AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re watching at the Austin City Council meeting Thursday.
Special called meeting
Austin City Council will decide on approving a settlement in a lawsuit filed against the city by a protester who claims an officer shot her in the head with a projectile on May 31, 2020. The lawsuit says Arianna Chavez fell to the ground when she was hit and suffered a concussion, serious head wound and head trauma.
The lawsuit is just one of several related to the May 2020 protests in Austin after George Floyd’s death.
Renovations at hotel-turned-transitional housing: Approved
Council approved on consent a contract that grants funding for renovations at one of the city’s hotels that was bought to be turned into permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness.
The up to $1.3 million contract is with Austin-Travis County Integral Care for one year. The hotel set to be renovated is the Texas Bungalows Hotel & Suites off Burnet Road.
Council documents say after the building is rehabbed and broken out into 60 fully-furnished efficiency apartments, Integral care will be responsible for operating the facility and providing onsite support services to those living there.
The hotel/motel conversion strategy is part of the city’s HEAL initiative.
Space for APD’s Mounted Patrol Unit: Approved
Council decided to move forward with acquiring the Austin Equestrian Center in Bastrop County for about $1.8 million to host the Austin Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit. The center is located on nearly 62 acres of land off State Highway 21 in Cedar Creek, according to council documents.
The paperwork says the center and land has enough space to house 14 employees, 16 horses, office space, stable space, a training area and pasture land. APD is currently in a short-term lease with the Austin Equestrian Center, which expires June 1.
Evaluating resource planning for Austin Energy: Approved
Council authorized an up to $1.2 million contract with an engineering company to provide a study on energy transmission, resource planning and market risk for Austin Energy.
Council documents say the company, Burns & McDonnel Engineering Company, Inc., will look at needs to support the rollout of Austin Energy’s Resource Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2030, which was passed by council in March 2020.
“The goal of the study is to identify potential system improvements to ensure the continued safe and reliable delivery of power to Austin Energy’s electric customers with a focus on risk management and resiliency,” council paperwork reads.
Protecting tenants/renters: Approved
Two items on the Austin City Council agenda focus on protecting tenants/renters. They were both approved with amendments after being pulled by council member Mackenzie Kelly to be discussed in executive session.
Item 39 directs council members to approve a resolution “related to establishing rights for renters.” The resolution directs the city manager to prepare a code amendment that establishes renters’ rights that will be considered by council in late July.
The city manager in the resolution is also directed to consult with stakeholders, including the Austin Apartment Association, the Austin Board of Realtors, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Building and Strengthening Tenant Action and Austin Tenants Council, to help develop the code amendment.
In Item 40, a resolution was passed that provides a tenant the opportunity to prevent an eviction. The resolution directs the city manager to prepare an eviction prevention code amendment. The amendment requires a landlord to provide a notice of proposed eviction to tenants before a notice to vacate, thus giving renters enough time to prevent an eviction.
The resolution also directs the city manager to consult with several organizations and departments to determine the appropriate number of days needed between the notice of proposed eviction and the notice to vacate.
May 7 special election: Approved
In January, the city council approved a ballot measure, allowing voters to decide whether to eliminate low-level marijuana enforcement and ban no-knock warrants. The special election will take place May 7, but on Thursday, council decided to set the hours of voting on election day and details for early voting.
At last week’s council meeting, this item was withdrawn.
Certifying District 4 election results: Approved
Austin City Council certified vote totals collected for the Jan. 25 special election, which determined District 4’s next representative. Immigration and criminal defense attorney Jose “Chito” Vela won the election last week over six other candidates. The passed resolution officially declares Vela elected.