Thursday, December 1, 2022

City of Austin Statement on Labor Negotiations with Police Union

The City's Labor Relations Office has been negotiating with the Austin Police Association (APA) for almost nine months over a new labor contract. The current labor agreement would have expired in September, but was automatically extended until March 2023, so that negotiations could continue. Earlier today, the APA abruptly declared during a negotiation session that it would oppose removing and separating police oversight from the contract process, despite the City having made clear that such a measure was important to achieving a fair labor agreement that had community support, and despite the Association’s prior willingness to jointly work on such a goal.
 
City of Austin Spokesperson: 

“The parties reached a setback in negotiations today regarding whether police oversight should be separated from the union contract. The City negotiating team has been clear from the beginning that oversight must be removed from the contract. The City is willing to continue to negotiate with the union over pay and conditions of employment, if the Association is willing to continue discussions on removal of the police oversight provisions from the contract. Ultimately, our community members expect and deserve transparency and accountability in policing and we fully intend to make that happen through a combination of City ordinance and a responsible labor agreement. 
  
“The City Manager is confident that the parties will come to an agreement on a sound labor contract, which will be key to recruiting and retaining the top-quality police officers we need to keep our community safe, and to building the community-focused, equity-oriented police department to which we’re committed.”

HSEM Awards Young Artists for Emergency Preparedness - Free 2023 Preparedness Calendars available

Young artists will be granted a Distinguished Service Award at the Austin City Council meeting tonight. Students were selected for publication in the 2023 Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Emergency Preparedness Calendar.

“Of all the life-saving initiatives our department undertakes, the Emergency Preparedness Calendar is one of the most important,” said Juan Ortiz, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department Director. “The opportunity to engage with children and their families early can lead to a lifetime of being better prepared before an emergency. We are building up the next generation for disaster preparedness.”

The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Preparedness Calendar is an initiative that reaches our youngest community members. The contest was open to all Kindergarten through 8th grade students whose school or residence is physically located within the Central Texas area, regardless of the independent school district.

The purpose of the calendar is to reach children at an early age to begin to educate them and their families about emergency preparedness. The 2023 Preparedness Calendar is an all year reminder of the safety measures families can take to be more prepared before an emergency.

Calendars are free and will be distributed at City facilities or in bulk by request while supplies last. Requests to be an Emergency Preparedness Calendar distribution site can be made at hsemcommunications@austintexas.org. Students can submit for the 2024 calendar in early 2023 with more details available soon at austintexas.gov/hsemcalendar.

This year, the department received 54 submissions. A number of honorable mentions are featured on the back cover. The top 13 young artists were selected to be featured by month in the calendar.

2023 Emergency Preparedness Calendar Distinguished Service Award Recipients:

  • Erin Tessier, 7th Grade
  • Aryanna Craig, 5th Grade
  • Samantha Duncan, 1st Grade
  • Jack Coleman, 3rd Grade
  • Eliora Wiering, 3rd Grade
  • Ridhann Ramesh, 4th Grade
  • Lennox Gibson, 3rd Grade
  • Solia Martinez, 2nd Grade
  • Daisy Batres, 4th Grade
  • Abram Mireles, Kindergarten
  • Mila Mireles, 2nd Grade
  • Niam Patel, 2nd Grade
  • Ethan Huynh, 3nd Grade

Austin Animal Center and Austin Pets Alive! team up to get pets into Homes for the Holidays

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) and Austin Animal Center (AAC) want the most vulnerable kittens, cats, puppies and dogs to get out of crates and kennels and into homes this holiday season. The two animal shelters are hosting a “Home for the Holidays” promotion. From December 1-31, AAC and APA! will lower adoption fees to $31 (surgery deposits still apply). 

APA!’s Director of Lifesaving Operations, Stephanie Bilbro, sees this as an opportunity to clear out the kennels and make a significant, lifesaving impact heading into 2023. “The holidays are a great time for the Austin community to come together and add to their families. We have so many precious kittens, puppies, cats and dogs just waiting for their turn to find a family,” said Bilbro. “We hope this adoption special sets us and AAC up for a successful end to 2022 and a fast start going into 2023.”

