AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association discussed safety issues downtown as panelists including Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, City Council member Mike Martinez and Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg answered questions from curious residents.
"There's really an emphasis on getting public safety downtown," said Michael McGill, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association President.
Many of the issues discussed in the meeting, held at Ballet Austin, included trying to curb aggressive panhandling, and better monitoring sound issues.
The City of Austin is currently exploring a 30-minute sit policy on downtown streets, meant to discourage the homeless from mingling for long periods of time. City staff members are also exploring options of making housing more accessible to the homeless population, to try and get them off the streets.
The on-going sound issues with residents and bars were also brought up in the meeting. Panelists telling residents that currently police can now issue warnings and citations on venues without getting a complaint first.
Drug activity was also discussed.
"It's kind of rough. I can look out my window and see a deal going down," said Cindy Stokes.
Stokes said that was before police started cleaning up the area where she lives on 5th and Sabine near I-35. She showed up Tuesday night to say thank you to officers.
"To show some gratitude to these guys who have really cleaned up the corner where I live," she said.
The need for better sidewalks and lighting in the growing Rainey Street area was also a topic brought up by residents.
"It's starting to look like sixth street almost, with all the people running across the street there," said Andre Suissa. "We're really worried that our solution will not be found until someone gets hurt."
The City is currently working on ways to make the Rainey Street district safer as upwards of 10 more bars could be going into the area that only currently has a narrow neighborhood street.
The Austin Police Department also discussed the 27 crime cameras that are currently operating near 6th street, and their importance in keeping resident's safer downtown. A monitor in the meeting area showed a live feed of all the cameras during the panel discussion.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.