Friday, July 21, 2023

Parks & Recreation Enacts Burning Restriction Effective Immediately

 

No Fires or Grilling at any City of Austin Parks, Greenbelts, or Preserves 
Dangerous fire conditions currently exist in the Central Texas area. In accordance with established criteria, the Parks and Recreation Department has issued a Parks Burning Restriction effective July 20, 2023 to ensure the safety of park patrons and surrounding communities, while minimizing the wildfire risk in the City’s parks and greenbelts.  

The burning restriction prohibits the building of fires and grilling in all City of Austin parks, greenbelts and preserves – pursuant to Ordinance No. 20111102-025 – effective immediately and until further notice. This includes the use of wood or charcoal BBQ pits/grills/smokers. Propane stoves are allowed in designated picnic areas only. As a general reminder, smoking is always prohibited in City of Austin parks. 

Park Rangers will enforce the burning restriction in the City’s parks and greenbelts. Violations may result in a fine between $300 and $500. Austin Parks and Recreation will continue to evaluate fire conditions and will lift the burning restriction as soon as it is safe to do so; a press release will be distributed at that time. For more information about wildfires, please visit AustinTexas.gov/Wildfire.

City Launches Anti-Hate Education and Outreach Initiative

 

We All Belong Campaign highlights tools and resources to report hate crimes and incidents.

City of Austin leaders announced the launch of the “We All Belong, powered by Austin Against Hate” education and outreach initiative in a news conference at Austin City Hall Friday.

The goal of the citywide effort is to empower the community to take action to keep Austin a safe and welcoming place with streamlined access to tools to report hate crimes and incidents.   

“We All Belong' is much more than a slogan. It is a bold and clear affirmation that the City is committed to ensuring that Austin remains a place where diversity is celebrated, and hate is not tolerated,” said Assistant City Manager Veronica Briseño.

“The most important message we’d like to convey through this initiative: If you see or experience an act of hate; report it. If you have an immediate emergency or threat, we urge you to call 9-1-1, and we’ve also made it easier for you to file a report for non-emergencies,” said Briseño.

The website austintexas.gov/againsthate is the digital information hub for the campaign. Visitors can report a suspected hate crime to APD and report a hate incident to Anti-Defamation League-Austin.

The site also provides an interactive data experience to better understand bias-motivated incidents and how they impact Austin neighborhoods, ways to connect with organizations focused on preventing a culture of hate from taking root in Austin, and social media content to download and share.

The Initiative is in response to City Council Resolution No. 20211104-064 which directed the City Manager to collaborate with local community groups to identify and implement improvements to the City’s response to hate.

“I am proud to be part of a City Council that has spoken loudly and clearly against hate directed at any part of our community,” said Council Member Alison Alter, who authored the budget amendment funding the program after a string of acts and incidences of hate in her district. “Through this campaign, I hope every Austinite understands their role in stopping the spread of hate and knows what to do when they encounter it.”

Council Member Alter was joined by her colleague Council Member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri who shared why his personal experience, and that of some others in Austin, underscores the importance of the City actively supporting programming and initiatives to counter hate.

“I am all too familiar with the bigotry that too often burdens practicing Muslims across America and here in Austin. I also know that my community is not the only one that has suffered from discrimination, hatred, and even violence, said Qadri. “ The vast majority of this city stands against the poison of intolerance, which is why I’m glad to see the launch of this initiative, which will help tap into the welcoming, inclusive city we all want it to be.”

Travis County District Attorney José Garza, ADL Austin Executive Director Jackie Nirenberg, and
members of the Hate Austin-Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force were among a diverse cross-section of government and community organizations who voiced their support of the We All Belong Initiative that will be promoted on social and local media through September. 

Opportunities to Participate.
In addition to reporting hate crimes and incidents, the public can also get involved in the We All Belong Initiative in the following ways:
  • Be an Information Ambassador:  Help get the We All Belong message out to as many people as possible in Austin with a digital toolkit that includes pre-made and customizable graphics that can be shared in newsletters and on social media. Fliers are also available to print and post. The toolkit is available in: English, Spanish, Arabic, Burmese Chinese(simplified), French, Hindi, Korean, Pashto and Vietnamese.  The toolkits are available for download in the Spread the Word section of 
  • Participate in the We All Belong Citywide Event. Building community is a key part of the We All Belong Campaign. The public is invited to visit City Hall “Party at the People’s House” outreach event Saturday, August 12, the celebration kicks off after 5 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m.  The family-friendly event will bring people together for food, fellowship and fun, while highlighting the progress of the We All Belong initiative. Admission is free. Tabling opportunities are available for local community organizations. Groups interested in participating should complete this form by August 1st.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Council Passes HOME (Home Options for Middle-income Empowerment)

 

City Kicks Off Public Process to Create Smaller
Single-Family Homes

With strong support from advocates for older adults, housing, the environment, labor, and public entities such as Capital Metro, the City Council on Thursday overwhelmingly approved HOME, an initiative designed to make homes more attainable for middle-income households, and to give existing homeowners more options for inter-generational living.
 