AAC adoption supervisor Mary Brown agrees. “Our shelters are packed with animals who just want to find a home for the holidays, whether it’s an adoptive or foster home.”

Austin Animal Center is located at 7201 Levander Loop and is open every day from 11 am to 7 pm for adoptions. For holiday hours, AAC will be closing at 5 pm on December 23 and will be closed December 24-26.

APA!’s main location (1156 W Cesar Chavez St.) and Tarrytown location (3118 Windsor Rd.) will be closed on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve hours are 12-4pm. All other days, APA! will be open for normal operating hours, 12-6pm.

 

Austin Animal Center (AAC), operated by the City of Austin Animal Services Office, is the municipal shelter for the City of Austin and unincorporated Travis County. AAC provides shelter and care to more than 11,000 animals annually, and safely places more than 95% of all pets. AAC also has numerous programs and partnerships designed to help pets and their people in the community. Learn more at austinanimalcenter.org.

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is a nonprofit animal shelter and rescue organization pioneering comprehensive, innovative programs designed to save the most at-risk companion animals and educate others to do the same through its American Pets Alive! nationwide education and outreach division. A leader in No Kill sheltering in America’s largest No Kill city, APA! helps more than 10,000 dogs and cats annually in Central Texas and beyond get a chance at the life they deserve. To learn more about APA!, visit austinpetsalive.org.


City to break ground on Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) expansion, renovations

 La ciudad iniciará la expansión y la renovación del Centro Cultural México Americano Emma S. Barrientos


Dec 01, 2022 02:04 pm

English

Se invita a la comunidad a unirse a una celebración pública que marca el inicio de la construcción para ampliar y renovar el Centro Cultural México Americano Emma S. Barrientos (ESB-MACC). La ceremonia de inauguración, que se llevará a cabo en el ESB-MACC (600 River St., Austin, TX 78701) el sábado 10 de diciembre a las 10 a. m., contará con líderes comunitarios, funcionarios públicos y miembros del equipo del proyecto. Se invita al público a ayudar a marcar este importante paso en la creación de un centro cultural tal como lo imaginó la comunidad hace décadas.  

“El ESB-MACC sirve como un pilar cultural para nuestra comunidad, y estoy emocionada de vernos comenzar esta tan esperada expansión”, dijo Kathie Tovo, concejal del Distrito 9. “Estas mejoras permitirán que el ESB-MACC ofrezca más programas y clases de arte y organice más eventos culturales. Con esta expansión, el ESB-MACC podrá llegar y servir a más habitantes  de toda la ciudad de Austin.” 

El ESB-MACC abrió sus puertas originalmente en 2007 como un espacio dedicado a la preservación, creación, presentación y promoción de las artes y el patrimonio cultural mexicoamericano y latino. Durante los últimos 15 años, el ESB-MACC ha ofrecido a los residentes un lugar de reunión para eventos culturales, celebraciones, clases enfocadas en artes escénicas, música, literatura y cine. El centro, que se encuentra en el Distrito Histórico de Rainey Street en Austin, atrae a más de 100,000 visitantes anuales. 

En 2018, los votantes de Austin aprobaron $27 millones en fondos para abordar las prioridades descritas en la Fase 2 del plan de visión actualizado recientemente del ESB-MACC. Esto incluye renovaciones al edificio existente, agregando espacio adicional para aulas, galerías de arte y otras mejoras destacadas en el sitio. Estas características se desarrollaron ampliamente con el aporte de la comunidad, lo que ayudó a identificar las necesidades más críticas del espacio. 

“Estamos entusiasmados de comenzar la expansión y renovación de la Fase 2 del ESB-MACC”, dijo Endi Silva, presidente de la Junta Asesora del Centro Cultural México Americano. “La comunidad abogó por espacio adicional para acomodar programas, clases y exhibiciones y para representar la rica historia del área. Nos complace que este proyecto permita que el ESB-MACC sirva a más personas en nuestra ciudad en constante expansión”. 

