BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 6, 2018)



More than 2,100 dockless bikes, scooters licensed in Austin with addition of Uber's Jump (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

Another dockless transportation option is now on Austin's streets, this time from Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber announced this week the local launch of Jump, a dockless electric bicycle service, the latest way to quickly cover short distances in the urban core. Scooters and bikes have popped up downtown in the past few months as Austin experiences the same wave of interest in the vehicles seen in other cities worldwide.
Jump bikes use "pedal assist" technology to power riders uphill and to speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They're accessible from both the Uber and Jump mobile apps.
“We believe bikeshare will be a permanent cornerstone of Austin’s transportation system, and give Austin residents yet another option to move about the city," Ryan Rzepecki, co-founder and CEO of Jump Bikes, said in a statement.
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Austin could seize old Montopolis school through eminent domain (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After months of negotiation, City Council has opened the door to seizing the site of the old Montopolis Negro School in East Austin.
Council approved a measure last week to pursue eminent domain proceedings after it was unable to agree on a purchase price with the property’s owner. Under eminent domain, the government can take private property for public use if it meets certain criteria. The property owner would be entitled to compensation.
During segregation, there were once 42 schools for black children throughout Travis County. The Montopolis school is one of the few that still remain, but over the years, the building has fallen into disrepair. The old schoolhouse sits vacant in a largely empty field.
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Groups criticize Paxton for suing commissioners (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The people who urged Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to file suit to remove eight members of the Austin Planning Commission on Monday have nothing but praise for Paxton; however, other more business-oriented groups are not pleased with the legal action, expressing the opinion that the attorney general has waded into a local issue.
So, far, the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Board of Realtors, and AURA have expressed their disagreement with Paxton’s decision to take legal action against eight volunteer members of the commission.
In a letter to Mayor Steve Adler and Council in November 2015, attorneys Bill Aleshire and Fred Lewis began complaining about the fact that the commission had more members in real estate-related professions than the city charter allows. When that effort had no impact, they complained to the district attorney, and eventually to Paxton’s office. On Tuesday, Lewis released a statement thanking the attorney general “for reviewing this matter thoroughly and filing suit to enforce Austin’s Charter to prevent development-related domination of the Planning Commission.”
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Questions of timing, community benefits linger over stadium negotiations (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY 

With little more than a month before City Council is expected to formally consider an agreement to possibly provide city land for the construction of a professional soccer stadium, it seems one of the most important considerations is what constitutes a “community benefit.”
That was the term used repeatedly by Council members during a work session and full meeting at the end of June, the last of which saw Council vote 9-0 to have city staff and appointed legal help begin negotiations with Precourt Sports Ventures. The two sides are expected to reach an agreement in time for the Aug. 9 Council meeting, with PSV pointing out that it needs to know by early August if it can move ahead with its attempt to relocate the Columbus Crew team to Austin.
Community benefits mentioned by Council included scholarships and other support programs for local youth soccer teams, some component of affordable housing on the McKalla Place parcel in North Austin, and contributions to local nonprofits. Other possible considerations include a deal that would see PSV responsible for paying some amount of property taxes, a point that is avoided in the land use proposal it submitted to the city on June 1.
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Broadmoor's big potential: Mega-development could reshape North Austin with 6M square feet (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

Broadmoor encompasses about 1.1 million square feet across seven buildings. But Redd said at full buildout, that could grow to 6 million square feet, although that will depend on market forces such as tenant demand. Beyond that, the new Broadmoor zoning could support entitlements for up to 17.4 million square feet, a fact Brandywine highlighted when it touted the site as a potential home of Amazon's second headquarters.
Brandywine also wants to put more than nine acres of parkland on site.
Redd described the future of Broadmoor as a “very dense, vertical, transit-oriented development.” That includes moving a MetroRail station from Kramer Lane onto the Broadmoor campus, to encourage mass-transit commuting for workers as well as future residents.

Austin hotel market is state’s strongest (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

By pretty much every metric available, Austin’s hotel market is the strongest in all of Texas – and one of the most robust in the entire nation.
That’s according to a new report from Source Strategies, a San Antonio-based hotel consulting firm.
Revenue at hotels in the Austin-Round Rock metro area was up 13 percent year over the year in the first quarter. Average occupancy was 74.4 percent – the second-highest occupancy rate in the state. The average room rate was $146.89 – more than any other Texas city. And revenue per available room – a key industry metric – was off the charts, coming in at $109.29.



Trump administration announces nearly $5 billion for Texas flood control projects (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Almost a year after Hurricane Harvey dumped historic rains on Texas, the state will receive more than $5 billion for a range of flood control projects, repairs and studies, the Trump administration announced Thursday. The bulk of the funding — nearly $4 billion — will go toward the construction of nearly 27 miles of coastal levees in southern Orange County and to shore up nearly 30 miles of existing coastal levees in Port Arthur and Freeport.
That project is a significant component of a larger coastal protection system that local officials and scientists have long envisioned for the state to safeguard it from deadly storm surge during hurricanes.


Federal Officials Cite 'Zero Tolerance' After Border Apprehensions Dip Nearly 20 Percent In June (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The number of people who were apprehended or turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border last month dipped nearly 20 percent when compared to May, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday.
The total number of apprehensions on the southwest border was 34,114 last month, down from 40,338 in May. That figure, which includes people who were apprehended between the ports of entry, also shows a slight decrease in the number of unaccompanied minors and family units that were caught.
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