AUSTIN (KXAN) — City Council members discussed a resolution item in closed session Tuesday related to what action the city can legally take against bars with repeat violent offenses.
That’s one of the measures included in Councilmember Kathie Tovo’s Safer Sixth Street resolution, which passed on March 3. We have the list of measures below with their deadlines in parenthesis.
- Provide Council with options for taking legal action against establishments with records of repeated violent incidents (information due within 45 days of resolution passing)
- Work with Sixth Street bar owners to encourage written safety plans
- Initiate a comprehensive lighting survey and encourage owners to add lighting to private properties (reports and information due June 1, 2022)
- Create an entertainment permit to strengthen staff training and communication with public safety professionals (deadline: “as soon as possible”)
- Update Council on progress toward establishing an Emergency Medical Services staging area on Sixth Street (report and recommendation due May 1)
- Provide information and recommendations about potentially re-establishing a gun buyback program (research and recommendation due May 1)
- Propose a pilot program to make loans or grants to historic buildings along Sixth Street for kitchen additions (Pilot program to start by June 1)
- Communicate any possible new recommendations after festivals this spring, like South by Southwest
There’s nothing on Thursday’s agenda about the initiative.
We’ve been covering council discussions, memos and updates about Safer Sixth Street since Tovo introduced the first phase of the plan in July 2021. But several Sixth Street stakeholders say no one is letting them know when they can expect to see the items in action.
Councilmember Tovo’s office tells us multiple interdepartmental teams – including first responder agencies and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – are working on moving the items forward. KXAN has asked city leaders specifically about the process staff members use to do so. We want to know how much time these staff members can dedicate to this task.
So far, we have not gotten a direct answer to those questions specifically.
A spokesperson did tell us “Staff are currently working toward implementing more than a dozen items in the March 2022 council direction including.” That includes developing applications, guidelines and criteria for pilot programs and working on the entertainment permit process.
The Austin Police Department said it did not have any information to provide when we asked what the duties were for staff members assigned to work on the Safer Sixth Street initiative.
The Downtown Austin Alliance tells KXAN while its goals align with the project – it hopes to play a larger role soon in the day-to-day action related to implementing safety measures for patrons and pedestrians.