Friday, May 27, 2022

Memorial Day Weekend Personal Watercraft Ban on Lake Austin

The Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit will be enforcing the City Ordinance that prohibits personal watercraft, wet bikes, motorized surfboards, and similar devices. The enforcement will happen on Lake Austin, beginning at sunset on Friday, May 27, 2022, and ending at sunrise on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. As outlined in Ordinance 8-5-81, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards can still be used along with watercraft designed for the conventional manner of sitting or standing in the vessel.

The annual ban on personal watercraft is necessary to ensure the safety of many people who use the lake and parks over the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend. This ban only applies to Lake Austin.

Police will be patrolling Lake Austin this weekend and urge people using waterways to follow the Texas Water Safety Act and City of Austin boating laws and ordinances. Police encourage all boaters to practice safe boating and call 9-1-1 for all reckless operations of boats or emergencies.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin Police Department want the public to enjoy the parks and lakes but urge people to make this a safe holiday.

City Ordinance:  8-5-81 WATERCRAFT AND OTHER MOTORIZED CRAFT ON LAKE AUSTIN.

     (A)     A person may not use or possess a jet ski, wet bike, motorized surfboard, or similar device on Lake Austin:

          (1)     from sunset on the Friday before Memorial Day until sunrise on the Tuesday after Memorial Day;

          (2)     from sunset on the Friday before Labor Day until sunrise on the Tuesday after Labor Day; or

          (3)     from sunset on July 3 until sunrise on July 5.

     (B)     A person operating a motorboat on Lake Austin shall stay on the right side of the lake, except when assisting a downed water skier.

     (C)     A person may not operate a watercraft on Lake Austin at a speed that is greater than reasonable and prudent under the existing circumstances.

Source:  1992 Code Section 14-2-1; Ord. 031009-11; Ord. 031211-11.

Austin Enters Stage 1 of Drought Contingency Plan New Watering Restrictions to take effect June 6

The combined storage level of water in Lakes Travis and Buchanan is currently at 1.409 million acre-feet this morning and is projected to drop below 1.4 million acre-feet within the next few days. Austin’s Drought Contingency Plan sets a trigger at this storage level at which the City Manager may order the implementation of Stage 1 conservation measures. To give the community notice that these new restrictions are coming and consistent with the City’s Water Conservation Code, City Manager Spencer Cronk has ordered implementation of Stage 1, effective June 6, 2022. This comes after over a 3-year stretch at Conservation Stage, the lowest stage of the Water Conservation Code.

“Our community has embraced water conservation year-round and I’m confident they will step up to this additional restriction” said Interim Water Director Robert Goode. "The only change between Conservation Stage and Stage 1 is the reduction of automatic irrigation watering hours. Watering only in the early morning or late evening hours when temperatures are coolest, will help reduce unnecessary water loss through evaporation and that continues to support Austin’s water conservation efforts.”

Austin Water will undertake additional community outreach and education through social media, radio, television announcements, and responses to frequently asked questions on Austin Water’s website. In addition, Austin Water will continue its investigations of reported non-compliance received via Austin 3-1-1 and water waste patrols.

Stage 1 Watering Restrictions Summary
  • Stage 1 Watering Restrictions reduce the total number of hours available for watering via automatic irrigation systems from 15 hours to 13 hours (Midnight - 8am and 7pm - midnight).
  • All other watering restrictions remain unchanged including:
    • Once-per-week automatic irrigation watering schedule will continue for residential and commercial water customers.
    • Twice-per-week hose-end irrigation watering schedule will continue for residential customers.
    • Residents can continue the following irrigation methods without restrictions:
      • athletic fields
      • drip irrigation
      • hand-held watering with a hose
      • watering trees with automatic bubblers
      • automatic drip irrigation
      • soaker hose beneath the tree canopy and in vegetable gardens
    • Commercial car washes can operate normally. Residential car washes, and the washing of any outdoor surface, is permitted with a bucket and/or automatic shut-off nozzle.
    • Commercial customers will continue to limit the use of patio misters to the hours between 4pm and midnight.

