Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Quiet zones

Back in October I wrote and entry entitled, the Sound of Silence. While I know that many residents enjoy the sound of the train horns as they approach the various street level crossings in town, there are federally approved standards for design that eliminate the need for them.

Well Leander is moving forward on this, based on this report from KXAN. Josh Hinkle reports that Austin won’t be moving forward anytime soon.

Why? Well the city can’t find the $500,000 needed for a study. What?

Outrageous, why is a study needed and how the heck does it justify spending HALF A MILLION DOLLARS on it. It seems to me that’s just an excuse for the lack of real action.

While I know it’s not linked, Brian Kelsey Director of the Capital Area Council of Governments is leaving Friday May 14th. In a summary of his 5-years in planning he said: “Planning is critical, but it needs to evolve. We talk a lot about the value of a plan being in the process, rather than the end product. And then we spend 50 percent of the budget on a 125 page document that very few people will have time to read, much less use in any meaningful way.”

Someone at the city needs a rocket up their ass if they really think HALF A MILLION on a report will solve or help anything or tell us something we don’t already know. Get on and do something, less consultants, more action!! Make a decision will ya, thats what you were elected for…

KUT and the President, words matter

[An open letter to the Regents at the University of Texas, and the KUT Board]

I was a big supporter of NPR when I lived in New York, not only was WNYC informative, it was educational. When I moved to Austin, before I even got here, I paid to join two organizations, Austin Triathletes, and KUT. Both have been a disappointment.

After two years of membership of KUT, despite numerous written requests from KUT and especially new station general manager Stewart Vanderwilt, the seemingly endless bi-annual membership drives, this year I figured I wouldn’t just pay, I’d make a conscious decision about membership. A couple of close friends had raised their concerns about KUT membership with me, despite as far as I’m aware, having never discussed it with them before.

A quick perusal of the Internet, letters in the Austin Statesman, The Chronicle, etc. reveals I’m not alone in being uncomfortable with the recent changes at KUT.

Tonights coverage of the Presidents speech summed it up for me though. At 7:18, some 15-minutes into live coverage, KUT cut away to “commercial endorsement” from a number of commercial organizations, fronted by none other than Station General Manager Stewart Vanderwilt. Ok, so maybe the first incident was an accident, some pre-programmed error. Then around 7:29, the same thing.

Stewart, words matter, the fact you ran commercials over two key sections of the Presidents speech is not only disrespectful, it illustrates for me all thats wrong at KUT. And let’s remember, I’m not a US Citizen, wasn’t born in the US, yet I still can’t understand how this happended.

Signpost breeding ground

Street furniture madness on Riverside Dr

Street furniture madness on Riverside Dr

There is an argument, that the more you regulate, the more you make things illegal and the more you signpost things, the less people pay attention. I’m not sure if the traffic circle aka roundabout on Riverside Drive is a science test to prove or disprove this theory, but it certainly looks like it.

Not counting the parking restrictions, there are 32 discrete signs around the traffic circle, telling the hapless driver what to do and what not to do, and a few for the foot traffic. While it’s great that the city preserved the mature tree that sits resplendent at the center of the traffic island, the entire outlook for that section of Riverside Drive is now poisoned by the steel trees with their signs atop.

Yeah, I know the rules and use of traffic circles are not well understood and most drivers don’t encounter them much. The problem is exasperated by the fact their are two lanes into the circle going west bound, and only one out, and the reverse going east. Which means if you are in the wrong lane in traffic, you pretty much have to go around again. But surely this isn’t a magical mystery tour and doesn’t need all these signs. Keep Austin regulated or Keep Austin uncluttered?

South 1st Watch and Something for the w/e

Formerly known as Los Manicas

Just what South Austin needs, more unregulated food trailers

Yep, it’s the return of two popular series, well I enjoyed writing them…

It’s interesting that in the time I’ve been writing for Austin Metblogs there have been two major neighborhood and city planning efforts, both requiring significant time from any serious contributor. The last was the Vertical Mixed Use initiative, under then Mayor Will Wynn, the next is the Austin Comprehensive Planning process under new Mayor Leffingwell.

And so it was with some interest that I cruised South 1st from Barton Springs to Oltorf to make a note of the changes. One thing that hasn’t happened, is at least on the “downtown” section of South 1st, there isn’t a single VMU building going up, and to the best of my knowledge, not even one has been submitted for review. So former Councillor McCrackens dream hasn’t even started to get off the ground(pun intended). Interestingly, his fingerprints are all over the Comprehensive Plan, which starts with “Remember how it felt to dream about your future when you were a kid?”, his website says he’s been “thinking about the future since he was 14” – so thats alright then. More on this in a later post.

