AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council met Thursday at City Hall. Here’s what we were watching:
Filling 911 language gaps: Approved
Council members directed the city manager to secure translation technology for text-to-911 and bring it back to council within six months.
“The approval of this item will help fill a critical gap for individuals that speak a language other than English and are unable to utilize a phone call during an emergency,” Council member Mackenzie Kelly, who sponsored the resolution, said on Twitter.
Text-to-911 was made available through the Capital Area Council of Governments in 2017, according to KXAN’s previous reporting.
Examples of when texting 911 would be beneficial include:
- The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition
- The caller has poor reception and can only send text messages
- Phone lines and cell phone towers are overwhelmed and only texts can get through
The service is also beneficial for victims of kidnappings, sexual assaults or abusive situations.
Renters’ rights: Approved
Austin City Council is once again trying to get people dealing with landlord issues more help. On this week’s agenda: a vote to codify tenants’ right to organize without fear of retaliation and another that protects a renters’ right to “cure.” Both were approved.
“This would require landlords to provide a period to fix or “cure” a lease violation before facing harsh penalties, such as eviction,” Council member Vanessa Fuentes said on Twitter.
Lyndsay Hanes, the principal of Metric Property Management, agreed renters should have resources — after all, landlords don’t want to evict people who are paying rent — but she also said the right to organize is already protected in Texas.
“But the additional protections that eliminate or could convolute some of the protections that landlords have to enforce the contract later is where the concern lies,” she explained, saying landlords would rather have renters come to them with their concerns than go door-to-door, possibly bothering other tenants.
The two approved ordinances provide the following:
- Landlords will now be required to provide a “notice of eviction” at least seven days before issuing a notice to vacate.
- Tenants may establish or participate in a tenant organization without retaliation.
Approved: The City of Austin approved a settlement with Jose Herrera. While agenda documents don’t specify what for, KXAN has previously reported a man by the same name was allegedly shot with a deadly weapon by an Austin police officer during protests in 2020 and suffered “serious bodily injury” as a result.
Austin City Council members also had an executive session to go over legal issues surrounding labor negotiations, according to a special called meeting agenda. That discussion happened behind closed doors.