 



Drought in Central Texas

“While the changes in restrictions for Stage 1 are limited, Austin Water also views the declaration of Stage 1 as an opportunity, and obligation, to inform citizens about the current situation with drought and lake volumes,” said Kevin Critendon, Assistant Director, Environmental, Planning and Development Services. “Although some rain has fallen in Central Texas this year, it doesn’t always make its way into the streams and rivers that replenish the Highland Lakes.”

For complete details about the drought contingency plan, triggers for additional water restrictions and other frequently asked questions, visit austinwater.org


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Extra Health Precautions Warranted Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

 Austin Public Health (APH) encourages additional preventive measures ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Reported cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Travis County as APH epidemiologists continue tracking outbreaks and clusters. A key determining metric for the Community Level, new COVID-19 cases per 100k population in the last 7 days, is climbing. As of 5/26, that figure is almost 180. Our Community Level is currently low, but once this metric reaches 200, Travis County’s Community Level moves to medium.  

Loved ones who are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19—and anyone who has close contact—should consider masking indoors. Additionally, stay home if you experience symptoms and test. Booster doses begin working immediately, and it’s not too late to get one before gathering and traveling. 

"We know this weekend’s celebrations will include many multigenerational gatherings," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "These gatherings have been associated with a surge in cases. We know how to prevent the spread of COVID-10. If we get boosted, celebrate outdoors when possible and wear masks indoors to protect those at risk, we can stop the current rise in cases." 

Getting up to date with COVID-19 vaccines is still the best way to protect against serious infection and hospitalizations. Booster doses are now authorized for everyone 5 and older. The CDC recommends a second booster dose for everyone 50 and older, noting "a steep and substantial increase in hospitalizations for older Americans." Even though older age groups have among the highest booster dose coverage, they most likely got their last dose many months ago and would benefit from additional protection. 

Studies show booster doses prompt the body to makes antibodies capable of neutralizing a range of COVID-19 variants. The BA.2 omicron subvariant currently accounts for most COVID-19 infections in Travis County. While this version can cause mild disease for those who are not considered high risk, it’s more transmissible. Everyone should get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they’re eligible. 

"We're more equipped than ever to keep COVID-19 in check," said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "Since we’re seeing more cases, please take advantage of all the free masks, testing and vaccine resources that are available to prevent spreading illness during holiday weekend gatherings."

Free N95 respirators 

Ask your local pharmacy (H-E-B, CVS, Walgreens) or use a feature on the CDC’s website to find a location near you. 

Free COVID-19 tests 

APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with individuals who are at risk. A third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits are available through the federal government. You can also pick up free at-home tests at APH's Metz Elementary testing site. 

APH testing and vaccination information 

Find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting your zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.       

APH clinics offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without an appointment, although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.       

The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccine clinics to businesses, churches and more. APH is asking all organizations to fill out an online form to request a pop-up clinic.

City of Austin offices and facilities to close in observance of Memorial Day

City of Austin government offices will be closed on Monday, May 30, 2022 in observance of Memorial Day. Normal business hours will resume on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
 
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR)
There will be no changes in trash, recycling and compost collection schedules on May 30. For the most up-to-date information on all your ARR collections, use the My Schedule tool or download the Austin Recycles App for your Apple or Android device.
 
The Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center is open by appointment only, for drop off hard-to-recycle items and household hazardous waste. Austin/Travis County residents can schedule a drop-off time through the Austin Recycles mobile app or online.
 
Parks and Recreation Facilities
City of Austin Recreation Centers, Senior Centers, Museums and Cultural Centers will be closed on Monday. City parks, playgrounds, tennis centers, and golf courses will be open for their regularly scheduled hours on Memorial Day. Bartholomew, Barton Springs, Big Stacy, and Deep Eddy Pools will also be open as well as splash pads. Find all Austin Parks and Recreation facility closure information at AustinTexas.gov/ParkClosures.
 
Austin Energy
Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed Monday, May 30. Utility bill payments can be made at COAutilities.com. Other ways to pay can be found here.
 