Meanwhile back on South 1st. ibuyAustin have pulled together the First Saturday Stroll from 12pm to 7pm along with the merchants who are offering sales, discounts and even a new opening. You just walk south on South 1st, follow the green balloons.

So, what’s changed on South 1st? Heading south from Barton Springs, first up(another pun).

1000 S 1st Stitch lab – which does all kinds and types sewing, seamstress work and classes on the fine arts.
1100 Teddies for Bettys – Lingerie, Loinge Wear, well being and some fab. pictures on their facebook page.
1104 The MARYE Company, Real Estate
1106 LOVELY Austin, consignment fashion, Jewelry, Decor

Meanwhile there’s been more change of on the east side of South 1st at the Trailer Park Eatery, and it(and I) are captured in the Austin Big Austin Events calendar, now available online and from stores. Holy Cacao has moved into the trailer park from it’s former home just down the street. My friend Sarah commented that make it possible to “follow your Dirty Sanchez with balls on a stick.

That leaves Izzoz Tacos alone on the lot that was formerly Torchies Tacos, which is now at the heart of the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery just up the street. Are you keeping up ?

On the corner of W Mary and South 1st two new business have opened. Envy Clothing store new male and female clothes including lines from Civil Society.

Almost next door, and definitely a fun part of South 1st Saturday stroll, is Under Pressure a hands on screen printing shop… design and print your own t-shirts.

2003 sees the arrival of Longhorn Fire and Safety.

2008 Rivers and Reefs pet shop is in the process of moving over to the old Sinsations building from South Congress

The property at 603 Live Oak, The web site details what gthye’d hoped to build, formally known for Los manitas, is still vacant. While the somewhat retro design building is posted on the even stranger named They are advertising food trailer rental pitches on the propoerty. Which can’t be a good sign(another pun), see above.

2210 DJ Dojo has closed – moving to a warehouse, with the ever optimistic, be open soon in the window!

2214 Mana culture is the stand out change for this update. Some fantastic jewelry and accessories from Thailand, India, Istanbul Turkey Nepal and other places. I was assured they the goods were sourced fair trade and eco trade and hand made unique. There was certainly no sign of the usual “tourist” style mass produced good that

Meanwhile over behind End of an Ear at 2213 South 1st Audiotech services and AMP repairs will have it’s official opening and music as part of the First Saturday walk.

And that’s a wrap for this update. And no wrap wasn’t a pun, maybe I’ll see some of you following the green balloons on Saturday!

Food Matters

Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

I’m just back from my first ever long road trip in the US. I’d previously done New York to Florida, but it was over a number of days with stops in many places. This trip was a drive as far as you could, rest and drive again type.

While I was totally impressed and in awe of the size, variety and sheer beauty of the land in places, I was surprised, disappointed and concerned about other aspects of the journey and what I saw. I suspect like many people, I still carried the romantic notion that out there in the Texas flatlands were thousand upon thousand of cattle, roaming free, feeding on the planes grass, being rounded up by cowboys and herded based on the season. I was prepared to make some concessions, like most of the cowboys riding 4×4’s but nothing prepared me for what I saw.

What I saw in numerous locations along I-10W, there were thousand upon thousand of cows penned up in pens close to the road. Mostly standing around in what looked and smelt like their own waste, in temperatures that were exceeding 95f. There wasn’t just one place where the cattle and pens were present, but dozens along the ride between east of El Paso TX and Yuma, AZ. I guess like everything, even cattle in Texas has become a factory process in recent years. According to a Feb. 2009 USDA report, there are some 418,000 cattle in Texas, 338,000 in New Mexico, and 186,000 in Arizona. Who knew? Just sayin…

The Progressive Dairy web site has an interesting insight into the cattle “industry”.

In the interests of transparency, I’m NOT a vegetarian, I enjoy a nice steak and eat ‘burgers from time to time.

You never miss the water…

until the well runs dry, or the aquifer does. It turns out that there is an application into the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District for a private owner to drill a well into the Trinity aquifer and extract 1-million gallons of water per year for “domestic irrigation needs”.

