Homelessness, housing prices, new development: The top 10 most read Central Austin stories in 2019

A man panhandles between lanes of traffic in downtown Austin during the summer of 2019. Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper
A man panhandles between lanes of traffic in downtown Austin during the summer of 2019. Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper

A man panhandles between lanes of traffic in downtown Austin during the summer of 2019. Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper

A look at Community Impact Newspaper’s most-read stories through 2019 reveal that homelessness was the dominant political issue of the year. After Austin City Council voted in June to loosen its laws against public camping, solicitation, sitting and lying down, the conversation around the growing issue of homelessness was ever present in Austin. Community Impact Newspaper ran a special report in August, and three of our top ten most read stories of the year centered on homelessness.

Other familiar themes were represented in the list of most-read stories, including new development. Our readers showed interest in the new University of Texas basketball arena requiring a deal between UT and the city to realign Red River Street, as well as Dell Medical School’s plans to replace the Austin State Hospital.

Weather and housing prices are also frequent topics of conversations among Austinites—when flooding hit Travis County in May, readers were searching for updates, and the median housing price hitting new records in June also made the top ten list, reflecting significant reader interest in the tightening housing market and the city’s process to create a new land development code.

1. New city-owned homeless shelter poised for 1.6-acre South Central Austin tract

Originally posted June 14

The city later abandoned plans to build a new homeless shelter on Ben White Boulevard, opting instead to convert a South Central Austin motel to a shelter.

2. UT Dell Medical School reveals master plan details for $283 million replacement of Austin State Hospital

Originally posted Jan. 29

State and local officials broke ground on the new Austin State Hospital campus, now estimated to cost $305 million, on Oct. 3.

3. In win for homeless advocates, Austin loosens laws against public camping, solicitation, sitting and lying down

Originally posted June 21

Before the vote, Austin City Council listened to more than three hours of public testimony from those supporting and opposing the issue.

4. Austin Election Day guide 2019: Learn where you can vote, what’s on the ballot and more

Originally posted Oct. 23

Austin voters on Nov. 5 rejected two citizen-initiated propositions related to athletic stadium deals and convention center funding while passing a measure that would allow Travis County to put hotel occupancy taxes toward the renovation of the Travis County Exposition Center.

5. State of Texas wants U.S. Supreme Court to overturn ruling that bans on public camping, sitting and lying down are unconstitutional

Originally posted Sept. 27

Texas backed an appeal in the Martin vs. City of Boise case challenging a court ruling that said city rules are unconstitutional if they criminalize involuntary actions derived from a person's status—such as sleeping or sitting on public property if someone is homeless. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Dec. 16 it would not hear the appeal of the Ninth Circuit ruling.

6. City of Austin median home price hits new record, reflects tightening housing market

Originally posted June 21

According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the median sale price of a home in Central Austin from January-November 2019 was $490,000.

7. Austin’s Red River Street to be permanently realigned for new UT arena; some question the university’s side of the deal

Originally posted Sept. 26

The University of Texas broke ground on its new basketball arena, the Moody Center, on Nov. 14. Before it could do so, UT had to strike a deal with the city of Austin to realign Red River Street, and some City Council members thought the city should have received more out of the deal.

8. Urban, suburban, rural Texas mayors condemn state Legislature’s overreach, support 'patchwork quilt' policy strategy

Originally posted April 26

Mayors from around the state decried many of the bills filed in the 86th legislative session as undermining local control, with Austin Mayor Steve Adler saying the 2019 session was "more focused on attacking cities than any session I can remember."

9. Austin-Bergstrom airport debuts driverless shuttle pilot

Originally posted Aug. 7

The airport's Easy Mile EZ10 driverless shuttle transports passengers going between the Barbara Jordan Terminal and the rental car and ground transportation facilities.

10. Flash flood warning in effect as rains cause road closures in Travis County

Originally posted May 3

Another spring brought another heavy rain season, with hundreds of road closures across Austin and Travis County due to flash floods.


Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Huston-Tillotson University is one of three Austin sites tapped to move toward national historic designation in September. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
East Austin university and high school stadium, Allandale 'air-conditioned village' move toward national historic recognition

The former Anderson High School stadium and Huston-Tillotson University could soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
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Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

The new signs are visible at the intersections of San Antonio Street and Sandra Muraida Way. (Courtesy Austin Transportation Department)
New parking signs in downtown Austin will update number of available spaces for 3 lots in real time

The signs provide real-time parking information for the Austin City Hall, Austin Central Library and Seaholm lots. They will begin to show the real-time data next week.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.