Austin City Council discusses new homeless shelter, postpones fate of Butler Pitch and Putt

Local News

AUSTIN (KXAN) — City council members will take up several items related to addressing homelessness this week and are expected to decide the fate of a popular downtown golf course.

Tackling homeless ID issues – Approved

Council members will vote whether to accept a $400,900 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It would fund the testing of a digital identity platform enabling people experiencing homelessness to more efficiently navigate eligibility for social services. The grant is for the period of June 15, 2019 through June 14, 2020.

New homeless shelter

Another item would direct the city manager to begin negotiations to purchase a homeless shelter by June 20. It would include on-site support services for a small shelter of 50-100 beds. 

Panhandling restrictions

Another item would amend city code, effectively repealing Austin’s ordinance which bans aggressive solicitation; panhandling near bus stops, schools, ATMs or banks; and an overnight ban of panhandling downtown.

The proposal also eases restrictions of Austin’s “no sit/no lie” rules and camping rules. Those ordinances, passed in 2005 and updated in 2011, keep people from sitting or lying down in right of ways and sidewalks downtown. Exceptions apply to people who have disabilities or are experiencing medical emergencies. Council is not expected to vote on this until June 20.

New operators for downtown golf course

City Council also postponed a vote on whether to begin negotiations with Pecan Grove Golf Partners to take over the Butler Pitch and Putt Course.The Parks and Recreation Board voted for this, but also passed an amendment with it that recommends the city improve its solicitation process by using technology and making the RFP documents be accessible digitally. The longtime course operator said she was locked out of contract negotiations because she accidentally missed a signature.

The vote was re-scheduled for June 20 after a majority vote couldn’t be reached.  

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