We had a busy, busy week here in the Mayor’s office. If I were to fill you in on everything we did, this email would stretch into next week, but we can’t do that because we’ve got a packed schedule.
So let’s hit the highlights:
Austin Music & Creative Ecosystem
On Friday, I, Council Members Kathie Tovo, Pio Renteria, and Greg Casar were joined by leaders of the local music and arts communities to announce a long list of creative ideas for the creative class. We didn’t need another study to tell us that Austin’s local music industry is suffering under the affordability crisis, but the news that it has lost 1,200 jobs since 2010 was sobering. We won’t be the Live Music Capital of the World for much longer if we keep losing musicians and music venues, and our arts community is facing many of the same challenges.
That’s why we are introducing the Austin Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution. We’re going to need all our creativity, ingenuity, and vision to deal with the affordability crisis that faces the musicians and artists alike who are getting priced out of homes and studio space. The work they are producing is as vibrant as ever, but this city has never been more unaffordable for them. As I said at the press conference, what do we ultimately gain if we get another weekend of the ACL Festival but we lose another Liberty Lunch?
If you want to learn more about this, you can read our press release that has links to the resolution, my prepared remarks, read the article in the Statesman, or listen to the pretty funny story on KUT.
(And thanks to Aaron Majors of Ballet Austin for letting us use that photograph.)
How soon can we fix I-35?
This week I also got to speak to the Texas Transportation Commission about how TxDOT and Austin can work together in the Year of Mobility, and that starts with I-35. The downtown interstate is the most congested road in Texas. If we don’t do something big to fix this very soon, it’ll be the most congested road in the country. That is one list that we don’t want to be #1 on.
TxDOT has proposed two options to relieve congestion on I-35: either raising up the freeway or lowering the lanes below ground level. I strongly support the latter choice because it will increase our mobility around Austin, including getting east and west on bike or foot as well as by car. If we do lower I-35, that will create the economic opportunity for private investment to put a cap on top of I-35, creating possibilities for open space and other opportunities. We can turn the worst road in Texas into the crown jewel of Austin. We’re only going to do this once, so we might as well do it right.
If you want to see a video of my testimony, jump over to our Facebook page.
What’s happening with our collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Institute?
Also this week was the first Mobility Transformation Committee meeting with the Rocky Mountain Institute, Mayor Adler, CM Kitchen, Senator Watson, Commissioner Shea, TxDOT, CTRMA, and many more. You might remember that the Rocky Mountain Institute selected Austin to collaborate with on mobility innovations. Success will come from experimentation, learning, and adapting, and it won’t happen overnight, but it’s innovative collaborations like ours with RMI that will lead to the technological, operation, economic, social, and behavioral changes we need.
How is Austin following up on the Paris climate agreement?
You might remember that last year I signed the Under MOU 2 climate agreement that calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% to 95% by 2050. This week I spoke at an event cohosted by the Austin EcoNetwork and the Rainforest Partnership at the Google Fiber Space, entitled, “The Paris Climate Agreement, An Austin Perspective.” Presidents can sign treaties, but when it comes to climate change mayors will be implementing it, utility by utility, transit system by transit system. It’s up to us to get this done. I touched on how we’ll do that as well as my memories of the experience at the COP 21 climate summit in my remarks, which you can hear by listening to this podcast. Long story short, the 2015 Austin Community Climate Plan identified 130 actions to achieve Net-Zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. There is a big role for Austin to play in this global effort to reduce carbon emissions, and we can lead the way by setting an example for the U.S.
That’s it for now. Enjoy this amazing weather. Me, I’ve got a full weekend of meetings and public events. Like I said – busy, busy, busy.