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Council Wrap: Changes slated for Rainey Street, lobbyist task force tabled

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TWC News: Council Wrap: Changes slated for Rainey Street, lobbyist task force tabled
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Changes coming to Rainey Street

Parking is about to become a hot commodity in Austin's Rainey Street neighborhood.

Council members were briefed by city planners Thursday who said that public safety has become a growing concern over the past two years, as the street's exploded as a night scene.

The formerly family-friendly neighborhood currently has a narrow street, no bike lanes and spotty sidewalks. By March, expect to find Rainey Street a one-way street for cars, have dedicated northbound and southbound bike lanes as well as new sidewalks.

"Whenever we put sidewalks in, they have to be fully ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant,” Howard Lazarus with the Austin Public Works Department said. “You have issues with cross-slope, as well as running slope. We are going to have to redo all the driveways and the ramps as well as the sidewalks."

Planners expect the improvements to cost $750,000 dollars and to be finished by South by Southwest in March.

Little Woodrow's closer to new location

Little Woodrow’s is one step closer to opening up a new location on Burnet Road.

Owners want to transform a former real estate office into a restaurant and bar near Burnet Road and Koenig Lane, but a few Austin City Council members are concerned about the limited parking spaces the site offers.

Neighbors also voiced concerns regarding the proposed bar’s proximity to nearby homes.

City Council narrowly passed the plan on second reading with a 4-3 vote.

It will go before council members for a third reading before work can begin.

Deal made with Troublemaker Studios

City council approved a $200,000 deal with Robert Rodriguez’s film production company Troublemaker Studios.

In turn, Rodriguez will use his connections in the film industry to promote Austin as a film-friendly city. While Austin is already home to several film and television productions, local film professionals told YNN that Texas’ incentives for production companies pale in comparison to other states.

Among a list of conditions, Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios would work to bring at least one major motion picture to Austin every year under a program dubbed the "creative content incubator."

The money for the partnership with Troublemaker Studios will come from the city's Economic Reserve Fund.

Lobbyists issue withdrawn

Council Member Bill Spelman moved to withdraw Item 29, which would have allowed up to four lobbyists to serve on the Land Development Code Task Force.

The task force will be responsible for reviewing Austin’s development code and making recommendations to bring the code up to date.

Spelman said developers should have input in the process as the code greatly impacts them, but critics contested lobbyists should have no place in any level of government.

Council Member Spelman also asked for two additional weeks to find a replacement for his appointment to the task force, Michele Rogerson Lynch, who would have been the only woman in the group. Lynch currently serves as the Director of Land Use and Entitlements for local law firm Metcalfe Wolff Stuart

’Trail to Nowhere’ funding postponed

City Council also postponed any action to finish the so-called “Trail to Nowhere” in North Austin.

The North Walnut Creek Trail has been slowly built for more than a decade. Many of the delays have been due to several attempts to redesign the trail.

Finishing the $3.2 mile project is expected to cost nearly $6 million.

Council will revisit the issue on Feb. 14.

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