BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 7, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 55: Exploring Austin's Commercial Tenant Market with JLL's Bre Brown (LINK TO SHOW)


Latest Draft Of Austin's Land Development Rules Permits Denser Housing, Loosens Parking Restrictions (KUT)

The city has proposed allowing for denser housing while loosening parking requirements in its latest revamp of rules dictating what can be built in Austin and where. 

The draft proposal, released to the public Friday afternoon, also allows for accessory dwelling units anywhere you can build a home and outlaws the construction of a single-family home where one doesn’t already exist in "transition zones" – generally, areas with 500 to 700 feet of a busy main road. 

“Transportation, affordability, housing – [these are] all important issues to many residents," Annick Beaudet, assistant director of the Austin Transportation Department, said at a news conference at City Hall. "With this code, we are looking to simplify how we regulate, how we’re growing and guide growth where it can do the most good.”

This latest draft, which is more than 1,300 pages, comes after a tumultuous past two years discussing a new code. The effort resulted in a council vote to scrap the rewrite process, formerly dubbed CodeNEXT. The city has spent nearly eight years and more than $10 million trying to pass new land rules.


See also:
Episode 51 - Austin's Land Development Code Revision with Team Co-Lead Annick Beaudet

ACC board will vote today on whether to authorize sale of portion of Pinnacle Campus (Community Impact)

The Austin Community College board of trustees is scheduled to decide on Oct. 7 whether to authorize the sale of the Pinnacle campus building and the approximately nine acres of property it sits on.

Trustees voted on April 1 to take the first step in the process of the sale, declaring the pinnacle building as “surplus property” and authorizing President Richard Rhodes to post the building for sale.

According to agenda materials for the Oct. 7 meeting, multiple parties put in bids to purchase the property up for sale. ACC staff and commercial real estate firm CBRE, the real estate consultants for the district, ranked the bids and Rhodes will recommend the sale of the property to the highest-ranked bidder.

A spokesperson for ACC told Community Impact Newspaper information on the identity of the bidder, the amount of the bid, the rankings of bidders will be available on Oct. 7… (LINK TO STORY)

Here's how APD plans to enforce laws on sitting, lying down and camping in public (KUT)

Threats of state intervention, confusion on the part of officers and indecision on the dais at City Hall have all led the Austin Police Department to rethink how it enforces laws regulating where people can sit, lie down and camp in public.

New training bulletins out Thursday give officers more clarity (and latitude) in how they approach obstruction of public areas and their ability to interact with people violating the city laws. Those laws essentially allow camping or resting public, unless someone is completely or willingly obstructing a sidewalk – or if they pose an immediate health or safety risk… (LINK TO STORY)

With $2.7 million settlement, Kyle makes way for 430-mile pipeline (Austin American-Statesman)

The Kyle City Council approved a settlement with the Houston-based company Kinder Morgan early Saturday that will allow a 430-mile natural gas pipeline to cut through the city. Kinder Morgan will pay Kyle $2.7 million under a legal agreement that would hinder the company from converting the Permian Highway Pipeline from natural gas to crude oil, according to a press release from the city.

The settlement was agreed upon at a special council meeting Friday, which reportedly ran into early Saturday morning. “In a perfect world, this pipeline would have been routed through unincorporated areas of Texas, preferably those areas already established with oil infrastructure, minimizing the effect on landowners, local governments and our environment,” Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said in the news release. “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.”… (LINK TO STORY)


State will manage $4.3B Hurricane Harvey recovery funding, not local governments (Houston Chronicle)

Texas is likely another nine months from getting $4.3 billion in federal post-Hurricane Harvey recovery money aimed at better protecting the state from future flooding and disasters. But when it finally arrives, Gov. Greg Abbott made clear Friday the state will be handling the money directly and not turning it over to cities and counties to manage.

While some local officials expressed frustration over the decision, Abbott said he’s turning to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to lead the program aimed at large-scale, regional projects. Bush has already been tasked with dealing with housing recovery issues since Harvey hit Texas in August 2017. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she was hoping for more direct control over the funding… (LINK TO STORY)

Hurd, Castro: Texts from U.S. diplomats on Trump, Ukraine are ‘damning’ (Austin American-Statesman)

Two Texas congressmen from opposite political parties said Friday that a series of text messages between U.S. diplomats released by House investigators corroborate details from a complaint filed by a government whistleblower that said President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a political rival.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, both called the text messages “damning” during separate CNN appearances. But while Castro said it is clear Trump “deserves impeachment at this point,” Hurd was more cautious and stressed the need for further investigation. “I want to make sure we get through this entire investigation before coming to some kind of conclusion,” Hurd said. “This is serious stuff and these are serious matters. This has long-term implications on our foreign policy. I want to hear from Rudy Giuliani. I want to hear from the additional folks in the State Department to put all of this stuff into context. Let’s have all the information available before we make a decision.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Over business leaders’ objections, San Antonio City Council approves revised sick leave ordinance (San Antonio Express-News)

Bucking the business community, San Antonio City Council members voted Thursday to revise the city’s paid sick leave ordinance in an attempt to protect the nascent law from a looming legal challenge.

The controversial law, enacted last August, requires employers to provide paid sick time for an estimated 354,000 workers in San Antonio who don’t get the benefit now. The ordinance’s backers say the benefit will help fight the city’s high rates of poverty and domestic violence.

“This is but one small step we can make to ensure a real difference in the environment that we’ve created over a generation and turn back the tide of these intractable inequities that we’ve endured for so long,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

The paid sick time law is already on the books. But Thursday’s vote signaled to progressive groups who pushed for the benefit that a majority of council members are willing to defend it in court… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Episode 20: State Rep. Diego Bernal, District 123 (D-San Antonio), on local control by cities


Trump pins Ukraine call on Energy Secretary Rick Perry (Axios)

President Trump told House Republicans that he made his now infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry — a call Trump claimed he didn’t even want to make.

Trump made these comments during a conference call with House members on Friday, according to 3 sources on the call. Per the sources, Trump rattled off the same things he has been saying publicly — that his call with Zelensky was "perfect"and he did nothing wrong. But he then threw Perry into the mix and said something to the effect of: "Not a lot of people know this but, I didn't even want to make the call. The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquefied natural gas] plant," one source said, recalling the president's comments. 2 other sources confirmed the first source's recollection… (LINK TO STORY)

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