Austin Public Library
Austin Public Library locations will be closed on Monday. Remote library resources will be accessible through the Austin Public Library website: library.austintexas.gov.
 
Austin Animal Center
The Austin Animal Center will close for Memorial Day and reopen on Tuesday.
 
Austin Public Health 
Austin Public Health testing and vaccine sites will be closed from Saturday, May 28, through Memorial Day. Services will resume on Tuesday, May 31.
 
The City of Austin is encouraging Austinites and visitors to know how they are going to get home before they leave the house for the holiday and graduation celebrations, so they can get home safe. Visit austintexas.gov/gethomesafe to see a list of options.
 
For questions about City services or information call 3-1-1. Service requests can also be submitted from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app.

Volma Overton, Sr. Beach Renaming Ceremony at Town Lake Metropolitan Park

Join Austin Parks and Recreation for the Volma Overton, Sr. Beach Renaming Ceremony at Town Lake Metropolitan Park, 1003 West Cesar Chavez St., on Saturday, June 11 at 9:00 a.m. This is an outdoor park event, so please dress comfortably. 

Volma Overton, Sr. was born in Southeast Travis County and served in the Marines during World War II, where he achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. Soon after his service to our country concluded, he enrolled in Huston-Tillotson University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, with a minor in Math. 

Volma Overton, Sr.'s contributions to the City of Austin were critical and transformational. He was a lifelong champion and advocate for civil rights and racial equality. Such advocacy is captured in his leadership role at the National Alliance of Postal Workers, a union comprised of primarily African American maintenance and janitorial workers, where he served as president and advocated for racial equality and fairness in the postal system.  

In 1962, he became president of the Austin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During his tenure, he organized numerous demonstrations and actions to combat racial inequality, systemic racism, and institutional inequities. 

In 1964, he led successful advocacy efforts for the Austin City Council to sponsor an antidiscrimination ordinance and the constitution of the Human Rights Commission, which was tasked with reviewing discrimination complaints. In 1965, Volma Overton, Sr. marched alongside Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma to Montgomery March. 

Volma Overton. Sr.’s commitment to justice included reforming Austin and Central Texas’ local institutions. One of his many other accomplishments included desegregating the Austin Independent School District through a lawsuit he filed in 1970, which named his daughter, DeDra, as the lead plaintiff. Additionally, he fought alongside Boy Scout Troop #70 to integrate the swimming pool at Bastrop State Park in 1963. 

Volma Overton’s, Sr.’s philanthropic efforts included a mentoring program for youth at Oak Springs Elementary, as well as the conversion of the Overton House into a community center for African Americans in Austin. 

Volma Overton, Sr. received accolades and awards for his pioneering civil rights work including NAACP Arthur B. DeWitty Award, The Villager newspaper’s Austin Living Legends Award, and University of Texas LBJ Award for Leadership in Civil Rights. 

Volma Overton, Sr. was laid to rest with military honors at the Texas State Cemetery alongside governors, senators, legislators, congressional leaders, judges and other legendary Texans. His contributions to Austin and Central Texas have been invaluable. He is an integral part of Austin’s history. 

News from the Economic Development Department of the COA

 

People's Gallery Exhibition Opening Reception

Join us on June 3 from 6 - 9 p.m. for an opening reception to celebrate the 17th Exhibition of the People's Gallery at Austin City Hall. The no-cost exhibition features paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other media by local artists. View artworks throughout City Hall, meet the artists, and enjoy light refreshments and live music.
 
Grant Opportunity for Nonprofits
The National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant provides cost share/matching grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 for creative placemaking projects. Our Town projects must demonstrate a specific role for arts, culture, and design as a part of strategies that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, or social outcomes. These projects lay the groundwork for systemic change and center around equity. 
 