La próxima expansión busca agregar espacios de ensayo de música, renovaciones de espacios de actuación, aulas, galerías, espacio de oficina/apoyo, espacio de almacenamiento dedicado, espacio culinario, así como espacios de jardinería y reunión. La renovación propuesta incluye características de seguridad mejoradas, salas con luz natural, un perímetro cerrado/controlable del zócalo y una mejor orientación. 

La expansión de las instalaciones también contará con importantes elementos de sustentabilidad y está en camino de recibir las designaciones LEED (Liderazgo en Energía y Diseño Ambiental) y el diseño de edificios ecológicos del Departamento de energía de Austin. 

La renovación y expansión también presentará una oportunidad para que los artistas locales muestren su trabajo. El proyecto reservará fondos para exhibiciones de arte público que se convertirán en elementos permanentes de la instalación. Se espera una convocatoria abierta para que los artistas presenten solicitudes en los próximos meses.  

Obras Públicas de Austin está administrando el diseño, la construcción y la entrega de este proyecto en nombre del Departamento de Parques y Recreación de Austin, el cualopera el ESB-MACC. La fase 2 fue diseñada por el proyecto conjunto de Miró Rivera Architects y Tatiana Bilbao Estudio. El Gerente de Construcción en Riesgo es la compañía de construcción Rogers-O'Brien. 

El edificio permanecerá cerrado durante la construcción para ayudar a garantizar la seguridad de los residentes y visitantes. Los programas y eventos continuarán en otros sitios alrededor de Austin, incluidas bibliotecas y centros de recreación en una variedad de lugares. Se espera que la fase de construcción dure dos años, con una gran inauguración anticipada a principios de 2025. Durante el cierre del edificio, el ESB-MACC ha planeado asociarse con ubicaciones en toda la ciudad para continuar albergando programación para la comunidad. 



City to break ground on Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) expansion, renovations

Español

The community is invited to join a public celebration marking the start of construction to expand and renovate the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC). The groundbreaking ceremony, which will be held at the ESB-MACC (600 River St., Austin, TX 78701) on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m., will feature community leaders, public officials and members of the project team. The public is invited to help mark this important step in creating a cultural center as envisioned by the community decades ago.  

“The ESB-MACC serves as a cultural cornerstone for our community, and I’m excited to see us begin this long-awaited expansion,” said District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo. “These improvements will allow the ESB-MACC to offer more arts programs and classes and to host more cultural events. With this expansion, the ESB-MACC will be able to reach and serve even more Austinites from across the city.” 

The ESB-MACC originally opened its doors in 2007 as space dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation, and promotion of Mexican American and Latino cultural arts and heritage. Over the past 15 years, the ESB-MACC has offered residents a gathering place for cultural events, celebrations, classes focused on performing arts, music, literature and film. The center, which sits in Austin’s Rainey Street Historical District, attracts more than 100,000 annual visitors.  

In 2018, Austin voters approved $27 million in funding to address priorities outlined in Phase 2 of the ESB-MACC's recently updated vision plan. This includes renovations to the existing building, adding additional space for classrooms, art galleries, and other noted site improvements.  These features were developed extensively with the community’s input, which helped identify the most critical needs for the space.  

“We are excited to begin the ESB-MACC Phase 2 expansion and renovation,” said Endi Silva, Mexican American Cultural Center Advisory Board Chair. “The community advocated for additional space to accommodate programs, classes and exhibitions and to represent the rich history of the area. We are pleased that this project will allow the ESB-MACC to serve more people in our ever-expanding city.” 

The upcoming expansion seeks to add music rehearsal spaces, renovations to performance spaces, classrooms, galleries, office/support space, dedicated storage space, culinary space, as well as landscaping and gathering spaces. The proposed renovation includes enhanced safety features, rooms with natural light, a closed/controllable perimeter of the zocalo and better wayfinding.  

