AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council is nearing its summer holiday deadline. Here is some of what KXAN is watching during Thursday’s council meeting.
Project Connect: Approved
Austin City Council voted Thursday in favor of advancing the Austin Transit Partnership’s pick for the first Project Connect rail line.
Mayor Kirk Watson and several council members indicated during a work session earlier this week they were pleased with the group’s first steps and would vote to move it forward.
“This option best reflects the needs and values of the Austin community and lays the best foundation for future expansions and extensions in all three directions,” Greg Canally, executive director of ATP, said. “We heard support from community and advocacy groups for this option as it provides critical connections for people, and we are proud to listen to and take into account that feedback.”
CapMetro’s board of directors will review and consider approval of the recommendation at its meeting Friday. A joint meeting between ATP, CapMetro and the City of Austin to formally adopt the recommendation as the first phase of light rail is slated for June 6.
You can see the plan here.
Airport settlement: Approved
Austin City Council approved Thursday an $88 million settlement agreement with LoneStar Holdings, the group that operates the airport’s South Terminal, for a lawsuit in Travis County District Court and another in federal court.
“Item 35 on the June 1 Austin City Council agenda authorizes a process and airport funding for a settlement with LoneStar Airport Holdings, LLC. The settlement brings a resolution to the South Terminal dispute and is necessary for moving forward with improving and modernizing the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport through the Airport Expansion & Development Program,” a spokesperson for the airport said.
The AUS spokesperson also noted that the money for the lawsuit came from the Department of Aviation’s operating fund. The airport is publicly-owned.
“This fund is separate from the City of Austin’s general fund and does not receive any Austin taxpayer dollars,” the city said.
As part of its expansion plans for the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the city decided last June to use eminent domain to take over the property near the main terminal where the South Terminal sits.
The city agreed to a 40-year deal with Lonestar in March 2016 and then in June 2022 offered to pay the group $1.9 million, which Lonestar denied, citing the amount it took to renovate the South Terminal. As a result, the company filed a lawsuit against the city in August.
Changes for affordable housing: Approved
A resolution from Council Member Zohaib Qadri will work to remove dwelling unit occupancy limits for residential properties in the city’s Land Development Code (LDC).
Right now, the code prohibits more than six unrelated adults from living together regardless of how large a property is and doesn’t allow more than four unrelated adults to live together in a single family house or duplex regardless of its size.
“Eliminating occupancy limits that are based on whether the individuals in the household are related is consistent with the City’s goals to promote a diverse and equitable community, provide housing options that are affordable, and address the housing crisis,” documents say.
2022 GO bond allocation: Approved
The Austin Housing Finance Corporation Board voted to approve nearly $50 million for affordable housing projects.
Of that money, more than $20 million is coming from the affordable housing bonds voters approved in 2022 and nearly $10 million will come from Project Connect’s dedicated anti-displacement funds.
Of the 2022 affordable housing bond money, there are eight projects that will be partially funded by the bond including:
- $1.5 million will go to improvements at AHA! at Briarcliff, a nearly 30 unit complex in northwest Austin
- More than $6 million for development at Cairn point, which will be a 150 unit complex in north Austin
- On June 8 the council will talk about roughly $13 for Seabrook Square, which will be a more than 200 unit complex near the Mueller neighborhood
All of those projects set aside units for people in the lowest median family income level, something Mayor Kirk Watson said was a priority when we pulled him at an affordable housing summit last month.
“Right now, a lot of the housing that’s being built is 60-80% of median family income. We really need some of that housing to be at 30 and 40% and so I want us to look at how we utilize those bonds for affordable housing but maybe get a bigger bang for the buck in terms of median family income,” Watson said.