City staff will include provisions for protecting construction workers in an upcoming draft ordinance that Austin City Council will consider to create an expedited permitting process for nonresidential development projects.
The council voted Thursday to direct staff to include such standards as living wage, safety training workers' compensation as requirements for a would-be incentive program at the city to speed up the permit review process.
District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen brought the resolution forward. She explained at the council meeting that it does not create the expedited permitting process.
"What [the resolution] says is that these [worker] protections should be included," Kitchen said. "I think it's very important for us to honor our workers and do that in a way that we can look at worker safety."
City staff will bring to council in 60 days guidelines for worker protections by which businesses paying for an expedited permit review would have to abide.
Posted Aug. 31 at 5:25 p.m.
Local businesses are keeping an eye on one item on Austin City Council’s agenda tomorrow that could have an impact on the city's permitting process if passed.
- The council resolution, sponsored by District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen, would require that any future incentive program for expedited permit review include worker protection standards—examples include a living wage, safety training and workers' compensation—for nonresidential projects.
- The agenda item does not establish an expedited permitting process. Separately from this agenda item, the city of Austin is considering a revamped expedited permit review system that allows entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria to pay additional fees to get their project on the fast track in Austin’s often notoriously long permitting process. Council could fund such a program as part of the fiscal year 2016-17 budget, according to the resolution. The proposal directs city staff to come back with guidelines to make sure contractors are meeting certain standards when completing expedited permitting projects. The city manager would look at guidelines to determine what changes would be involved. If the resolution is approved, city staff will have 30 days to work on the proposal, city spokesperson Bryce Bencivengo said.
- The Workers Defense Project along with Austin Interfaith, the Central Texas Building Trade Unions, Liberal Austin Democrats, the Central Austin Democrats, developers and contractors will hold a rally tomorrow and ask the city to ensure workers receive protections in a potential expedited permitting process, according to a news release.
- Today, the Austin Independent Business Alliance, which represents more than 800 locally owned businesses in districts throughout Austin, sent a letter to the council stating its position against the resolution. Executive director Rebecca Melancon said in the letter that the proposal would burden local entrepreneurs and "complicate an already overly complex process for local business."
The item was approved today for a time-certain slot on the council's agenda at 2 p.m., Bencivengo said.
Interested community members can contact City Council members via email at http://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members, through a commenting form at http://www.austintexas.gov/online-form/expedited-permitting-feedback or in person at City Hall, 301 W. Second St., Austin.