Friday, March 31, 2023

Dove Springs District Park Basketball Court Improvement Celebration and Play ATX Kick-Off

In celebration of Spurs Week in Austin, Spurs Give and the Austin Parks Foundation (APF) is donating nearly $500,000 to launch “Play ATX,” a multi-year program dedicated to renovating parks and basketball courts throughout the city of Austin. To tip off the program, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at Dove Springs District Park (5801 Ainez Dr, Austin, TX 78744) to unveil a newly renovated basketball court on Tuesday, April 4 at 5 p.m. Following the ceremony, a basketball clinic will be held with 50 youth athletes from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s (PARD) basketball league.

“We are honored to help expand the work and active programming that is already being led by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department,” said Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for Spurs Sports & Entertainment. “At our core, it is important for us to celebrate and honor fans beyond the court in ways that will make a difference for those most in need and Play ATX is one way we are bringing that mission to Austin.”

Spurs Give and APF  are working in partnership with the City of Austin and PARD to create safe play spaces and foster active lifestyles for families by rebuilding, refurbishing and updating community parks and basketball courts. Improvements to the basketball court at Dove Springs District Park included resurfacing and restriping the court, replacing the goals, and new benches and lights.

“We are so excited and grateful to partner with the Spurs for this special program,” said Colin Wallis, CEO of Austin Parks Foundation. “Our Parks & Recreation department is severely underfunded and partnerships like this help amplify our work and allow us to make much-needed improvements to our city’s parks. Outdoor activities, such as playing basketball, are so important, not only to foster a sense of community but for the tremendous physical and mental health benefits.”

Play ATX is an expansion of the Spurs Give program “Play SA,” which began in San Antonio in 2020. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and Spurs Give teamed up with a goal of renovating parks most in need in each of the city's 10 districts. Projects have ranged from revamped basketball courts to a skate park to upgraded playgrounds. Play SA is in its third year and has completed 11 renovations.

“Through creative collaboration and teamwork with Austin Parks Foundation and the Spurs, the newly refurbished basketball court is a wonderful addition to Dove Springs District Park,” said PARD’s Director Kimberly McNeeley. “Thank you to our partners who worked closely with the Parks and Recreation Department and community to make this court a reality.”

About Austin Parks Foundation

For 30 years, Austin Parks Foundation (APF) has been connecting people and parks. APF is dedicated to partnering with our community to enhance people’s lives by improving our public parks, trails and green spaces through volunteerism, innovative programming, advocacy and financial support. APF’s goal is to improve Austin’s parks by building community through our parks with people at the forefront of our work.

APF’s programming and strategic vision are aimed at helping to fill the funding and resource gap for our parks, and we strive to ensure that every Austinite has access to well-kept parks, trails and green spaces no matter their neighborhood.

APF’s community-initiated grants have distributed nearly $4 million since 2006, and the group’s annual flagship volunteer event, It’s My Park Day, results in an average of $650,000 in volunteer labor each year. APF is a presenting partner and beneficiary of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Metropolitan Park, and empowers neighbors all over the city to create a parks system that serves their needs. For more information, please visit www.austinparks.org

About City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Austin Parks and Recreation seeks to inspire our community to learn, play, protect and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places. This City of Austin Department protects and maintains parkland, urban forest, and trails as well as offering sports, recreation, educational enrichment, arts programs, cultural opportunities, and nature and aquatic activities for Austinites. For more information visit AustinTexas.gov/Parks

About Spurs Give

We are a family - a team - passionate about sports. We are passionate about what sports can do for our community - especially our youth. At the heart of it, we believe sports can provide a family with a common goal, and a hope for a better future. We are Spurs Give - the official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of Spurs Sports & Entertainment. Since our founding in 1988, we have invested $32 million in our community. Through our players' passions, our grants, and our impact programs, we are changing lives and leaving a lasting impact. You give. We give. Spurs Give.

City of Austin and Hill Country Conservancy Celebrate Completion of the Violet Crown Trail Whirlpool Patio Education Center

 

Grand Opening Community Celebration To Be Held This Saturday, April 1.

  • WHO:
    • Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis
    • Kathy Miller - CEO, Hill Country Conservancy
    • Pirouz Moin - Pirouz Moin, Assistant Director, City of Austin Public Works
    • Nico Hauwert, Ph.D. - Professional Geoscientist and Program Manager, Austin Water
    • Drake Allen - Coordinator, Community Relations at Circuit of The Americas
  • WHAT: Ribbon cutting & community celebration for the Whirlpool Patio Education Center
  • WHEN: Saturday, April 1 at 2:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Violet Crown Trail Dick Nichols Trailhead - Latta Drive and Convict Hill Road

The City of Austin Neighborhood Partnering Program (NPP), Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) and Austin Water are excited to announce that the Whirlpool Patio Education Center has been completed with fun, new additions to the space!

