preview: F1 Coming In for a Landing

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
Back at it: City Council shakes off its election hangover today.

Thanks to this week’s election fever, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there’s an Austin City Council meeting this week. But there is (albeit mercifully, the 98-item agenda isn’t a terribly contentious affair). Here’s a few agenda highlights:

Raising Hel(icopters): A pair of items related to helicopter permits hover onto the dais this week. The impending Formula 1 race (eight days away and counting) means charter helicopter companies are looking to ferry high-rolling race attendees to and from the track via chopper.

Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovohave sponsored two resolutions (Items 51 and 52) relating to both temporary and permanent “helistops.” The former would limit temporary stops to a cumulative total of 18 trips, far fewer than the dozens anticipated. The Austin Chronicle says that “judging from Tuesday's work session, it won't be an easy sell, at least not quickly – other members were skeptical that they knew enough yet to regulate the process and, even should such an ordinance pass, it could not take effect in time for this month's race.”

Other notable items from council: Item 48, “directing the City Manager to support community efforts to provide emergency safe sleep shelter for single women;” Item 49, mulling new civil penalties for drivers unlawfully passing stopped school buses (which recently lead to a local bus rollover); and Item 54, an agreement with the Texas Facilities Commission to participate in their planning efforts, specifically the underused Capitol Complex area north of the dome.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Council has a lots to talk about on the public hearings portion of its meeting. The biggest item is a zoning overhaul of East Riverside Drive (Items 92-97), with an eye toward redeveloping the area in a transit-friendly fashion. The Austin American-Statesman says the East Riverside Corridor plan “would require that future developments and major reconstructions in the district meet requirements for density, the distance from storefronts to the sidewalk and making a generally more walkable district.”

Annexations are also a hot topic: Items 27 and 28 would annex land including the Circuit of the Americas’ F1 track. Open space advocates are keeping an eye on Item 31, an annexation in southwest Travis County they would like to be subject to the Heritage Tree ordinance.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at Austin City Hall. 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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