8 Sugar Creek Austin, Texas 78746 ??

8 Sugar Creek Austin, Texas 78746 ??

Err, run that by me again. Yes, a property owner in Rollingwood, 8 Sugar Creek Austin, Texas 78746 to be precise, and if Google Streetview is accurate, the property seen in the picture, wants to drill right through the Edwards Aquifer into the underlying one, and pump out 23x per month than I use, and use it for irrigation.

Now, I guess you might argue that for a farm this would be a small quantity. But this isn’t a farm, it’s a house+land situated between Bee Caves Rd and Lake Austin. While I’m sure the owners may feel they are putting the water to good use, at a time when we are all being asked to cut back and save on water consumption, this is the equivalent of 3x the water consumption that Lance Armstrong used and caused him such embarressment(thanks to Steve for his comment correcting my understanding and math) This request is approximately half the annual amount that embarrassed Lance Armstrong, and for which he took immediate steps to rectify.

Let’s remember, there is a water shortage. Water isn’t man made, it’s part of the commons. It “belongs” to all of us. It’s unclear to me that this won’t affect the Edwards Aquifer, as we all know that water finds it’s own level. There is apparently a chance that the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will approve this free extraction and use of OUR water.

Now, remember this isn’t about cost, it’s about supply. Seems to me that if this passes, now might be a good idea for us all to start plans to build our own wells to water our own lawns, after all we can all be selfish.

Alternatively, if you feel that the commons right to water is the responsibility of all of us, you might want to call BSEACD on (512) 282-8441 in the next 3-days and tell them, and indirectly tell James David and Gary Peese, the property owners, that you do not feel this is an appropriate action, period, and especially in the current drought conditions.

Thought for the day #3 No blocking rule

austin-tx-town-lake-trail-running[1]The rules for Town Lake trail are few and far between, and quite rightly so. Don’t drop litter; clean up after your dog; keep to the trail; don’t take samples from the plants; women wear a sports bra while jogging, men make sure you shorts don’t let the mouse out of the house while jogging; dogs on a leash except at auditorium shores; cyclists, no speed in excess of 15MPH.

None of these are formal, they are just good. So, today my thought was, no blocking. Walking three abreast on the trail just doesn’t work. It really doesn’t work when you are all wearing mp3 players and not talking to each other, let alone listening out to what’s going on around you.

Three going clockwise can’t pass three going anti-clockwise; three on one side, two on the other, pretty much blocks one passing in the middle. So I propose that where there are three people blocking one side, now the football season is with us, it becomes an automatic right to be able to execute a tackle from behind on one of the three if you need to pass.

No need for those slightly embarrassing calls, on y’alls right/on y’alls left, instead just shout no blocking and run or bike right through… (more…)

To “Potect and Serve” or to raise revenue?

33081[1]If you drive north on Mopac daily from downtown in the morning, you’ll have no doubt noticed the Starship troopers hiding out on your journey. Recently they’ve been spotted in numerous places, more often up under the Parmer Lane Bridge, Monday there were three clustered together, their broad shouldered appearance in the shadows, standing next to their Star Wars like speeder bikes; Full facemask on, sometimes reflecting the sun and glinting in your eyes as you speed past. Only at the last minute do you spot them holding their radar speed guns rather than litesabers. Sometimes though they are easier to spot, they sit in Texas DPS Cars and are dressed like regular cops

It’s the reality of the daily north bound commute on Mopac, north of the 183 section, up onto the toll road section. Yes, while all you out of towners are sitting in slow moving traffic heading south, it’s perfectly possible to travel at, or greater than the speed limit going north. Now, I’m not for a minute suggesting that you should exceed the speed limit on any road in Austin or elsewhere. For the sake of transparency, I’ve been stopped and ticketed twice this year and realise I’m in the wrong. While I’ve breezed past the speed cops recently, with the cruise control set to 60MPH to accomodate the sometimes confusing, variable speed limit on sections of Mopac, many others have not been so lucky. The question is though, is this really the best use of the cops time ?

I’m not trying to get them off my back so I can speed and break the law with impunity, it just occurs to me that following another death in an Austin neighborhood, sitting on Mopac and picking off north bound drivers really does little good, except raise revenue. It’s an alternative, progressive form of tax, levied and paid unevenly, and avoided by most. If you really wanted to tax speeding drivers on the toll roads, just charge based on the time taken to pass through/between toll booths and be done with it. At least that’s open and transparent. The current system is akin to using the cops as tax/toll collectors.

