Thursday, January 20, 2022

City of Austin Opening Cold Weather Shelters Tonight

Warming Centers Available During the Day

The City of Austin and partner agencies will be opening warming centers and cold weather shelters today, Thursday Jan. 20, because of the cold weather and anticipated precipitation.

Warming centers will be available during normal business hours at the following City of Austin facilities.

Social distancing, masking, and capacity limits at the facilities will still be in place.

The City of Austin and partners will also be opening cold weather shelters for the overnight hours. As a reminder, the City does not publish the location of cold weather shelters. Individuals in need of shelter should go to the One Texas Center building, located at 505 Barton Springs Road between 6-8 p.m. The cold weather shelter locations are located offsite. Individuals seeking overnight shelter will be transported by buses provided by Capital Metro.  
 
Social distancing, masking, and other COVID-19 procedures will be in place for cold weather sheltering. Individuals will be required to undergo a health screening prior to being transported to the shelter locations.

Everyone should remain weather aware for the next 48 hours. Monitor the National Weather Service for updates about the weather and monitor road conditions if you must be out on the roadways.

More preparedness information and critical updates can be found on our Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Crews Monitoring Roads, Bridges as Winter Weather Approaches

Jan 19, 2022 

The Austin Public Works Department (PWD) will be proactively monitoring local streets and right-of-way areas ahead of forecasted precipitation and freezing temperatures. The National Weather Service predicts adverse conditions to begin Thursday through Friday morning.  

Crews from PWD's Street and Bridge Operations (SBO) have mobilized for around-the-clock coverage to ensure the right-of-way (ROW) remains accessible and safe for all users. This includes monitoring elevated surfaces/bridges; treating potentially icy roadways; responding to weather related 3-1-1 requests; and removing any tree limbs or debris blocking the ROW. 

"The safety of the public is the top priority of the Mobility departments of Austin and Public Works’ crews are ready to ensure that public right-of-way is safe for users," said Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca. "Our Mobility departments are working to together along with other front-line, first responding agencies to assure that residents have the infrastructure resources and information they need to stay safe."

With increased overnight coverage, SBO crews will be continually monitoring City streets by conducting both visual inspections and measuring road surface temperatures with digital thermometers. They will also be responding to weather related 3-1-1 reports. They provide regular temperature reports on critical City roadways and bridges. These continual assessments guide PWD in determining the most appropriate safety measures.

"We want our community to know that we are prepared to address our mobility infrastructure," said Pirouz Moin, Assistant Director over Operations for Public Works. "Each weather event is different, and while we do not expect major impacts to our roadways like we saw during Winter Storm Uri, we will still be monitoring and addressing roadways as conditions warrant. This is a normal response for our crews whenever temperatures drop below freezing and precipitation is forecasted." 

Following last year's winter storm, Public Works updated its winter weather emergency plans to reinforce its process for removal of snow from critical roadways, emphasizing the importance of maintaining access to water treatment plans, public safety and emergency services stations, hospitals and other critical locations. During last year's storm, Public Works crews cleared more than 300 lane miles of snow, assisting with the safe access of emergency vehicles and paths to warming shelter and treatment plants.

Over the next 48 hours, PWD will be actively coordinating with the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Travis County and other local and regional partners to help keep Austin's roadways safe.

The Austin Transportation Department is also advising residents to take steps to travel safely in preparation for this week’s winter weather. Though precipitation is not expected to significantly accumulate on all surfaces, elevated areas such as bridges and overpasses may see ice or snow in the early hours of Friday morning. Anyone traveling during potentially icy conditions are advised to:   

  • Monitor weather conditions before setting out on your trip and avoid traveling, if possible  
  • Avoid elevated roads, such as overpasses and bridges, if possible   
  • Plan additional time for travel, go slowly and turn carefully  
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating to maintain traction  
  • Ensure you have packed emergency supplies in your vehicle such as blankets, jumper cables, emergency lights, and a cell phone charger in case of a crash or emergency.  

Residents who need to report traffic light outages, road damage or any other weather-related concerns, may do so by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via phone (dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000) or the Austin 311 mobile app. Austin Transportation will be providing updates in case of an emergency on the department’s Facebook and Twitter channels. 

City Provides Update on Preparations for Next Disaster

 

Memo outlines actions taken by departments since Winter Storm Uri

The City of Austin is providing an update on actions taken to prepare the City for another disaster like last February’s Winter Storm. 
 
The update, in a memo to Mayor and Council, was published this morning ahead of a staff briefing to the Audit and Finance Committee
 
The update follows the publication last November of a series of After-Action Reports setting out the findings and recommendations of cross-departmental reviews.
 
