BG Reads | News You Need to Know (July 23, 2019)



Adler: Want to stop people sleeping in public spaces? House them. (Austin American-Statesman)

Our homelessness challenge requires us to reintegrate vulnerable people who’ve lost their footing. People experiencing homelessness aren’t “others.” They are us. That tumble off the last rung of the social ladder might have begun with a lost job, a rent hike, a drug problem, a mental health issue, a family schism, a divorce, or a perfect storm of several hitting at once. The roots of homelessness lie in human fragility — a condition we all share.

Yet, many see embracing others as we would have others embrace us as ignoring legitimate concerns about our public spaces. I reject the suggestion that this is a forced choice. We will succeed against homelessness when we are successful with both… (LINK TO STORY)

Development wave crests on South First Street (Austin Business Journal)

Micro-apartments will begin rising this fall in the rapidly developing South First Street corridor in South Austin.

The 44-microunit project is the latest on the thoroughfare by PSW Real Estate LLC. It will be at 2001 S. First St., at the corner of Johanna and South First streets across from the popular Polvos Mexican Restaurant.

As the cost of housing continues to climb, PSW wanted to develop a project along Bouldin Creek near downtown that would lease for less than $1,000 a month, PSW Austin/San Antonio Division President Ross Wilson said.

The only way PSW could do that financially was by building microunits ranging in size from 340 square feet to 550 square feet, Wilson said. The 2001 South First project will indeed have units that size that cost less than $1,000 a month. However it will also have some slightly larger units that will lease for more… (LINK TO STORY)

City finds almost 7,000 unregistered short-term rentals, with enforcement on the way (Austin Monitor)

A vendor hired by the city to determine the number of short-term rental properties active on platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO told the Austin Monitor there are close to 11,000 operators, with less than a quarter of them licensed to comply with city regulations and deliver Hotel Occupancy Tax money to local coffers.

The Austin Code Department is now in the process of sending violation notices to individual property owners who are operating without a license. A July 19 memo from Code, which also included data from the Law Department, estimated that STRs cost the city $2.9 million to regulate and enforce city rules, with nearly 36,000 staff hours needed for those efforts by the end of this year.

The city’s Code Department entered into a $49,500 contract in January for a pilot program with the Seattle-based company Host Compliance, which monitors short-term rental sites to determine the level of rental activity in more than 300 client cities… (LINK TO STORY)


Legendary NASA flight director Chris Kraft has died at 95 (Houston Chronicle)

Christopher C. Kraft Jr. — NASA’s first flight director and a legendary scientist who helped build the nation’s space program — died Monday, just two days after the world celebrated the historic Apollo 11 walk on the moon. He was 95.

Kraft’s name is emblazoned in bold letters on the side of the mission control building at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, home to the base of operations where Kraft guided astronauts from launch to landing as the organization grew to a full-blown agency that required multiple flight directors to oversee a mission. In the words of the late Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, Kraft was “the ‘control’ in mission control.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Wendy Davis Announces Bid For Congress, Will Challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (KUT)

Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis is running for Congress.

Early Monday morning, Davis announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in Central Texas' 21st District. She is challenging U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman Republican from Austin.

She made her intentions known in a biographical video, narrated in part with archival footage from her late father, Jerry Russell.

"I'm running for Congress because people's voices are still being silenced," she said. "I'm running for our children and grandchildren, so they can live and love and fight for change themselves."

The potential Davis-Roy matchup is likely to be among the most polarizing races the state has seen in recent years. Davis is a fierce national advocate for abortion rights, while Roy has built his reputation in his first six months in Congress as a conservative firebrand…(LINK TO STORY)

State Sen. Royce West enters Democratic primary to challenge John Cornyn (Texas Tribune)

State Sen. Royce West made it official Monday: He’s running for U.S. Senate, joining a crowded and unsettled Democratic primary in the race to unseat Republican John Cornyn.

“I’m battle tested,” West told supporters at a campaign launch event. “You’ve seen me in battle, and I’m ready today to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Judge delays hearing on San Antonio’s paid sick leave ordinance (San Antonio Express-News)

A court hearing on whether to accept a deal between city attorneys and businesses to delay San Antonio’s paid sick leave law has itself been delayed.

Ryan Cox, a Texas Civil Rights Project lawyer representing the progressive groups who pushed for the ordinance last year, argued Monday they weren’t given enough notice to prepare for the case. The deal was announced late Friday evening. Bexar County Judge Monique Diaz agreed. She said Ricardo Cedillo, the lawyer for the businesses, and city attorneys, who agreed to the deal, didn’t give Cox and his clients the three business days’ notice required by the rules of procedure… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 20: State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)

BG Podcast - Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business

BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control


The biggest civil trial in U.S. history will start with these Ohio counties (Washington Post)

Last week’s revelation that drug companies saturated the United States with 76 billion pain pills over seven years shows that no corner of the country escaped the drug crisis. Two other drugstores in this city of 80,000 placed second and fifth on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Cuyahoga County locations. Wholesalers shipped opioids at 5.4 million and 3.7 million doses respectively to those. The list was disclosed by The Washington Post last week.

Cuyahoga County and nearby Summit County soon will be at the center of the most important legal test of how much responsibility drug companies bear for the opioid epidemic. Barring a settlement, the two counties are scheduled to go to trial in October as the first case among the consolidated lawsuits brought by about 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other plaintiffs… (LINK TO STORY)


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

Episode 28: Rodney Gonzales- Director of Austin’s Development Services Department (DSD)

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Rodney Gonzales, then Director of Austin’s Development Services Department (DSD). The department was created in 2015 to handle residential and commercial permitting issues separately from zoning issues.

Rodney discusses his background and path to DSD, and current department initiatives with Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham. . (LINK TO SHOW)


Progressive Justice Now Drafting MPT Delia Garza for County Attorney

Last Thursday saw the launch of Progressive Justice Now, an organization calling for Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza (District 2) to run for Travis County Attorney.

MPT Garza is the first Latina to serve on the City Council in Austin, and the first Latina to serve as Austin’s Mayor Pro Tem. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, and a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. She previously served as an Assistant Attorney General advocating for Texas families in the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General… (LINK TO BLOG)

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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