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Dear <<First Name>>,

August has been a busy month at city hall. City Council has been busy tackling the $3.7 billion budget and we've still managed to pass some very significant and meaningful resolutions. With every month that passes, I become prouder and prouder of our new(ish)10-1 council.


 
August In Review

 
Tenant Relocation Assistance Program:
On Thursday, August 18th, City Council approved on first reading a change to our City Code that would establish the Tenant Relocation Assistance Program. This program is aimed at combating the impacts of Austin's growing housing crisis by ensuring that when vulnerable tenants of muti-family and mobile home parks are faced with displacement, they are given essential protections, such as adequate notice, access to financial assistance funds, and other forms of relocation assistance.

Former Council Member Laura Morrison initiated a resolution in 2012 that kick-started the much needed conversation about how our community can help protect displaced families. In November 2015, I authored a resolution in a similar spirit that called for protections for displaced families in response to the high profile displacement of the Lakeview Apartments residents in District 3. Over the past several months, the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department has conducted numerous stakeholder meetings to create the parameters for this ordinance. At our September 1st Council Meeting, we will be voting to hopefully pass the resolution on 2nd and 3rd reading. 

At a press conference just prior to the August 18th Council Meeting, housing advocates and Austin residents, along with Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and Council Members Casar, Kitchen, Pool, and I came together to discuss the importance of passing this resolution. If you missed the discussion, I've attached the video below. 

I will keep you updated on the status of this important and historic program. In our city, developers have profited from displacement and the community has had to pick up the tab and pick up the pieces for far too long. This ordinance is a major first step in protecting our city's most vulnerable.

Tenant Relocation Assistance Program Press Conference
Tenant Relocation Assistance Program
News Conference

Municipal Court Reform (Approved):
On August 11th, our City Coun­cil took an important step and passed a resolution to help deter the Austin Muni­cipal Court from jailing indigent people due to their inability to pay court fees. Council Member Delia Garza's resolution, which I proudly cosponsored, directed the City Manager to begin the process of reforming our municipal court to ensure indigent defendants are not jailed simply because they cannot afford to pay a fine. 

Being poor is not a crime and the freedom of a human being should not be dependent on their ability to pay a court fine. It’s past time our city code reflect that. 

If you'd like to read more about city council's municipal reform here is a great article from the Austin Chronicle. 



Better Worker Saftey Protections (Approved): 
On Tuesday's, 08/23, Capital Metro Board of Directors meeting, we voted unanimously (7-0) to approve a new and stronger set of worker protection policies. These policies would apply to any future Transit Oriented Development projects in which CapMetro is a partner. The protections include:

  1. A fair living wage minimum equal to the living wage set by the City of Austin at the time of contract award (currently $13.03).
  2. Workers compensation and insurance provided by contractors and subcontractors.
  3. Independent third-party monitoring procured through a competitive process.
  4. Local hiring, including a requirement that contractors advertise with local construction craft training programs.
  5. OSHA 10 training for workers and onsite safety representatives with a minimum of 30 hours of OSHA approved supervisor training.
  6. And lastly: breaks offered every four hours of work, with drinking water and sanitation facilities provided, as well.

We owe many thanks to the previous Board for setting us on this path and to the CapMetro staff who worked so hard to make this a reality. I am also proud of my colleagues on the current Board for approving this with unanimous support. This is a big step forward in building a fairer Austin.

 
Housing Homeless Veterans:
On Friday, August 19th, we recieved a special visit from HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Secretary Castro visited City Hall to formally certify and congratulate Austin in our efforts towards ending veteran homelessness. This makes us the third major city in Texas to accomplish this important certification. 

We owe a big thanks to Former Mayor Lee Leffingwell and current Mayor Steve Adler for accepting and accomplishing HUD's "Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness." I'm happy our city has strong leadership dedicated to helping solve these glaring inequlaities. 
Secretary Castro, Mayor Adler, Myself, and
our District 3 staff.
East Austin Historic Survey (Update):
Earlier this year the City of Austin hired Hardy-Heck-Moore, Inc. to complete a historic resources survey for the area of East Austin that roughly bound by IH-35 to the west, the Colorado River to the south, Pleasant Valley Road and the MetroRail line to the east, and Manor Road to the north. H-H-M, Inc.’s fieldwork involved researching, documenting, and photographing buildings and homes in order to create an inventory of the structures within the survey area. Each identified resource was evaluated for eligibility as a local landmark listing, historic district listing, and/or National Register listing. H-H-M, Inc. also completed a historic context report for East Austin and for the City of Austin as a whole in order to provide a framework for eligibility recommendations. This is an important first step in protecting our historic structures in East Austin, particularly in the face of increasing development pressures. Now that the report is ready for public comment, they need neighborhood feedback! Please review the draft survey, draft context reports, and draft recommendation located here. Comments may be submitted via this East Austin Historic Resources Survey Draft Comment Form.


Budget Update:
July 27th kicked off our first council budget meeting of the year and we haven't slowed down. We've now been briefed on each city department's individual budget for the Fiscal Year 2016 - 2017. If you've missed one of those meetings you can watch the department briefings and our most recent budget work session here. 

It can be challenging to keep up with the rapid changes to the Budget Concept Menu. If you want to see the most recent concept menu (or are wondering what the budget concept menu even is), you can just visit our City of Austin Finacial Services Website for all things budget related. Furthermore, you can always call our District 3 office. We're glad to help answer any budget questions.  Afterall, it's your money. 


 
                             Other News:


BASTA
If you are experiencing any problems or issues with your landlord, BASTA (Building and Strengthening Tenant Action / Buscando Accion y Soladaridad que Transforme el Arrendamiento) is a newly-formed organization that is committed to helping Austin renters work with their neighbors to ensure that all Austinites have access to safe and affordable housing. They act as a resource for tenants and can put you in touch with the appropriate departments and agencies to help resolve problems you encounter in regards to property maintenance or tenants’ rights. You can reach them by phone at 512.522.9984 or at basta@bastaaustin.org.

 

Grants for Neighborhood Development
The Neighborhood Partnering Program has 4 programs that can help maintain and revitalize your neighborhood: The Neighborhood Cost Share Program, The Grant Assistance Program, The Parking Benefit Project Coordination Program, and The Adopt-A-Median Program. If you have an idea or project in mind for your neighborhood, here is the link with more info: 
http://www.austintexas.gov/neighborhoodpartnering

As always, if you need assistance with city issues, please call my office at 512.978.2103. We are glad to help.

All the best,

Pio
Upcoming Events

September 10th:
Texas vs UTEP (Home Game)

September 14th: 
Austin City Council - Regular Meeting

September 15th:
Housing & Community Development Committee


September 15th:

September 15th: 
El Grito de Independencia de Mexico
September 16th:
Diez Y Seis

September 17th:
38th Hispanic Heritage Celebration

September 17th:
Texas vs Cal
(Away Game)

September 17th:
September 21st:
Public Utilities Council Committee

September 22nd:
Austin City Council - AE Utility Oversight Committee

September 28th:
Audit & Finance Council Committee

September 28th:
Open Space, Environment & Sustainability Council Committee

September 30th:
Austin City Limits Weekend One

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Council Member Renteria, District 3. · 301 W. 2nd Street · Austin, Tx 78701 · USA

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