A total of 132 recommendations were made and the City has now identified about a quarter of them (32) as priority recommendations because they provide a high benefit to the City at a lower cost or have little or no additional cost. Of the 32, five have already been completed, 12 are in progress, and 15 are awaiting updates from other departments. 
 
Part of the process going forward will involve efforts to define which service areas are best led by the City and those where community partners are better positioned to meet community needs. 
 
“While addressing all the recommendations made since Winter Storm Uri is a tremendous undertaking, critical work is underway,” said Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager for Safety. “With each day, the City of Austin is more prepared to respond in the face of disasters and is committed to supporting this community.” 
 
Some of the tasks completed by key departments in preparation for future disaster responses include: 

  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) has updated its emergency plans and conducted monthly emergency management meetings on responses to future emergency events such as ice storms. HSEM launched a new alert system for people who are hard of hearing, deaf or blind and updated their cold weather sheltering plan for people experiencing homelessness. HSEM also has a plan to place supplies at City of Austin facilities that can be utilized as shelters if needed during winter weather. To ensure that HSEM’s plans and goals are in line with the City, County and other government agencies, including the private sector, a tabletop exercise was conducted with more than 150 attendees from across the region.  More exercises and drills are scheduled for 2022. 
     
  • Austin Energy (AE) is working to increase the overall capacity of its energy portfolio in order to increase the probability that circuits can be rotated during a high magnitude event. Initial capacity increases are being achieved by focusing on actions that will provide the greatest increases and can be achieved in the shortest timeframe if ERCOT puts restrictions in place again. 
     
  • Austin Water (AW) has made considerable progress toward implementation of recommended actions from its internal After Action review and the citywide review sponsored by HSEM, and based on priorities approved by members of the Water and Wastewater Commission. Many completed actions increase overall utility resiliency and the ability to respond to complex, cascading events. Specific projects related to infrastructure will be incorporated into Austin Water’s ongoing Capital Planning process for development and implementation, while others will be incorporated into ongoing operations and maintenance activities.
     
  • Community and Technology Management (CTM) has improved network infrastructure. CTM purchased a mobile generator that can be deployed to serve as a critical network hub. Three additional generators are being acquired and will be placed at critical sites for added fuel support in an extended power outage.  
     
  • The Combined Transportation, Emergency, & Communications Center (CTECC) is now storing four days of meals and drinking water on site. In coordination with Fleet Services, CTECC is identified as a priority location for fuel resupply to backup generators.  
     
  • Public Works Department (PWD) added snow removal from critical streets to their workflow and added streets and bridges for clearing or sanding that access Austin Water treatment plants, APD/Fire/EMS stations, hospitals, and more.
     
  • Fleet Services updated critical functions and policies, creating a City-wide revised snow chain process and procedure for inventorying, order management, training, and installation. 
     
  • Austin Transportation Department (ATD) worked with Fleet Services to purchase additional road traction devices and ordered supplies to support staff in the event that staff must stay at ATD facilities around the
    clock during a disaster.
     
  • Building Services Department (BSD), in support of other COA departments and to equip staff with the ability to keep City facilities operational, equipped all BSD on-call vehicles with tire chains.   
     
  • Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) stationed containers with emergency management supplies in strategic locations for immediate shelter activation.   
     
  • Homeless Strategy Division of Austin Public Health allocated funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund a temporary Emergency Plans Officer focused on implementation of recommendations related to mass sheltering and other services. 

The Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Department will be tracking all information, providing regular updates, and establishing a public facing portal in the interest of transparency. 

The City of Austin continues to prepare each day and is urging the public to also take steps to be better prepared.  Visit ReadyCentralTexas.org to find out how.

Prepare and Protect Your Home as Freezing Weather Approaches

Austin Water has taken steps to prepare for winter weather, and with freezing temperatures expected in this week’s forecast, 

we are reminding customers to take steps now to prepare as well. 

The following is suggested to protect property and water pipes during freezing temperatures.

 
Store Emergency Water Supply for your Household

Secure one gallon of water per person for a seven day supply. You can fill pitchers and containers with tap water or purchase bottled water.
 
Prepare for Freezing Weather

  1. Locate Your Water Shutoff. Find your water main shutoff valve and keep it clear of debris and obstacles at all times. 

    For most homes in our service area, the property owner’s shutoff valve is on your side of the water meter at the meter box. If you cannot find your shutoff valve or if it is damaged, then you should be prepared to access the City shutoff valve in the meter box. You may need a water meter key to open the meter box, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
     
  2. Keep Out Cold Air. Tightly close doors and windows to the outside. Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and close garage doors for the duration of the freeze.
     
  3. Exposed Pipes and Water Heaters. Insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, such as an attic or garage. Also check manufacturer recommendations for your tanked and tankless water heaters. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help keep pipes from freezing.
     
