Austin City Hall notebook: Council to look at Project Connect planning, response to hate incidents

A resolution sponsored by District 10 Council Member Alison Alter was drafted in response to recent incidents in the city linked to anti-Semitism. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
A resolution sponsored by District 10 Council Member Alison Alter was drafted in response to recent incidents in the city linked to anti-Semitism. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

A resolution sponsored by District 10 Council Member Alison Alter was drafted in response to recent incidents in the city linked to anti-Semitism. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

In its first November meeting, Austin City Council will look to formally condemn recent hateful incidents in the city, approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in social service contracts, and finalize details related to Project Connect's rollout. The 67-item Nov. 4 meeting agenda could also see council offer city boards and commissions the option to attend meetings virtually, and expand the reach of Austin Pets Alive! in an effort to support the city's no-kill goals.

Resolution against hate

Following a rash of recent antisemitic incidents in Austin, city and community leaders gathered earlier this week to condemn the actions. A resolution sponsored by District 10 Council Member Alison Alter could solidify the city's response to further "vandalism, violence and hateful speech."

In addition to formally denouncing hateful and antisemitic acts, the document also calls for partnership with the Austin Police Department, Travis County District Attorney's Office and local nonprofits to limit such occurrences. The resolution will also set a four-month period for city management to research and roll out an improved civic response to hate. Additionally, Alter requested a briefing from staff on how the city addresses such incidents.

"It is critical that as a city we join in a united front against hate and make clear that these acts do not represent our community values," Alter said in a statement.


Most council members have expressed support for the resolution ahead of the Nov. 4 session with District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly also proposing an amendment to widen the scope of agencies the city could partner with.

Project Connect management

Council may also hammer out the next steps in setting the development structure for Project Connect, based around the three agencies responsible for delivering the $7.1 billion transit project.

Those entities—City Council, Capital Metro and the Austin Transit Partnership—gathered last week at the Austin Convention Center to work out Project Connect's guiding joint powers agreement but were unable to complete their work. Council could vote to approve negotiations and the eventual execution of the agreement, possibly with some edits pushed by the community.

Several local organizations last week expressed concern that the joint powers agreement did not include enough information on equity and community oversight. Mayor Steve Adler and District 8 Council Member Paige Ellis have each proposed amendments to the agreement ahead of the Nov. 4 meeting as well, which could open the door for additional planning and community engagement as the ATP seeks out its next CEO and executive director.

"In drafting this language, community advocates helped with words to ensure a deliberative process around the appointment of the executive director, and one in which we can all be confident that all voices will be actively involved," Mayor Steve Adler said on council's message board.

Affordable housing expansion

During the Nov. 4 Austin Housing Finance Corp. board meeting, council members could also add to a recent string of city land purchases for future affordable housing purchases. If approved, the city's nonprofit housing strategy arm could move ahead with buying around 2.8 acres at 900 Gardner Road, part of Austin Public Health's campus off Levander Loop, for $550,000 for the Libertad at Austin housing project. Combined with an adjacent 6-acre AHFC-owned parcel, the future development would feature 198 affordable rental spaces and 26 ownership duplexes.



Zoning cases

Council will also consider moving several zoning cases ahead, including proposals for 85-foot offices in the Plaza Saltillo area, the redevelopment of a West Austin Luby's restaurant location for housing and a Brandt Road affordable housing project. Other cases include 3M's ask to add office space in Northwest Austin and the redevelopment of a Butler Shores-area apartment complex on Toomey Road.
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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