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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council will meet Thursday. With dozens of items on the agenda, here’s some of what we’re watching:
Nixing parking requirements: Passed
Austin City Council started the process of stripping mandatory parking minimums from its overarching zoning requirements. Council Member Zohaib Qadri put forward the resolution that is intended to change the city’s land development code (LDC).
The city mandates how many parking spots you’re required to have on a property. Transit and affordable housing advocates have for years asked the city to strip those requirements from the LDC to promote different forms of transit and allow for developers and small businesses to utilize land differently.
“The science shows that arbitrary parking mandates encourage climate-killing car dependence, induce suburban sprawl, drive up the cost of housing, and actively discourage new housing development,” Qadri said.
The passed resolution gets the process started for the elimination of that requirement city-wide. It would also direct the city manager to look at ways to require developments to provide accessible parking spaces if it plans to build no on-site parking.
Curtis Rogers with the Urban Transportation Commission says it will not eliminate any existing parking.
“This is simply saying Austin as a city does not want to force you to have parking, you get to decide how much parking you get to have,” said Rogers.
Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea though, Raj Keriwala lives downtown and says limited parking has it’s problems.
“Here they give parking spots,” said Keriwala as he pointed to his apartment complex downtown. “But when I have friends come visit there is no parking spot for them and I feel bad. They have to pay to park to come see me which is kind of lame.”
He says until there are significant upgrades to public transit there could be challenges.
“I think I want there to be a system where we can get around Austin without a car, but we aren’t there yet,” said Keriwala.
City staff have a deadline of Dec. 31 to bring a code amendment to Council that removes parking requirements citywide. That amendment would need to be approved by Council, the release states.
Since 2013, the downtown area has been excluded from parking minimums.
Addressing city drainage issues
City council member Chito Vela placed a resolution on the agenda that would direct the Watershed Protection, Austin Resource Recovery, and the Parks and Recreation departments to quickly clear creek beds of vegetative debris.
The resolution is in response to the more than 30 homes that were flooded in north Austin after the April 20 storm. Vegetative debris, such as dead trees, clogged a storm culvert in Little Walnut Creek, leading to heavy flooding in the area that damaged homes.
Those homes are in Vela’s district. He met with frustrated homeowners six days after the storm who said the flooding could have been prevented.
Ryan Albright, a homeowner in the area who had two feet of water in his home, said he and his neighbors called 311 multiple times to warn of the debris in the creek bed and the potential of flooding.
The resolution would also provide some type of financial aid for the homeowners. The resolution specifically mentions federal dollars that were given to Texas after the winter storm in late January and early February. Multiple tree limbs were broken because of that storm and neighbors say it’s what led to the storm culvert being clogged.
Earlier this week
On Tuesday, leaders of the Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety briefed council about how the now month-long partnership between the two departments is going.
Ultimately, APD Chief Joseph Chacon said he is open to shifting the partnerships strategy, but also said the locations APD has asked DPS to patrol are the ones with highest 911 calls and have been identified using data.
“We follow the lead of Chief Chacon, we’re not in charge, this is his operation,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. For the first time, we’ve learned roughly how many people have been brought to Austin.
McCraw said 80 troopers and roughly 20 special agents are in Austin as part of the partnership. It’s the first time those numbers have been made public.
The director also said DPS has made just under 12,000 traffic stops since the partnership began roughly a month ago in the county. Typically in Travis County, there are closer to 17,000 for an entire year by DPS, he said.