  4. Outside Faucets. Turn off outside faucets. Remove all connected hoses and wrap faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator. Turn off and drain automatic sprinkler systems.
     
  5. Prepare Before Leaving Town. If you plan to be away during a time when freezing temperatures are possible, turn off your water at the meter and set your thermostat to 65 degrees or higher.
 
During Freezing Weather

When temperatures drop below freezing, follow these tips to protect your property and help avoid damage.
  1. Protect Indoor Faucets. Open cabinets beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warmer air to circulate around pipes. Be sure to remove any toxic substances located in these cabinets if there are children or pets living in the residence.
     
  2. Drip Only if Needed. After the measures above are taken, drip one cold-water faucet slowly if you feel your pipes may still freeze. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main shutoff valve. It does not need to be a running trickle. If you do drip your faucet, capture the water for future use.
     
  3. Power Outages. If you experience a power outage for more than 24 hours, stop dripping your faucets and turn off your water at the meter.

More Information

Austin Water will monitor conditions to provide updated guidance for customers. Bookmark and follow the latest news at austinwater.org.
For more information about the steps Austin Water has taken for the winter season, please visit Austin Water Prepares for Winter at Water Treatment Plants | AustinTexas.gov.

It’s Nearly Time to Register for Summer Camp!




Austin Parks and Recreation provides accessible, diverse, and inclusive summer camps, and now offers early registration for community participants who qualify for financial aid, adaptive and inclusion support programs. There are camps for youth (ages 5 to 12) and for teens (ages 12 to 15) at select locations.
Find your program’s designated registration date and time below, then register at AustinTexas.gov/ParksOnline, or call your summer camp location for more details. You can register in person, over the phone, or online. For more information about Summer Camps, visit AustinTexas.gov/SummerCamp

Approved Financial Aid, Adaptive and Inclusion Campers (Austin Residents – In Person and by Phone)
  • February 5–18 is early registration for financial aid, adaptive, and inclusion participants. 
Therapeutic Summer Camp    
Therapeutic summer programs embrace the diversity that defines Austin and works to ensure that all individuals are accepted, included, and welcomed to participate, play, and recreate together with a team of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) and Inclusion Aids. 
Culture and Arts 
Visual and performing arts, culture and history summer camp programs preserve and protect the past, celebrate Austin’s diversity, build community, and develop awareness and appreciation for the arts. 
Nature/Outdoor Adventure Summer Camp 
Nature-based summer camp programs provide hands-on educational and recreational activities that increase appreciation for the natural environment and awareness of the conservation ethic. 
Community Recreation Center Summer Camp 
Community recreation summer programs at Recreation Centers have a youth development philosophy which focuses on providing youth opportunities to enhance their interests, skills and abilities through intentional programming and quality experiences that help develop social, emotional, ethical, physical and cognitive competencies. 


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

City Auditor Wraps Up Season One of Audit ATX Podcast

The Office of the City Auditor, a City department that works to make Austin better for all residents, has wrapped up the first season of the podcast, Audit ATX, on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

The podcast is an interview series with City Auditor staff where Austin residents can learn how the Office of the City Auditor’s audits and investigations help the City better serve residents. Residents can listen and get more information about how local government works.

The Auditor’s Office launched the podcast in 2020 to provide more transparency and accessibility to local government. Since launching, the Auditor’s Office has published 20 episodes with 1,480 listeners in 36 countries and 203 cities.

Chart showing metrics from the first season of the Audit ATX podcast

The episodes are usually about 10 minutes long. The most recent episodes feature City auditors and investigators talking about a City technology purchases audit and an investigation about conducting private work for personal benefit.

Audit ATX co-host Kelsey Thompson says, “We’ve heard from listeners that this podcast has opened their eyes to how the City really works and the importance of audits and investigations!” 

Fans of the podcast can contact the City Auditor’s Office via email at austinauditor@austintexas.gov, or social media @austinauditor to provide feedback and ideas for the podcast. 

Listen to the Audit ATX podcast on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Local Artists Encouraged to Apply to Showcase Artwork in Austin City Hall Exhibition

People’s Gallery 2022 application deadline is February 22 at 5 p.m.

The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department invites Austin-area artists and arts organizations to apply for the People’s Gallery 2022 exhibition, highlighting local artwork throughout Austin City Hall. Artists and arts organizations have until February 22, 2022 at 5 p.m. to apply online at www.austintexas.gov/peoplesgallery.  

The People’s Gallery is an annual exhibition at Austin City Hall that displays over 100 pieces of local and regional artwork to more than 210,000 visitors every year. The curated pieces represent the Austin arts community’s excellence and cultural diversity, while promoting the City’s cultural and economic initiatives. Admission to the People’s Gallery is free, and attendees may purchase any artworks available for sale directly from the artists (the City of Austin takes no commission).  

