New affordable housing rules
Some Austin City Council members are unhappy with rules passed during Thursday’s meeting which are aimed to create affordable housing in the city.
If developers build above height restrictions, they have to pay into Austin's affordable housing trust fund, or include affordable housing in their high-rises.
Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo were against the changes, saying they give developers an easy way out.
“We should have required them to have on-site affordable housing to create the units there within their development,” Tovo said. “At the same time, they create market rate apartments so that we have a mix of housing types.”
The new rules will affect plans for what is currently the Taco Cabana on Riverside Drive and South Lamar Boulevard.
Developers want to build three stories taller than they're allowed. The final decision on the project is expected in two weeks.
New water quality mandates
Environmentalists are celebrating a win more than a decade in the making.
The Austin City Council gave early approval Thursday to new rules to keep creeks clean. They target small streams all over Austin, but especially in East Austin.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell says that part of town has never had strict water quality rules. Developers will have to control runoff and use ways to filter water before it reaches the creek.
"It's kind of the theory that if you prevent the pollution from getting in the waterways in the first place, it's not so difficult to clean them out in the bigger waterways," Leffingwell said.
City leaders may tweak the ordinance over the next two weeks when it’s set to be taken up for a final vote.
Toronto comes to Austin
The Live Music Capital is sharing its expertise in the arts industry.
The mayor of Toronto witnessed firsthand one thing that makes Austin's City Council meetings different--live music.
City studies show the live music industry generates nearly $2 billion a year.
Toronto's mayor says his city shares many of Austin's values and culture, and he'd like to find ways to make musicians an asset as well.
"Austin has shown the world that arts and entertainment can have a significant impact on the city's quality of life and economic vitality," Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said.
The partnership will share strengths both cities have--even beyond music. Austin's mayor says it's a bond that will last for several years to come.
Rental property registration on hold
A program to register all rental properties in certain parts of Austin is on hold.
The city council wants to take a couple more weeks to craft rules for three neighborhoods they're targeting.
For example, they are looking at what are called "stealth dorms" in the Hyde Park and North Loop neighborhoods. Those are houses rented to six or more unrelated people.
City leaders are also looking at efforts to restore the Rundberg area in North Austin.
"As we got close to this week's council meeting, we were getting more feedback from the citizens as to tweaks and amendments that they wanted to see for those individualized areas," council member Mike Martinez said.
The city council will consider creating rental registration programs again on Nov. 7. The programs would affect neighborhoods in North Austin, Central Austin and along East Riverside.