Thursday, March 3, 2022

City Council Approves Second Phase of Safer 6th Street Plan

On Thursday, City Council passed Council Member Kathie Tovo’s second set of actions to improve safety in the Sixth Street Entertainment District.
The resolution directs staff to:

  • provide Council with options for taking legal action against establishments with records of repeated violent incidents
  • work with 6th Street bar owners to encourage written safety plans
  • initiate a comprehensive lighting survey and encourage owners to add lighting to private properties
  • create an entertainment permit to strengthen staff training and communication with public safety professionals
  • update Council on progress toward establishing an Emergency Medical Services staging area on 6th Street
  • provide information and recommendations about potentially re-establishing a gun buyback program
  • propose a pilot program to make loans or grants to historic buildings along 6th Street for kitchen additions
  • communicate any possible new recommendations after Spring Festival 2022

The measure builds on work Tovo initiated in July 2021 to address safety on historic 6th Street following a rise in fatal violence.

The first resolution created an interdepartmental team that initiated lighting improvements, joint actions with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission to curb underage drinking and began work on a nightlife management plan, among other actions.

“We’re taking a broad approach to public safety in the area that advances staff’s recommendations while continuing to work collaboratively with 6th street bar owners and stakeholders on safety standards, including curbing the prevalence of underage drinking,” said Tovo.

The resolution also directs staff to partner with the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation on public strategies to create a more family-friendly atmosphere, including creating temporary seating and public attractions, such as flea and farmers' markets, art installations, and street dances.

“We look forward to exploring opportunities to partner with the City of Austin to create a more family-friendly atmosphere downtown,” Molly Alexander, Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation, said. “It is paramount to the culture and vibrancy of downtown Austin to activate public spaces on and around East Sixth Street. We appreciate the proposed fee waiver, which would allow us the opportunity to experiment creatively while we simultaneously continue to raise funds and accept donations for the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation.”

“The 6th Street Historic District must be a safe space for all Austinites and visitors who work, live or play Downtown,” said Council Member Kathie Tovo. “Our city staff and Downtown stakeholders are working hard to identify new strategies for safety, and I’m excited by the progress and additional opportunities we’ve identified to ensure that Downtown is an inviting and inclusive space for everyone.”

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