“The People’s Gallery is designed to showcase local creativity and to encourage understanding and enjoyment of visual art,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Interim Director of the Economic Development Department. “City Hall is a symbol of public dialogue and we are proud to bring visual elements that spark discussion around the impact of the arts in Austin each year.” 

The City of Austin welcomes applications for two- and three-dimensional artworks in any medium, from  arts organizations, and artists aged 18 and older. Applicants must live or have an art studio located in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, or Williamson Counties. Each applicant may submit up to three artworks for consideration, free of charge.  

Selected artwork will be featured in The People’s Gallery at Austin City Hall from May 2022 to April 2023. A selection panel of local arts professionals will review the submissions and recommend artworks for the 2022 exhibition.  

Application Opens 
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. 

Deadline to Apply
Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. 

Application Information
www.austintexas.gov/peoplesgallery 

 

Artwork selected for the People’s Gallery 2020 remained on display throughout 2021 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In preparation for the new artwork, staff will begin removing art pieces currently on display at City Hall on Thursday, January 20 and will prepare for new work to be displayed in May 2022. 
 


Se convoca a artistas locales a solicitar para exhibir obras de arte en la exposición del Ayuntamiento de Austin
La fecha límite para entrega de solicitud de La Galería de la Comunidad 2022 es el 22 de febrero a las 5 p.m.


AUSTIN, TX - El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la ciudad de Austin invita a los artistas y organizaciones artísticas de la región a solicitarpara la exposición de Galería de la Comunidad 2022, en la que se resalta las obras de arte locales por todo el Ayuntamiento de Austin. Los artistas y las organizaciones artísticas tienen hasta el 22 de febrero de 2022 a las 5 p.m. para presentar una solicitud en línea en www.austintexas.gov/peoplesgallery

 La Galería de la Comunidad es una exposición anual en el Ayuntamiento de Austin que exhibe más de 100 piezas de arte locales y regionales a más de 210,000 visitantes cada año. Las piezas comisariadas representan la excelencia y la diversidad cultural de la comunidad artística de Austin, a la vez que promueven las iniciativas culturales y económicas de la ciudad. La entrada a la Galería de la Comunidad es gratuita y los asistentes pueden comprar cualquier obra de arte disponible para la venta directamente de los artistas (la ciudad de Austin no obtiene comisión). 

 “El propósito de la Galería de la Comunidad es exhibir la creatividad local y fomentar la comprensión y el gusto por las artes visuales”, explica la Directora Interina del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico Sylnovia Holt-Rabb. “El Ayuntamiento es símbolo de diálogo público y cada año nos enorgullece incorporar elementos visuales que generen conversaciones sobre el impacto de las artes en Austin”. 

 La ciudad de Austin convoca a presentar solicitudes para obras de arte bidimensionales y tridimensionales en cualquier medio, de organizaciones artísticas y de artistas mayores de 18 años. Los solicitantes deben vivir o tener un estudio de arte ubicado en los condados Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, o Williamson. Cada solicitante puede presentar hasta tres obras de arte de manera gratuita. 

 Las obras de arte seleccionadas se presentarán en La Galería de la Comunidad en el Ayuntamiento de Austin desde mayo de 2022 hasta abril de 2023. Un comité de selección de artistas locales revisará las solicitudes y recomendará qué obras de arte sean parte de la exposición de 2022. 

  

Apertura de solicitudes: 

Martes 18 de enero de 2022 a las 10:00 a.m. 

  

Cierre de solicitudes: 

Martes 22 de febrero de 2022 a las 5:00 p.m. 

  

Información sobre solicitud 

www.austintexas.gov/peoplesgallery 

   

 Las obras de arte seleccionadas para La Galería de la Comunidad 2020 permanecieron en exhibición durante 2021 debido al impacto que ocasionó la pandemia de COVID-19. Como preparativo para darle la bienvenida a las nuevas obras de arte, personal comenzará a quitar las obras de arte que actualmente se encuentran en exhibición en el Ayuntamiento el jueves 20 de enero y se preparará para la exposición de las nuevas obras de arte en mayo de 2022. 

  

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About the City of Austin Economic Development Department 
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd or follow us @AustinEconDev on Facebook and @AustinEconDev on Twitter.
 
Información sobre del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin
El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin fomenta el crecimiento empresarial, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible que enriquecen las vidas de los habitantes de Austin. Para obtener más información acerca de recursos útiles, visite www.austintexas.gov/edd o síganos en @AustinEconDev en Facebook y @AustinEconDev en Twitter.

City of Austin Opening Cold Weather Shelters Tonight

Warming Centers Available During the Day The City of Austin and partner agencies will be opening warming centers and cold weather shelters t...