Council Member Leslie Pool brought the resolution with Council Member Chito Vela, Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis, Council Member Zo Qadri, and Mayor Kirk Watson. At Tuesday’s work session, Council Members Ryan Alter, José Velásquez, and Natasha Harper-Madison also joined as cosponsors.
 
The item, which was overwhelmingly approved with 9 votes, is crafted to benefit middle-income households by encouraging smaller single-family homes and to provide options for existing homeowners in the following ways:
  1. Reduce the minimum lot size requirement to promote smaller single-family homes, such as townhomes or cottage courts that are more attainable for homebuyers in the middle-income bracket. Those types of single-family homes make up only 12% of Austin’s housing stock.
  2. Allow three units per single-family lot by right. This portion is intended to assist existing homeowners who want options for multigenerational living, or to monetize their property to pay the bills.  
“The status quo of limited housing options is not sustainable in this current environment,” Pool said. “We can do so much better for teachers, first responders, small business employees, construction employees, government workers, and nurses – people who have good jobs but can’t afford to invest in our city.”
 
The resolution gained a cross-section of support for creating smaller single-family homes. Austin EMS Association and LiUNA Local 1095 (Laborers’ International Union of North America) have endorsed the measure, along with HousingWorks Austin, Environment Texas, and local real estate associations, including Austin Infill Coalition, ABoR, HBAGA, and RECA.
 
Additionally, AARP Texas has endorsed HOME as an important measure for allowing older adults to age in place, and Capital Metro applauds the initiative as a way to create a more conducive environment for transit. Austin ISD has also conveyed its appreciation of the goals of HOME.
 
Council Member Vela noted the common sense of creating smaller minimum lot sizes. "A 6,000 square-foot lot is more expensive than a 3,000 square-foot lot,” he said. “This is the basic reality of the housing market. Allowing homes on smaller lots is a simple and easy way to make homes more affordable for middle- and working-class people."
  
“I’m proud to cosponsor this initiative to make housing and homeownership more attainable for everyday Austinites,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ellis. “Council Member Pool’s resolution complements the ordinance streamlining triplex and fourplex permitting in Item 158 on today’s agenda, which is the first phase of implementing my December 2022 resolution to scale site plan requirements for missing middle housing of three to sixteen units. Together, these partner initiatives will open doors to more housing opportunities and affordability citywide.”
 
Council Member Qadri pointed to today’s vote as a step forward in creating a more affordable Austin and slowing the effects of climate change.
 
“This overdue change to our outdated land development code will break down barriers to building the kind of housing types that allow more people to get out of their cars and walk, bike, or take transit,” he said. “This resolution isn’t just good for affordability; it’s also an important win when it comes to slowing climate change.”
 
The resolution directs the City Manager to work on these measures and provide council with ways to best achieve the goals of creating smaller, single-family homes, and giving options to existing homeowners to have more units on their property. The resolution also directs the City Manager to analyze any unintended consequences and return to council with recommendations.
 
The City Manager will also provide regular public updates to council on the progress of HOME over the coming months.

City Manager Proposes “Back to Basics” Budget Focusing on Core City Services and Critical Challenges


The City of Austin Interim City Manager’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 aims to ensure Austin is prepared when emergencies happen while investing in the critical areas of affordability, resiliency, quality of life, public safety and ending homelessness. 

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza presented the $5.5 billion proposed budget to the Mayor and City Council today, July 19, committing to a focus on essential City services, Mayor and Council priorities, and investments that support transformational change. With an emphasis on “Back to Basics,” the budget proposal refocuses on the core services Austin residents need and expect, according to Garza.  

“We are ensuring the City has the staff and resources necessary to keep facilities like parks, libraries and recreation centers safe, clean and inviting; investing in emergency services to be able to respond more quickly and effectively to calls for help; evaluating service delivery at the Austin Animal Center; and overhauling systems and processes to better serve Austin residents,” Garza said. 

Under the budget proposal, the City’s living wage – the minimum payable to any city employee – rises by 4 percent, from $20 to $20.80 per hour. Civilian employees would also receive an across-the-board pay increase of 4 percent. 

“Without skilled, professional, and dedicated staff members we could not deliver the services our customers expect and deserve, nor could we tackle the transformational projects that will prepare Austin for the future.” Garza said. 

The overall tax rate would decrease by 3.85 cents, from 0.4627 to 0.4242 in the proposed budget. However, due to rising property values, the typical Austin homeowner would still see a 1.5 percent increase in their tax bill – the equivalent of an additional $2.16 a month, or $25.91 a year. 

The proposed budget also highlights major investments in several generational projects that, while separate and distinct, are interconnected in their collective ability to vault Austin to world-class city status. These generational projects include the expansion and modernization of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the redevelopment and expansion of the Austin Convention Center, and Project Connect – an innovative partnership between the City of Austin, CapMetro, and Austin Transit Partnership to expand and improve the area’s public transportation network, including new light rail and accessible bus system. 