Residents are invited to check out the patio this Saturday, April 1 from 12-4 p.m.

Built in 2021 through a partnership between HCC and the City of Austin’s Urban Trails Program, the Whirlpool Patio serves as a gathering place and educational center along the Violet Crown Trail. The patio’s design includes a handmade hardscape spiral design of limestone and grout in homage to the nearby Whirlpool Cave. Located under the MoPac overpass at Latta Drive and Convict Hill, educators and students use this space as an outdoor classroom on field trips to the Whirlpool Cave.

To further enhance the space, HCC applied to the City’s Neighborhood Partnering Program to partner in funding and resourcing the addition of 12 interpretive educational panels exploring the mysterious world of caves, along with a stone salamander carving. Austin Water resourced the new cave murals framing the space. The patio's educational elements are intended to interactively connect the community directly to nature and to encourage understanding of the Hill Country's unique geological profile.

“Connection to nature, recreation opportunities for the entire family, and exploring unique aspects of the Hill Country are at the heart of the Violet Crown Trail experience,” said Kathy Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the Hill Country Conservancy. “By building the Whirlpool Patio and Education Center, Hill Country Conservancy and our partners at the City of Austin and Circuit of Americas have created an engaging place for our community to learn about and interact with the unique ecology and geography found in the Hill Country. As our region is one of the fastest growing in the nation, only a conservation-minded community will be able to protect our beautiful Texas Hill Country for future generations to enjoy.”

Austin residents are invited to celebrate this new community amenity at the Whirlpool Patio Education Center Grand Opening event on Saturday, April 1 from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m., sponsored by Circuit of the Americas. This community celebration will include cave tours of Whirlpool Cave, snacks, giveaways, and family-friendly activities led by local organizations like Austin Bat Refuge. At 2 p.m., local leaders will share remarks and cut the ribbon on the completed project. Cave tour capacity is limited, so reserve your spot in advance to guarantee entry!

To learn more about the Violet Crown Trail, VioletCrownTrail.com. To learn more about the City of Austin’s Urban Trails Program’s projects along the trail, visit AustinTexas.gov/VioletCrownTrail.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

City of Austin Annual Career Expo April 12

The City of Austin's annual Career Expo event will occur on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center. Last year, our Career Expo attracted approximately 100 employers with more than 4,000 jobs.

Career Expo FlyerThe primary goal of this event is to provide opportunities for job seekers from all backgrounds, including justice-involved individuals, Veterans, Seniors (50+), and people with disabilities, to find viable jobs and to network with employers and resource providers.

The Career Expo will include several City departments, private employers, state agencies, higher education and technical schools, temporary staffing agencies, and many smaller businesses with skilled, customer service and labor job openings. There is no cost for job seekers to attend. Registration is available at Austintexas.gov/CareerExpo.

City Recruiting Community Members to serve as Displacement Prevention Navigators

 

New pilot program working to help people stay in their homes 

La versión en español sigue a continuación. 

Austin, Texas — The City of Austin Housing Department is recruiting community members who want to serve as Displacement Prevention Navigators in a pilot program dedicated to helping people stay in their homes and communities. Displacement Prevention Navigators will help renters and homeowners learn about and access housing resources from the City and other organizations, bridging the gap between eligible households and existing resources. Community members are encouraged to apply by April 30, 2023.   

“We know that there are residents who are feeling the burden of displacement pressures. Our goal is to help them remain in their homes and communities,” said Rosie Truelove, the City of Austin’s Housing Department Director. “The Displacement Prevention Navigator pilot program is a deliberate approach to help connect people with the resources they qualify for and need.” 

More than a third of local households are cost-burdened—meaning they pay more than 1/3 of their income for housing—due to quickly rising home prices, rents, and property taxes. With limited resources available, it can be difficult to know where to begin to look for help, and going through multiple application processes can be overwhelming and discouraging for some residents.   

“The Displacement Prevention Navigator pilot program is urgently needed,” said District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes. “People are our city’s biggest strength—but many people are finding it harder to live here as Austin becomes less affordable. This program will help Austinites stay in their homes and communities by accessing resources from the City and others.” 

The one-year pilot program will focus on two neighborhoods at high risk of displacement: Colony Park and Dove Springs. Compared to Austin as a whole, the pilot neighborhoods have higher shares of both cost-burdened residents and residents who have lived in their homes for more than 20 years. Important infrastructure investments and redevelopment initiatives are anticipated in these areas, including Project Connect. While such investments can bring great benefits, they can also potentially impact displacement as property values in nearby neighborhoods rise. 

Beginning in summer 2023, Navigators will go through a series of training workshops to learn about local housing resources and tools for effectively connecting community members with those resources. Outreach and direct assistance to community members in the pilot neighborhoods will begin in fall 2023. 

