Sunset Valley approves weekend-use cap for City Hall facility rental

Sunset Valley has historically allowed its City Hall facilities to be rented by residents or local groups for gatherings.

Sunset Valley has historically allowed its City Hall facilities to be rented by residents or local groups for gatherings.

Image description
Sunset Valley
For years, Sunset Valley has allowed its City Hall facilities to be rented by residents or local groups for gatherings. There was no limit to how many times the space could be reserved, and those reserving the space would pay $25 for the first four hours and $10 for each additional hour.

For the city it was a way to give residents a space when the City Hall facilities would otherwise go unused. The City Hall facility has been reserved on weekends a total of 139 times since 2017, according to city documents.

South Austin Presbyterian Church, which is operated by residents Francesco and Rose Spadini, reserved the space over 100 of those times. The other reservations consisted of parties, weddings or meetings by individuals, none of which reserved the space more than three times.

City Council voted July 2 to cap the number of times a single entity could rent the space for a weekend day throughout the year at 12, effective Jan. 1. An entity will also be limited to using the space two weekend days in a single month, unless granted a variance by City Council.

The change comes after over 45 residents signed a petition asking City Council to consider a “fair and reasonable” use cap due to the usage habits of some in the community, specifically the church. The petition outlined problems residents had with the church using the city’s address as its permanent location and asked the city to consider limiting the kinds of uses allowed in the facility.

City Council had “failed to adequately address” the gap in the use policy that allowed a single entity to “control” much of the use opportunities, according to the petition. A use cap gives an “equal opportunity” to all residents, the petition stated.

Mayor Rosa Cardona said the church had been an accommodating tenant since it began using the facility in 2017 and has been following all the rules set through city policy. However, she said City Council had to evaluate its policy without considering specific uses, and “every renter should be treated the same way.”

“Everything that [Francesco] and his wife have done as sponsors of a rented use [was] allowed by the city,” she said. “There also haven’t been many complaints about the use specifically or how they leave the facility, so that’s not why we’re here tonight.”

Francesco said he had been using Sunset Valley because it was difficult to find a place willing to rent to a church and because of the pricing. However, instead of challenging the petition, he requested the city give him a grace period to relocate. Council made the new policy effective Jan. 1 as a compromise.

“I love my community, and I’m a pretty conflict adverse person, so it makes me deeply uncomfortable to be at the center of an issue that’s caused this much discontent,” he said. “While I have to admit I don’t fully understand all that has precipitated this petition, nonetheless it is clear that a significant number of residents have been impacted.”

Although City Council kept the current rate structure for use of its City Hall, it will consider options for rental of space at the city’s new police facility at a future meeting. Police Chief Lenn Carter said he would prefer a rate closer to market rate for the space as a way to keep uses at the police facility more professional.


MOST RECENT

A map of the Jester King Brewery property
Jester King Brewery to reopen with new, park-style amenities May 29

Following Gov. Greg Abbott's go-ahead for bars and breweries to reopen last week, Jester King is opening its property to guests.

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.

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.

Southwest Austin roads have been less trafficked as the coronavirus pandemic his impacted work situations for area residents. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
DATA: Southwest Austin area has seen 18,432 unemployment claims since mid-March

The number represents about 7.1% of the population in Southwest Austin's nine ZIP codes.

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.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

The Townlake YMCA is one of the local facilities reopening June 1. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
YMCA of Austin to reopen area facilities June 1

Townlake YMCA, Southwest Family YMCA, Northwest Family YMCA, Springs Family YMCA, Bastrop YMCA and Hay Communities YMCA facilities will be reopening June 1.

Austin skyline
Report: Austin lost more than 129,000 jobs between February and April

As multiple sectors of Austin’s economy temporarily closed stores to customers as part of a nationwide effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, more than 100,000 Austin jobs were lost in the process.