Community Budget Input meetings will take place over the next few weeks and City Council will have the opportunity to review and initiate amendments to the proposed budget before final adoption, which is scheduled to begin on August 16.  

Investments in Key Areas Include: 

Affordability  
The proposed budget contains several investments to tackle affordability including creating a revolving loan fund to help build more affordable housing developments, incorporate affordable housing into city redevelopment projects, providing emergency rental assistance or relocation assistance for tenants facing displacement and funding to support childcare and high-quality early childhood education throughout the city.  

Resiliency 
This budget proposes further action to prepare, protect, and recover from the impacts of climate change, focusing on resilience to prepare residents, businesses and communities to continue to thrive no matter the disruptions. It builds upon Austin’s resilience and sustainability by updating the emergency management strategic and hazard mitigation plans, continuing to fund the Resilience Hub Network, and formalizing the partnership with The University of Texas at Austin on climate-related work, including joint research projects on issues like heat mapping and water supply 

Quality of Life   
Maintaining and improving our parks, libraries, and recreation facilities, preserving historic sites and venues, and ensuring every Austinite has access to the resources they need to thrive are core priorities for both City staff and Council. This year’s budget proposes upgrading several service-providing Austin Public Health facilities, completing improvement projects at several City parks and launching several more, preserving historic music and entertainment venues, and expanding Austin Energy’s conservation rebates, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle programs.  

Public Safety  
Nothing is more important to the success of a city than the safety of its residents and visitors. This year’s proposed budget includes investments to enhance recruiting and retention efforts for 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers, restructuring and expanding recruitment efforts for both the Austin Police Department and EMS to address sworn staffing shortages, investing in research-based curriculum for APD’s Cadet Training Academy, and upgrading and expanding several joint EMS/Fire stations and stand-alone EMS stations across the city. 

Homelessness   
The City of Austin and multiple community partners have long been committed to making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. The 2023-24 proposed budget includes a $55.8 million appropriation in four core components: reducing inflow, crisis response, housing stabilization, and public space management. This includes expanding emergency shelter options, building permanent supportive housing units, funding rapid rehousing contracts, and further investment in the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST)

The budget presentation to Council was broadcast live and will be available on ATXN’s archive. To learn more about the City’s Budget development process, and get involved, visit AustinTexas.Gov/Budget.  

Austin Animal Center to host KittyPalooza this Saturday

Austin Animal Center's 14th annual KittyPalooza is happening this Saturday! 

Dozens of foster kittens will be making their debut appearance at the musical festival-themed adoption event. All adoption fees are waived.
 
You may see old favorites like Simon & Purr-funkle, Meowrah Carey and The Notorious C.A.T., and some of the hottest artists like Kitty Minaj, Mike Pawsner and Purrell Williams. These talented felines are sure to put a song in your heart, and unlike most festivals, the shelter will make it easy to take your favorite artist (or artists) home with you.

"These talented kittens have been rehearsing for weeks in their foster homes and are sure to be a crowd pleaser," says Erin Herren, one of AAC's foster coordinators.

All kittens attending will be spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. 

The event is being held from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 22nd at Austin Animal Center, located at 7201 Levander Loop. 

 
About the Animal Services Office
The City of Austin Animal Services Office operates the Austin Animal Center, and is the municipal shelter for the City of Austin and unincorporated Travis County. Austin Animal Center provides shelter to more than 11,000 animals annually and safely places more than 95% of all pets. Our goal is to keep pets with their families and in their communities, provide a safe place for homeless animals, promote responsible pet ownership, and preserve the human-animal bond.

City of Austin Provides Update on Excessive Heat Conditions and Information to Help Keep Residents Safe

Austin and Central Texas are currently experiencing extreme prolonged heat and temperatures.  This has triggered the National Weather Service to issue an Excessive Heat Warning through at least tonight, and high temperatures are forecasted in the triple-digits through the weekend.  

There are four heat alert levels but the third and fourth levels are the two that the City wants everyone to be aware of -- Excessive Heat Watch and Excessive Heat Warning.  

An Excessive Heat Watch means the risk of a heat wave has increased, but the occurrence and timing are still uncertain. It’s time to prepare.  An Excessive Heat Warning means you should take action immediately.   An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the temperature of the air is 105 degrees or higher or the heat index reaches 113 degrees. In these situations, the combination of high heat and humidity can lead to serious heat-related illness.  

“As the temperature and heat in Central Texas have become more dangerous, we are asking you to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your pets,” City of Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said.   “Residents can find heat-related resources in 12 languages online at austintexas.gov/alerts that will help provide you information on how you can stay safer during this time.” 

Piloting a new effort to keep Austinites cool, the City of Austin unveiled a program in Republic Square this morning consisting of several misting tents and chilled bottled water distribution for those in the area looking to escape the heat.  These tents release a fine mist/fog that can cool the surrounding area and provide people with much-needed heat relief that can be up to 30 degrees cooler. 

To date, at least 13 heat-related deaths have been reported in Texas this year, but as of today, no heat-related deaths have been reported in Austin this summer. 

