BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 3, 2019)



Austin City Council could use e-scooter regulations to limit homeless encampments, memo says (Austin Monitor)

City officials released additional guidelines Friday on how to limit homeless encampments in Austin, including spatial limitations on sidewalks and along waterways. The memo from the city manager and the Homeless Strategy Office is meant to guide the Austin City Council as it rolls out a plan to limit resting and camping in public.

The memo suggests the Council could limit encampments on sidewalks by adopting restrictions similar to current city laws on e-scooter parking, which require at least three feet of passage for pedestrians and vehicles.

“In the same manner that parking micro-mobility devices can obstruct pedestrian traffic, the objects belonging to individuals experiencing homelessness could also obstruct pedestrian traffic,” the memo reads… (LINK TO STORY)

HB 3167 "Shot Clock" Bill Changes Impact Austin's Land Development Code (BG Blog)

On August 22, the Austin City Council amended Titles 25 and 30 of the Land Development Code (LDC) in response to House Bill 3167, known as the “shot clock” bill due to the quick timelines imposed on the subdivision application process. Changes will be effective for all subdivision applications submitted for review after September 1, 2019.

HB 3167 requires cities and counties to respond to subdivision applications within 30 calendar days and to respond to subsequent updates within 15 days. There is no process that provides for additional review or approval/denial time beyond the 30 days. If the application is not formally approved or denied, it is approved. Staff is also prohibited from providing new review comments after the initial 30-day review period… (LINK TO STORY)

Parks board vote could delay ‘fast-tracked’ health center for Dove Springs (Austin Monitor)

A community health center proposed for the Dove Springs area in Southeast Austin could be delayed by several months after the city’s Parks and Recreation Board voted last week to delay approving the use of parkland to build the long-needed facility.

The 9-2 vote to delay the recommendation to City Council to move ahead with the center came amid questions over the calculations used to determine the mitigation fees for permanent use of 2.6 acres of Dove Springs District Park to build the 16,000-square-foot center. Parks board members also expressed concern over some of the features of the proposed site, including a parking lot that will replace an area currently used as an informal soccer field.

Voters approved bond funding for the $12.4 million facility in December and the project has been put on a “fast track” by Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, whose district includes the area in question, because of a lack of preventive health options in close proximity to Dove Springs… (LINK TO STORY)


Challengers step up attacks on Turner, each other as mayoral race shifts into gear (Houston Chronicle)

The mayoral candidate forum was just several minutes underway when the gloves came off between Tony Buzbee and Bill King, two self-styled independents seeking to win Houston’s top office behind a base of conservative and moderate support.

Facing a room of Republicans Wednesday at the ritzy Walden Country Club off Lake Houston, Buzbee and King took their most direct shots at each other yet: King, casting himself as a “technocrat,” pressed the case that Buzbee is unprepared to become mayor, while Buzbee suggested King would never truly reform the city’s system for awarding contracts, as both candidates have promised. Buzbee also scoffed at King’s argument that the next mayor should not have to “rely on a bunch of experts” or be trained on the job… (LINK TO STORY)

Rail between San Antonio, Austin could be back on the table (Rivard Report)

A coalition of San Antonio and Austin state representatives has asked the House Transportation Committee chair to study the possibility of passenger rail between the two cities ahead of the 2021 legislative session. Congestion between the two cities will only increase, the legislators wrote, costing drivers time and money.

Officials from the Austin and San Antonio areas have been trying to connect the two cities by passenger rail for years. The Lone Star Rail District proposal stalled after Union Pacific pulled out of the project in 2016 over concerns about how passenger rail using its tracks would impact its freight operations. The Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) pulled its funding for the project later that year, leaving the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) few options for keeping the project alive… (LINK TO STORY)

How one Texas county stopped a ransomware attack (Wall Street Journal)

Isaac Badu ’s IT department gets calls about strange behavior on Lubbock County’s 1,300 computers all the time. But this time, it was different. The file icons on a county employee’s computer were changing before their eyes. Mr. Badu, the first in-house director of technology and information systems for this Texas county, said he immediately suspected malicious activity.

He instructed one of his staff to rush to the affected computer and take it off the network. Within 40 minutes of witnessing the first signs of a ransomware attack, the threat was over. Though hardly revolutionary, the actions show how training, resources—and a bit of luck—can thwart hackers who have been hobbling U.S. cities and counties. Lubbock County was one of 23 local government systems in Texas hit by a ransomware attack on the morning of Aug. 16… (LINK TO STORY)


China, US tariffs are now in effect (Reuters)

China and the United States began imposing additional tariffs on each other’s goods on Sunday, the latest escalation in a bruising trade war, despite signs that talks would resume some time this month.

A new round of tariffs took effect from 0401 GMT, with Beijing’s levy of 5% on U.S. crude marking the first time the fuel has been targeted since the world’s two largest economies started their trade war more than a year ago. The Trump administration will begin collecting 15% tariffs on more than $125 billion in Chinese imports, including smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and many types of footwear… (LINK TO STORY)


Our summer hiatus has come to an end! Stay tuned for BG Podcast Episode 51 this Wednesday featuring Annick Beaudet, overall lead on Austin’s Land Development Code revision. Check out our prior show with Annick discussing her work on Austin’s Strategic Mobility Plan:

Episode 36: Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P., Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department, on Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (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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