The facility expansion will also feature significant sustainability elements and is on track to receive both LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and Austin Energy Green Building Design designations.  

The renovation and expansion will also present an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work. The project will set aside funding for public art displays that will become permanent fixtures for the facility. An open call for artists to submit application is expected in the months ahead.  

Austin Public Works is managing the design, construction and delivery of this project on behalf of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the ESB-MACC. Phase 2 was designed by a Joint Venture Miró Rivera Architects and Tatiana Bilbao Estudio. The Construction Manager at Risk is Rogers-O'Brien Construction Company. 

The facility will remain closed during construction to help ensure the safety of residents and visitors. Programs and events will continue at other sites around Austin including libraries and recreation centers in a variety of locations. The construction phase is expected to last two years – with a grand opening anticipated in early 2025. During the building closure, the ESB-MACC has planned to partner with locations throughout the city in order to continue to host programming for the community.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Kathie Tovo to Present Proclamation of World AIDS Day to APH

What: Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Kathie Tovo will present a proclamation of World AIDS Day to Austin Public Health (APH) as part of continued efforts in the fight against HIV.  

Recent data from 2020 shows an estimated 8,200 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the Austin area. 83.9% know their diagnosis, and 81.5% are receiving HIV care. 222 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2020. 

APH offers free HIV testing as well as case management services. APH has also compiled a list of local HIV care and service providers. 

Who:   

  • Austin Mayor and Austin Area HIV Planning Council CEO Steve Adler  

  • District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo  

  • Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup 

  • Health Equity and Community Engagement Division Assistant Director Laura G. La Fuente 

  • Austin Area HIV Planning Council 

When: Thursday, Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.  

Where: City Hall Chambers, 301 West 2nd Street


Council Member Paige Ellis Leads Effort on Missing Middle Housing

Austin City Council this week will consider launching a process to streamline the approval process of "missing middle" housing geared toward moderate-income families and individuals at risk of being priced out of the local housing market. The effort is being led by District 8 Council Member Paige Ellis, who believes the city must act to increase housing options and address affordability pressures. Ellis' resolution, to be considered at Council's Dec. 1 meeting, aims to right-size the level of site plan review required for more compact and affordable housing options, including triplex, fourplex, and 5-16 unit missing middle developments.   
 
"Addressing the city's housing crisis begins by looking within to remove barriers and build efficiency," said Ellis. "Streamlining the review process for these smaller residential developments promises to shorten the amount of time and cost it will take to get these desperately needed affordable housing options on the market without changing zoning." 
 
Missing middle housing is defined as compact residential developments of 3-16 homes. Under current code, these developments are subject to the complex, expensive, and time-consuming site plan process required of large, multi-family, and commercial projects. The resolution calls for developing a “Site Plan Lite” for residential developments of five to 16 units. Residential projects of three to four units would be reviewed in the manner currently used for single-family homes and duplexes. 
 
“Increasing the diversity of housing choices available in our neighborhoods is essential to making Austin more affordable and equitable,” said Nora Linares-Moeller, Executive Director of HousingWorks. “Making it easier to build more small multi-unit housing, just like the fourplexes and small apartment buildings that have existed for generations in our cherished historic neighborhoods, is a great step forward. HousingWorks applauds Council Member Ellis and the resolution's cosponsors for their leadership on this issue." 
 
Council Member Ellis thanks her colleagues Council Members Natasha Harper-Madison, José “Chito” Vela, and Leslie Pool, and Mayor Steve Adler for cosponsoring this resolution that will support affordable and diverse housing options and moves the city closer to its housing goals adopted in the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint. 
  
“Our city’s outdated rules add costs to homebuilding that get passed on to future buyers and renters,” said District 1 Council Member Harper-Madison. “By cutting the red tape and streamlining our processes to allow smaller, more affordable units like fourplexes and townhomes, we can unlock more housing opportunities for working Austinites and create a more walkable, transit-friendly compact and connected city for both existing and new residents.” 
  
