BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 9, 2018)



Mayor Says City Council Must Be' Judicious' With Property Tax Hikes, But Investments Are Needed (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The Austin City Council will have the chance next month to tweak the specifics of a $925 million bond package it approved last month for the Nov. 6 ballot. But the vote was not unanimous, as some council members expressed concern about the accompanying property tax hike.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he is aware of worries about ever-increasing property taxes for Austin homeowners.
"I understand not wanting to have higher taxes," he said. "I don't want to have higher taxes."
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Environmental Commission fails to approve variance based on traffic concerns (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

In a subdivision, how much density is too dense? Although not typically a question the Environmental Commission considers, it is one that became the crux of the discussion around a variance request at its June 20 meeting due to the traffic concerns that new development would create.
Although the city limits street crossings across critical water quality zones, Paul Linehan, the representative for the owners of 9406 Morninghill Drive, said that in this case, “We believe we deserve the variance.”
The commission, on the other hand, did not. The motion to approve the variance failed 5-3. Commissioners Linda Guerrero, Pam Thompson and Brian Smith voted against it. Commissioners Peggy Maceo and Marisa Perales were absent.
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Developer seeks partners for $1 billion downtown project near Rainey Street, Austin Convention Center (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

A New York-based investment group is searching for partners to help it bring to life what would be the biggest private development in downtown Austin.
McCourt Global is seeking new partners on its proposed $1 billion complex called Waller Park Place at the intersection of Red River and East Cesar Chavez streets, Real Estate Alert reports. The mega-sized mixed-use project could dramatically reshape the historic Rainey Street neighborhood, opening up space for hundreds more office workers and residents downtown.
McCourt Global executives think Waller Park Place could encompass more than 3 million square feet of residential, commercial and office space — roughly the equivalent of six Frost Bank Towers on the site. The tallest tower on the tract is expected to exceed 50 stories with views of Lady Bird Lake. HFF Inc. has the listing assignment on the project.
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E-bikes, e-scooters not welcome in Austin parks (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department would like to remind parkgoers to observe the speed limit.
In a June memo to Mayor Steve Adler and City Council, department Director Kimberly McNeeley pointed out that city code prohibits the use of motorized vehicles, including e-bikes, e-scooters and Segways, within public recreation areas. That includes parks, trails, greenbelts and other public spaces. McNeeley wrote that the parks department is planning a two-week public outreach effort that will include friendly reminders from park rangers and new warning signs.
In recent months, urban transportation startups such as Bird, Pace, Goat and Lime (and now JUMP) seeded Austin streets with hundreds of dockless bikes and scooters, and some of their patrons used those vehicles on Austin’s hike and bike trails. With their electric motors, e-bikes and e-scooters can reach speeds much higher than pedestrians can walk or jog.
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San Antonio-Austin planners working to ready I-35 for population boom (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

By 2040, Interstate 35 will run through a San Antonio-Austin metroplex with a population rivaling the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s current size. And if nothing major changes by then, near-constant gridlock driven by the population boom will bog down what already is one of Texas’ most congested highway corridors.
To keep I-35 drivable, the San Antonio- and Austin-area Metropolitan Planning Organizations — local transportation planning entities for urban areas of more than 50,000 people — are coordinating on a nascent plan to add a pair of lanes in each direction to some 120 miles of the highway, from Bexar to Williamson County.
Officials would designate one of those lanes going each way as a “managed” lane, allowing them to adapt its use around evolving technology, including the proliferation of autonomous transit. Though ultimately Capital Area MPO Chairman Conley and Alamo MPO Chairman Kevin Wolff intend for the managed lanes to accommodate driverless vehicles, from cars to shuttle buses, the designation also would allow the lane to operate as a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane for transit vehicles and carpools. 
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McConnell tries to nudge Trump toward two Supreme Court options (New York Times) LINK TO STORY

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, told President Trump this past week that Judges Raymond M. Kethledge and Thomas M. Hardiman presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, according to Republican officials briefed on the conversation. Mr. McConnell made clear in multiple phone calls with Mr. Trump and the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, that the lengthy paper trail of another top contender, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, would pose difficulties for his confirmation.
Mr. McConnell is concerned about the volume of the documents that Judge Kavanaugh has created in his 12 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as well as in his roles as White House staff secretary under President George W. Bush and assistant to Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton. while Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions are publicly known, Mr. McConnell is uneasy about relitigating Bush-era controversies, the officials briefed on his discussions with Mr. Trump said. 
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