The Clawback LIVE! Episode 15 covering the things you may have missed from the council meeting and some land code myths
You can stay up to date on the latest episodes in a number of ways:
Do you have a question you have heard in your neighborhood that needs an answer? Have you read a published work that feels off or just not right? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion in a future blog post or live show!
District Six Hello Austin. We are back Episode 15 of the Clawback live. Did y'all go out and play in the snow this week. Did you even know there was snow this week? I didn't know until I got up that morning and I saw the light dusting in my front yard. But of course, by the time I got to city Hall. It was all gone, but I hope you all had a good time in our little brief Wintery mix. The stuff I wanna talk about today... We had a Council meeting this week, although really the Council meeting was pretty quick. We finished early, We're able to get through a number of items we talked a little bit more about the land development code. I'll do that at the end of the show. I wanna bring up... I always get nervous when I bring up the titles here they come so the the three topics that we that I wanna talk about something was on the Council meeting this week.
we approved the Council approved a contract with a new consultant to help us work on homelessness and I voted no. I voted no on this contract in part because I continue to be concerned about how we as a city and a region are managing this challenge. When I've talked to experts in the field, what they tell me is that the best way to address this is with a consolidated effort through an external Organization that is designated by the federal government and in Austin that group is called Echo and they have a special designation with the feds. That means they can access funds in a in a different way. they can do matching funds with city dollars or external private dollars, they coordinate with many of the service providers, and that really is the most efficient way to leverage the resources that we are putting to this problem. so I was I remained concerned about this contract, but you know I think it's going to work out. It's not a permanent hire. I think this guy may be able to come in and actually get that done. The thing that I said about not having the city go out and do a bunch of independent contracts when we really should be running this problem through our continuum of care provider but it did pass. I was the only dissenting vote on it, so I will keep my eyes open on how this contract moves moves forward.
there were a couple of items on the agenda this week related to public safety that probably didn't hit anybody's radar in district six. there was an inter local agreement with Department of public safety that will improve our radio communications. So when state troopers or sheriffs or city police officers are responding to calls all the radios will work together. You all may remember this was one of the challenges back in 9/11 about the radios not really talking to each other. So I'm excited to see this work continuing that it also Includes agencies in Williamson County and Hays County, Of Course District Six half of District six is in Williamson County. I live in Williamson County myself, so it's always a big topic of conversation for me glad to see that happen. We approved the new contract for body cameras. so we'll be continuing our work placing body cameras on our APD officers. It's been I think a really good program so far, although there are some policy questions to answer about how those videos are released to the public that work continues with the Office of Police oversight We should hopefully see those policies come back to us in the next couple of months but regardless it is better to have these body cameras even while we work through some of these policy concerns and so I'm glad that we saw that contract move forward and a resolution by my colleague Paige Ellis from District eight related to safe firearm storage some public education you know we've been talking with APD about theft of firearms. It's kind of an epidemic and It's happening in district six, but the thing that's happening in district six more so than any other part of town are firearms being stolen from vehicles. If you are watching this video and you keep a firearm in your vehicle, please please please please check out resources from APD about how you can secure that or you know maybe not leave a firearm in your vehicle. That's also an option but apparently that is what thieves are targeting all across the city, but especially in Northwest Austin. So I was glad to see that resolution move forward. get some more public education out there and definitely credit to APD and our region two officers and our DRs, Our district reps for continuing their education on safe firearm storage.
the other thing that happened that was on the agenda this week. You may have seen a quick little story in KXAN about a videography contract. you know doing video services that the story said We were spending 200, 300 thousand dollars to promote the convention Center, but that it was being funded through outside of Convention Center moneys and when you go into the article, it said. Oh, it's mostly convention Center and that's a little bit from building services and financial services and how to kind of interesting list of departments on there and that was the end of the story. So I saw some folks feel a little frustrated about why would we do this and why would we spend money on this when that money could be spent elsewhere? I mean, honestly, if we're talking about the convention Center, it's funded through hotel tax and that is an appropriate use of hotel tax. but what about these other departments? So we called up staff, staff clarified the other departments that are using video services are not using them to promote the convention Center because that's not What their budgets are for, but unfortunately, the agenda item on the Council meeting didn't say that so we worked with our other colleagues and said, you know let's postpone this item, let's not approve it. Let the staff come back in two weeks and and provide some additional clarity on what these video services are gonna be used for. Unfortunately, that part of the story will probably not show up on your news feed. the first part almost certainly will and again just like the Zilker Train story. This is the ongoing challenge that we have trying to run the city and trying to respond to the community's needs. The The first part always goes more viral than the second part that that there's some question and and of course that's gonna be a crazy conspiracy, but in fact, we're just working through the process and and that's that's how it works. That's actually how you govern. so you know again. Keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. If you see a news story that lacks context if it doesn't have feedback from staff, it doesn't have feedback from Council members contact your Council member Find out more. you know this government process and oversight works as a partnership between us and the community. we are not in opposition to each other. We're all trying to do the right thing at the right time. so keep your eyes open for that.