“By recruiting housing navigators from within the communities they serve, we will reach more folks and build a bench of community advocates, all while helping keep people in their homes,” said District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison. “Since the pilot neighborhoods will be affected by Project Connect, we also have the opportunity to take a new approach with big infrastructure projects—one that rights some of the wrongs of the past for Black, Brown, and lower-income Austinites.” 

Navigators will be paid $25 per hour for the year-long program. Training will take approximately six (6) hours per week in summer 2023. Outreach and assistance will take 10-15 hours per week from fall 2023 through May 2024. 

Austinites are encouraged to learn more and apply to serve as Navigators at AustinTexas.gov/Housing. Find the program link under “What’s new?” 

 
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La Ciudad reclutando miembros de la comunidad para servir como navegadores de prevención de desplazamiento

Nuevo programa piloto funcionando para ayudar a las personas a quedarse en sus casas


 Para difusión 30/3/2023 

Austin, Texas — El Departamento de Vivienda (Housing Department) de la Ciudad de Austin está reclutando miembros de la comunidad que quieran servir como Navegadores de Prevención de Desplazamiento en un programa piloto dedicado a ayudar a las personas a permanecer en sus hogares y comunidades. Los Navegadores de Prevención de Desplazamiento ayudarán a los inquilinos y propietarios a conocer y acceder a los recursos de vivienda de la Ciudad y otras organizaciones, cerrando la brecha entre los hogares elegibles y los recursos existentes. Se alienta a los miembros de la comunidad a presentar su solicitud antes del 30 de abril de 2023. 

“Sabemos que hay residentes que están sintiendo el peso de las presiones de desplazamiento. Nuestro objetivo es ayudarlos a permanecer en sus hogares y comunidades”, dijo Rosie Truelove, Directora del Departamento de Vivienda de la Ciudad de Austin. “El programa piloto de Navegador para Prevención del desplazamiento es un enfoque deliberado para ayudar a conectar a las personas con los recursos para los que califican y necesitan”. 

Más de un tercio de los grupos familiares locales están afectados por los costos, es decir, pagan más de un tercio de sus ingresos en vivienda, debido a que los precios de viviendas, los alquileres y los impuestos prediales suben rápidamente. Con recursos limitados disponibles, puede ser difícil saber por dónde empezar a buscar ayuda, y pasar por múltiples procesos de solicitud puede ser abrumador y desalentador para algunos residentes. 

“El programa piloto de Navegador para Prevención del desplazamiento se necesita con urgencia”, dijo la Concejal del Distrito 2 Vanessa Fuentes. “La gente es la fuerza más grande de nuestra ciudad, pero a muchas personas les está resultando más arduo vivir aquí a medida que Austin es menos accesible. Este programa ayudará a los austineses a quedarse en sus casas y comunidades mediante el acceso a recursos de la Ciudad y de otros”. 

El programa piloto de un año se concentrará en dos barrios con alto riesgo de desplazamiento: Colony Park y Dove Springs. En comparación con la totalidad de Austin, los barrios pilotos tienen porcentajes más altos de residentes afectados por los costos y residentes que han vivido en sus casas por más de 20 años. Se prevén importantes inversiones en infraestructura e iniciativas de redesarrollo en estas áreas, incluido Project Connect. Si bien tales inversiones pueden generar grandes beneficios, también pueden tener un impacto potencial en el desplazamiento a medida que aumenta el valor de las propiedades en los vecindarios cercanos. 

A partir del verano de 2023, los Navegadores realizarán una serie de talleres de capacitación para aprender sobre los recursos habitacionales locales y herramientas para conectar con eficacia a los miembros de la comunidad con esos recursos. La difusión y la asistencia directa a los miembros de la comunidad en los barrios pilotos comenzará en el otoño de   2023. 

“Al reclutar navegadores de vivienda dentro de las comunidades a las que sirven, llegaremos a más personas y crearemos un banco de defensores de la comunidad, todo mientras ayudamos a mantener a las personas en sus hogares”, dijo Natasha Harper-Madison, concejal del Distrito 1. “Dado que los vecindarios piloto se verán afectados por Project Connect, también tenemos la oportunidad de adoptar un nuevo enfoque con grandes proyectos de infraestructura, uno que corrija algunos de los errores del pasado para los habitantes de Austin negros, morenos y de bajos ingresos”. 

Los navegadores cobrarán $25 por hora por el programa anual. La capacitación llevará aproximadamente seis (6) horas por semana en el verano de 2023. La difusión y la asistencia llevarán de 10 a 15 horas por semana desde el otoño de 2023 hasta mayo de 2024. 