“As Austin’s affordability crisis deepens, we need to allow people to build smaller, more affordable homes. Simplifying the permitting process also helps affordability,” said District 4 Council Member Vela. “I appreciate CM Ellis’s leadership on this issue. Missing middle housing is only one facet of the transformative housing changes we need in Austin, but it is an important step.” 
  
“Easing the burden on this type of home is something I’ve been focused on for a good while, and I share Council Member Ellis’ desire to find specific remedies to accommodate more missing middle housing,” said District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool. “As we continue to recover from several challenging years, we are in a good position to focus on these types of reforms and make progress with widespread community support.” 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Public Comment Period for Housing and Planning Department Performance Report

City of Austin Housing and Planning Department: Notice of 15-Day Public Comment Period

The City of Austin Housing & Planning (HPD) Department announces a 15-day public comment period to receive public comments on its Draft FY 2021-22 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). HPD receives the following grant entitlement funds annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for affordable housing, community development, economic development and public services: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership Program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).

Participating cities are required to develop a CAPER annually. The CAPER assesses the city’s progress and the effectiveness of its performance related to its federally funded activities during FY 2021-22, and the achievement of its overall strategies, objectives, and priorities outlined in the FY 2019-24 Consolidated Plan. The Draft FY 2021-22 CAPER will be available for review during the public comment period. The city will submit this report to HUD prior to December 29, 2022.

Public Comment Period

The public is invited to review the Draft FY 2021-22 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) during the public comment period, December 13 through December 27, 2022. The document will be available on HPD’s web site and at the following community locations:

• Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701 (Central)

• Austin Central Public Library, 710 West Cesar Chavez Street (Central)

• Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, 500 East 7th Street (Central)

• St. John's Library Branch, 7500 Blessing Avenue (North East)

• Housing Authority of the City of Austin, 1124 S IH 35 (South)

Written Comments

Written comments may be submitted until 5 PM on December 27, 2022. Please include a name, address, and phone number.
Mail to: Housing & Planning Department Attn: FY 2021-22 CAPER P.O. Box 1088 Austin, Texas 78767
Email: HPD@austintexas.gov
For additional information, call the HPD Office at 512-974-3100 (voice)

The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications will be provided upon request. For assistance please call 512-974-3100; TTY users route through Relay Texas at 711.


Monday, November 28, 2022

City of Austin Utilities Help Customers Prepare for Winter Weather

Austin Water, Austin Energy and the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are helping customers take steps now to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Meter keys, hose bib covers, hand-crank flashlights, emergency preparedness kit materials and winter preparedness tip sheets will be provided by the City. Customers can pick up these supplies, while they last, at City of Austin Utilities Customer Service Centers (UCSC) this week and again in January:
 
North UCSC:     
8716 Research Blvd., Suite 115
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 and Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. – or while supplies last
 
East UCSC:     
Rosewood-Zaragosa Center
2800 Webberville Road
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 and Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. – or while supplies last
 
South UCSC:     
1901 W. William Cannon Drive, Suite 100
Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 and Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. – or while supplies last
 
Customers are also urged to tune in for emergency alerts by:

Tips to prepare your pipes for freezing weather:
Austin Water encourages customers to take steps now to prepare for winter. Following a few, easy steps now will help customers protect their property and prevent damage when freezing weather does arrive in Austin.

1. Locate your water shutoff.
Locate the water main shutoff valve and keep it clear of debris and obstacles at all times. For most homes, the property owner’s shutoff valve is on your side of the water meter at the meter box. For renters, please consult with your property manager. 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 in an emergency. You may need a water meter key to open the meter box, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Watch a video about how to locate your water shutoff.

2. Weatherize to keep out cold air.
Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and be prepared to close garage doors for the duration of the freeze. Gather supplies to cover vents on your home’s foundation.

3. Weatherize exposed pipes and water heaters.
Prepare to 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. Get all supplies now so you are ready to wrap pipes and water heaters when a winter storm is approaching.