Land Code Myths
let's move on to the bigger topic that is coming up this next week second reading for the land development code. One of my favorite little video titles that I've created for this so we're headed into second reading next week. anytime you do an ordinance change even a small one. you are required by state law to do three readings unless you have a Super majority of the Council. But when it's something that sufficiently complicated, we always do all three readings and so we did first reading in October and then we've had the last three almost four months to review those. the staff came out a couple of weeks ago with their response to the decisions we made and the changes we made a first reading that is what's being deliberated right now. We'll take that vote this coming week and then that heads into third and final reading that I think will happen in March, but I wanna talk a little bit about the myths that are happening around this process. there are some folks in this community. There are some political action committees out there that that are really trying to make people afraid and there's there's no reason for that. You know we're we're making some significant changes because Austin has some significant issues. We have always struggled with growth in our city, but District six knows that if you try to suppress growth if you say if they don't build it, they won't come they still come and they just sprawl their way out to Liberty Hill. so we have to think more thoughtfully about how we grow as a city and and that's what we're doing. One of the myths that I hear is Oh, you're making this decision in six days. You're not giving enough feedback for the public and there's not enough time for input. We are not even finishing this process next week we are headed into third reading in March, but I also wanna show that the reason you do three readings is because you slowly and methodically narrow down the questions so that you take at first reading that the sum total of the document is over A thousand pages and you use take the time to go through it and identify the challenges when you get the second reading you've cut that down by 90 percent, so you have a document of over a thousand pages at first reading turns into a staff Supplemental report of less than A hundred pages for a second reading, and in fact, when you go through that supplemental report, half of them are things that staff didn't change. They were request made of the Council that staff said. You know what there's really not a way to do this or we need more clarification or or what have you there is not as I have heard some people claim tens of thousands of changes that need to be reviewed. We are narrowing down the areas of conflict and challenge and questions so that we can get to a third reading confidently that that is gonna do the things we wanted to do another of the myths that is very popular is that we are somehow banning the type of housing that exists in the city right now, nothing could be further from the truth. We are in some cases expanding the types of housing that can be built but single-family homes are still allowed in R2 zones R3 zones. if you have a single-family home in an R4 zone, it will not become illegal. at the passing of this code and we're creating special exemptions and and compliance tools that you can still add a bedroom or or improve your property. it's been a really good, I think thoughtful methodical process to get through another of the myths that is very popular is that somehow we are forcing high-density development into the Middle of neighborhoods. I've even received that that I've received emails from folks who claimed that that's what's happening. But when you go back and look at their neighborhood actually nothing changed in their neighborhood and there are in fact areas of the city where no changes were made. so it's really important to go back and look you can see all of this information on the city's website austintexas.gov/ldc and see the maps you can see the text. Most of the questions. people have are in chapter three, which is the zoning chapter where you can see all the little zones defined how tall buildings can be how far away from the lots they have to be very little changes being made outside of probably the most significant change is allowing duplexes. but in most of our district six neighborhoods at least there are deed restrictions that prevent that and even if you have questions about deed restrictions, we went and talked to a couple title companies, the title companies interpret the deed restrictions developers are not gonna be able to violate those and then sell the properties later. All of that stuff is being worked out and it's actually a really good positive process for the future of the city and the last thing I wanna say about it is you know we had a couple of meetings in neighborhoods and one constituent said. You know I hear what you're saying about the features but tell me about the benefits. What are the benefits of doing this code rewrite? well the number one goal is we need to build more housing for a growing city and if we don't build more housing, all the housing we have becomes overly expensive. All your property valuations go up beyond your ability to pay for them. we need more housing and so that's job one. but there are other issues. There are climate change issues about not building more housing there are transportation issues. We're trying to build the housing where we are making transportation investments. These are things that will allow the city to grow without making traffic worse allow the city to grow without making your tax bills go up. You know those are the types of challenges that are very difficult to solve that is precisely what we are doing in this code but again second reading next week third meeting in March keep contacting me if you have questions about your property or your neighborhood. I'm trying to respond everyone from district six to contact me. I think I've been able to do that so far but we are doing this work together and I'm and I'm really proud to be part of a Council that is taking on the biggest issues and solving them and that exactly what we are trying to do. I think I'm over my time so we're gonna jump right to the end. thanks again for watching. Please share and like the video we also do it in a podcast version on SoundCloud we posted on YouTube. If you wanna share it in an Email to folks that aren't on social media keep contacting the office keep paying attention and make sure that you vote in the primary. it is coming up in March. early voting will be happening soon and keep up all the good work out there everybody.
As a member of the Austin City Council, I know how important local races are for our community and how hard it can be to find good information before you vote. In this guide, I’ve included all the links you need to research and choose your favorite candidates. Early voting starts Tuesday, February 18th!Read more
The Clawback LIVE! Episode 16 covering Land Code-a-palooza part deux (and a quick traffic update!)Read more
The Clawback LIVE! Episode 15 covering the things you may have missed from the council meeting and some land code mythsRead more
The Clawback LIVE! is back for 2020 and I cover marijuana, Project Connect, public meetings, and did you hear about the Zilker Train?Read more
It's the last episode of 2019... and in a break from the format from prior episodes, I run through the gauntlet of issues we worked on since the last council meeting 8 days ago. Also, watch to the end to see a recap of all the fun stuff we did in 2019!Read more