While from time to time I assume there must be crashes on that section of Mopac, I’d guess they involve few cars, when speeding is possible. Maybe, more when the roads are busy like the evenings heading North on Mopac, but then speeding isn’t so much an issue, just dangerous and careless driving that causes accidents.

So, assuming we are not about to see a big influx of new law enforcement officers and enough to patrol everywhere, then perhaps the cops could be put to use patrolling those neighborhood roads where cars still speed, often with impunity, and when there is an accident with serious and deadly consequences. [Like this one from earlier this month]. To my memory, speed has been cited in at least 5 neighborhood deaths where pedestrians have been killed by motorists this year, have there been any on that section of Mopac in the morning commute?

I assume cops themselves are the only ones at risk of being hit on Mopac, rather than pedestrians, and sadly, it does happen, so another reason not to put them at risk just to raise revenue.  What should we expect from our law officers, to protect and serve, or to raise revenue? Isn’t that a reasonable question ?

Before you vent, again, I’m not saying cops are bad, I’m not saying that speeding is justifiable, or that I or any others breaking the law are in any way safe drivers. The question I’m asking, is, given the choice should the cops be sitting on Mopac and picking off easy hits on variously empty roadway, or actually patrolling and stopping drivers in the neighborhood arterial roads and shortcuts where speeding is just as common but more dangerous?

Don’t hold your breath though for changes, a recent study from researchers at the University of North Carolina suggests that a weak economy will mean more traffic tickets. Net, net: every one percent (1%) loss of local government revenue leads to a .32 percent increase in the number of traffic tickets.

Time Warner Cable, Tiers and tears

Over on, Omar Gallaga is reporting that Time Warner Cable have annolunced the tiers they are going to use for capping and overage-charging for their broadband cable offering. For the last couple of weeks this has been a hot topic on the interweb thingy, and has generated piles of bile, some useful analysis but much of it missing the point.

There is no doubt, there are out there amongst us interweb users, some leaches and obsessive, compulsive overachievers. In opposition to the TWC changes people are marching out all sorts of claims and justifications for being big-data users, why they are the “bleeding edge”. What they do today, will be the norm’ in a few years time. Well, that maybe, but probably not.

Time Warner Cables business model is under attack on all fronts. They are doing what all nascent monopolies do when under attack, they push the boundaries of what can get away with. This usually more broad in America than in Europe, because America is the great defender of free enterprise, freedom of choice, and commercial innovation. No amount of facebook pages is going to change that.

Only, we just don’t have any of those things really when it comes to digital communication. Cellphones here in the US are restrictive, expensive, fragmented and fine examples of monopolistic practices. Some of the best cellphones in the world are now crippled when sold outside the US, so that when they are used in the US, they don’t get full network, 3G speeds, meaning the “network” operators can charge and tie you to multi-year contracts, oh and it’s OK coz we get “free” phones.

Cable TV here in the US has hardly changed in 30-years. The addition of HD has been done in a haphazard, fragmented way with no real innovation. Unlike Europe where broadcast, often free to air, HD offers many more channels and multi-screen viewing, interactive services etc. See for example what Sky and the BBC have done with that little red-button in the UK. Why is it for example, that when watching a “home shopping channel” you have to dial 1-800 and wait, press buttons and speak to a person? Broadband, is bi-directional you know…

When the cutover to broadcast HDTV happens here in the US, it will be a pure swap, no new advance services, just the same old channels, mostly showing repeat programs(not in HD) and thats about it. What most Americans will find is that the signal will break up frequently during rain storms and other bad weather thats affects b roadcast quality. Unlike conventional TV(non-digital) though, you won’t get a degraded picture, you’ll get nothing at all.

And so, back to Time Warner Cable. I’m a triple play subscriber. I don’t watch much TV, mostly I record a few shows per week and only watch them on Sunday evenings. I have my home phone service through TWC, although heaven knows why. No one has the number, and I don’t use it for outgoing calls, especially now I don’t work from home. Many people don’t have “home” phones now, they use their Cellphones, I should join them, except my cellphone has no docking station and really isn’t suitable for a 2-hour conference call using any kind of headset.

Here is another example of lack of innovation in the US. When was the last time you saw a phone in the US that was your cellphone when outside the home, and when inside the home, used the broadband service to connect rather than wireless, and allowed you to switch seamlessly between the two as you walk out of the house, without dropping the call?

I think that in the 2.5 years I’ve had my TWC service, I’ve watched maybe 5 on-demand movies. This is an area that most people focus on when analyzing the effects of broadand usage capping by TWC. It’s clear, isn’t it?