4. Learn how to drip faucets properly.
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. 
Watch a video about how to drip faucets properly.

5. Outside faucets.
Austin Water encourages all customers to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. Prepare supplies to wrap outside faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator.

6. Gather supplies to be prepared.
Having one gallon of water per person and pet per day for seven days on hand to help avoid the rush at stores when the first winter storm of the season approaches.
 

Learn more about how to stay warm and stay safe this winter here.



Bright Green Future Grants Awarded to 34 Austin-area Schools

 

The City of Austin will fund 43 student-led sustainability projects in the 2022-23 school year

The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability announced today that 34 Austin-area K-12 schools will receive funding to implement 43 sustainability projects that are expected to benefit approximately 14,000 students. Over half of the schools receiving a grant qualify for Title 1 funding, which includes a larger percentage of students from low-income families. These projects will offer hands-on learning opportunities, make school campuses greener, and provide tangible benefits to surrounding neighborhoods.

“The Bright Green Future Grants program helps guide our campus’s focus on environmental awareness and engagement,” said Brittany Platt, a parent at Patton Elementary School. “The funding we receive has allowed us to be creative and intentional with projects and incorporate ways for our community to be more environmentally engaged.”

Patton Elementary will use its Bright Green Future Grant to create a community-powered gardening program. The school hopes to provide educational opportunities for students and bolster the campus as a public environmental anchor in the community.

The Office of Sustainability received 55 applications from 41 schools. Projects were selected from every Austin City Council District, representing schools in Austin ISD, Round Rock ISD, and several private schools. Each project will receive up to $3,000 to implement their project. The following projects were awarded funding through a competitive process:

  • Children who spend time outdoors are happier, healthier, and perform better academically. Students will connect with nature and breathe fresh air in outdoor classrooms at Govalle, Cunningham, Boone, Rodriquez, Linder, Langford, Overton, and Houston Elementary Schools. 

  • Bicycle clubs improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve health by getting students out of cars and on bikes. This year’s clubs will teach students about bike safety and maintenance at Allison, Harris, Hart, Houston, Langford, Oak Springs, Ortega, Overton, Palm, Perez, Reilly, Ridgetop, Rodriquez, Sanchez, and St. Elmo Elementary Schools.

  • Rain gardens at Zilker and Pond Springs Elementary Schools, O’Henry Middle School, and the Harmony School of Excellence will help conserve water, provide native plant education, and minimize soil erosion.

  • Growing vegetables in school gardens at Clayton, Patton, and UT Elementary Schools, Winn Montessori, Wholesome Generation, and Austin ISD Food Services will help students learn about healthy food options while reducing the carbon impact of transporting vegetables from farm to grocery store to table.

  • Ridgetop and Boone Elementary Schools, Tigerlily Preschool, and McNeil High School will plant and maintain wildlife gardens that provide a habitat for various native pollinators and birds. An apiary at Austin Achieve will help students learn about how critical bees are to our ecosystem. 

  • Students at St. Elmo Elementary will create a recycling and composting program for students and their families.

  • Planting and caring for trees at Garza High School and T.A. Brown and Pond Springs Elementary Schools will help students appreciate and understand the vital role of trees in our environment.

  • Upgrading a solar array and designing educational signage will educate students and community members about the benefits of renewable energy at Zilker Elementary School.
“To address climate change, we need everyone in our community on board,” said Lucia Athens, Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “These inspirational projects demonstrate the dedication of Austin area students and teachers to creating positive change.”

Funding for the Bright Green Future Grants program is provided through a collaborative effort among six different City of Austin departments, including: 
###
 

About the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability

Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, a healthy and just local food system, resource-efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. Find out more at www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

City of Austin Thanksgiving Closures 2022

City of Austin Offices, Facilities to Close for Thanksgiving 2022
City of Austin administrative offices and other municipal facilities will be closed today, Thursday and Friday, Nov. 24-25 in observance of Thanksgiving.

