BG Note | News - What We're Reading (October 17, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Amid member fight, Hilgers leaving as CEO of Austin Board of Realtors (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Paul Hilgers, CEO of the Austin Board of Realtors since 2013, will step down from the 13,000-member trade association effective Dec. 31, the board said Monday.
The news comes amid an ongoing dispute between the organization and some of its members. A group of real estate agents, led by Austin Board of Realtors members Cord Shiflet, Brian Talley and Jonathan Boatwright, say the board lacks transparency and that its directors have been putting their own interests over that of its membership.
In a written statement, board officials said that Hilgers, who has been CEO of the Austin Board of Realtors since 2013, helped to raise the visibility and influence of the organization at the local, state and national levels.

South by Southwest releases list of more than 700 panels, adds two-day blockchain series (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

South by Southwest has announced the bulk of its March 2018 programming in a panel drop Monday, adding a two-day series of blockchain-related panels and more spread over 24 different tracks.
The blockchain programming, focused on the tech behind cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum, will take place March 14-15 in the Startup & Tech Sectors Track. In a release, SXSW said these panels will focus on, “how blockchain technology has the potential to impact entertainment, finance, mobility, and a variety of industries in fundamental ways.”
The 24 tracks of SXSW are divided up into Interactive, Film, Music and Convergence programming, and then further divided into subcategories such as Design, Code & Programming and Workplace. The majority of the programming came from the PanelPicker, which allows the public to submit panel ideas and vote on what should be at the conference.

CodeNEXT density increase could mean parking requirement decrease (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The spirit of road rage sometimes goes beyond Austin’s congested highways and injects itself into debates revolving around the city’s transit problems. That angst could be felt at the Oct. 10 Planning Commission meeting, when staff presented how parking requirements would shift under CodeNEXT 2.0.

In the Mobility Code Prescription paper published in July 2016, the CodeNEXT Advisory Group advocated for transitioning Austin from its car-dominant roots into a multimodal city. Planning and Zoning Director Greg Guernsey informed commissioners at the meeting that in pursuit of that goal, the second draft of the new land use code had proposed a reduction in parking requirements.

Specifically, the required spaces for single-family use would be reduced from two to one, and requirements for apartment, retail, food sales and office uses would also be dropped down. “People are more inclined than in the past to try to take those other modes (of transportation) if they’re available,” Guernsey said. “The idea is to lessen trips and not need vehicles as much.”

UT Health Austin opens first clinics in $99 million project (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

University of Texas Health Austin will open the Dell Medical School’s Health Transformation Building on Tuesday with four specialty clinics. Patients now will be able to receive care for gynecological disorders in the Women’s Health Institute, arm and leg pain in the Musculoskeletal Institute, multiple sclerosis and back pain in the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, and work-related illnesses in the WorkLife clinic.
Opening the new building is the second phase of building UT Health Austin, which started with the medical school accepting its first class in June 2016 and will continue with more clinics opening in the Health Transformation Building, followed by building a center for research. All three — the medical school, the clinics and the research facility — work alongside Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, which opened in May.


Straus doesn’t question decision to drop Amazon bid (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is not questioning Alamo City leaders’ decision to drop out of the contest for Amazon’s second headquarters, even as he launches a new committee aimed at keeping Texas economically competitive.
“It’s such a mad scramble that there’s only going to be one winner,” Straus said. “So, if San Antonio is focused on other opportunities where there’s a much better chance of winning, I think that’s a smart decision.”
Straus [last] Thursday announced the new Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness in light of Amazon’s hunt for a new location and recent furor among the business community over the so-called bathroom bill.

At post-Harvey Senate hearing, a bucket list of pricey solutions (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Six weeks after the biggest rain event in U.S. history inundated large swaths of southeast Texas, a group of state senators convened in this small town north of Houston to discuss how best to address flooding related to the Houston area's stressed reservoirs. In the Texas Senate’s first public hearing since Hurricane Harvey, the Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs talked for hours on Monday about a host of possibilities: dredging reservoirs and building new ones; better informing residents of flood risks and consolidating rainfall flood gauge data; capturing floodwater and storing it underground; and widening thousands of miles of bayous.

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