June 2023 heat-related illnesses doubled from June last year, and EMS calls in July of this year have dramatically increased in volume.  Recommendations on how to stop heat-related illnesses include learning the signs and symptoms of being overheated and acting quickly by moving the person, then cooling the person down and calling 911, and being sure to take care of one another, especially young children and the elderly. 

With extreme heat like Central Texas is experiencing, anyone can be at risk, but some are more vulnerable to the effects, including pregnant women, people with heart or lung conditions, young children, older adults, athletes, outdoor workers and those who are unhoused. Extreme heat can lead to dehydration, heat cramps, heat stroke, heat exhaustion and even death.  

COOLING CENTERS 

  • City of Austin facilities (including Recreation Centers & Libraries) are available as cooling centers during normal business operations.  
  • These cooling centers serve as a reprieve from the heat, allowing people and their service animals to cool off during the hottest times of the day. 
  • During excessive heat warnings extended hours are available at a number of the cooling centers. 
  • Visit austintexas.gov/alerts for the most up-to-date cooling centers information in 13 languages.  
  • Always confirm hours and availability before visiting a cooling center.  

HEAT SAFETY TIPS 

  • Visit ReadyCentralTexas.org for heat safety tips and how to prevent, identify, and treat heat-related illnesses. 
  • Knowing how to respond to heat-related illnesses can save lives. 
  • We ask everyone to please stay hydrated. Remember to drink water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. 
  • Protect yourself: 
    • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and brimmed hats. 
    • Apply and re-apply sunscreen according to product labels.
    • Take shade breaks, especially if you work outside. 
    • Practice water safety while cooling off in pools and open water.  
  • If you have neighbors who are elderly or vulnerable, check on them and make sure they have a way to stay cool. 
  • Keep your pets safe too:  
    • Keep your four-legged family members inside whenever possible. 
    • Pack a collapsible water bowl for hydration breaks. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Copper thefts impacting Austin Energy service, amplifying supply chain challenges

Jul 13, 2023 03:12 pm

Copper theft is on the rise in Austin, with more than 20 major thefts from customer-owned energy service equipment in the first six months of 2023. It appears that the perpetrators have some knowledge of how to de-energize or isolate portions of electrical equipment before removing the copper.  

Thieves will pry open transformers and other equipment serving as the main power source to a building and cut wires to steal copper conduit. In multiple instances, some of these lines are left still energized, causing great danger to Austin Energy staff and the public.

Austin Energy personnel report finding fuses removed, cables cut and still-energized cable at various locations. In some instances, safety measures have been damaged or stolen, creating additional hazards. Thefts occurred at movie theatres, gyms, grocery stores and vacant commercial buildings, potentially costing commercial customers tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

The utility is proactively responding to meter outages at large commercial buildings, especially those that are unoccupied, as that may indicate a theft is in progress. Austin Energy personnel remain vigilant and demonstrate heightened awareness when working on or around energized equipment because of potential safety hazards. 

These thefts impact Austin Energy customers, as it drains critical equipment and staff resources, delaying energizing of new buildings and replacement of critical equipment that is already hard to find due to national supply chain issues.

“Our focus on customer service is hampered by having to divert staff resources and critical supplies to repair equipment damaged by copper theft,” said Elton Richards, Austin Energy vice president for field operations. “Instead of energizing commercial customers, we’re responding to damaged equipment and that pushes back critical services for our customers. The Austin Police Department is aware of the rise in copper theft incidents, so if you see something, say something by reporting it.”

Austinites are asked to call 3-1-1 to report anything suspicious observed around electrical equipment. If someone sees what they believe to be a theft in progress, they should not approach the individuals and call 911 immediately.

Council Member Mackenzie Kelly Leads Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Course to Enhance Disaster Preparedness

AUSTIN, TEXAS, July 10, 2023 – City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly is proud to announce the upcoming Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Course. As a current City Council Member and CERT instructor, Kelly brings her extensive background in emergency management and her CERT Master Instructor certification to empower individuals in the community to be prepared for emergencies.

The CERT Course will be held from August 3rd to August 5th, 2023, at the Jollyville Fire Department at 9218 Anderson Mill Rd., Austin, TX 78729. The training will be conducted in collaboration with other public safety guest instructors, ensuring participants receive comprehensive instruction that aligns with national emergency response standards.

Under the guidance of lead instructor Mackenzie Kelly, along with additional instructor Nolan Screen, participants will engage in an immersive learning experience to develop essential skills in disaster response. The course schedule includes three sessions: August 3rd from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., August 4th from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and August 5th from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Attendees will learn various CERT responsibilities, including disaster preparedness, fire suppression, disaster medical aid, and light search and rescue techniques.

Kelly emphasized, "No previous experience in emergency service is required for enrollment. We welcome participants with a genuine interest in serving their community during times of crisis and a willingness to learn and apply their training effectively." While individuals with training and skills in disaster-related areas are encouraged to attend, anyone with a passion for disaster preparedness is welcome to join this impactful course.

