Dear <<First Name>>,
As usual, it has been a very busy and productive month. Here are just a few things my staff and I have been working on these last few weeks.
June In Review
Fair Housing Initiative(Passed):
I was proud to work with Council Member Greg Casar to bring forward the Austin Fair Housing Initiative that was passed by City Council on June 17th.
Jain Lane Road Improvement (Passed):
The Planning and Neighborhoods Committee, which Council Member Casar chairs, and the Housing and Community Development Committee, which I chair, brought to the full council an inclusive proposal that addresses some of our most-pressing affordability concerns.This initiative will not entirely solve our affordability crisis - because doing so will require years of work on multiple fronts, but it does represent the kind of bold and audacious actions that solving our crisis will take.
The Fair Housing Initiative is about making sure that as we continue to grow, our community develops consciously, inclusively and equitably. Addressing our city’s disparities is quickly becoming a matter of necessity, not choice. This initiative was not just about developing affordable housing; it was about creating opportunities for affordable housing in all parts of our city, especially our high-opportunity areas.
If you're interested in learning more about our initiative, you can read my op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman:
On June 23rd, I was proud to cosponsor, the now Council-adopted, Ordinance No. 20160623-036 which allows all Honorably Discharged Veterans who are Austin residents, to access all fee-based pools at the same entry fee as senior citizens, and provides all Service-Connected Disabled Veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Rating of 10 percent or greater, access to all fee-based pools and secure a season swim pass at no cost.
No matter how big or small the gesture, we must do everything we can to show appreciation for those who have served our country so honorably.
2016 Transportation Bond (Update):
It's time for us to think big and start making meaningful long-term investments in our transportation infrastructure. Mayor Adler, with co-sponsorship from Council Members Casar, Pool, and myself, introduced a Resolution calling for a transformative city-wide mobility bond proposition. With some amendments, made after hours of discussion and public testimony, the Resolution passed shortly before 2am at our last Council Meeting.
The Council still needs to finalize the ballot language in August but this resolution moves us closer to being able to present an actionable plan for voter approval in November.
If your interested in knowing how we came to this decision (and you have 5 hours to spare) you can watch the discussion in its entirety by clicking here: Watch Video
APD Body Cameras (Passed):
At our last city council meeting, on June 23rd, we voted to invest in enough body cameras to outfit every officer working in the field. After a well thought-out and succesful pilot program, we decided to move forward with this approach to make our Austin Police Department more transparent and accountable. We couldn't wait any longer.
As we roll out the new body cameras, the city will be holding public forums to gain community feedback in order develop a comprehensive a policy that balances strong privacy protections and transparent disclosure rules.
For over a year now, we have been advocating for the completion of Jain Lane, which lies in my district. Originally, the Jain Lane Improvements were part of the succesful 1984 Municipal Bond Election, but like many projects in East Austin, it went unfinished. For too many years, it has been a saftey hazard not just for cars driving its narrow lanes, but also for our Ortega Elementary and Eastside Memorial High School students who walk this path nearly everyday.
I'm proud to say that at our June 16th meeting, the City Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to finish the Jane Lane Improvement project. The road will now be widened and include adequate pedestrian options.
This improvement will be even more important as families move in to the affordable housing units that the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the Housing Authority will be developing in the next few years.
I was honored this month to be selected as the City of Austin's appointee to serve on the CapMetro Board of Directors. I’m excited to be coming into this new role as the board works to put together the Connections 2025 transit plan. I’m confident that we can develop a long term plan that will help create a more simple, reliable, and frequent network.
As the chair of the Council’s Housing and Community Development Commission, I know how close the relationship is between housing, transit, and affordability. Therefore, I'm glad to be collaborating with my colleagues on the board and on the council to bring forward transit-oriented development solutions to many of the affordability and housing issues we are facing.
Beyond providing transit options to those communities that depend on it, one of my priorities is to build reliability so folks can use transit not just for commuting to work, but as a transportation option for going out on weekends to parks, restaurants, and music venues around town. We’re facing a transportation crisis in our city and we have to do our best to give families as many options as possible.
CapMetro Press Release
Protections of Historic Buildings(Passed):
At our most recent meeting I co-sponsored a resolution that Council direct the City Manager to require that all applications for demolition permits of buildings fifty years or older that are dedicated Civic uses (like places of worship) have a hearing before the Historic Landmark Commission. We also initiated a stakeholder and code amendment process to codify the requirement. This will help ensure that during our city's rapid development we our taking measured steps to protect our historic buildings, especially our places of worship
As always, if you need assistance with city issues you can call my office at 512.978.2103. We'll be glad to help.
All the best,