BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 21, 2019)



Housing supply and demand debate resurfaces over code rewrite (Austin Monitor)

The Land Development Code rewrite team is going far beyond previous efforts in Draft 3 of CodeNEXT with its housing capacity goals. According to staff, aiming for more housing units in general will also help secure affordable housing while addressing market-rate demand.

However, Council members Alison Alter and Leslie Pool told staff Tuesday morning that the city has yet to provide sufficient evidence, despite repeated requests, for the claim that increasing market-rate housing supply will result in or at least support greater housing affordability.

“No one is saying that we shouldn’t create more market-rate units,” Alter explained. “My concern is that the entitlements we give for market-rate and how we do that impacts our ability to deliver the supply of affordable units.”

With the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint’s net goal of 60,000 affordable units intended to include a combination of both income-restricted and non-income-restricted housing, Erica Leak with Neighborhood Housing and Community Development said the lack of rent controls or other measures in Texas means keeping market-rate units affordable for the long term will always be a challenge.

Brent Lloyd, development officer with the Development Services Department, said the city has a plan to address that specific problem in some areas… (LINK TO STORY)

Site plan approved for Austin FC stadium (Austin Business Journal)

Austin FC has cleared another major hurdle on its road to playing in 2021.

A site plan for the Major League Soccer stadium in North Austin has been approved by the city, Development Services Department spokeswoman Sylvia Arzola said Aug. 19.

Arzola said the flatwork site plan, which has to do with site preparation like grading and erosion control, was approved Aug. 12. That work can now begin, Arzola said.

Some regulatory hurdles remain. Arzola said vertical construction on the actual stadium cannot begin until a different phase of the site plan and building plans are also approved, adding that timeline can vary on a case-by-case basis… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 46: Austin FC Updates from Club President Andy Loughnane

New Cap Metro Pickup Service Offers Rides For Austin Residents Not On Bus Lines (KUT)

Capital Metro’s app-based Pickup service is expanding to four more sections of Austin over the next two weeks, after launching in Manor in June. It works like the pool function of other rideshare services. People can use the Pickup by Cap Metro app to request a ride from their home to anywhere within a certain zone.

The service launched in parts of East Austin, including sections of Govalle, on Tuesday. It launches in the area around St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park on Wednesday.

“It does feel like a really good almost boutique service, and I think it’s going to be something that people are really going to love,” said Chad Ballentine, vice president of demand response and innovative mobility at Cap Metro. “It allows everyone to have that Uber or Lyft kind of experience but not at those prices, and it also really complements the transit system a lot better.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin Looks To Limit Camping And Resting In Public As It Pursues Housing-First Solutions (KUT)

The Austin City Council provided some clarity Tuesday over where it will limit camping and resting in public, as well as its overall strategy to boost citywide, housing-focused initiatives and investments.

Council members heard a briefing from city staff on a memo released last week on solutions to homelessness in Austin – one that suggested the city abandon the prospect of city-sanctioned camping and parking areas for Austinites experiencing homelessness. City staff also suggested curtailing public areas where people could sit, lie or camp, saying neither align with the city's housing-first strategy… (LINK TO STORY)


Uber makes it official: It will set up major hub in downtown Dallas by end of year (Dallas Morning News)

It’s official: Uber Technologies will open an office of at least 3,000 employees in Deep Ellum, and it plans to turn Dallas into its largest hub outside of its San Francisco headquarters, company officials told The Dallas Morning News Tuesday.

Uber will hire or relocate about 400 employees to Dallas by the end of the year, said Chris Miller, senior manager of public policy in Texas. It will move into a tower on the edge of downtown Dallas in July 2020 and then into a taller tower on the same site about two years later. Most of Uber’s Dallas employees will work in finance, human resources and sales, Miller said. They will support the company’s transportation-related businesses, including ride-sharing, food delivery and the development of urban air taxis… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

Gov. Abbott awards $24 million incentive to Uber (Houston Chronicle)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says speaker scandal, if not resolved, could 'play part in' losing GOP seats in Texas House (Dallas Morning News)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing in on the scandal that's roiled the Texas House in recent weeks, warned Republicans must resolve the issue or risk losing control of that chamber in 2020.

Late last month, conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan alleged that Speaker Dennis Bonnen had a private meeting with him in June at which Bonnen and House GOP Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows asked Sullivan to target fellow Republicans in next year's primary election. Sullivan claims Bonnen also offered his organization Texas House media credentials, which they had previously been denied… (LINK TO STORY)

Lines to get driver's licenses are long. Texans are skeptical more money will help. (Texas Tribune)

Shane Washington arrived at a driver's license mega center in South Dallas around 3:30 p.m. one day last month. After a few days of unsuccessfully trying to use the office's online queuing system to reserve a spot in line, he finally stopped by without a reservation ahead of the July 4 holiday.

Washington, 42, was scheduled to pick his son up from relatives that evening. But when 5:45 p.m. came and he found himself still waiting in the office, he had to push back those plans, inconveniencing both his family and himself.

"It's just stressful to be dealing with," Washington said. "It's hard to block off an entire day.” … (LINK TO STORY)


Trump says he's considering payroll tax cut, contradicting White House denial (AXIOS)

President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday that he's been "thinking about" whether to pursue a payroll tax cut, despite the White House formally denying a Washington Post report that cutting payroll taxes is under consideration.

The big picture: Discussions over cutting the payroll tax, which currently sits at 6.2% and is used to fund Social Security and Medicare, are part of a broader White House effort to stem fears of a coming recession — though Trump insisted to reporters that "whether or not we do it now, it's not being done because of recession." Sources tell Axios' Jonathan Swan that Trump is "running out of tools" to juice the economy, with an economic slowdown looking increasingly likely ahead of the 2020 election… (LINK TO STORY)


We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

BG Podcast Episode 46: Austin FC Updates from Club President Andy Loughnane

On today's episode Austin FC President Andy Loughnane sits down for club updates with the Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña and CEO A.J. Bingham.

Andy was named president of the Major League Soccer (MLS) club on January 3, 2019. Most recently he was president of business operations for MLS’ Columbus Crew SC. 

Andy provided Bingham Group with the latest updates on Austin FC, including hiring for front office and coaching staff, groundbreaking, season tickets, and its development academy, among others.

Austin FC will be the 27th team to enter Major League Soccer, and will begin play in Spring 2021… (LINK TO SHOW)

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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