BG Reads | News You Need to Know (June 24, 2019)
Austin hosts event to educate riders on new scooter rules (Austin American-Statesman)
The debate about whizzing electric scooters on Austin streets has often been contentious, which is why the city thought it would be a good idea to lighten things up, hosting an outdoor summit Saturday to teach people how to use the devices safely.
The Scooter Summit was held just before lunchtime on Electric Drive along Cesar Chavez Street downtown. People came and went through the morning, visiting booths set up by city departments and the scooter companies, which handed out free helmets and other swag to first-time riders, as well as printed lists of the city’s new e-scooter rules.
The City Council approved the rules last month, which dictate safe scooter use, including limiting one person per scooter, requiring people under 18 to wear a helmet and mandating riders follow all traffic laws, signals and signs. Other city rules say where you can and can’t park a scooter (not in front of a bus stop, loading zone or in vehicle parking spots, among other places), and Austin also bans:
• Texting and scooting
• Drinking and scooting
• Riding scooters on city trails, except those that are part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s pilot program
Anyone who violates the rules could be subject to a fine.
Staff suggests plaza program either be well-funded or be forgotten (Austin Monitor)
After eight months of study, including a two-month extension, the Planning and Zoning Department has finalized its recommendations for a potential public plaza program to make it easier and cheaper for applicants and city departments to create temporary public plazas. These plazas are open public areas for general recreation that may also dedicate space for food and beverage carts, retail and cultural events
City Council directed the city manager to explore such a program in October 2018, citing the drawn-out and disjointed effort to create the Nightwing Plaza at Barton Springs Road and South Congress Avenue.
Despite the hundreds of staff hours spent over years of analyzing that plaza, Council Member Kathie Tovo said that the convoluted process nearly led to the space being taken over for private purposes… (LINK TO STORY)
City of Austin median home price hits new record, reflects tightening housing market (Community Impact)
The median price of a single-family home in the city of Austin was $407,400 in May, up 5.8% year over year, according to the latest monthly report from the Austin Board of Realtors, which was published June 20.
This new record price coincides with a drop in both new and active listings as well as a 3.4% drop in home sales in the city.
Surrounding areas, however, “experienced strong gains” in the same period, according to the report.
“A lack of middle-market housing in the city of Austin is driving demand to the suburbs,” ABoR President Kevin Scanlan said in a statement. “While the Central Texas housing market is healthy and thriving, Austin continues to struggle with housing options that are affordable for first-time homebuyers as the median price surpasses $400,000.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas tops the US for real estate development spending and jobs (Dallas Morning News)
For the second year in a row, Texas topped the nation in real estate development activity in 2018. With almost $26 billion in direct spending on real estate projects, the Texas building sector contributed more than $62 billion last year to the state's economy, according to a report from the NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
The development sector last year supported more than 400,000 jobs in the state, the industry trade group said in it's annual economic impact report. Texas was ahead of both New York and California in the ranking of real estate development impact in each state. Commercial property developments created and supported 8.3 million American jobs in 2018 and resulted in salaries and wages of $325.9 billion, according to the NAIOP study … (LINK TO STORY)
Royce West meets with Chuck Schumer as he nears decision on campaign against John Cornyn (Texas Tribune)
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, met this week with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as he nears a decision on whether to run for U.S. Senate — a decision that West now says will come sometime next month.
West had a "positive meeting" with Schumer and staff at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a Democratic source familiar with the meeting said. West, the source added, signaled that he is likely to run.
Asked for comment Friday, West said in a text message, "I'll make a decision whether to run next month."… (LINK TO STORY)
Supreme Court Overturns Precedent In Property Rights Case — A Sign Of Things To Come? (NPR)
A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that property owners can go directly to federal court with claims that state and local regulations effectively deprive landowners of the use of their property.
The 5-4 decision overturned decades of precedent that barred property owners from going to federal court until their claims had been denied in state court.
Federal courts are often viewed as friendlier than state courts for such property claims. The decision, with all five of the court's conservatives in the majority, may have particular effects in cities and coastal areas that have strict regulations for development… (LINK TO STORY)
What’s on the line for Beto, Castro and the rest of the field in the first debates (Austin American-Statesman)
On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso will take center stage among 10 Democratic presidential candidates on the first of two successive nights of televised debates from Miami. It might prove a moment of truth for both candidates.
For O’Rourke, whose once promising campaign appears to have peaked the day he announced, it is a stroke of fortune that by luck of the draw he found himself assigned to the Wednesday debate stage where, despite running a distant sixth in national polls, he still runs ahead of the other eight members of that night’s cast, which includes a governor, two U.S. senators, two U.S. representatives, a former member of Congress, the mayor of New York City and his fellow Texan, Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of housing and urban development in the second Obama administration… (LINK TO STORY)
We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:
BG Podcast Episode 42: A Startup Conversation with Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim
Bingham Group client Easy Expunctions is a San Antonio-based legal technology start up providing background check and expunction/nondisclosure services.
They were recently one of twelve legal tech startups invited to participate in Duke’s Law Tech Lab.
Client News: Easy Expunctions Selected for Duke Law Tech Lab
Congratulations to Bingham Group client Easy Expunctions on being one of twelve early-stage legal technology companies selected to participate in Duke Law Tech Lab's summer pre-accelerator program.
Easy Expunctions is a San Antonio-based legal technology start up providing background check and expunction/nondisclosure services.
Their legal records search algorithms allow clients to know what (if any) charges they have against them, and what can be expunged.
In April 2018 they won Austin-based Capital Factory's $100,000 Startup Challenge. As part of the package, the firm received space at Capital Factory (located in downtown Austin)… (LINK TO POST)