Trash, Recycling and Composting Schedules
All trash, recycling and composting collections will "slide" forward one day on Thanksgiving. You will be affected if your regular collection day is Thursday or Friday. Thursday and Friday collections will be picked up on Friday and Saturday. Check your personalized curbside services calendar and set up reminders for all your collections on the Austin Recycles mobile app or onlineThe Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 24, but remains open by appointment only on Friday and Saturday.

Austin Public Health
Environmental Health Services at the Rutherford Lane Campus, the Office of Vital Records all WIC and Shots for Tots clinics, Neighborhood Centers and TB, Sexual Health, and Refugee Clinics will be closed Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday.   

COVID-19 testing is available at private and non-profit sites throughout Austin, including pharmacies, hospitals and urgent care centers. Those who have private insurance can contact their doctor’s office or insurer for assessment and testing options. Additional resources:  

Visit Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers near you.

Parks and Recreation Facilities Schedules
Austin Parks and Recreation holiday hours vary based on facility so please call ahead or check AustinTexas.gov/Parks before you go. Most facilities including museums and cultural centers, recreation centers, and senior centers will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23 and remain closed through Thursday, Nov. 24 and Friday, Nov. 25 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tennis Centers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day only. Golf courses will be open on Thanksgiving Day until 1 p.m. All Aquatic Facilities will be closed on Thanksgiving Day except Barton Springs Pool which will operate unguarded. For pool hours over the holiday weekend visit AustinTexas.gov/Pools.

Austin Public Library Schedule
All Austin Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25. Library resources available remotely can be accessed at the Austin Public Library Website: library.austintexas.gov.

Austin Animal Center Schedule
The Austin Animal Center will be closed Thanksgiving Day, and will resume normal hours Friday, Nov. 25.

City of Austin Utilities Schedule
The City of Austin Utilities Customer Care Call Center will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 24 through Saturday, Nov. 26. Additionally, all City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 24 and Friday, Nov. 25. Customers can make utility payments at coautilities.com or by calling 1-833-375-4919 for a Quick Payment. 

In the event of an outage, please contact us at 512-494-9400 and follow the prompts. A customer service representative will be available 24 hours a day over the holiday to assist with any outage concerns.

Additional payment options include: 

  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, Randall’s and Walmart stores 
  • Mailing money order or check to P.O. BOX 2267, Austin, TX 78783-2267 or using a drop box location  
  • Payment drop boxes are located at the North and South Utility Customer Service Centers, 625 East 10th Street and 505 Barton Springs Rd. Expect 3-5 business days for drop-off payments to process. The payment drop box at the East Branch inside Rosewood-Zaragosa is NOT available at this time. 

For questions about city services or information call 3-1-1. You can also submit service requests from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

City Hosting Candidate Forums for Council Runoff Elections Nov. 30

 

Early voting starts Dec. 1 with runoff election day Dec. 13

The City of Austin and the Ethics Review Commission are partnering with the League of Women Voters Austin Area to sponsor live candidate forums on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. for candidates in the upcoming runoff elections for Austin City Council District 3, Council District 5, Council District 9 and Mayor.

The events will provide Austinites an opportunity to listen to candidates express their views so audience members can understand candidates' positions and make informed voting decisions. Candidates who are elected will serve four-year terms.

This forum will be a friendly debate style for the candidates. People interested in suggesting a question to be asked of the Candidates during the forums can email forum@lwvaustin.org or call 512-451-6710 by noon on Wednesday. Topics can be both citywide and Council district-specific. Questions suggested repeatedly will be considered for inclusion.

The District 3 forum will start at 6 p.m. with Candidate José Velázquez and Candidate Daniela Silva. The District 5 forum will start at 6:45 p.m. with Candidate Ryan Alter and Candidate Stephanie Bazan. The District 9 forum will start at 7:30 p.m. with Candidate Zohaib “Zo” Qadri and Candidate Linda Guerrero. The Mayoral forum will start at 8:15 p.m. with Candidate Celia Israel and Candidate Kirk Watson.