The CERT Course is facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Emergency Management Institute. Attendees can expect high-quality instruction and relevant resources provided by FEMA, ensuring the course meets national standards for emergency response training.

For more information about the CERT Course and to register, interested individuals can register on Preparing Texas here:  https://www.preparingtexas.org/DeliveryDetails.aspx?classid=8b57ba0f-48e6-488c-bfb6-a09cc6dafe2b and for questions they can contact the office of Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, the point of contact for the training, at 512-978-2106 or district6@austintexas.gov. Limited seats are available, so early registration is encouraged.

Participants will gain valuable knowledge and skills that can be utilized in emergency situations and contribute to their personal and community resilience.

About Mackenzie Kelly:

Mackenzie Kelly serves as a City Council Member for District 6 in Austin and is a respected advocate for emergency and disaster preparedness. With her background in emergency management and her CERT Master Instructor certification, Kelly is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to respond to emergencies and mitigate risks effectively.

Over 1000 Lifeguards Hired in the 2023 Swim Season!

Jul 10, 2023 01:17 pm

In the 2023 swim season, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department hired over 1000 lifeguards, opened all 32 operational pools, and expanded hours at Deep Eddy Pool.

The Department would like to thank Mayor and Council, City leadership, Human Relations, partner organizations, communications staff, and the dedicated lifeguards who helped make this possible.

Maintaining 32 operational pools and 11 splash pads is also a testament to the hard work of the Aquatic Maintenance team who routinely resolve a multitude of issues related to Austin’s aging aquatic infrastructure as noted in the Department's Aquatic Vision Plan.

Lifeguard hiring has closed for the summer. Please check LifeguardAustin.com in August of 2023 for year-round lifeguarding opportunities as well as training classes for 2024.


City of Austin Launches Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Evacuation Education Program

Central Texas carries the greatest risk for wildfires outside of California, and the City of Austin wants to ensure community members have a plan for keeping their families and property safe. The Austin Fire Department’s Wildfire Division and the Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are launching the newly updated Ready, Set, Go! Program. This partnership with Warn Central Texas, the region’s emergency notification system, educates those living in the area about preparing for wildfire evacuations. 

“We need community members to understand their roles in a wildfire evacuation,” said AFD Division Chief Carrie Stewart. “Our newly updated Ready, Set, Go! plan outlines how you, your loved ones, and your home have the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire. The work to prepare for such an event starts now. Understanding your risk and taking steps to prepare for the inevitability of the next wildfire outbreak begins with signing up for alerts from Warn Central Texas to ensure you are notified when natural disasters occur.” 

Austinites can register for wildfire and other notifications at WarnCentralTexas.org.

What does Ready, Set, Go! mean for you? 

READY  

Familiarize yourself and your loved ones with what to do by creating your Personal Wildland Fire Action Guide to follow before and during an emergency. This guide provides tips for readying your home for wildfire like implementing a defensible space and utilizing fire-resistant landscaping. It also contains information on hardening your home with precautions for your balcony, deck, roof, vents, fencing, and more. The program, along with the guide encourages, community members to be Ready by taking personal responsibility and action, preparing well before the threat of a wildland fire. Ready, Set, Go! provides tips on assembling emergency supplies, planning escape routes, and identifying safety zones.  

SET  

Ready, Set, Go! demonstrates how to be Set: maintaining situational awareness by staying up to date on the latest news and information about a fire and ensuring you can receive local emergency notifications. Warn Central Texas can send a message to notify affected individuals there is the potential threat to life and/or property from a wildfire in their neighborhood. When that happens, anyone who requires additional time to evacuate (including those with pets and livestock) should leave immediately. When registered users receive a “Set” notice from AFD's Wildfire Division through Warn Central Texas, it is time to put their evacuation plans into motion, including loading emergency preparedness kits into vehicles to leave at a moment’s notice should the wildfire continue to spread and trigger an evacuation. 

GO  

The program also encourages those in threatened areas to Go and act early, following their Personal Wildland Fire Action Plan. Promoting cooperation and early action not only supports the safety of community members but allows first responders to deploy their resources where most needed. A “Go” message can be sent via Warn Central Texas to notify affected individuals their home is under immediate threat from a wildfire, and public safety personnel have issued an evacuation order. 

AFD’s Wildfire Division also has a Spanish version of Ready, Set, Go!’s Personal Wildland Fire Action Guide

Learn more steps you can take to make your home ready for wildfire, how to set yourself up for success in case of a fire, and what to do when it’s time to go by downloading the English or Spanish version of the guide today. 

Visit Austin Wildfire’s website for more information and its Wildfire Hub to learn your neighborhood’s risk level, see maps of active fire situations, and other features. 

Visit ReadyCentralTexas.org to prepare your go-bag and learn where you can pick up preparedness kit supplies.  

Visit WarnCentralTexas.org to register for the emergency notification system. Registering allows local officials to alert you by phone, email, and text during times of disasters or public safety events.


