BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 30, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

City Council Votes Against Accepting CodeNEXT Petition Outright; Voters Could Decide In Fall (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Austin City Council members early this morning did not accept the changes asked for in a citizen-led petition that would have required all comprehensive zoning changes, including CodeNEXT, be put to a public vote. Now council must decide before Aug. 20 whether to put the petition on a November ballot.

The vote was 4-6, with council members Alison Alter, Ora Houston, Leslie Pool and Kathie Tovo voting in favor.

“It’s very clear that from the broad community discussion that we’ve been having that there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with how we’re managing growth and planning in Austin,” Alter said. “I do know the facts: that we have over 30,000 people who signed this petition who want to be able to vote on CodeNEXT and that we’ve had hundreds of people engage with trying to understand the details.”...

Council takes no action on Planning Commission (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Faced with no easy or painless options, City Council members decided late Thursday night to put off considering how to get out of their predicament of a development-heavy Planning Commission and a desire to get through the rewrite of the Land Development Code, CodeNEXT, without further delay.
Anti-CodeNEXT advocates who oppose the current makeup of the commission have pointed out that seven of the commission’s 13 members are directly or indirectly connected with land development or real estate, in violation of a 1994 amendment to the city charter, which prohibits more than one-third of the members from working in real estate-related fields. (At one point, the leader of a group of opposing CodeNEXT, Fred Lewis, counted an eighth member, Assistant County Attorney Tom Nuckols, but Lewis has since decided that Nuckols should not be put in that category since he has a government job.)
The vote to postpone to May 10 was 6-4, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair on family leave. Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Ann Kitchen, Delia Garza, Greg Casar, Pio Renteria and Jimmy Flannigan voted for the postponement.

Council Clears The Way For Dockless Bike And Scooter Operations In Austin (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Dockless vehicle providers now have rules for operating in Austin after a City Council vote early this morning, giving providers a framework to deploy dockless bikes and scooters legally by as soon as next week.
The unanimous vote rolls dockless vehicles into a city ordinance banning abandoned vehicles from blocking rights-of-way like sidewalks and sets up a framework to penalize dockless vehicles operating illegally in Austin.
It effectively speeds up the city's pilot program and gives the Austin Transportation Department the ability to impound any vehicle breaking city rules. Providers can apply for a license from the city to operate and deploy scooters and bikes by as soon as May 1...

Dockless companies suspend operations after Council approves regulations (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Traffic-burdened Austin has one fewer mobility option after this weekend.
On Sunday, both LimeBike and Bird appeared to have removed their shared-use electric scooters from the city’s streets in response to City Council’s vote on early Friday morning that created a governing framework for so-called dockless mobility services.
Users of the LimeBike app were greeted with a notification on Sunday that read: “We’re putting the final touches on our scooters and bikes with the help of the City of Austin. See you in a few days!” Bird did not display a similar message, but its app did not indicate any scooters on the ground as of Sunday afternoon.
Both companies had forced Council to craft new rules to accommodate their new technology after opting earlier this month to begin operating in the city just as the Austin Transportation Department was kicking off a months-long process to develop a pilot program just for dockless bike-sharing...


Young Hispanic activists ‘Jolt’ Valdez campaign by backing Andrew White (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

In a stunner, Jolt, a year-old organization of young Hispanic Texans with ambitions of spurring a surge in turnout this year, endorsed Andrew White over Lupe Valdez for governor Sunday after a town hall at which Valdez failed to effectively answer questions about whether her record as Dallas County sheriff was “anti-immigrant.”
“I think they saw a clear difference in the ability to understand and articulate a vision for the future,” White said of the endorsement by Jolt’s leadership after the better than two-hour town hall before an audience of some 200 at the Austin Film Society Cinema...

Out-of-state travel tab for Abbott’s security tops $1 million (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Gov. Greg Abbott has pursued a busy national and international schedule in his first term that has driven state-paid travel expenses for his security detail to more than $1 million and counting. Security accompanies Abbott whether he is pursuing job expansion for Texas, fundraising for his campaign, promoting his book, speaking at a political event or vacationing in Hawaii — the most expensive single destination reported so far for the security detail, at more than $71,000. But the title of costliest trip is a moving target. Not yet available is the security cost of Abbott’s recent nine-day business development trip to India...

Trump will speak at NRA convention in Dallas on Friday (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

President Donald Trump will speak Friday at the NRA convention in Dallas, a senior White House aide confirmed Sunday night. Vice President Mike Pence had already agreed to appear at the annual gathering of the gun rights group. Guns have been banned for Pence's appearance and will be banned for Trump's as well. It's routine for the Secret Service to ban weapons at events attended by the president, though gun control advocates have mocked the ban, calling it hypocritical in light of the gun lobby's push to allow guns in schools and to expand the rights of gun owners. The late addition of the NRA convention to Trump's schedule means the president plans two visits to Dallas in May. On May 14, he'll headline a fundraising dinner, after a donor lunch in Houston earlier in the day...

As drought returns, experts say Texas cities aren't conserving enough water (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

In the early months of 2015, driving around Wichita Falls was a depressing experience for resident Larry Ayres, filled with dust and wilting plants. The nights were even worse; he was sleepless with worry about what the city running out of water could mean for his family and his local chain of car washes. Wichita Falls' corner of North Texas was enduring one of the worst droughts in its history at the time, leaving the reservoirs that supply water to the city barely treading above 20 percent full. If the combined levels of the reservoirs, lakes Arrowhead, Kemp and Kickapoo, had dipped below that mark, the city would have been forced to shut off all public water...


Sprint, T-Mobile reach $26.5 billion deal to take on Dallas-based AT&T, Verizon (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. agreed to combine in a $26.5 billion merger, creating a wireless giant to compete against industry leaders Dallas-based AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. Deutsche Telekom AG, the Bonn, Germany-based company that controls T-Mobile, and SoftBank Group Corp., the Tokyo-based owner of Sprint, agreed to a combination that values each Sprint share at 0.10256 of a T-Mobile share, the companies said Sunday in a written statement. That ratio values Sprint at $6.62 a share based on T-Mobile's Friday closing price of $64.52...

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