Invitamos a los austineses a enterarse de más y postularse para trabajar de Navegadores en AustinTexas.gov/Housing. El enlace del programa aparece debajo del título “What’s new?” 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

City Announces Request for Qualifications for South Austin Multifamily Rental Housing Development Opportunity

The Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) released a competitive Request for Qualifications (RFQ) solicitation to develop, own, and operate a proposed approximately 90 to 100-unit multifamily apartment on a 2.5-acre property owned by AHFC located at 5900 South Pleasant Valley Road in south Austin. Later this year, AHFC will release a separate RFQ to identify a preferred developer to partner with AHFC to develop approximately 40 to 50 units using AHFC’s community land trust (CLT) model on the eastern lot (Block 4, 5901 Drowsy Willow Trail). 

Supporting documentation is available on the RFP web page

The development of the property at 5900 South Pleasant Valley Road is anticipated to address both affordable housing priorities and additional community priorities that were identified through previous public engagement efforts. The development shall consist of an approximately 90 to 100-unit multifamily rental apartment developed as low-income affordable housing accommodating a variety of household types. 

Complete responses must be submitted to the AHFC by 11:59 p.m. CST on April 26, 2023 to be considered for award. Submission instructions are included within the RFQ—available on the RFP web page

Following contract award, as determined by the Austin City Council and AHFC Board of Directors, the proposed developer(s) will enter an Exclusive Negotiation Period with the AHFC, the goal of which shall be the negotiation and execution of at minimum the following agreements by October 13, 2022: 

  • Ground Lease Option 
  • Limited Partnership Agreement 
  • Master Agreement 
  • Memorandum of Understanding and Summary of Terms 

Questions regarding this Request for Qualifications may be directed to the RFQ’s Authorized Contacts: 

Alan Fish
Procurement Specialist IV 
Alan.Fish@austintexas.gov  

Sarah Ramos 
Procurement Specialist 
Sarah.Ramos@AustinTexas.gov 

Courtney Banker
Project Coordinator
Courtney.Banker@AustinTexas.gov 

Persons desiring further information or interpretation of the RFQ requirements must make a written request for such information to AHFC no later than ten working days before the RFQ submittal due date. Changes to the RFQ documents will be made by addendum only.  Questions and Answers that are significant will be provided as a Clarification Document(s).


Austin Water Reports Progress on External Review Recommendations

 

The utility is enhancing resilience with implementation plan underway

At a joint meeting today of the City Council’s Audit and Finance Committee and Austin Water Oversight Committee, Austin Water provided details about improvements that have been implemented or are underway to enhance resilience. The improvements stem from recommendations made as part of an external review of Austin Water that was completed in January 2023.
 
“We appreciate the opportunity this review provided for us to rebuild community trust,” said Austin Water Director Shay Ralls Roalson. “We are more robust and resilient than we have ever been, but we are also facing threats that we’ve never seen in our history. Implementing the recommendations from this report will make Austin Water stronger and better positioned to face climate change and extreme weather events.”
 
The assessment of Austin Water was led by the Office of the City Auditor and conducted by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Water and the Environment. Some of the key findings from this extensive review include:

  • Treatment processes performed by Austin Water to serve its more than 1 million customers are appropriate.
  • The Ullrich Water Treatment Plant infrastructure is adequately designed with sufficient capacity.
  • Austin Water has taken steps to mitigate water quality risks and improve operational resiliency at its water treatment plants.
  • Austin Water’s power resiliency and Emergency Preparedness Plan sufficiently address hardening of electrical transmission and distribution, additional auxiliary power generation, adequate water storage, and implementation of emergency water demand rules.
  • Austin Water’s emergency management structures are well thought out and suitably structured; the Incident Management Team and Department Operations Center align with FEMA standards.
The review also identified 53 recommendations to improve hiring and compensation, organizational structure, operations and staff training, culture and internal communications, and emergency management. Overall, 69 percent of the recommendations have been implemented or are underway. All recommendations will be implemented by the end of the year, through specific actions, process improvements, or programmed capital projects.
 
“Austin Water is committed to learning, continuous improvement, and innovating to address modern challenges. We are excited to bring these recommendations to fruition to serve our community,” said Director Roalson.
 
The full External Review and Austin Water’s Resiliency Implementation Progress Report can be read here.

Spurs Give Launches ‘Play ATX’ Focused on Renovating Community Play Spaces In Austin

 

Program Tips Off at Dove Springs District Park with Basketball Court Renovation Unveil and Clinic for Local Youth on April 4
In celebration of Spurs Week in Austin, Spurs Give and the Austin Parks Foundation (APF) are donating nearly $500,000 to launch “Play ATX,” a multi-year program dedicated to renovating parks and basketball courts throughout the city of Austin. To tip off the program, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at Dove Springs District Park to unveil a newly renovated basketball court on Tuesday, April 4. Following the ceremony, a basketball clinic will be held with 50 youth athletes from nearby schools.
 
“We are so excited and grateful to partner with the Spurs for this special program,” said Colin Wallis, CEO of Austin Parks Foundation. “Our Parks and Recreation Department is severely underfunded and partnerships like this help amplify our work and allow us to make much-needed improvements to our city’s parks. Outdoor activities, such as playing basketball, are so important, not only to foster a sense of community but for the tremendous physical and mental health benefits.”

