AUSTIN (KXAN) — Council Member Kathie Tovo, whose term is coming to an end, launched the Safer Sixth Street initiative after the June 2021 mass shooting that killed one person and injured 14 others.

“We saw another tragic death this week, and it’s just another reminder there’s still a significant amount of work to do,” she said.

She said council members have done what they can, putting the policies in place needed to make changes on Sixth Street – and it’s now up to departments like APD, transportation and entertainment services to implement the changes.

“[They’re] really trying to look at where the violence is happening,” said Council Member Tovo, who also admitted she hoped certain measures would also be in effect and she hoped the City was “really able to think through a legal solution to block off 6th street to allow no gun access.”

She and the City have touted the below two measures as ways to prevent the street-party atmosphere that police say have contributed to several downtown shootings:

  • Allowing business owners to apply for permits to create outdoor seating areas
  • Hold pop-up events on Sixth Street to diversify the space use

Tovo said the outdoor seating program is active, but no businesses have applied for permits. She also said interdepartmental teams are continuing to look into the pop-up event options.

A spokesperson for Austin’s Music and Entertainment Division said the initiative is “still a work in progress.”

“It’s not a safe or inviting place for people to come anymore,” said Brie Frith, the general manager of Gnar Bar on Sixth Street.

She said she’s frustrated with long wait times regarding hearing back from police on non-emergency 311 reports that impact the business, and wants to see the City make Sixth Street Safety more of a priority.

“They’re not putting as much effort as they were into this street which could be a good place again,” she said.