To qualify, local organizations must first apply for an endorsement of the application from the City of Austin by June 22. If you have questions, join the Cultural Arts Virtual Open Office hours on June 8 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
 
Review the Draft Heritage Preservation Grant Guidelines
The Economic Development Department is seeking feedback on Draft Heritage Preservation Grant Guidelines. The Heritage Preservation Grant serves to preserve and promote Austin's irreplaceable historic sites and heritage tourism experiences through capital, planning, educational, or marketing projects that engage tourism. Provide feedback on the Draft Heritage Preservation Grant Guidelines by June 7. Questions? Attend Heritage Tourism Virtual Open Office Hours every second and fourth Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. No appointment is required.
 
Community Navigator Program
The Economic Development Department’s Community Navigator Program supports local businesses, non-profit organizations, and creative professionals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this initiative, local entities can receive no-cost assistance like one-on-one coaching, business classes, technical support, and application assistance for grants and resources. Learn more and register for the Community Navigator Program.

Seeking Input for the City’s 2022-2023 Budget

The City of Austin Budget Office is seeking resident input and feedback on city services and budget priorities. Take the short survey to help the City prioritize services that impact how you live, work, play, and more.
 
Community Feedback on Housing Spending
Share your feedback on the City of Austin's plan for spending federal funds dedicated to addressing homelessness and housing instability in our community. Learn about the American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

Community Goals for Equitable Transit-oriented Developments
The Equitable Transit-Oriented Development strategy helps shape inclusive and accessible communities. These communities integrate residential, business, and public spaces within walking distance of transit stations. Take a survey to share your feedback on six priorities for the Equitable Transit-Oriented Development strategy.
 
Create a More Sustainable Workplace
Eighty-five percent of Austin’s landfill waste comes from businesses and multifamily communities. Most of that waste is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Help lead Austin toward a more sustainable future and inspire change at your job or in your multifamily community. Find more ways to create a sustainable workplace: 
  • Start a Green Team: Encourage employees to participate and empower them to reduce waste and recycle better.
  • Reduce paper use: Take steps toward a paperless policy when possible. Provide email receipts or change processes to reduce printing.
  • Review purchases and processes to reduce waste: Find vendors that offer take-back programs for materials and provide single-use items.
  • Collect batteries and electronics: Austin and Travis County residents can schedule an appointment to drop off these items for free at Austin’s Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center.
  • Buy durable and repair broken items: Access Austin Energy's rebates and incentives to help make smart energy choices and save money.

Record-breaking summer travel at AUS means passengers need to plan ahead and arrive early

 

As Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) prepares for a record-breaking summer, passengers flying out for Memorial Day Weekend should too. “Plan ahead, arrive early, and pack your patience” is AUS’s advice for what the airport expects to be the busiest Memorial Day travel time in the airport’s history.
 
Memorial Day Weekend traditionally signals the start of summer travel, but AUS daily passenger numbers have already been climbing. Austinites and Central Texans are starting their summer travel earlier than in previous years. Airport officials expect every day to be a high passenger volume day through the end of summer.
 
An estimated 22 million passengers will fly out of AUS this year, making 2022 a record-breaking year. The increase in passengers comes after significant growth and investment in Austin by the airlines. This year’s growth signifies AUS’s strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with new airlines, new nonstop destinations, and more flights. This summer, when compared to 2019, AUS airlines have added upwards of 32% more available seats for passengers in May, June, and July.
 
“The growth Austin has experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredible,” said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager of the SD23 Mobility Outcome. “New businesses moving to Austin and recovering business travel, as well as a renewed desire for families and communities to connect, continues to drive strong demand for air travel at our airport. Over the past year, AUS has expanded our community’s ability to travel to more destinations than ever before, connecting us to places such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Germany, and more. Our Department of Aviation staff continues to advance progress on expansion and development improvements while collaborating with airport business partners to address the immediate needs of travelers.”
 
Last summer, peak travel days at AUS were Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays, mainly before 8 a.m. But heading into summer 2022, passengers can expect every day of the week to be busy. More flights are scheduled to connect travelers to over 90 nonstop destinations, including upcoming launches of nonstop service to Vancouver, Canada, Cozumel, Mexico, Montego Bay, Jamaica and more.
 