TWC have every reason to stop you downloading legally or otherwise, movies from the Internet or watching them online. If they can stop or price that to discourage, THEY can charge you for the same movies, either through subscription channels, or on-demand.

So, lets recap. TWC offers four services:

– Basic cable inc. subscription channels
– Basic internet cable broadband connectivity, soon to be tiered by usage
– Landline telephone service(wired)
– On-demand movies(chargeable)

The threats to their business are:
– Declining use of basic cable, subscription channels and on-demand movies because people get their entertainment elsewhere.
– Telephone service is under attack from cellphones and VOIP, Vonage, Skype etc.
– Basic broadband is underattack from “unlimited” subscription and pre-pay cellphone data plans, 802.11 wireles in coffee shops, down at Austin City hall etc.
– Basic cable is stagnent, uninteresting, overloaded with cheap promotional shows and home shopping networks and 24-hour news channels that basically make the news up as they go along.
– Consumers are also increasingly savy, well you’d hope so. What many realize is that it’s all data. The cable you watch, the telephone calls you make, the on-demand movies, even if you do everything the TWC way, it all arrives and leaves your house as data.

So, here we have a high-noon showdown. The customers don’t understand why part of their data service should be metered and priced seperately from the other parts of the same data connection. The cable company, in this case, TWC, is playing the typical, dumb, fat and happy monopoly that can and will charge as it sees fit, easy things first and trying to paint a small section of their customers as the problem.

TWC should be forced to compete for my business, not get it on a plate. After all, if I don’t subscribe, I can’t get anything back for the ugly, 1920’s style cabling and poles that litter my street, having to have the trees cut back to protect their golden-egg.

First, TWC should be forced to unbundle it’s TV service. The cable channel selections should be offered in more flexible groupings or by individual channels. It is simply way past time this should have been done. I’d pay a premium for about 8-channels total and would prefer more bandwidth than more channels.

Second, the broadband service offered by TWC should be split into two. A bulk data backbone service and a last-mile service. The bulk data backbone service has to be sold, on a tiered/metered service to companies that handle the last-mile service. TWC is more than welcome to compete as a last-mile provider. Yep, this is effectively turning TWC backbone into a “utility” by the back door.

Third, irrespective of the first two, the home telephone service offered by TWC should be unbunlded. If the first two recommendations are adopted, this becomes largely irrelevant as the last-mile providers will need to provide advanced services, or just compete in race-to-the-bottom cheap pricing. If race-to-the-bottom pricing is the only innovation, then overtime TWC will just rebuild it’s monopoly through acquisition. This is exactly what allowed AT&T to come back from near death to semi-monopolist(and yes, I know it’s not the same AT&T and it didn’t really come back, it’s just branding, but the point remains.)

Fourth, again irrespective of the first three, TWC needs to design, develop and deliver REAL digital cable offerings. This isn’t just the same old channels and a 1980’s style programming guide sent down a digital channel. It’s interactive TV; it’s online HD games delivered without a PC or gaming system; it’s an interactive YouTube channel; it’s interactive news; it’s bidirectional video calling; it’s something that America and especially here in Austin we could be proud of.

Arguing about broadband caps/tiering, overage pricing is just missing the point, and will end up in tears in 10-years time, TWC will be the next GM looking for bailouts to subsidize it’s “essential” services. And please Omar, suggesting stimulus money now for TWC is just rubbing salt in.

Downtown Street Event Closure Taskforce report

Missed in the run-up to the holidays 2: Thursday 18th December saw the Austin Downtown Street Event Closure Taskforce[1][2] report back to the full City Council.

Area considered by the Task Force

Area considered by the Task Force

I had attended the four of the first five or so meetings, including the infamous “Conely mob” meeting on August 11th. At that meeting, an innocent request to get a few sports events participants to some of the meetings, got out of hand in an “Internet connected world” sort-of way, and a hundred or so showed up at one meeting, leaving no standing or sitting room and a lot of disgruntled attendees.[More on this later].

After about a 6-meeting gestation, bi-weekly meetings, went weekly. The task force was co-led by RunTex owner Paul Carrozza, and local political grandee and former Democratic U.S. representative, Jack Hightower, with assistant City Manager Rudy Garza accompanied by a city staff from Parks and Recreation and other effected depts. as well as Lt. Boydston, APD Special Events Unit and other safety related groups to advise. Also heavily involved in the process(from my observation) was Larry Shooler, Policy Director for City Council Member Lee Leffingwell.

