BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 22, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Affordability questions linger for businesses, residents in Austin economic forecast (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Economists and business leaders expect Austin to see continued strong job growth and business activity in 2018, though more than a decade of rapid population growth may start to put downward pressure on hiring and new activity in the city’s core.

That forecast came from Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo, who delivered the annual economic outlook for the Austin area commissioned by the Austin Chamber of Commerce. That forecast painted a familiar but detailed picture of the city, which has a tight labor and real estate market that is affecting both residents and businesses on the hunt for real estate.

Vitner said a variety of outside factors including the tax cuts recently passed by Congress and the national competition to land Amazon’s second headquarters – and its 50,000 high-paying jobs – are variables that could also impact the city’s business climate...

Commission tries in vain to add affordability requirements to commercial rezone (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The legal constraints of Vertical Mixed Use zoning stalled efforts to add income-restricted affordable housing to a rezoning request at the Zoning and Platting Commission’s Dec. 19 meeting.

The 2-acre property at 9829 1/2 North Lake Creek Parkway is currently zoned Multifamily Residence-Highest Density (MF-6) and is located at the corner of a commercial intersection. The lot had originally been zoned as Community Commercial (GR) in 1986, but it was rezoned in 2014 along with 7.6 acres to the south for a high-density housing project. However, the developer who had asked for the change did not end up closing a deal.

New owner 620/183 Limited Partnership determined that it was not economically feasible to use the whole 9.6-acre tract for housing, choosing instead to develop a senior citizen apartment complex in the south and rezone the smaller lot back to commercial for a medical use. “If we can get this parcel zoned GR,” agent Jeffrey Howard said at the meeting, “it will help us deliver the senior living to the south.”...

Council commissions study of convention center expansion (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Researchers at the University of Texas are going to ask the question that seems to be on every Austinite’s mind these days: “Can new, programmatic spatial configurations and economic models for urban convention centers be applied to downtown Austin in a meaningful and community-based manner?”
That’s the prime mystery a study commissioned by City Council last week to be conducted by UT’s Center for Sustainable Development will seek to solve...


Texas schools weathered Hurricane Harvey, political strife in 2017 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Political warfare between an entrenched Texas House and Senate and the impact of a natural disaster dominated the 2017 headlines for public education in Texas. Here’s a look back at those and other major public ed stories from the past year. 1. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas schools hard.
Heavy rainfall and powerful winds left thousands of students and teachers displaced and traumatized, with a number of school buildings damaged beyond immediate repair. School superintendents have gone before House and Senate panels to list their many needs, including state support in filing for federal disaster aid and funding for busing displaced students...

Senate confirms Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's son Ryan for U.S. attorney in Houston (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Houston has a new U.S. attorney: Ryan Patrick, son of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the chairman of President Donald Trump’s Texas campaign. The Senate confirmed him on a voice vote Wednesday. He’ll serve as chief federal prosecutor in a district that covers 43 counties, including the cities of Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi.
“Tonight I was honored to be unanimously confirmed by the US Senate to be the next US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas,” Patrick tweeted. “Thank you @JohnCornyn and @SenTedCruz for your support and to the President for the nomination.”...

Sale of $1B in Houston pension bonds can proceed, judge rules (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

The City of Houston can move forward with its plan to sell $1 billion in bonds on Friday as part of Mayor Sylvester Turner's landmark pension reform passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year, a judge ruled. State District Judge Mark Morefield on Thursday denied a request by former city housing department director James Noteware for a temporary restraining order to delay the issuance of the bonds...


Senate passes stopgap spending bill, allowing Congress to avert partial government shutdown (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Congress passed a stopgap spending bill Thursday, averting a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday but pushing into January showdowns on spending, immigration, health care and national security. Among the issues still to be resolved is federal aid for victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires. The House on Thursday passed a separate $81 billion disaster relief bill, but the Senate did not immediately take it up amid Democratic objections...

Republicans warn Trump of 2018 bloodbath (Politico) LINK TO STORY

A few weeks before Alabama's special Senate election, President Donald Trump’s handpicked Republican National Committee leader, Ronna Romney McDaniel, delivered a two-page memo to White House chief of staff John Kelly outlining the party’s collapse with female voters.
The warning, several people close to the chairwoman said, reflected deepening anxiety that a full-throated Trump endorsement of accused child molester Roy Moore in the special election — which the president was edging closer to at the time — would further damage the party’s standing with women. McDaniel’s memo, which detailed the president's poor approval numbers among women nationally and in several states, would go unheeded, as Trump eventually went all-in for the ultimately unsuccessful Republican candidate...

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