Monday, January 23, 2017

Austin Mayor Proposes to Shorten City Council Meetings

Mayor Steve Adler is proposing new rules for Austin City Council meetings aimed at shortening them, the Austin American Statesman reports.  Currently, Austin’s City Council meetings are by far the longest in the state.

The longest meeting of 2016 year took place in June and lasted until after 3am, but meetings that go past 10pm or even midnight are very common in Austin.  Last year, over half of the the council’s regular voting meetings went past 7pm and six lasted until after midnight.  The meetings start at 10am.  In Dallas and San Antonio, city council meetings start at 9am and are usually done by 4pm and never go longer than 6pm.

The median time of a meeting last year in Austin was 10 hours, six hours in Dallas, and just five hours in San Antonio and Houston.  Houston structures their meetings differently, with the citizen input portion occurring on Tuesday evenings and votes happening on Wednesday mornings.

Mayor Adler is proposing a few changes to shorten meetings, including starting at 9am or 9:30am and setting an absolute ending time of 11pm except for one public hearing meeting a month, which will be designed just to accommodate large public hearings.  That one public hearing meeting will have no cutoff time and will skip the invocation, live music, and proclamations.  Other rules are around limiting the amount of time the public can speak such as allowing only sixty people to speak per item (unless the law requires otherwise), setting allotted time per speaker to 2 minutes rather than the current 3 minutes when over 20 people sign up, or 1 minute per person after the first 20 people when over 30 people sign up, and not allowing people to speak once council starts discussing an item.  

Most other cities set limits on how long and often the public can speak, and Mayor Adler says while he will consider other policy changes, but he doesn’t want to threaten Austin’s long tradition of public input.

The council is also going to discuss how to restructure the committee system, which consists of smaller groups of 4 council members who focus on an issue and then bring their findings back to the large council.  While the city council had tried the committee system in the past, the overall council seemed reluctant to abide by the decisions of the smaller groups.

The council members all agree something should be done about the long hours and late night meetings while still allowing the public to have their say.  It remains to be seen whether the changes can be implemented without public or council backlash.

Are you eager for change in 2017 too and want to find a new apartment?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 to find your dream apartment today!

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Restaurants in Austin

The restaurant landscape in Austin is constantly changing.  Why not start 2017 off with some new dining experiences at one of these new establishments?

Tillery is a brand spanking new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant on the banks of the Colorado River.  Located on East Cesar Chavez at Tillery Street, Tillery has a beautiful modern-designed dining area full of light and can seat 90 people.  There is also a huge outdoor area if you want to dine with a view.  Save room for dessert, which includes a house-made ice cream flight.  

Just across the street from Tillery, Grizzeldas is another recent addition to the Austin restaurant scene.  Created by the same team that opened Jacoby’s, the restaurant will serve Tex Mex featuring meat from the Jacoby family ranch in Melvin.  In addition to Tex Mex specialties like enchiladas and queso, there are housemade cocktails focused on tequila and mescal.  

Old Thousand is another new addition to the eastside, this time on East 11th.  The restaurant aims to serve Chinese-American food for dine-in and take-out and was started by veterans from Uchi, Hopdoddy, Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill, and St. Philip.  Their goal is to make sure you can get great Chinese food late at night with cocktails specifically designed to pair well with Chinese food.  

Moving away from the Eastside and to North Austin, Brentwood Social House is located on Koenig Lane near Burnet Road and is a cafe serving quiches, scones, and other European-style baked goods.  The owners aim to be a neighborhood destination and have space available for private events, a large outdoor garden, and a cozy atmosphere.

Eberly is located on South Lamar near Barton Springs and features a lovingly restored bar from the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village in New York City.  Eberly focuses on Contemporary American Cuisine, house made cocktails, craft draft beers, and wine.

Further west in Spicewood, Pizzeria Sorelina is opening on the grounds of Apis Restaurant and Aviary.  Everything will be made in-house at Pizzeria Sorellina, including cheese, cured meats, and breads.  They will also have beer, wine, and draft cocktails.

Hate to cook?  We can find you an apartment that has dining downstairs or next door!  Just give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 to find your dream apartment surrounded by restaurants!  

Friday, January 6, 2017

City of Austin to Add an Artist to Staff

The City of Austin is starting an “artist-in-residence” program that they hope will bring a fresh creative eye to city agencies while also employing struggling artists as the price of living in the city increases. The Austin American Statesman reports on the new plan.  

The first department to get an artist’s help will be the Watershed Protection Department, which is in charge of city flood control and solutions to combat erosion and water pollution.  The selected artist, which will be a visual artist, will stay in the department for six to nine months.  They will use their unique skills to come up with creative solutions to the department’s problems, as opposed to creating art.

The exact way the artist could help is open to the interpretation of the individual hired.  They might look at designing flood control systems in more aesthetically pleasing ways or they could come up with innovative ways to reach the community.  

The artist will be paid $8,750 plus have a budget for $5,000 for expenses and will have to devote at least 250 hours between March and November to the city. The money will come from the city’s Innovation Office.

The Innovation Office, part of the city’s general fund, was started to recruit city employees to come up with unique ideas for functions the city was responsible for.  Projects have included a bike path with lighting, shipping containers repurposed for temporary use, and a collection of photos of people doing activities in Austin.  

This particular idea was thought up by City Cultural Arts Manager Meghan Wells, who sees it as a win-win for everyone involved.  She says it allows the artist community more visibility and a chance to be compensated and gives the city a fresh outlook on old ideas.  

The city will be hiring a visual artist this first year, but Wells wants to cast a wider net in the future and bring more city departments into the fold and more types of artists, including musicians, actors and more.

Austin isn’t the first city to have such a program.  Los Angeles and Boston both have similar programs that bring artists into city departments.  

The city is currently looking for ways to support the artistic community in Austin, as many artists are pushed out by rising rents and housing prices. The City Council already has a live music break during their meetings.  

Interested visual artists can go to an informational meeting on January 19th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room at 301 W. Second Street.  All applications are due February 16th.

Are you an artist looking for an Austin apartment?  We can make your search quick and easy so you can get back to creative.  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 and let us help you find your new home.