City Council approves measures on downtown parking, alley use

Austin City Council approved two measures March 21 regarding downtown parking requirements and alleys. Council approved on second reading an ordinance amending city code pertaining to off-street parking and loading requirements as well as a resolution for staff to conduct a study to consider alternative uses for the city's alleys.

One issue of contention of the ordinance amending off-street parking and loading requirements pertained to handicapped parking requirements for businesses. Councilwoman Laura Morrison amended the ordinance to make off-street handicapped parking required for a business that is using a building of 6,000 square feet or more, rather than the 12,000 square feet the ordinance designated.

Councilman Chris Riley said he had some concern about that provision from the feedback he has heard from the community.

"We have heard concerns from owners of smaller, existing buildings downtown that they are simply unable to provide parking on-site because the buildings were not originally built with parking," Riley said. "If they are required to provide accessible parking in connection with uses greater than 6,000 square feet, there will simply be no additional use at all. The building will not get that larger use."

Morrison said there still is the opportunity for those businesses to provide the additional disabled parking on-street rather than off-street.

"I think that's a nice way to try and balance the priorities we're trying to balance," Morrison said.

The issue of alleys was a common theme between both items. Council also approved City Manager Marc Ott to provide options and a timeline for a downtown alley master plan by June 20. Councilwoman Kathie Tovo said she would like to look at the alleys as means to create "more public, more pedestrian, more bicycle-friendly activities" for the public.

"In some cities, they're looking at ways to close down the alleys and make it a green space," Tovo said.

One point of contention between council members over the alleys was whether loading and unloading should be a permissible use in the alleys. Tovo said allowing that use would limit the more creative options she was hoping to explore with the alleys, but Riley said the intention of the alleys was to provide loading and unloading access, and he wanted to make sure the alleys still could be used for that purpose.

"[Alleys] serve a very valuable purpose of being able to ensure we have a convenient place for loading and unloading," he said. "The result is we wind up with fewer places where we're required to do those sorts of things on the street, where they can pose real problems for all kinds of traffic: vehicular, pedestrians and bicycle."



MOST RECENT

Brooke Elementary School is closing after the 2019-20 school year. (Photo by Jack Flagler, design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pease, Brooke elementary school communities seek closure from a distance

Both schools will close permanently at the end of the school year. On May 28, Brooke and Pease held rolling parades to say goodbye.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Zilker Theatre Productions announced May 28 that its summer musical, "Mamma Mia," has been postponed to 2021. (Courtesy Zilker Theatre Production)
Zilker Theatre Productions postpones summer musical to 2021

This will be the first time the free outdoor show in Zilker Park has not run since it began in 1959.

A screen shot of Dr. Mark Escott speaking
Austin Public Health planning response in case of coronavirus hospitalization spike

As local health authorities monitor an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, they are bracing for a possible uptick in hospitalizations.

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as of May 27. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County reports 73 new coronavirus cases May 27

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as well.

East Austin bar La Holly opened a pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar on May 22. (Courtesy Summer Madeline)
La Holly opens pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar

East Austin bar La Holly opened a pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar on May 22.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
As economic restrictions loosen, some Central Texas toll roads are beginning to fill up with traffic

Traffic counts on roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority have consistently climbed since early April.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

Amie Gonser will open 620 Art Gallery & Studio in June as a fine art gallery and space for art education classes. (Courtesy Amie Gonser)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: News on 20 Central Texas businesses and nonprofits

Read about Central Texas business news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage this week.

A new executive has been brought in to fill leadership roles at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dell Children’s Medical Center, Dell Medical School announce new addition to executive team

A new medical executive has been brought in to fill leadership roles at Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center.