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



2019 could be the year to end city parking minimums (Austin Monitor)

The Pedestrian Advisory Council is asking City Council to confront a broad spectrum of issues this year with a simple change to the city’s dated land use code.

In a unanimous vote Monday evening, PAC approved a recommendation to Council to eliminate mandated parking minimums from the city’s land use code entirely. Among other requests, the recommendation includes managing parking supply with dynamic pricing adjustments, citywide expansion of the current Parking Benefit District structure and disincentivizing construction of aboveground parking garages in new developments.

The PAC recommendation specifies that each development will still be required to provide ADA-compliant on- or off-street parking spaces if parking minimums are removed from the land use code.

The city eliminated parking minimums from the Central Business District in 2013, allowing developers to determine how much parking is appropriate for their site. As PAC member Branigan Mulcahy clarified prior to the vote, the removal of parking minimums from the CBD has had only a modest effect on downtown developments…

Link to story

See also: Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) Recommendation to the Austin City Council

UT, city close to agreeing on plan to realign Red River Street (Austin American-Statesman)

The city of Austin and the University of Texas are close to an agreement on straightening out portions of Red River Street even as the two sides apparently need an extra year to figure out whether the cost of that project, coupled with other measures, might figure into resolving the future of Lions Municipal Golf Course and the rest of the UT-owned Brackenridge Tract.

These intertwining matters are scheduled to be considered Thursday by the City Council.

UT says it needs to realign Red River to accommodate expansion of the Dell Medical School and a new arena for basketball, concerts and other events. The university wants to move promptly on the road work, given that its plans call for a private-sector partner to begin construction of the $338 million arena this summer on land just south of the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium.

Red River would be shifted from just east of the stadium to its west side, routing it on what is now Robert Dedman Drive to East Dean Keeton Street, thereby opening space for the arena. Dedman is a narrower road than the stretch of Red River that would be eliminated, which likely would lead to slower and more congested traffic…

Link to story

ZAP contemplates uprooting (Austin Monitor)

Last month, on Jan. 15, the Zoning and Platting Commission heard a long-awaited briefing from the University of Texas’ Uprooted study on gentrification and displacement in Austin.

Dr. Jake Wegmann, one of the three authors, presented a summarized version of the study, which was completed in September 2018. The project evaluated three main factors: where gentrification is happening in Austin; strategies and policies for preventing displacement; and finally, the start of a framework for evaluating and selecting particular anti-displacement policies.

“I would ask you not to say that some people think gentrification is bad and some people think gentrification is good,” said Commissioner Betsy Greenberg, commenting on the verbiage Wegmann used to open the presentation. “You might think, oh, it looks nice now because it’s got new buildings, but those new restaurants, they make people who live there uncomfortable if they can’t even afford to shop in the new stores or go to those new restaurants.”

Wegmann explained that the word gentrification on its own can be polarizing, while involuntary displacement is understood by most people to be a negative thing. He said he believes it is more productive to focus on displacement rather than gentrification when talking about policy decisions.

The study found that five subgroups are most vulnerable to displacement: communities of color; renters; households with children in poverty; people making at or below 80 percent of the median family income; and people 25 and older without a bachelor’s degree.

Wegmann noted that one strategy for preventing displacement is to increase legal protection for renters. He emphasized mandatory city tenant protection for all rental properties receiving city support…

Link to story


Needing Democratic support, Texas' secretary of state faces a rocky path to confirmation (Texas Tribune)

The governor’s appointments for secretary of state typically sail through the Texas Senate.

But against the backdrop of a flawed voter citizenship check that risked the votes of tens of thousands of naturalized citizens, Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest pick finds himself in need of Democratic support. And the minority party’s doubts about — if not outright opposition to — his confirmation are growing.

A longtime Abbott aide appointed to the post in December, David Whitley is set to face the Senate Nominations Committee on Thursday after almost two weeks of intense scrutiny of his decision to question the citizenship status of almost 100,000 voters using flawed data that seemingly singled out naturalized citizens for review…

Link to story

Texas Democrats caught between climate change and the energy economy (Houston Chronicle)

Houston Democrat Lizzie Fletcher was elected to Congress last November as part of a progressive groundswell against President Donald Trump, winning over a stretch of wealthy Houston suburbs where the oil industry has long reigned supreme and Democrats had not won an election since the late 1960s.

But within a month of her taking office, Democrats’ potential headwinds in suburban Texas are in full view as a proposal from the party’s progressive wing to rapidly shift the United States away from fossil fuels gains momentum amidst increasingly dire forecasts on climate change. As the newly resurgent Democratic Party pushes Congress to consider climate change legislation for the first time since 2009, Democrats from oil-rich states like Texas are being pulled between the party’s growing call for carbon-free energy and the drilling industry that has long driven their economy…

Link to story

CDC: Houston is the worst city in country for measles vaccine rates (Houston Chronicle)

A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows Houston is among the five worst places for the measles vaccination and is the single worst city in the United States.

The study looked at vaccination rates among a large sample group of children between 19 and 35 months old in 2017, which was the most recent data available. Health authorities announced this week that five Houston-area people, including two infants, have contracted measles. Measles is a dangerous and highly contagious disease that can cause lasting damage in some cases…

Link to story


Trump To Hold Rally In El Paso After Falsely Saying It Was Once A Violent Crime Hub (KUT)

President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning that he will hold a rally Feb. 11 in El Paso. Just hours earlier, the president reiterated in his State of the Union a repeatedly debunked claim that El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barrier were built there.

"As the President continues his fight to secure our border, there's no better place to demonstrate that walls work than in El Paso," Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of the president's campaign, said in a statement. "President Trump looks forward to visiting with the patriots of Texas who are on the front lines of the struggle against open border Democrats who allow drugs, crime, and sex trafficking all along our border every day."

Link to story


Episode 33: Emily Chenevert, CEO at Austin Board of REALTORS®

(RUN TIME - 14:22)

On today’s episode we speak with Emily Chenevert, CEO at Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR). She and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham

Named CEO of the 13,000 member association in April 2018, she previously served as ABoR's Chief Operating Officer, and has nearly 15 years of experience directly advocating for REALTORS® and their business at all levels of government.

She recently launched ABoR’s first podcast, ScratchThat, a series peeling the layers back on the national trends in real estate. 

This episode was recorded on December 20, 2018.

Link to Episode 33

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


Twitter #binghamgp 

Instagram #binghamgp