BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 30, 2019)



Staff proposes exchanging parking for sidewalks (Austin Monitor)

There is a controversial assumption informing the work of the Land Development Code revision team: That is, shrinking the city’s mode share of motorists driving alone from 74 percent to 50 percent in the next two decades will require, to some extent, giving less priority to parking.

Per City Council’s direction in May, staffers are proposing a framework to consider context when deciding how much parking space, if any, should be mandated by the new city code at a given site. That context, said Annick Beaudet, assistant director of Austin Transportation, is the “adequacy of the sidewalk system.”

While the proposal would generally eliminate minimum parking requirements in areas within a quarter-mile of major corridors, Beaudet said an exception would be made for sites with inadequate or missing sidewalk segments… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin Council Member Ann Kitchen proposes earmarking cash for homeless ‘middle class’ (Austin American-Statesman)

The Austin City Council on Thursday went over the record $62.7 million in funding to combat homelessness in next year’s proposed budget, with one council member asking whether some of that money should be used to make sure homeless people who are less vulnerable are not forgotten.

It appears some of the feedback the council has received from the homeless community has been taken to heart. Specifically, council members addressed complaints from people who often find themselves repeatedly leapfrogged on housing waitlists by those with more urgent needs.

On a work session Thursday, Council Member Ann Kitchen asked whether some of the new funding could be devoted to housing homeless people who are relatively healthy and stable — thus finding themselves getting pushed back on the housing waitlist because their needs are not considered as urgent… (LINK TO STORY)

Council looks beyond the budget (Austin Monitor)

City Manager Spencer Cronk sat down with Council members at a special called work session Thursday to give an overview of four budget-related topics that have come up in recent weeks: the Hotel Occupancy Tax; an emergency-response report by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute; the allocation of funds to fight homelessness; and the budget as a whole.

Council showed particular interest in incorporating the financial and structural advice from the Meadows report, a study featuring a series of recommendations aimed at integrating mental health services into emergency medical services.

Council Member Ann Kitchen said she’s satisfied with the results of a pilot that began Aug. 1 to introduce mental health professionals into the city’s emergency response process, and is ready to begin the process of hiring and training clinical staff… (LINK TO STORY)

Central Austin’s Baffling Street Grid Is Entirely One Man’s Fault (Towers)

Have you noticed that Austin’s street grid appears to exist outside the standard bounds of geometry? 12th Street jogs out at an angle once it crosses I-35, 28th Street is parallel to 27th Street — but not to 29th Street — and First Street intersects with Seventh Street (just past its intersection with Fifth Street). The man at fault for this jumble is William Sandusky, whose apparent hatred for orderly transportation has saddled central Austin with not one, but seven grids… (LINK TO STORY)


Gov. Greg Abbott says “mistakes were made” in his fundraising letter before the El Paso shooting (Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that “mistakes were made” in his fundraising letter that used alarmist language in calling to “DEFEND” the Texas border and was dated one day before a deadly shooting that targeted Hispanics in El Paso.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the second meeting of the newly formed Texas Safety Commission, Abbott said he talked to members of the El Paso legislative delegation about the mailer and “emphasized the importance of making sure that rhetoric will not be used in any dangerous way.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Analysis: Release the recording already, and show everybody who’s lying (Texas Tribune)

Nobody’s going to believe Michael Quinn Sullivan or Dennis Bonnen or Dustin Burrows until they hear the recording of what was supposed to be a private meeting in June. But as long as Sullivan’s drip-drip-drip strategy is hurting his targets, he has little incentive to give everyone a listen.

Unless, that is, he wants to prove that his account of the meeting is true.

Sullivan is a political player, head of a group called Empower Texans that has been a sharp thorn in the paw of establishment Republicans in state government for the last decade or so. Bonnen is the speaker of the House. Burrows is the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and was, until just a few days ago, the chairman of the House Republican Caucus… (LINK TO STORY)

Pressure mounts to fix DPS 'mega centers,' but will extra $200M ease Texas drivers' pain? (Dallas Morning News)

Collin County lawmakers turned up the pressure Wednesday on the Department of Public Safety to use $200 million in new funding to fix problems at its driver license "mega centers," following a call to action from the governor's office to shorten wait times. "Our constituents are outraged," the seven legislators said in a letter to Col. Steven McCraw, director of the DPS, "and we share their sentiment."

Next week, more than $200 million, secured in the last legislative session, will become available to DPS to fill vacant positions and speed up lines at its mega centers and smaller branches. The agency has a plan to use that extra money, starting with an "aggressive hiring plan," but it won’t be enough to solve all of its problems, according to a staffing plan by the agency. In their letter to DPS, the Collin County lawmakers asked the agency to outline how it plans to use $212.4 million in additional funding… (LINK TO STORY)


Advocates push Census Bureau to prepare for security breaches, disinformation ahead of 2020 count (Houston Chronicle)

As the first U.S. census to be conducted mainly online gets underway in the coming months, warnings from the Government Accountability Office about “substantial cybersecurity challenges” and disinformation campaigns raise concerns about how such a massive operation - collecting the names, addresses and birth dates of more than 300 million people - could be undermined by malicious actors on social media.

Analysts monitoring the internet say they see no evidence of concerted efforts to sow bad information about the 2020 count. Yet in one instance, a post on a neo-Nazi website encouraged people to seek temporary Census Bureau employment in order to turn in undocumented immigrants. Census workers are sworn to protect such information. Census experts note the potential lure of the census to people with ill intent… (LINK TO STORY)


Everything you need to know about the Land Development Code (LDC) special called meeting

Yesterday, the Austin City Council held a Special Called Meeting regarding the Land Development Code Rewrite. The issues of discussion included transition area methodology, downtown, and parking. 

Transition areas are where Missing Middle zones would be applied in order to create a transition from the corridor to lower density residential neighborhoods. Missing Middle was a popular term during CodeNEXT referring to housing with two to 50 units, including duplexes, townhomes and small apartment complexes. Current code doesn’t account for transition areas or opportunity for missing middle housing… (LINK TO STORY)


We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

Episode 36: Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P., Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department, on Austin Strategic Mobility Plan

“A good land use plan is also a good transportation plan, and so they have to work hand in hand.” - Annick Beaudet

On today’s episode we speak with Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P. - Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) over Transportation Engineering, Transportation Systms Development Division, Special Events and the Active Transportation Division.

Annick and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP), Austin’s new city-wide transportation plan... (LINK TO SHOW)

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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