BG Note | News - What We're Reading (October 6, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

CodeNEXT 2.0 facilitates affordable housing, but where? (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The Halloween deadline for CodeNEXT’s third draft recommendations is closing in for the land use commissions, and the sense of urgency that has driven the review process thus far teetered on full-blown panic at Tuesday’s joint meeting. The new land use code’s promises, like enough affordable housing to meet the Strategic Housing Blueprint’s goals, continue to be more complicated to deliver than they appear. And the more potential problems crop up, the less time there is to fix them.
At the previous joint meeting of the Planning and Zoning and Platting commissions, John Fregonese with Fregonese Associates presented calculations of future housing capacity in Austin. He predicted that the city zoned according to CodeNEXT 2.0 would make possible 72,585 more units than the current code would over the next 10 years. At the Oct. 3 meeting, Fregonese attempted to frame that capacity in terms of geographic location, specifically how many units could be built in “high opportunity” areas.

A new development is bringing ‘micro-units’ to East Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A new development going up in East Austin hopes to provide a more affordable option for home ownership. The Fourth & condos in East Austin feature what are called “micro-units,” efficiency apartments that span just a few hundred square feet.

“It is laid out to where you have a living space, you have a bookshelf that will separate your living and sleeping space, and then you’ve got enough room for a queen-sized bed,” said Scott Sproat with Austin-based Capsa Ventures, the firm behind the project.

Judge rules against Austin Board of Realtors in election fight (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin Board of Realtors has lost a court battle over the terms of its upcoming board election.
As part of a lawsuit filed by two of the organization’s members, State District Judge Jan Soifer has ordered the Board of Realtors to include seven open seats on its board of directors in this month’s election, rather than the five seats the board had maintained were open. The two additional seats are those vacated when Austin real estate agents Cord Shiflet and Brian Talley were ousted as directors Aug. 2.
The lawsuit — filed by Shiflet and Jonathan Boatwright, another member of the organization — is part of a wider internal fight over the operations of the Austin Board of Realtors.


Abbott and Texans in Congress request $18.7 billion more in Harvey aid (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Nearly all of the Texas congressional delegation and Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter Thursday afternoon to senior members of Congress calling for $18.7 billion in new funding to support Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. 
In September, President Donald Trump signed into law a short-term, $15.25 billion measure to address the immediate emergency in the state and in Florida, which suffered serious damage from Hurricane Irma. 
"Texas greatly appreciates the appropriations committees’ efforts to swiftly provide funds," this week's letter stated.

In historic win, charters getting state funding for facilities for the first time (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

For the first time in Texas, public charter schools will receive state funding to pay for leasing and maintaining buildings and facilities — expanding their access to the state's limited money for public schools.
In August, the Legislature passed House Bill 21, a school finance law that included up to $60 million annually for charter facilities funding beginning in fiscal year 2018-19. That funding will be divided per student among the charter schools that meet state standards. Charter advocates, who have petitioned for decades to get such funding, argue that the law is the first step toward receiving the same total dollars per student as traditional school districts. However, critics counter that the law diverts funds from the larger number of students who attend traditional public schools.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton under probe for legal defense gift (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

A district attorney has been probing whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton broke any laws by accepting a $100,000 gift from a CEO whose company was being investigated for alleged fraud, according to news reports.
Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley on Thursday told the Dallas Morning News she was examining whether Paxton ran afoul of state bribery and corrupt practices laws by accepting the gift from James Webb, whose North Texas medical diagnostic company ultimately paid $3.5 million to settle allegations that it improperly billed the government for Medicare and Medicaid services performed without appropriate medical supervision.

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