BG Note | News - What We're Reading (September 7, 2017)

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Council gets preview of CodeNEXT 2.0 (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Many of the answers amounted to “wait another week,” but City Council was able to pry some information about the second draft of CodeNEXT from consultants and staff at a special called meeting Wednesday.
One of the main criticisms of the first draft was its hybrid nature, which proposed, for the most part, a form-based code for the urban core, a use-based code for the suburban areas and the old code to fill in the cracks. Consultant John Miki with Opticos Design Inc. opened up the presentation by promising that the draft preparers had heard the feedback loud and clear.
“In draft two, we are taking a more consistent and more flexible approach to the actual standards,” he said at the meeting, “and we have a single spectrum. That’s a big change. So now it will be easier to understand the relationship between each of these zoning districts, regardless of whether they have more form controls or less.”

Texas gas lines disappear as fears of shortage ebb (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Long lines for gasoline in Austin and elsewhere in the state have dissipated for the most part along with the short-lived, social media-fueled frenzy over fears of a severe shortage.
Motorists remain more likely than before Hurricane Harvey hit to encounter the occasional empty filling stations, and gas prices remain elevated, but “the run (on gas) has stopped,” said Cary Rabb, owner of the Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag convenience store chain.

Harvey’s rains and fuel disruption latest problem for MoPac project (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

As darkness fell each night over the long Labor Day weekend, the MoPac Boulevard toll lane was conspicuously free of blinking lights, workers and asphalt trucks. The paving efforts that have dominated the project’s final stages, particularly during the lightly traveled overnight hours, had come to a temporary halt. Blame Harvey. Officials say the historic storm, both the heavy rain that hit Austin as well as the paralyzing deluges and hurricane winds along the Gulf Coast, probably cost the historically tardy construction project about a week. That and other factors mean that the rest of the northbound toll lane likely won’t be open for business until the end of this month or early October, officials said Wednesday.

Botched demo agitates Preservation Office (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A pile of rubble on the east side could spark changes in how the city handles demolitions.
At the most recent meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission, Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky presented “unfortunate news” about the demolition of 1401 East Third Street. Instead of the careful demolition that he had anticipated, the lot had been scraped clean – save a pile of fenced-off rocks near the back alley.
“The applicant told all of us about the great care that was going to be taken in this rock so it could be reused and salvaged in a new house on the site. That obviously did not happen,” said Sadowsky. “This is an absolute travesty. This is an absolute disgrace. And we cannot allow this to ever happen again."

As MoPac work winds down, another CTRMA project faces potential peril (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The end of the road for the MoPac Improvement Project appears to finally be coming into sight just as potential problems loom for another Austin toll road project.
On Wednesday morning, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Director of Community Relations Steve Pustelnyk told his board of directors that two new managed toll lanes on MoPac Expressway could be completely open by November, bringing the painfully delayed project online 26 months behind schedule.
“At this point, the contractor is expected to make the lanes available to us for northbound by the end of this month and we’re still looking to make that happen,” Pustelnyk reported in his monthly briefing on the project’s status. “And then as we get into October, we’ll be hoping the southbound lanes open as well, by probably around early November.”

Special Events Ordinance could see final approval in October (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Staff at the Austin Center for Events will continue working on the city’s long-delayed Special Events Ordinance, despite a push from some City Council members to make the policy official by the end of the month.
Council ended up approving the second reading of the 31-page ordinance by a 9-0 vote, with Council members Delia Garza and Pio Renteria absent for the vote. That decision came roughly three years after the first reading of the ordinance was approved by a Council made up of almost entirely different members.

Texas university leaders seek to reassure students after DACA reversal (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

AUSTIN — With thousands of college-age students facing an uncertain future, university leaders across Texas issued statements to reassure them after President Donald Trump overturned the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"Let me also speak directly to you, our UT DACA students," University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven said in a prepared statement. "You can be certain of our support as you continue to pursue your dreams — the American dream — to obtain an education and build a better future for you and your families. As UT adheres to federal and state laws regarding immigration, rest assured our campuses will remain places where you can safely study as Congress takes up this issue."

James Talarico launches Democratic bid for Round Rock-based House seat (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

James Talarico, a 28-year-old Round Rock Democrat, said Wednesday that he is seeking the Texas House District 52 seat now held by Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, and he did it with far kinder words about Gonzales than the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the seat. “After this past legislative session, we need new leaders willing to fix our broken school finance system, which I see as the No. 1 priority from the state Legislature, and frankly, I admire Larry Gonzales and Speaker (Joe) Straus for trying to find a solution to this problem, ” Talarico said.

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