However, staff were there primarily as advisors, the bulk of the work was done by the task force members. For those of us from the public that did show up, there was a limited opportunity for people to speak for 3-minutes before the start of the meetings. After that it was down to the old game of passing short notes to task force members on specific points during meetings, a frustrating experience at best. Mid-way through the process the task force seemed to be getting bogged down, lack of clear definition and the [obvious?] groupings for and against events, seemed to be stopping reasonable progress. I also missed about 5-meetings.

It was then with some surprise when I attended the last two meetings. The task force had come up with a good set of recommendations. Seemed to have pulled together some key threads. Presentation of these on the 18th was pretty straight forward with a number of the Task Force members, Shooler and Garza present along with the full council.

The key points and focus areas were:

  • Issues/Challenges
    • Events in “downtown” up from 110 in 2005 to 145 in 2007
    • Number of downtown residents estimated to almost triple between 2000-2010
  • Event Frequency, Number, Variety, Scheduling, Capping etc.
  • Application Approval Process and Timeline etc.
  • Set Race Routes, Street and Building Access etc.
  • Financial Cost/Impact and Event Fee Structure
  • Political Events and Parades were not in-play for the Task Force

And a large number of issues and concerns related to these. From which the Task Force made the following recommendations, presented by Carrozza to the City Council.

  • Create Office of Special Events (OSE) to report to the City Manager’s Office
  • Create Special Events Advisory Commission
  • Create a “no event” zone around 5th/6th Streets to provide open access
  • There should be a no-entrapment rule, all events should provide alternate access
  • Walks should be held in a “moving bubble” rather than blocking streets
  • There should be a cap on events at current levels
  • Timeline for Event submission and review changed from 60 to 210 days prior to the event
  • Events getting 20% or higher objections are referred to Special Events Advisory Commision
  • Organizers must have approved application before marketing events
  • Traffic plan inc. alternate access must be finalized earlier

Of these, when you look at it, the Cap was perhaps most feared by the event community. The problem is that each event community has their own, blinkered view on the disruption caused by their events. Limited by their events own geographic boundaries. What they don’t see is the big picture. The problem is that under the current scheme, nor does anyone person or department in the City, since different types of events are currently permitted and approved through different depts. So while you could take 145 events, and say thats almost 3-every weekend. It isn’t, sometimes it is more, sometimes less, and there are the inevitable clashes which don’t become apparent until Road Closures are processed, sometimes long after the events are approved.

For such a relatively small downtown area, often using public roads, 145 events as a cap seems more than enough. One of the key recommendations of the task force was to tier races and to find and encourage other great parts of the City. This both spreads the benefit and the burden. The continued, unbridled growth of events in the downtown district was perhaps the greatest concern of the non-events stakeholders, including residents, businesses, Churches etc. all of whom suffer regular disruption, which is currently left to the best will of the event organizer to minimize.

The “no event” zone was referred to as both the “Equator” and the “Red Sea”. Using the former designation, it was envisaged that the “Red Sea: would part on Congress for no more than six “grandfathered” events. Other events could start north or south of 5th/6th St but not cross or close them. So You could have a 5k race that went south from 4th, down Chavez, and loop back around, but it couldn’t cross or close 5th/6th, likewise a Walk could start on or north of 7th but not cross or close 5th/6th.

Final recommendations were around the City’s ability to understand, plan, budget and grant waivers for events. Currently there is no clear process, or understanding of the cost or benefit for events, and no tracking or post event evaluation is done to see if event organizers meet their commitments, and if waivers for closures and fees etc. are justified. There is also some work to be done on various ordinances if these recommendations are to become the norm.

The council meeting wrapped up with questions from council members. There were few. Members Leffingwell and Martinez both raised the point of citizen input. This was accepted, and the job is now on staff to turn the recommendations into proposed policy.

As part of that process, and in review with council, it’s clear that a broad coalition of event organizers and participants, and NOT just those from the sports community, need to review and provide feedback, as well as the neighborhoods, including mine Bouldin Creek, and the businesses and other effected parties. It’s our city and its also the events, from art, to music, and sport, are what make downtown Austin the small village it is, in a Capital city.

[1] “Downtown is defined by MLK to the north; Oltorf to the south; I35 to the east; and Lamar to the west.
[2] Minutes, Mission Statement, and full member list(although not including their alliances) can be found on the city website, here.

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