Spurs Give and APF are working in partnership with the City of Austin and Austin Parks and Recreation Department to create safe play spaces and foster active lifestyles for families by rebuilding, refurbishing and updating community parks and basketball courts. Improvements to the basketball court at Dove Springs District Park include resurfacing and restriping the court, replacing the goals, and new benches and lights.

“Through creative collaboration and teamwork with Austin Parks Foundation and the Spurs, the newly refurbished basketball court is a wonderful addition to Dove Springs District Park,” said Austin Parks and Recreation’s Director Kimberly McNeeley. “Thank you to our partners who worked closely with the Parks and Recreation Department and community to make this court a reality.”

Creating Safe Spaces Through Play ATX
Play ATX is an expansion of the Spurs Give program “Play SA,” which began in San Antonio in 2020. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and Spurs Give teamed up with a goal of renovating parks most in need in each of the city's 10 districts. Projects have ranged from revamped basketball courts to a skate park to upgraded playgrounds. Play SA is in its third year and has completed 11 renovations.

“At SS&E we invest our time and resources in building leaders and legacies both on and off the court,” said Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for Spurs Sports & Entertainment. “We’re honored to get to do this work in Austin with incredible partners like the Austin Parks and Recreation Department who, like us, understand the importance of safe spaces for children and families to heal and play.”

About Austin Parks Foundation
For 30 years, Austin Parks Foundation (APF) has been connecting people and parks. APF is dedicated to partnering with our community to enhance people’s lives by improving our public parks, trails and green spaces through volunteerism, innovative programming, advocacy and financial support. APF’s goal is to improve Austin’s parks by building community through our parks with people at the forefront of our work.
 
APF’s programming and strategic vision are aimed at helping to fill the funding and resource gap for our parks, and we strive to ensure that every Austinite has access to well-kept parks, trails and green spaces no matter their neighborhood.
 
APF’s community-initiated grants have distributed nearly $4 million since 2006, and the group’s annual flagship volunteer event, It’s My Park Day, results in an average of $650,000 in volunteer labor each year. APF is a presenting partner and beneficiary of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Metropolitan Park and empowers neighbors all over the city to create a parks system that serves their needs. For more information, please visit www.austinparks.org.
 
About City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Austin Parks and Recreation seeks to inspire our community to learn, play, protect and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places. This City of Austin Department protects and maintains parkland, urban forest, and trails as well as offering sports, recreation, educational enrichment, arts programs, cultural opportunities, and nature and aquatic activities for Austinites. For more information visit AustinTexas.gov/Parks.
 
About Spurs Give
We are a family - a team - passionate about sports. We are passionate about what sports can do for our community - especially our youth. At the heart of it, we believe sports can provide a family with a common goal, and a hope for a better future. We are Spurs Give - the official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of Spurs Sports & Entertainment. Since our founding in 1988, we have invested $32 million in our community. Through our players' passions, our grants, and our impact programs, we are changing lives and leaving a lasting impact. You give. We give. Spurs Give.

Monday, March 27, 2023

City Announces Partnership with Austin Police and Texas Department of Public Safety to Improve Response Times and Increase Safety

City of Austin leaders today announced a plan they expect will improve safety, decrease traffic fatalities, improve police response time, and reduce crime in the Capital City, thanks to a partnership with the State of Texas. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will provide state troopers and Special Agents who will focus on violent crime and traffic issues, but will also provide backup for other emergency situations and increased presence throughout the community.

“During my run for mayor, I promised we would make city government work better in providing basic services,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “This is an example of that. It’s a common-sense, practical response to a serious need and arose out of a positive working relationship between the Capital City and the Capitol of Texas. I want to thank the Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and DPS Director Steven McCraw for being willing to step in and work with us to ensure the safety of our shared constituents.”  

In conversation with Watson, both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick helped forge the partnership. DPS troopers, who have statewide jurisdiction, have also provided additional support in cities like Dallas and San Antonio to reduce crime rates. 

Like many cities across the nation, the Austin Police Department (APD) is currently facing unprecedented staffing challenges. Interim City Manager Jesús Garza and Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon have implemented innovative recruitment and retention strategies, but while the efforts to build back and build up the police force are underway, the DPS will provide additional resources to support APD’s safety efforts.  

“Public safety is at the very core of what we do in city government, and we must get it right,” Garza said. “We’ve moved quickly to address staffing issues - recruit new officers, retain experienced officers, and staff up in our 9-1-1 call centers. But those efforts take time, and we can’t wait to make sure Austinites feel safe.”  

In order to manage staffing shortages, Chacon has been proactive and innovative in strategically reassigning officers to patrol to provide police presence across the community. But that reallocation means pulling from officers assigned to traffic, parks, DWI, and other specialized units, stretching limited resources across a large and growing city. 

