Growing Number of Seniors
The Live Music Capital is also home to the fastest growing population of soon-to-be seniors.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell says the Austin area has seen an explosion in people ages 55 to 65 in the past few years, and it's only expected to increase.
This past year, a Task Force on Aging has looked at ways to improve services for people nearing or at retirement age.
The mayor wants city leaders to explore options to allow people to stay in their homes regardless of age.
That will require changes to transit routes, new ways to help seniors learn of services available to them and policies that focus on inclusion for Austin's older residents.
"My charge to the Task Force on Aging was to define the challenge and make a plan of action that doesn't just sit on a shelf, but instead defines how we move forward," Leffingwell said.
The City Council's expected to consider the task force's recommendations over the next few months.
City leaders want to know if urban rail can eventually pay for itself. Now, they are starting to get answers with the help of a super computer at the University of Texas.
The city's economic development leaders used growth trends over the past 25 years, and combined them with plans already in the works along the proposed urban rail route.
They found that by 2030, Austin could get $109 million a year in tax revenue from development within a mile of the $1 billion system.
That analysis also includes another 45,000 people living within a mile radius.
"For this entire system today, it represents about 200,000 people could use the entire transit system,” Austin Economic Development Director Kevin Johns said. “By 2030, about 290,000 people could use the entire system."
Transit leaders are still determining where to lay the tracks, but it will roughly run from the Mueller development in East Austin, through downtown and out to the airport.
It's expected to go before voters in November 2014.
Projects that failed to get city approval the first time are back at the start line.
The city council voted Thursday to allow some of those developments to get a second chance at coming to fruition.
However, they won't be required to follow the latest rules on the books. The city had to change its laws on the books to reflect state statute.
More recent city ordinances may not apply, like items that protect historic trees and the size of homes. Dormant projects in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone are not eligible to reapply for approval.
Texans Driving Less
A new study finds Texans are driving less and surpassing a national trend.
The Texas Public Interest Research Group says drivers in the Lone Star State are going almost 13 percent fewer miles than they did in 2000.
Nationwide, drivers have cut the length of their trips by seven-and-a-half percent. Public transit advocates say this is likely due to an increase in people using buses and rail to commute.
"We just hope that policy leaders take a hard look at all this data and start deciding when it is time to create the budget and when we have scarce transportation dollars that we are using it in the most effective way," Sarah Smith with the Texas Public Interest Research Group said.
Capital Metro is poised to launch its new MetroRapid service in January.
The larger and more frequent buses will serve the heaviest traveled corridors, including Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road and Guadalupe Street.
New Rules for Lake Austin
City Manager Marc Ott will come up with new rules for Lake Austin.
The City Council wants to focus on recommendations from the Lake Austin Task Force. One would create a no wake zone within 50 feet of the shoreline to reduce erosion.
Another would enforce a law already on the books.
"There is a requirement in our code to actually have docks has the address of the property,” Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison said. “We want to make sure that is being enforced because that is a public safety issue."
The city manager will also look at charging fees to use the public boat launch.
Those rules will be rolled out in the next six months.