BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 12, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 52- The Internet of Things and Austin Tech Philanthropy with Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle (LINK TO SHOW)


Nearing October, code rewrite team admits difficulty with Council direction (Austin Monitor)

Residents will soon be able to peruse the draft version of the new land use code, scheduled for public release in October, but the Land Development Code revision team says complications in the current code have made it difficult to follow the entirety of City Council’s direction.

In the latest update on the process Wednesday afternoon, staff members admitted their inability to follow Council’s wish to find a way both to preserve existing neighborhood conservation combining districts in the new code while simultaneously opening them up to broader zoning and map changes happening in many parts of the city.

Brent Lloyd of the Development Services Department said that the team’s attempt to apply new regulations related to preservation and affordability bonuses and changes in lot size without compromising the foundations of the special districts has been “technically, extremely difficult.”

“What we found was that, going through the NCCDs, because they use a sort of very granular lot-by-lot approach to regulation, that making those sorts of broad changes would really upset the delicate structure of the (districts),” Lloyd said.

To keep from disrupting the districts, staffers are proposing an incremental approach to bringing them closely in line with the new code and broader zoning strategies.

To begin, the draft code will largely carry forward regulations adopted in NCCDs, but will map portions of them within higher-density transition zones and designate some corridor lots as the new mixed-use Main Street district. In addition, areas that do not fall along a corridor or within a transition zone will be subject, per Council’s direction, to citywide adjustments to parking requirements and regulations of accessory dwelling units… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 51 - Austin's Land Development Code Revision with Team Co-Lead Annick Beaudet

More 3D-printed homes destined for Austin homeless community (Austin American-Statesman)

Some 300 more tiny houses are coming in an expansion of the Community First Village for people emerging from homelessness in Central Texas, with a half dozen of those “micro homes” to be produced using 3D-printing technology.

Austin-based construction technology firm Icon will print six homes, each about 500 square feet in size, for the Community First Village on Hog Eye Road, which is off Decker Lane in Northeast Austin. The 3D-printed homes will break ground this fall. For the first time, three homes will be printed simultaneously with the Vulcan II printer, to increase speed and reduce cost, Icon executives said… (LINK TO STORY)

Survey Finds Austin's Digital Divide Shrinking But Mistrust Of Internet Persists (KUT)

A gap in internet access for Austin residents has shrunk, but a sense of mistrust over the internet’s privacy and security persists among those without access, according to a recent study by the City of Austin and the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communications.

The Digital Inclusion in Austin report surveyed almost 1,000 residents who were selected at random. The poll found 95% of respondents had a home internet connection, which is higher than the 92% rate reported in 2014. Both rates far surpassed the national average of 65%… (LINK TO STORY)

Elizabeth Warren touts anti-corruption plan in Auditorium Shores town hall (KUT)

Despite the threat of a storm, thousands of people descended on Vic Mathias Shores on Tuesday for a rally for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of 20 Democrats vying for the presidential nomination in 2020.

Warren talked about child care, student loans, her tax plan and her anti-corruption plan, which she dubbed “the biggest since [anti-corruption laws enacted after] Watergate.”

“It’s people who make money from the status quo [who] have figured out that it is cheaper to invest in politicians than it is investing in cleaning up your own business,” she said. “We are going to turn that around in a Warren administration.”… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen denied Michael Quinn Sullivan’s allegations in a voicemail. Hear what he said. (Texas Tribune)

In the hours after hardline conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan exploded his political bombshell in late July — alleging House Speaker Dennis Bonnen wanted to target some of his own GOP members in 2020 — the lower chamber’s top Republican lawmaker made a series of phone calls to assure his flock that Sullivan was lying.

“This is Dennis,” the speaker said to a House member in a 22-second voicemail soon after Sullivan lobbed his allegations. “Hopefully, you know better than to believe anything Michael Quinn Sullivan would bother to say. … I did meet with him to tell him he should not campaign against any Republican in the primary — um, obviously the opposite of what he’s trying to present.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Texas Oil Tycoon T. Boone Pickens Dies At Age 91 (KUT)

T. Boone Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday. He was 91.

Pickens was surrounded by friends and family when he died of natural causes under hospice care at his Dallas home, spokesman Jay Rosser said. Pickens suffered a series of strokes in 2017 and was hospitalized that July after what he called a "Texas-sized fall."…(LINK TO STORY)

Houston has become a political hotbed — and not just because of Thursday's presidential debate (Texas Tribune)

With the Democratic presidential debate just days away, there was excitement was in the air at the Harris County Democratic Party's Monday morning staff meeting. But Chairwoman Lillie Schechter urged her troops to keep their eyes on the prize: November 2020.

"Everyone’s goal here is to turn Harris County darker blue and that we elect a Democrat to the White House," she said. "I just want to remind everyone that our focus is the November election in 2020."

"We have all of these awesome things that we are doing, the millions of events that we’re doing in September alone, we’re working on 12 different activities," she added. "All of those is to build up our volunteer army to make sure we win in November."… (LINK TO STORY)


Uber, Lyft business could be upended by California gig-worker bill (CNET)

Big changes are afoot for the gig economy. California's Senate passed a landmark bill on Tuesday night that could make Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and other gig economy companies reclassify their workers as employees. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he'll sign it into law.

The prospective bill, AB 5, has the potential to upend gig economy companies, which have businesses that hinge on bringing aboard hundreds of thousands of independent contractors whose labor is far cheaper than that of employees. The setup benefits companies by shifting many costs to the workers. For example, Uber and Lyft drivers supply and maintain their own cars and also pay for their own health care. The drivers also aren't given benefits, such as sick days or overtime pay… (LINK TO STORY)

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