Chacon pointed out that traffic fatalities and gun crime are on the rise in Austin. Positioning additional DPS troopers to patrol Austin’s streets and highways and respond to violent crime and traffic incidents will make a positive impact on safety and the increased presence of officers in the community – both DPS and APD – will provide a strong deterrent to criminal activity. 

“This is a wonderful resource and partnership that will provide relief to our APD officers and detectives who want nothing more than to focus on keeping Austin safe - whether that’s responding to domestic violence incidents, combatting DWI, or investigating criminal activity,” Chacon said. “DPS has always provided valuable support – such as in the recent arrests of individuals involved in the February street takeovers – and providing these significant and strategic resources will help make Austin a safer city.”

Austin Parks and Recreation Summer Camps Now Hiring at $20/hour



Austin Parks and Recreation is hiring seasonal summer camp counselors. Pay is now $20.00 per hour. Sick leave is provided for all staff. You must be 18 years or older to apply. Candidates from diverse origins, orientations, identities, and abilities welcomed in the workplace.

Working with kids is fun and rewarding! Counselors are needed to lead and inspire children and teens through educational experiences, activities, and adventures. Multiple positions in Community Recreation, Cultural and Art, Nature Based as well as Inclusion and Adaptive Programs are currently hiring for the summer.

Camp counseling is more than a summer job, it's a pathway to a future career. Many full time of our full time staff at the Department started their careers as summer camp counselors. Learn more and apply now at AustinTexas.gov/SummerJobs.

Friday, March 24, 2023

APD Releases Statistics of Arrests, Drugs, and Weapons Seized During Spring Festival, 3/23/2023

To combat violent crime during the 2023 South by Southwest festival, the Austin Police Department (APD) launched a Violent Crimes Initiative. This operation, a collaboration with state and federal law enforcement agencies, ran concurrently with SXSW from March 8th through March 18th.

APD seized a total of 61 firearms and made 131 arrests. During this initiative, officers were able to seize the following narcotics:

•        3.5 Kg of cocaine/crack cocaine
•        26.6 Kg of methamphetamine
•        41.38 g of fentanyl/heroin
•        98 lbs. of marijuana

If you have information on individuals or groups of individuals who have illegal firearms, are committing acts of violence, or other crimes involving guns and drugs, please contact the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program by visiting austincrimestoppers.org or calling 512-472-8477. A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for any information that leads to an arrest.


Interim City Manager Garza Announces Staff Reorganization to Improve Organizational Cohesiveness and Reliability of Service

 

Changes to Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer portfolios  

Today, City of Austin Interim City Manager Jesús Garza announced a reorganization of the portfolios for the assistant city managers and chief financial officer. The changes are being made to prioritize the public’s needs and ensure reliability of services for Austinites.  

“I have assessed the inner workings of this organization and believe changes are needed to position us for the best possible service delivery now and into the future,” Jesús Garza, Interim City Manager, City of Austin, said. “My highest priority is to organize our people and our work so that we are operating cohesively and focused on problem-solving. I believe this structure will be conducive to reducing process redundancies and to operating at the highest efficiency.” 

Garza laid out the changes, which are focused on action and customer service, in a memo to the City Council and City of Austin department directors that is included following this release. Changes are effective immediately. Major tenets of the reorganization include: 

  • The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will report directly to the City Manager.  

  • A new executive position is being created for strategic communications and external affairs reporting directly to the City Manager.   

  • Shifting Assistant City Manager department assignments as offices are consolidated.  

  • Creating a Planning Department to allow for equal focus on the importance of affordable housing and planning in our community. This includes hiring Lauren Middleton-Pratt to serve as the new Planning Director effective May 1st. 

Garza also made clear how he is approaching his interim role and what his priorities are as interim city manager.  

“We need to deliver basic city services with excellence and reliability while supporting the City Council’s highest priorities and ensuring we are making meaningful progress on those priorities. I cannot emphasize enough the importance and value of teamwork, encouraging innovation and promoting high standards for public service within this organization.” 

### 

MEMORANDUM

TO: Department Directors  

FROM: Interim City Manager Jesús Garza  

DATE: March 24, 2023  

RE: ACM and CFO assignments  
 

I have had the opportunity to meet with you and further assess the organization's strengths. I have since identified opportunities to position us for the best possible service delivery now and into the future.  

My purpose in leading the organization is to focus on 1) delivering basic city services with excellence and reliability 2) supporting the Mayor and City Council’s highest priorities and ensuring we are making meaningful progress on those priorities and 3) emphasizing the values of teamwork, encouraging innovation within the organization, and promoting high standards for public service. 

All of this requires a bias to action and a strong alignment between the Mayor, City Council, and the organization.  