“Our COVID-19 recovery has been stronger than we ever could have imagined, which is why AUS is the strongest-recovering and fastest-growing airport in the U.S. based on seat capacity increases,” said Jacqueline Yaft, AUS Chief Executive Officer. “With unprecedented growth comes unprecedented challenges. We continue to work with our airlines, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and concession partners to address staffing shortages that lead to lines and delays. AUS is also committed to delivering an improved passenger experience through our Airport Expansion and Development Program (AEDP). This summer, we will break ground on the first series of construction projects.”
 
Those near-term AEDP projects will accommodate future passenger demand and include a new outbound baggage handling system and Gate 13 renovation to maximize capacity for flights. As well, the Department of Aviation, along with airport business partners such as concession operators, airlines, the TSA, and more, are hiring for full and part-time positions. For airport employment opportunities, visit AustinTexas.gov/AUSJobs.
 
When to arrive at AUS
To help manage summer travel through AUS, passengers using general security should arrive at least two and a half hours before boarding domestic flights and three hours before boarding international flights, regardless of the day of week or time of day their flight is scheduled.
 
Travelers should budget extra time if they need to check luggage, return a rental car, or complete other activities before joining the security screening lines. First-time flyers, travelers who have not flown in years, large groups, and those traveling with small children should also give themselves extra time.
 
Preparing for TSA screening and packing properly
Security screening checkpoints open at 3:00 a.m. TSA PreCheck and Clear screening are available at Checkpoints 1 and 2 West. All four checkpoints lead to all gates and airlines in the Barbara Jordan Terminal.
 
TSA security delays can occur when passengers accidentally pack prohibited items in their carry-on luggage. To help avoid delays, passengers should review what they can and can’t bring with them through security at TSA.gov.
 
Parking and or dropping off passengers
An increase in travelers means more vehicles at AUS. Drivers dropping off passengers can use either the upper level for departures or the lower level for arrivals to ease congestion. Passengers dropped off at the lower level can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security using escalators and elevators. If the lower level is congested, arriving passengers can use escalators and elevators to be picked up on the upper level.
 
Travelers looking to park onsite can visit ABIAParking.com to reserve a parking space and check for real-time parking availability before arriving at the airport.
 
Uber, Lyft, Wingz, or other rideshares use a tram service available on the first floor of the Red garage to take passengers to the rideshare pick-up area located on the ground floor underneath the rental car facility.
 
Checking into your flight
Travelers without checked luggage can bypass the ticket counters and head immediately to TSA  screening checkpoints using these time-saving flight check-in options:
 

  • Use the lower curbside and upper curbside for drop-off — from the lower level, passengers can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security via escalators and elevators.
  • Self-service flight check-in kiosks that allow travelers to print their boarding passes and bag tags are available inside the terminal, across from the airline ticket counters.
  • In addition to traditional check-in procedures, some airlines offer outside curbside check-in on the upper level.
  • Travelers can also save time by checking in for their flight using their airlines’ mobile app and a mobile boarding pass.

Getting the most out of AUS
Once inside the terminal, travelers can explore new art installations, concession offerings, live music stages, and more using step-by-step directions on the AUS digital wayfinding map at AirportMaps.AustinTexas.gov.
 
While airport restaurant hours may vary pending concession company staffing levels, AUS has invested in new self-service kiosks that are available 24/7 for passengers to purchase snacks, beverages, and travel necessities, including made-and-delivered-daily Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Information for Allegiant and Frontier travelers
Travelers flying with Allegiant and Frontier will depart from The South Terminal. All other airlines operate out of the main Barbara Jordan Terminal. The two terminals are not connected and must be accessed separately. The South Terminal is located near US 183 and Burleson Road, at 10000 Logistics Lane, Austin. Travelers can use the shuttle bus, which picks up from the departure level of the curbside, to travel from the Barbara Jordan Terminal to The South Terminal.


Memorial Day Weekend Personal Watercraft Ban on Lake Austin

The Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit will be enforcing the City Ordinance that prohibits personal watercraft, wet bikes, motorized ...