Category Archives: Omnibus

SOCA 2018: Planning for the Future

Mayor Pro Tem and my colleagues on the Council, Manager Cronk, distinguished guests, and fellow Austinites:

Before I begin, I want to thank Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez of Mexico for introducing me this evening.

People don’t realize that how closely we are working together these days. It hasn’t always been so. Used to be we saw each other only at happy occasions, like at Casa Mexico during SXSW.

Times have changed, and so has our relationship. I want to tell you something that not many people know. When the immigration raids began earlier last year and Austin was made a particular target, we had no reliable access to information except what we got from my friend, the Consul General. At that moment, we found ourselves in common cause in service of this city — and all of its people.

That bond was strengthened when Hurricane Harvey looked like it was headed right at us. His government immediately offered shelter to any Texan who might need it.

You and your wife were in our local shelters tending to all our guests. Again and again, my friend, you demonstrate that you care about people – all people – yours, mine, and ours.

Consul General Gonzalez Gutierrez, you are my partner in some of the biggest challenges facing our two countries. Tonight, I pledge to you not only continued brotherhood and friendship, but continued vigilance in our efforts on immigration.
We want our neighbors in Austin to be safe regardless of who they are or where they came from. We know preserving trust makes us the safest big city in the state. We will not use fear to divide our community. Consul General, you can count on Austin.

So let’s begin… Now, more than ever, I value opportunities for us to take stock of a year’s progress and to measure ourselves against the needs of the future.

In these turbulent times, we must deliberately and seriously speak and act in a way true to who we are. Our city continues to face formidable challenges. We cannot pretend we don’t see them. We need to act and to plan for what the future will bring.

The question you should be asking is whether your Council has the will to seize the moment and to act on the scale of our challenges. The answer to that question, when you look back a year and look ahead a year, is “yes.”

Ten years from now… twenty years from now… a new generation of Austinites will ask us what we did, at this time of great risk, to preserve and protect the magic of Austin. This is our moment.

We must act with our eyes focused clearly on the future. Continue reading

SOCA: Austin’s “Kozmetsky Moment”

Since this is Austin, the change agenda’s focus on affordability must also deal with challenges in our local music industry and with our creative arts. SXSW and ACL are booming, but we’re losing creatives as we lose creative opportunities in an ever more expensive city.
We must manage growth to help live music in the Live Music Capital of the World. If we fail, Austin will never produce another Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn or Manuel Donley. Affordable music venues are incubators that allowed Grupo Fantasma, Spoon, and Gary Clark Jr. to develop their craft before launching on the world. This is equally true for the visual and performing arts.
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2017 State of the City Address: The Spirit of Austin


Mayor Pro Tem, Council Members, City Manager, Distinguished Guests, my fellow Austinites.

There is something magical about this place, our people, our culture and our spirit.

We know that diversity makes us stronger, that taking care of our environment is to our credit and not to our detriment.  We’re laid back and focused.  We’re willing to fail so long as we learn quickly and keep trying. The character of Austin is important to us for a reason. It’s about a quality of life where we don’t thrive despite our weird, diverse, and inclusive values – we thrive because of them!

The State of our City is as wonderfully unique and special as it has ever been.

But that’s not quite the story we always tell ourselves about Austin, is it? There is something else we often tell ourselves about this city, and we say it as if it were a knowing, painful joke:

The best time to be in Austin, we say, was five years before you got here.

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  • Crafted $720 million Smart Corridor mobility bond package that will decrease congestion on major arteries and increase safety
  • Voted on CAMPO to prioritize overpasses on Loop 360 to get additional $204 million from Texas Transportation Commission to add to $46 million passed in mobility bond, which will result in being able to drive the length of Loop 360 from Highway 183 to South MoPac without any stoplights
  • Approved Vision Zero Action Plan to improve traffic safety with a goal of zero deaths
  • Started safety improvements on the five most-dangerous intersections in Austin
  • Finalist for U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, leading to the establishment of the Smart State Consortium, a statewide initiative to public-private innovation to Texas’ mobility challenges, the creation of a new research triangle formed by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Southwest Research Institute, and the establishment of the Texas Automated Vehicle Proving Ground
  • Won Mayors’ Challenge Ladders of Opportunity Award from U.S. Department of Transportation for pedestrian safety project on Rundberg Lane
  • Despite departure of incumbent ride sharing companies, Austin gained multiple transportation network companies operating at scale with a real choice for fingerprinted drivers
  • Created a taxi co-op, partially deregulating taxis in Austin
  • Welcomed Chariot, Ford’s new on-demand shuttle service, to Austin, the second city it’s operating in after San Francisco
  • Was named one of five global mayors to be an initial member of the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles to galvanize experts and data to accelerate cities’ planning efforts, and produce a set of principles and tools that participating cities, as well as cities around the world, can use to chart their own paths forward.
  • Launched Austin Don’t Rush, a city-wide one-day challenge to get local commuters to do something other than drive alone during rush hour. This resulted in increases in downloads of Capital Metro’s mobile app and ridership increases across their system as well as an 11% decrease in downtown drive times during the morning rush hour.

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Oped: New plan to save live music venues



We’re going to save our live music venues in Austin. And this is the kind of progress we’re been looking for.

This week our office was selected as a winner of the Neighborly Bonds Challenge, which called on innovative public agencies interested in offering their communities the opportunity to invest directly in local projects. Winning will allow us to work with Neighborly to develop a $10-million minibond to purchase and preserve iconic music venues, fulfilling one of the objectives I laid out in the Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution introduced last February.

I am excited about the possibilities that winning the Neighborly Bonds Challenge offers us. This is not a taxpayer bailout. Instead, this provides our community a way out of a problem that has hurt us deeply for generations. We have already lost clubs we will never get back, such as the Armadillo World Headquarters and Liberty Lunch, places where so many of us fell in love with the special spirit of Austin.

We cannot lose these music venues without losing something that is vital to our identity and to our soul. Austin won’t be the Live Music Capital of the World if we keep losing music venues. Now, thanks to Neighborly, we have a way to do something about it. Continue reading