Downtown Austin Community Court plans for August relocation to Bouldin Creek

The court, which is mainly geared toward downtown homeless cases and services, will relocate to the One Texas Center off First Street in August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
The court, which is mainly geared toward downtown homeless cases and services, will relocate to the One Texas Center off First Street in August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The court, which is mainly geared toward downtown homeless cases and services, will relocate to the One Texas Center off First Street in August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Downtown Austin Community Court is planning for an August relocation to a new, temporary home south of Lady Bird Lake.

Operations for the court, which mainly takes on cases involving people experiencing homelessness and connects defendants with case management services, are split between the Terrazas Branch Library on East Cesar Chavez Street and leased offices at 719 E. Sixth St. City staff in a June 14 memo said court management was anticipating a need to relocate from both spaces before the fall given that the library branch plans to reopen soon and the Sixth Street landlord had requested an end to the city's month-to-month lease there by September.

Staff also said the move is needed to handle an expected rise in demand at the DACC over the next one to two months of enforcement of Proposition B's public camping ban. The proposition's ordinances carry Class C misdemeanor penalties.

Austin officials have said they plan to process campers arrested for violating the ban through the community court, which handles cases from downtown, East Austin and the area between the University of Texas campus and North Lamar Boulevard. While arrests for camping may currently be made if a situation appears to be dangerous, more regular citywide arrests are not expected to ramp up until the fourth phase of Proposition B enforcement scheduled to begin in early August; police are now working within a second phase aimed at issuing only written warnings or citations.

DACC Court Administrator Peter Valdez said the court is expecting to vacate both current locations and reconsolidate within the One Texas Center, located at 505 Barton Springs Road, in August. Staff highlighted the city-owned property as one that best meets the court's needs given its location near transit lines and available space that would require "minimal renovations" to accommodate work there. A cost for the renovations required was not available as of late June.

"The Building Services Department is currently estimating what it is going to cost to make some minor adjustments and changes to the floor that will be occupied by DACC. The goal is to use as much of the space as-is since this is only a temporary move," Valdez said.

The One Texas Center could house the DACC for up to two years while the search for the court's next permanent space continues. Staff said the former home of the city's municipal court, located adjacent to the Austin Police Department headquarters downtown at 700 E. Seventh St., could be a workable solution. If it is selected, additional renovations would be required there before the DACC could move in.

While the community court is located at the One Texas Center, staff also said that any homeless camps potentially appearing there would be cleared away as the phased Proposition B plan is being applied only to previously-existing encampments.

"Any new camping that appears after [May 11], now and going forward, would be subject to immediate notification of violation, and the necessary action to ensure removal including enforcement action, if necessary," staff wrote.
By Ben Thompson

Austin City Hall Reporter

Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston. After spending more than two years covering in The Woodlands area, he moved to Austin in 2021 to cover City Hall and other news throughout the city.


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