AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re watching at the Austin City Council meeting Thursday.

Sixth Street Security Cameras

In an attempt to make Sixth Street safer, the council is considering adding 13 security cameras downtown and calling for the purchase of handheld metal detectors.

The Safer Sixth Street initiative was launched by Councilmember Kathie Tovo, in response to violent and dangerous incidents that have occurred in the popular downtown nightlife area, including a mass shooting last June where one person died and 14 others were injured.

According to the resolution, 13 HALO  — High Activity Location Observation —  cameras would be added to the area. It also asks the City Manager to survey bar owners in the Sixth and Rainey Street districts about the possibility of purchasing handheld metal detector wands.

Tovo anticipates that these metal detectors would discourage people from bringing guns to the entertainment district.

“Our hope is that it will deter people from bringing firearms down to Sixth Street,” she said. “We want to use every strategy available to us to make sure we’re discouraging people bringing guns.”

If passed, the resolution would expedite the purchase of these security cameras and provide an estimated timeline for their installation by June 15.

Proposed VMU Changes

Councilmembers will vote on an amendment that would create a new category — VMU2 — a voluntary program that would allow an increase in height up to 90 feet on a designated corridor in exchange for more affordable housing.

These vertical mixed-use developments are buildings with apartments on top and commercial space below.

The density bonus program allows developers to gain height in exchange for designating affordable.

The city’s need for more affordable housing is critical along transit corridors to provide opportunities for all Austinites to live close to major transportation assets,” councilmember Ann Kitchen said.

Councilmember Jose “Chito” Vela from District 4 has suggested waiving parking requirements to allow even more of these units to be built.

“Parking requirements stunt growth, which is the last thing we need after housing prices exploded in the last year alone,” he said.

As the city grapples with an affordability crisis, VMU2 could deliver more medium-density housing while building bonus tools for affordable housing.

Enhanced Environmental Regulations

This item would initiate the process of amending city code to place enhanced environmental protection regulations.

It would include monitoring potential watershed threats from high-risk facilities such as sampling creeks located immediately downstream from semiconductor plants, automobile manufacturers, battery plants and other industrial businesses.

Despite councilmember Vanessa Fuentes’ previous efforts to stall construction of a new jet fuel storage facility — expressing concerns over environmental impacts and its proximity to residential homes — for the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, this resolution could protect the community members near pollutant sources.


A law that would protect against hair discrimination has made its way in front of the council.

If approved, it would prohibit discrimination based on a hairstyle in school and workplaces, particularly for women of color.

The Austin CROWN Act — Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — represents an opportunity to promote equity within the city’s hiring and housing environments.

“Hair discrimination is a covert way to discriminate based on race and gender, which can never be allowed within our city,” Vela said.

The item was proposed by the Office of Civil Rights. It was first enacted in California in 2019 and has now been implemented in 14 states.