Individuals can watch the recorded forums at ATXN.TV (ENG & SPA), cable TV channel 6, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99. The runoff forums will also be available live on KAZI FM 88.7 and by telephone in English (855)-756-7520 Ext.65825#) and Spanish (855)-756-7520 Ext.65826#). Visit AustinTexas.gov/candidateforums to learn more or call 3-1-1.

For more information about the election process, visit AustinTexas.gov/Elections.

Make History This Holiday Season With Gingerbread History Heroes

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department invites the public to decorate a holiday ornament as their favorite figure from Texas history. Brush Square Museums will be distributing salt dough “gingerbread cookie” ornaments and a variety of decorating supplies to participating historic sites all around Austin as part of the 3rd Annual Gingerbread History Heroes program.  

Gingerbread History Heroes ornaments will be available for the public to pick up from participating sites December 2 through December 31. Past ornaments include Elisabet Ney, Lydia Mendoza, and Sam Houston. The program is free of charge for all participants. Keep an eye out for Gingerbread History Heroes at your favorite museums and cultural centers this December!

Participating sites include:

  • Brush Square Museums (O. Henry Museum and Susanna Dickinson Museum)
  • Asian American Resource Center
  • Elisabet Ney Museum
  • French Legation State Historic Site
  • George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
  • Old Bakery & Emporium
  • Park Ranger Station at the Zilker Caretaker Cottage


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Flu Activity Very High & COVID-19 Still Prevalent Ahead of Holiday Season


Week of 11/21/22 Flu activity graph reads Alert: High Numbers starting earlier this year. 8.01%: Percentage of visits due to influenza like illness reported by Travis County participants

There is much to be thankful for this season as we make strides in the fight against COVID-19, but now we face another threat. Austin Public Health (APH) epidemiologists are monitoring alarming upper respiratory virus trends, specifically children in the hospital. As friends and family get together for holiday celebrations, it is important to consider those who are at increased risk for poor outcomes should they get sick. Get up to date with flu and COVID-19 vaccines, stay home if you feel sick and take preventive measures to minimize the spread of viruses indoors.

Emergency rooms in the area are overwhelmed with patients suffering from upper respiratory illnesses. The flu positivity rate in Travis County for the most recent reporting period is 26.88%. It's usually below 10% at this point in the season. The percentage of visits to health care providers due to flu-like illness is 8%--much higher than at this point the last few years (see graph above). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seasonal flu shots for everyone 6 months and older.

"If you haven’t already, please get your seasonal flu shot," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "If we can limit the prevalence of those viruses in our community, it will help our already short-staffed health care system care for high-risk patients."

Everyone 6 months and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. More than 71% of those eligible in Travis County have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Only about 37% have gotten a booster or third dose. The CDC recommends everyone five and older get an updated (bivalent) booster shot. Updated boosters offer broader protection against newer COVID-19 variants including BA.5 which is predominant in Travis County.

Stay home if you’re feeling sick. The likelihood of spreading viruses is heightened during indoor group gatherings. If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends masking and testing at least five days after exposure. If you have COVID-19, stay home and isolate from others for at least five days.

"Family and friends who haven’t seen each other for years because of the pandemic may be getting together for the holidays. While this is a time to celebrate, we can’t let our guard down," said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "Continue to follow the lessons we’ve learned to keep yourself and loved ones safe and out of the hospital."

If you’re hosting guests this holiday season, consider ways to improve ventilation. Ensure it’s easy for visitors to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers. You may also choose to wear a well-fitting mask to protect yourself and loved ones who may be at high risk of serious illness.

APH has compiled health and safety messaging for the upcoming holiday season. Access the media toolkit and help us share best practices to mitigate the spread of illnesses. 

City of Austin Statement on Labor Negotiations with Police Union

The City's Labor Relations Office has been negotiating with the Austin Police Association (APA) for almost nine months over a new labor ...