My highest priority is to organize our people and our work so that the organization is operating cohesively and supports an integrated approach to problem solving and enterprise-wide thinking. This structure must be conducive to reducing processes, redundancies, and inefficiencies. 

I want to reinforce leadership behaviors that nurture alternate and innovative strategies that are practical, sound and challenge the designers of our process to address the issues faced by the community and our customers.  

To accomplish these goals with these values, I am making the following organizational changes effective immediately:  

  1. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will report directly to the City Manager. As part of that change, the Fleet Mobility Services Director and Building Services Officer will now report to the CFO. 
  2. I am creating a new executive position of Strategic Communications and External Affairs, reporting directly to the City Manager. The Intergovernmental Relations Officer and the Chief Communications Director will report to this new position.  
  3. I am also promoting Sammi Curless to Assistant to the City Manager and the Agenda Office and Council Liaison Kay Guedea will report to Sammi.  
  4. Ken Snipes will be on special assignment to lead an evaluation of our Emergency Operations functions and he will be a Special Assistant to Bruce Mills.  
  5. Jason Alexander will be on special assignment to the Airport and will be helping Jim Smith, Interim Director, in his assessment of airport operations.  

I also believe that it is healthy for our organization to occasionally rotate portfolios among Assistant City Managers to bring new perspectives to important issues and challenges. To that end, below are the new Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer assignments:  

The following Departments will continue to report directly to the City Manager:  

  •  Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy, General Manager 
  •  Anne Morgan, Law Department, City Attorney 
  •  Sylvia Hardman, Office of Police Oversight, Interim Director 

Chief Financial Officer, Ed Van Eenoo  

  • Financial Services Department, Ed Van Eenoo, CFO 
  • Fleet Mobility, Jennifer Walls, Director  
  • Building Services, Darrell Alexander, Officer  

Interim Assistant City Manager Robert Goode  

  • Public Works and Austin Transportation, Richard Mendoza, Interim Director  
    • Austin Transportation, Public Works, the Corridor Program Office, and the Project Connect Office will be consolidated into a Public Works and Transportation Department with each of the Officers reporting to the Director.  

  • Austin Water Utility, Shay Ralls Roalson, Director  
  • Watershed Protection, Jorge Morales, Director  
  • Aviation, Jim Smith, Interim Executive Director  

• Capital Delivery Services Department–this will be a new department fully dedicated to capital program implementation and more detail will follow regarding the purview and responsibilities.  

Assistant City Manager Veronica Briseño 

  • Development Services Department, José Roig, Interim Director 
    • Austin Code will be consolidated under Development Services with Interim Director Daniel Word reporting to José Roig.  

  • Housing Department, Rosie Truelove, Director  
  • Planning Department, David Gray, Interim Director 
    • Lauren Middleton-Pratt will be the Director effective May 1st and has over 10 years of urban planning and development experience in both the private and public sectors.  

  • Economic Development Department, Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director  
  • Austin Convention Center, Trish Tatro, Director  
  • Small and Minority Business Resources Department, Edward Campos, Director 

Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales  

  • Human Resources, Rebecca Kennedy, Acting Director  
  • Communications and Technology Management (CTM), Kerrica Laake, Interim Director beginning April 1st 
    • The Chief Information Security Officer and Interim Chief Innovation Officer will be consolidated into CTM. Chris Stewart has agreed to stay on for 6 months to assist Kerrica with this important transition.  

  • Sustainability Office, Zachary Baumer, Interim Officer  
  • Resilience Office, Laura Patiño, Officer  
  • Equity Office, Kellee Coleman, Interim Officer  
  • Civil Rights, Tamela Saldaña, Interim Director  
  • Labor Relations Office, Sarah Griffin, Interim Officer  

Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard  

  • Austin Public Library, Roosevelt Weeks, Director  
  • Austin Parks and Recreation, Kimberly McNeeley, Director  
  • Austin Public Health, Adrienne Sturrup, Director  
  • Animal Services, Don Bland, Director  
  • Austin Resource Recovery, Richard McHale, Acting Director 

Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills

  • Austin Police Department, Joseph Chacon, Chief  
  • Austin Fire Department, Joel Baker, Chief  
  • Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Robert Luckritz, Chief  
  • Downtown Austin Community Court, Robert Kingham and Jennifer Sowinski, Interim Court Administrators  
  • Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Ken Snipes, Special Assistant to the Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills  
  • Forensic Science, Dr. Dana Kadavy, Director  
  • Office of the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Mark Escott, Director  

As you know, I have a bias for action and timely decision making. The organization needs to move more quickly and decisively. The leadership traits I am prioritizing are: 

  • A strong customer orientation as we evaluate and alter processes;
  • Strong organizational and critical thinking skills; 
  • Ability to assess the entire landscape and downstream effects of decisions on the community and other departments; and  
  • The ability to embrace, model and nurture the value structure within the department. Thank you for your dedication to your role and the people of this city and for your commitment to ensuring we are continually looking for ways to improve our services. 

