Austin City Council discusses homeless ordinance, property tax loophole


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council members will face several items on their agenda Thursday, ranging from a new homelessness ordinance and property tax loopholes to money for repairs on Shoal Creek Trail.

Homeless Rules

The proposed ordinance would change a previous city ban on sitting, lying or camping in a public space. In addition, the ordinance would change the ban on panhandling in the city.

Those in favor of the bill believe it will lower the number of criminal charges given out to people just for being homeless. Detractors of the ordinance fear it will create a public health and public safety issue.

Property Tax Loophole – Approved

The ordinance will tax properties along Lake Austin that have been exempt due to a century-old loophole. The properties originally received the exemption in 1891 because the city said the properties were not receiving full city services. It was also unclear whether these homeowners could vote in city council or bond elections.

City council members now say things have changed and these lakefront properties all receive some form of city service. They also say all of them are now voting in both elections.

Butler Pitch and Putt

City Council had previously postponed a vote to start negotiations with Pecan Grove Golf Partners to take over the Butler Pitch and Putt Course in downtown Austin. Management for the course is up for consideration by the city for the first time in 15 years. The longtime operators lost the bid following a paperwork error.

Shoal Creek Landslide

A landslide back in May 2018 caused serious damage to Shoal Creek Trail between 24th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard. The Watershed Protection Department is asking for an estimated $12.5 million with a contingency of $7.5 million to repair the area.

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