Public Notice: The City's Day in Court

Plus: $100 million buses; $0.00 fares

Public Notice: The City's Day in Court

The city of Austin's appeal of the injunction that put a stop to its Land Develop­ment Code revision process last year is finally moving ahead at Houston's 14th Court of Appeals, where it's been sitting since May of 2020. In a notice sent out Sept. 23, the court set Nov. 17 as the date when a three-judge panel will hear oral arguments, of no more than 15 minutes per side, entirely remotely via Zoom.

It's hard to see what took so long; nothing much has happened in the intervening 16 months, and the facts of the case remain the same. A group of citizens filed a lawsuit against the city's intended code, claiming largely that it violated their rights to notice and appeal, regarding code changes pertaining to their property. The plaintiffs won in District Judge Jan Soifer's court in March 2020, so they're the defendants now in the city's appeal, filed weeks later. Since then there have been two amicus briefs filed: by the Austin NAACP and three other groups opposing the city, and by (*snicker*) Friends of Hyde Park supporting the city. And in June there were back-and-forth filings about the possible precedent set in a recent case titled Austin Housing Finance Corp. v. Friends of Brykerwoods. And that's the entirety of the case history.

After oral arguments, it's anyone's guess how long a ruling might take, but in any case, the litigants get their 15 minutes of fame starting at 2pm Wednesday, Nov. 17, on (I kid you not) the 14th Court's YouTube channel.


Happy transit news: Cap Metro announced a fare-free October for the entire month, for all customers on all services except MetroBike, "to thank customers as the agency works [through its] staff shortages, and to encourage customers to return to transit as our economy recovers from Covid-19." So, how do you make money by selling your product for free? Volume, of course. Hence...

The Capital Metro board on Wednesday approved the purchase of 197 new electric buses over the next five years, plus charging equipment, for a total cost of around $200 million, making it the largest electric vehicle procurement in U.S. history. About two-thirds of the buses – which include a number of 60-foot articulated "bendy buses" – will replace existing diesel units, and about 65 will go to expanding service, including the new Expo Centerand Pleasant Valley MetroRapid lines included in the Project Connect transit plan. Long-term, the agency intends to replace its entire 400-unit diesel fleet with electric vehicles.

Project Connect, meanwhile, announced an upcoming series of virtual Community Design Workshops, providing "the opportunity to discuss preliminary station concepts with the Project Connect design team," in conjunction with the citizen working groups who've been getting briefings on specific parts of the rail lines. Station areas to be covered include the Drag, SoCo, Crestview Station, Fourth Street, 29th & Guadalupe, and the North Lamar and South Congress transit centers. But the series kicks off Tues­day, Oct. 12, with an interesting one: the planned new Lady Bird Lake Bridge, intended to provide a crossing for the Blue Line train, somewhere near the Convention Center. Meetings are open to the public, but you must register at capmetro.org/get-involved.


Paws & Pours is back: How much beer and wine can you drink in a month? Buy a P&P Passport from the Austin Humane Society ($40 online or at AHS) and get free wine, beer, and other "paw-some specials" at some 18 venues around town for the entire month of October. (Bonus: Use CapMet's free transit to get there).

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Public Notice, Land Development Code, 14th Court of Appeals, Jan Soifer, Capital Metro, Capitol Metro Board of Directors, Project Connect, electric buses

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