Additional information:

Lauren Middleton-Pratt became the Assistant City Manager for Buda, Texas in April of 2019. She brings more than 10 years of urban planning and development experience to the Outdoor Capital of Texas. As ACM, Middleton-Pratt has overseen Buda’s Development Services Department which includes Planning & Zoning, Engineering, Building Inspections, and Code Enforcement, Tourism, Main Streets, Communications & Marketing, Parks & Recreations and Facilities Management. Prior to city management, Lauren worked in urban planning in both public and private sectors from city-wide redevelopment projects in Boston, Massachusetts to consulting the United State Air Force and higher education institutions with their real estate development demands. Lauren is a native of San Antonio, Texas with strong roots in New Orleans, Louisiana where she earned a BA in Communications & Business Administration from Xavier University of Louisiana. She also holds a Master of City Planning degree from Boston University. Lauren is active in the Texas City Management Association, currently serving as a member of the Allies Across Texas subcommittee and an E-Board member for the Women Leading Government Central Texas Chapter; she is a 2020 graduate of the Texas Women’s Leadership Institute which is a program focused on preparing and empowering women to become city managers; a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

Get a Gift Card With Your Next COVID-19 Vaccine Dose


Austin Public Health (APH) will be offering gift cards at our vaccine events to anyone getting a COVID-19 vaccine.   

The $50 VISA gift cards are offered to make up for lost wages for people who want to take time off work to get the vaccine.

Currently, there are many people in Austin and Travis County who are unvaccinated or are not up to date with their vaccines. Those who are unvaccinated are at greater risk for severe symptoms from COVID-19.  

Now is the best time to get that next shot, whether it’s your first dose, second dose, or booster. The Public Health Emergency is set to expire in May, and it is not known whether COVID-19 vaccines will be free to the public when it expires.  

View our community vaccine events section below where vaccines and gift cards will be available. 

La Mujer: A Celebration of Women at Various Locations This Spring

The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB MACC) presents La Mujer: A Celebration of Women beginning March 26 and ending on April 29. In its 12th year, the ESB MACC's annual La Mujer festival was originally inspired by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, who is considered the first feminist of the Americas.

The MACC building (at 600 River St.) is currently closed for its Phase 2 expansion and renovation; for this reason, this year’s La Mujer event will be a series of activities in locations that span various parts of Austin, including partner organizations like the Carver Museum and Austin Public Library. 

    The La Mujer activities, events or "activations" bring awareness to the accomplishments of women, engage the MACC community in wellness and art-making activities, and create conscious spaces where women can be seen, heard, and empowered. Film screenings, pop-up activity tables, workshops, and youth-focused art activities are all examples of this year's art activations.

    The series of activations will culminate in the virtual presentation of the La Mujer mosaic mural that has been recently installed as a permanent public art piece outside the MACC that pays homage to powerful Latinx women.

    La Mujer Activations

    La Mujer Pop-Up Guide

    La Mujer Graphic of WomanA printed La Mujer Pop-Up Guide (small booklet) will be offered for free at all of these events, where event attendees can mark off which La Mujer events they attend. At any of the events below, request a printed guide and get a stamp to record your attendance. Attendees can even get a special prize at the end of April for attending three or more of the La Mujer events. Free La Mujer Pop-Up guides are also available at the Carver Museum or the Dougherty Arts Center.

    Mujeres Poderosas

    We want to hear from YOU! Who inspires you? Is it your mom, sister, daughter, colleague, or friend? Is there a powerful (poderosa) Latinx role model for you and/or the community? At any of these La Mujer activations, fill out a nomination to be featured on the MACC's Facebook or Instagram. See a video of past nominations!

      La Mujer Mosaic Mural

      La Mujer Mosaic Mural Permanent Art Installation

      The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center is proud to announce the official unveiling of our La Mujer mosaic mural. This mural was created by participants in the Caminos teen leadership program under the guidance of local muralist Jay Muzacz and Caminos Coordinator Frederico Geib. The artists are Abraham Hernandez, Ana Chavez, Anna Martinez, Bianca Olivares Reyes, Brandon Muniz, Elvis Muniz, Esmeralda Rodriguez, Gabby Gonzales, Natalia Dominguez, Natalie Hernandez, and Samantha Seamon.

      This beautiful mosaic mural is truly representative of our MACC community. It has been installed as a permanent outdoor artwork at the Southeast corner of the MACC, right by the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike trail. The mural was designed and created tile by tile to depict strong Latina leaders, mujeres that have inspired our teens to reach their greatest potential. Some of the iconic role models featured in the mural include Selena Quintanilla, Dolores Huerta, and Emma Barrientos. The mural celebrates their courage and success as trailblazers in art, music, and dance as well as their dual roles of activists, mothers, and community leaders.


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