$250,000 Available for Creative Public Projects

Jul 11, 2023 10:00 am

The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces the launch of the Nexus Grant to support local small organizations, individual artists, and small arts businesses. The program will offer $5,000 grants to new and emerging applicants by funding creative public projects. Grant funds may be used to cover expenses such as administrative costs, equipment and space rentals, marketing, and other eligible expenditures. Applications for the Nexus Grant will be open Tuesday, July 11 at 10 a.m. through Tuesday, August 15 at 5 p.m.  

“Nexus is the third grant in the City of Austin’s funding series for local creatives in Austin, developed in collaboration with the creative community. This grant will empower Austin’s creative community by showcasing their talents that shape our city’s cultural landscape,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “With Nexus, we intend to contribute to the cultivation of a thriving artistic ecosystem that inspires and uplifts Austin’s diverse and dynamic spirit.” 

Eligible applicants must have a minimum one-year history of cultural or arts programming in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area—which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.To review the full eligibility requirements and application details, visit the Nexus Grant website.    

Application Assistance 

The Economic Development Department is offering various ways for the community to learn more about the Nexus Grant application process and eligibility.  

Submit your application by August 15 at 5 p.m. Full eligibility requirements, grant guidelines,and application are available online at www.austintexas.gov/nexus.  


$250,000 disponible para proyectos creativos públicos
Solicite antes del 15 de agosto en www.austintexas.gov/nexus

El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin anuncia el lanzamiento de la subvención Nexus para apoyar a las pequeñas organizaciones locales, artistas individuales y pequeñas empresas artísticas. El programa ofrecerá subvenciones de $5,000 a solicitantes nuevos y emergentes financiando proyectos públicos creativos. Los fondos de la subvención podrán utilizarse para cubrir gastos como costes administrativos, alquiler de equipo y espacio, mercadeo y otros gastos subvencionables. Las solicitudes para la subvención Nexus se abrirá el martes 11 de julio a las 10 a.m. hasta el martes 15 de agosto a las 5 p.m.
 
"Nexus es la tercera subvención de la serie de financiación de la ciudad de Austin para los creativos locales de Austin, desarrollado en colaboración con la comunidad creativa. Esta subvención empoderará a la comunidad creativa de Austin al mostrar su talento que da forma al entorno cultural de nuestra ciudad," explica Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Directora del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico. "Con Nexus, pretendemos contribuir a la cultivación de un próspero ecosistema artístico que inspire y eleve el espíritu diverso y dinámico de Austin."
 
Los solicitantes deben tener un historial mínimo de un año de programación cultural o artística en el área estadística metropolitana de Austin-Round Rock, que incluye los condados de Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis y Williamson. Para conocer todos los requisitos y detalles de la solicitud, visite el sitio web de la subvención Nexus.
 
Asistencia para la solicitud
El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico está ofreciendo varias maneras para que la comunidad aprenda más sobre el proceso de solicitud de la subvención Nexus y la elegibilidad.

Envíe su solicitud antes del 15 de agosto a las 5 p.m. Todos los requisitos de elegibilidad, las directrices de subvención y la solicitud están disponibles en línea en www.austintexas.gov/nexus.

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About the City of Austin Economic Development Department   
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and subscribe to our newsletter. Connect with us @AustinEconDev on Facebook@AustinEconDev on Twitter, and @AustinEconDev on YouTube.   

Información sobre del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin 
El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin fomenta el crecimiento empresarial, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible que enriquecen las vidas de los habitantes de Austin. Para obtener más información acerca de recursos útiles, visite www.austintexas.gov/edd y suscríbase a nuestro boletín. Conéctese con nosotros en @AustinEconDev en Facebook  y @AustinEconDev en Twitter  y @AustinEconDev en YouTube

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

City of Austin Suspends Partnership with Texas DPS

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza has suspended the City of Austin’s partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety in consultation with Mayor Kirk Watson.  

“From the start of this partnership with DPS, I said I wanted Austinites to feel safe and be safe. Recent events demonstrate we need to suspend the partnership with DPS. The safety of our community is a primary function of City government, and we must keep trying to get it right,” Watson said. “This partnership was an innovative approach to address acute staffing shortages that were years in the making. However, any approach must be in sync with Austin values.” 

The partnership was first announced on March 27, originally forged through conversations with Watson, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick to support Austin Police as the department builds back its ranks. The support has resulted in a decrease in violent and gun crime, fewer traffic fatalities, shorter response times to calls for assistance, and seizures of significant amounts of illicit drugs, including fentanyl and heroin.  

“Public safety is at the very core of what we do in city government and this partnership was a practical approach as the Austin Police Department faces serious staffing challenges,” Garza said. “We have heard Mayor and Council’s concerns about recent events and agree that we must have absolute certainty that any solution we put in place maintains the trust and wellbeing of our community members and that all law enforcement officers working to keep our city safe are on the same page when it comes to policing practices.” 

The initiative was temporarily paused in mid-May as DPS officers were reassigned to Texas border cities but resumed July 2 with new deployment strategies in response to recommendations from the Mayor and City Council.   


