City Council convenes for last time Dec. 11 before turnover

At least five of the seven Austin City Council members will conduct city business together for the final time Dec. 11.

The Dec. 11 meeting will be the last before Austin City Council officially converts to to a 11-member regional system. City Councilwoman Kathie Tovo was reelected and will remain on the dais to represent District 9, while Councilman Mike Martinez competes Dec. 16 in a runoff election to determine who becomes the next Austin mayor. All other council members, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Councilman Chris Riley, Councilwoman Laura Morrison and Councilman Bill Spelman, will not return to council in 2015.

The meeting could extend through Dec. 12 because the agenda contains 231 items—as of Dec. 9—much more than a typical meeting.

After eight years as mayor, the milestone meeting is no different for Leffingwell, he said, but possibly more challenging because there are so many items to consider.

"We're going to definitely have a management problem of how to get through the meeting in anything like a decent hour," Leffingwell said.

The job has been challenging at times, Leffingwell admits, but he said one of his favorite roles as mayor has been representing Austin while meeting other mayors from throughout the country.

"It's been a great experience. This is my hometown, so of course I'm very proud to have served as mayor," Leffingwell said. "I get to do a lot of public events around the city of Austin with locals here who are usually happy people. We're breaking ground on a new building or we're cutting ribbon on a new store, and that's a very pleasant aspect of the job."

Leffingwell said he has no new employment plans lined up after his tenure as mayor, but he will keep an open mind if something becomes available that may be of interest.

"I've retired twice before, maybe the third time is the charm, and I'll just retire," he said.

Consent agenda items for consideration:

  • Update the Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to include retiring Decker natural gas plant by 2018, retire Fayette Power Plant in 2022, increase solar energy goals and allow possibility of a new natural gas plant (pulled for further discussion Dec. 11)

  • Authorize a contract for $4.5 million for work on the Shoal Creek Trail Greenbelt Improvements project (passed Dec. 11)

  • Move forward with finding a design-builder firm for the creation of a facility to replace the Austin Animal Center because of the need for AAC to vacate the Town Lake Center it previously utilized for animal overflow (passed Dec. 11)

  • Authorize funding toward groups that help with resources for homeless persons in Austin, with $60,000 of the $583,211 allocated coming from grant funding (passed Dec. 11)

  • Final approval on an item that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on one's source of income, such as a Section 8 voucher (pulled for further discussion Dec. 11)

  • Sell two areas of land located at 15700 Anderson Mill Road to the city of Cedar Park for $4.1 million. All the funds from this sale would go to Austin Water Utility (passed Dec. 11)

  • End the moratorium on pedicab permits (passed Dec. 11)

  • Begin the process of creating a neighborhood plan for Mueller neighborhood (passed Dec. 11)

  • Explore the creation of an innovation zone (passed Dec. 11)

  • Express approval for President Obama's executive action in regards to immigration (passed Dec. 11)

Items for consideration not on consent:

  • The PGA-quality golf courses set to be developed at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park may be delayed until February at the request of Decker Lake Golf LLC, the group that proposes developing golf courses at the park. The group's representatives said during the Dec. 9 council work session that the development team is asking for a delay so the item does not appear rushed to the public so any incorrect information can be clarified

  • Council may postpone consideration of allowing accessory dwelling units at the request of city staff

  • Swimming may be allowed in more areas of Barton Creek while fishing in Lady Bird Lake will be banned because of safety concerns, and park hours will be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with exceptions allowed (the item related to banning fishing in Lady Bird Lake was postponed Dec. 11 until Feb. 26)

  • Approve $2.4 million for a Republic Square Park improvement project

  • Allow Torchy's Tacos at 1822 South Congress Ave. to sell alcohol on its premises in exception from existing law because the restaurant is close to a school zone


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