AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council’s meeting Thursday was jam-packed with 193 items. Here are some of the major outcomes.
$350M housing bond proposal: Approved
The city council voted to direct the city manager and staff to craft an affordable housing bond proposition for the November ballot. Council Member Mackenzie Kelly of District 6 was the only member that voted against the resolution. Alison Alter abstained.
The council also voted to bump the amount proposed from $300 million to $350 million.
According to a City of Austin memo, this would have an annual impact on “the typical homeowner of $40.14.” That memo was produced before the amount was increased to $350 million and will now be more than $45. A typical home in Austin was defined at $448,000 with a taxable value of $358,400, including a homestead exemption.
“It recommends we take significant action against what is our most pressing city issue, which is housing and affordability,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Thursday.
The language of the proposition still needs to be approved by council before being officially put on the ballot. If passed by voters, it would be the city’s largest housing bond to date.
License plate reader program: Discussed
Your vehicle’s license plate may soon be scanned while driving around Austin. Local leaders are expected to talk about how they could fund the reinstatement of the Austin Police Department’s license plate reader program.
It’s a controversial police investigation tool that was eliminated as part of the $21 million Austin City Council cut from the police budget in 2020.
According to APD, these high-tech cameras helped its detectives crack dozens of violent crime cases between 2016 and 2020.
A proposal from Kelly would reinstate the license plate reader program, which would cost taxpayers $114,775.
New homeless shelter management: Approved
Starting in September, the City of Austin will end its contracts with Front Steps, a homeless services nonprofit that manages the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) in downtown Austin.
Looking at alternative nonprofits to run ARCH, the council approved a $4.14 million agreement with Urban Alchemy. It made the California-based nonprofit ARCH’s operator for 13.5 months, with oversight from the city.
Alter abstained, citing worries she had about Urban Alchemy. Kelly voted no for that reason. Other leaders agreed and expressed additional concern about the hurried process, but ultimately said they wanted to ensure there was no gap in service.
“I believe that they will bring something to our community that we have yet to accomplish,” Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup countered. She noted Urban Alchemy is a nationwide leader in trauma-informed care.
Funds for the shelter will come from Austin Public Health’s budget.
Renaming east Austin park: Postponed
Council members asked to postpone their discussion on whether to change the name of Pan American Neighborhood Park to Tony Castillo Pan American Neighborhood Park. The park is located at 307 Chicon St.
The park has been around since the 1950s, but not everyone in the community is on board with the change.
“The adding of a name to a public park will take away not just the history of this park, but it will take away the work we have been doing to preserve buildings and parks and homes and people,” said Bertha Rendon Delgado on Tuesday.
Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria talked a bit about the process for having a park renamed Thursday saying, “anyone can go and initiate a renaming” through a Parks and Recreation Department process.
“We are going to try to come up to a really positive solution,” he said, noting he requested the item be postponed because he’d not had time to dive into the community member’s issues.
If approved during September’s council meeting, the park would be named for Tony Castillo, a longtime community advocate who has taught and mentored many over the years.
Austin Animal Shelter audit: Approved
Council voted on the agenda to direct the city manager to conduct an audit on animal services in Austin. The audit would include reviewing No Kill policies and practices recommended by an expert to better operations and care for animals.
Last month, the Austin Animal Advisory Commission recommended a “no-confidence” vote for Austin Animal Center’s Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland after concerns of shelter overcrowding and lack of volunteer support.