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Robert Kingham Appointed as next Downtown Austin Community Court Administrator


Robert Kingham has been selected as the next Court Administrator for the Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) following a nationwide search. 
 
Kingham has served as the Court Operations Manager for DACC since 2017, where he is responsible for managing three operational areas: Court Services, Community Services, and Support Services. In this role he also administers a portion of the City of Austin’s social service investment portfolio. 
 
“Robert Kingham is an excellent choice as the next Court Administrator for the Downtown Austin Community Court,” Bruce Mills, Interim Assistant City Manager for Public Safety, said.  “He has the experience and knowledge needed to ensure the DACC continues to integrate new processes and policies that will help meet the needs of our court clientele and the community.”
 
During Kingham’s time with DACC, he led the transition of two important community programs to come under DACC’s purview. One program is the Austin Homelessness Advisory Council (AHAC) which ensures voices of people with lived experience participate in planning processes for policies and programs impacting people experiencing homelessness to help achieve long-term stability. The second program is the Violet KeepSafe Storage program (VKS) which serves as a free storage program for individuals experiencing homelessness.
 
Throughout his 13 years with the City, Kingham has been tasked with building and leading strong teams that are resilient and flexible to rise to the occasion as community needs evolve. In 2013 following the Dove Springs Halloween flood, Kingham helped establish a Flood Assistance Center for residents impacted by the historic flood. He carried this experience into the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where he established and then oversaw operations of the Protective Lodging facilities, ensuring a safe place for unhoused individuals to isolate, while having access to all essential needs and services.
 
Kingham holds a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance and a master’s in health promotion from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.



City of Austin Announces Community Showcase Event 7/11/23 Celebrating the Organizational Capacity Building Initiative for Homelessness Response System

 

The evening of July 11, 2023, the City of Austin's Homeless Strategy Division and Innovation Office, in collaboration with Blue Sky Partners, will hold an event to honor the work of organizations supporting Austin's unhoused neighbors.
 
The Homeless Services Organizational Capacity Building Initiative aims to deepen and scale the impact of programs and services that assist people experiencing homelessness, especially organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color, or who employ people with lived experience of homelessness. Through this initiative, a diverse group of 21 nonprofit service providers were selected to receive technical assistance and grants of up to $45,000. This initiative reinforces the City's commitment to expanding services, improving equity, and supporting minority-led organizations within the Homelessness Response System.
 
Participating organizations completed a needs assessment and joined a 10-week cohort-based accelerator program. The accelerator was facilitated by Blue Sky Partners alongside City of Austin staff and community partners to ensure responsiveness to the needs of Austin’s unhoused residents. The community showcase is the culmination of this work and provides an opportunity for the organizations to forge new connections, share their success, and celebrate with the broader community.
 
“This event will provide an opportunity for our partner organizations who have supported people experiencing homelessness to be honored for their services. Many of the organizations represented at this event have not been previously funded by the City of Austin, and through this initiative and community event we’re excited to bring a spotlight to their important work,” said Homeless Strategy Division Policy & Engagement Unit Manager Gary Pollack.
 
All organizations at the event will have a featured table where guests are invited to learn more about their work serving the unhoused. Parking validation for the City Hall parking garage will be available.
 
Register for free event:
When: July 11, 2023 from 4 - 6:00pm
Where: Austin City Hall 301 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX.
Link to event registration:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-showcase-capacity-building-initiative-tickets-660743972007
 
 
For more information about the Organizational Capacity Building Initiative and the participating organizations, please visit the City of Austin's official website at https://www.austintexas.gov/article/homelessness-services-capacity-building-program.
 
To learn more about homelessness in Austin, please visit www.austintexas.gov/homelessness

Artist Career Training Opens for Austin-area Creatives

 

Creatives of all disciplines can apply online by August 15 at www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining



AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department invites Austin-area creative professionals to apply for Artist Career Training. This six-week business training will educate participants on how to successfully manage a profitable business in the creative industries. Participants will learn business planning, marketing, and funding. Professionals from all disciplines are encouraged to apply online at www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining by Tuesday, August 15 at 5 p.m. 

“The Artist Career Training program is an invaluable opportunity for creative professionals to take their artistic ventures to new heights,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “By connecting with mentors and expanding their professional network, participants will tap into a wealth of support and collaboration within the creative community.”

Up to 24 creative professionals will be selected for the program through a competitive application process. Criteria for acceptance include the quality of artistic work, the applicant’s career goals, and overall readiness for the program. 

Throughout the program, Artist Career Training participants will develop a grant proposal for the City’s cultural funding program and other funding opportunities in the region. The program concludes with a proposal pitch in which three winners are selected to receive a seed grant to begin their projects.

A non-refundable, one-time course fee of $150 will be charged to selected participants. Participants must be at least 18 years old and reside in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties. University or community college students are not eligible.

Applicants are encouraged to attend the 2023 Artist Career Training Information Session on Wednesday, July 19 from 6-8 p.m. Attendees will get to learn more about the program and hear inspiring stories from past cohorts who have transformed their artistic journeys into thriving entrepreneurial careers. The event will be held at the City of Austin Economic Development Department (5202 East Ben White Boulevard, Suite 400).

Application Opens: Tuesday, July 11 at 10 a.m.

Application Closes: Tuesday, August 15 at 5 p.m.

Class Schedule
The six-week program begins September 20 and ends October 25. Training will be in-person on Wednesday evenings from 6-9 p.m. at the City of Austin Economic Development Department (5202 East Ben White Boulevard). 

Course topics include: 

  • Week 1: Goal Setting and Business Canvas
  • Week 2: Marketing and Social Media Strategies
  • Week 3: Copyright, Business Structure, Contracts, and Partnerships
  • Week 4: Budgeting and Taxes
  • Week 5: Grants and Fundraising
  • Week 6: Proposal Pitch Night
Program details, informational webinar, and application resources are available online at www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining.
 

La capacitación artística profesional abre para los creativos del área de Austin

Los artistas de cualquier disciplina tienen hasta el 15 de agosto para presentar su solicitud en línea en www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining. 

AUSTIN, TX –El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la ciudad de Austin invita a los profesionales creativos del área a presentar una solicitud para asistir a la capacitación artística profesional. Esta capacitación empresarial de seis semanas enseñará a los participantes a gestionar con éxito un negocio rentable en las industrias creativas. Los participantes aprenderán planificación empresarial, mercadeo y financiación. Se anima a los profesionales de todas las disciplinas a presentar su solicitud en línea en www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining antes del martes 15 de agosto a las 5 p.m.

"El programa de capacitación artistica profesional es una oportunidad muy valiosa para que los creativos profesionales lleven sus empresas artísticas a nuevas alturas", explica Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Directora del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico. "Al conectar con mentores y ampliar su red profesional, los participantes aprovecharán una gran cantidad de apoyo y colaboración dentro de la comunidad creativa".

Se seleccionarán hasta 24 creativos profesionales para el programa a través de un proceso de solicitud competitivo. Los criterios de aceptación incluyen la calidad del trabajo artístico, los objetivos profesionales del solicitante y su preparación general para el programa.

A lo largo del programa, los participantes de la capacitación artística profesional desarrollarán una propuesta de subvención para el programa de financiación cultural de la ciudad y otras oportunidades de financiación en la región. El programa concluye con una presentación de propuestas en la que se seleccionan tres ganadores que recibirán una subvención inicial para iniciar sus proyectos.

Se cobrará a los participantes seleccionados una cuota de inscripción única y no reembolsable de $150. Los participantes deben tener al menos 18 años y residir en el Área Estadística Metropolitana de Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, que incluye los condados de Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis y Williamson. Los estudiantes universitarios o de colegios comunitarios no son elegibles.

Se invita a los solicitantes a asistir a la sesión informativa sobre la capacitación artística profesional, que tendrá lugar el miércoles 19 de julio de 6 a 8 p.m. Los interesados podrán obtener más información sobre el programa y escuchar historias inspiradoras de anteriores cohortes que han transformado sus trayectorias artísticas en prósperas carreras empresariales. El evento tendrá lugar en el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin (5202 East Ben White Boulevard, Suite 400).

Inicio de solicitudes: martes 11 de julio a las 10 a.m.
Cierre de solicitudes: martes 15 de agosto a las 5 p.m.
 
Horario de clases
El programa de seis semanas comienza el 20 de septiembre y termina el 25 de octubre. La capacitación será en persona los miércoles por la noche de 6 p.m. a 9 p.m. en el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la ciudad de Austin (5202 East Ben White Boulevard).
 
Los temas del curso incluyen:

  • Semana 1: Establecimiento de objetivos y lienzo empresarial
  • Semana 2: Estrategias de mercadeo y de redes sociales
  • Semana 3: Derechos de autor, estructura empresarial, contratos y sociedades
  • Semana 4: Presupuestación e impuestos
  • Semana 5: Subvenciones y recaudación de fondos
  • Semana 6: Noche de presentación de propuestas

 
Los detalles del programa, el seminario informativo, y la información sobre la solicitud están disponibles en línea en www.austintexas.gov/artistcareertraining.

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About the City of Austin Economic Development Department   
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and subscribe to our newsletter. Connect with us @AustinEconDev on Facebook@AustinEconDev on Twitter, and @AustinEconDev on YouTube.   

Información sobre del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin 
El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin fomenta el crecimiento empresarial, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible que enriquecen las vidas de los habitantes de Austin. Para obtener más información acerca de recursos útiles, visite www.austintexas.gov/edd y suscríbase a nuestro boletín. Conéctese con nosotros en @AustinEconDev en Facebook  y @AustinEconDev en Twitter  y @AustinEconDev en YouTube

City of Austin Community Job Fair on October 10

The City of Austin’s Human Resources Department will host a Community Job Fair on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at ...