Southwest Austin | January 2021

2021 SOUTHWESTAUSTIN DRIPPING SPRINGS EDITION

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A N N U A L C O M M U N I T Y G U I D E

VOLUME 13, ISSUE 10  JAN. 26FEB. 22, 2021

2021 SPONSORED BY • AustinWater

TOP STORY TO WATCH IN 2021

PA N D E M I C P E R F O R M A N C E

ANNUAL COMMUNITYGUIDE

Even as Austin ISD’s enrollment declined by 5,018 students from fall 2019, the number of students who failed at least one course more than doubled from the same time last year. AISD Director of Academics Suzanne Newell said pandemic stress and the adjustment to virtual learning have both had an eect.

Austin ISD students failing at least one course: fall semester

Austin ISD students failed a class in the fall semester. About 1 in 10 SOURCE: AUSTIN ISD COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

133.7% YoY increase in total students failing

8,000 6,400 4,800 3,200 1,600 0

COMMUNITY INFO

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7,607

3,254

3,018

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Failure rates increase as virtual learning continues Nearly 80% of Austin students are learning from home as education gaps widen

BY NICHOLAS CICALE

TRANSPORTATION

a third-grader, and Nathan, a sixth- grader—navigate their virtual classes and submit assignments. As a part- time AISD reading specialist, she teaches on-campus classes three times a week, interacting with a mix of

in-person and online students. On the days Murray leaves for work, Nathan, a student at Gorzycki Middle School, continues to learn virtually with a pod of other local classmates.

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Betsy Murray has seen both sides of the virtual learning battle during the coronavirus pandemic. As an Austin ISD parent, she stays home twice a week to help her two children—Owen,

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Pre-pandemic legislation helps local breweries survive a grueling year

HEALTH CARE

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BY NICHOLAS CICALE

Austin by the summer of 2020. However, when local and state health orders required bars and breweries to close in-person service beginning in March, he said delays to construction and the added nancial strain caused by temporarily closing forced him to shift his plans. The words “Patience & Persistence,” tattooed on his left arm for years, have never had more meaning.

For Last Stand Brewing Co. owner Jim Sampson, 2020 was supposed to be a monumental year for the company he launched in Dripping Springs in 2015. A veteran of the Central Texas beer industry, Sampson was set to open a second location for the business, which would include a new taproom and would move all beer production into the city of

Last Stand Brewing Co. owner Jim Sampson pours a beer from the tap. (Nicholas Cicale/ Community Impact Newspaper)

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Kelly Martinez, MD Breast Surgery

Richard Stoebner, MD Cardiology

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Rajesh Shah, MD Gastroenterology

Erik Anderson, MD General Surgery

Chandima Dehipitiya, MD Internal Medicine

GladysWeng, DO Internal Medicine

Richard Sawyers, MD Neurology

Brooke Leath, MD Gynecology

Donavan Kip Murphy, MD Orthopedics

Ali Daha, MD Pain Management

J. Albert Diaz, MD Orthopedics

Nathan Drummond, MD Orthopedics

Alyson Vokes, DO Obstetrics/ Gynecology

Christopher Casstevens, MD Orthopedics

Andrew Bruyn, DPM Podiatry

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SOUTHWEST AUSTIN - DRIPPING SPRINGS EDITION • JANUARY 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS IMPACTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more TODO LIST Virtual and in-person events

FROMDEEDA: Scramble to feed the kids. Try not to show laundry in the background of the Zoom call. Shout to the spouse to ask why the Wi-Fi is weak. Sound familiar? This was our routine for months working and parenting from home. In our front-page story, Senior Reporter Nicholas Cicale shares the consequences this balancing act is having on Austin students. He explores what gaps in education have formed or been exacerbated by virtual learning and where we go from here. This focus on education is part of our Annual Community Guide, which provides snapshots of topics including transportation, health care, development and local government. No Wi-Fi required.

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Deeda Lovett, dlovett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Jack Flagler, jagler@communityimpact.com SENIOR REPORTER Nicholas Cicale REPORTERS Olivia Aldridge, Christopher Neely GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miranda Baker ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Alyssa Cevallos METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Travis Baker MANAGING EDITOR Amy Denney ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Haley Grace CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES&MARKETINGDIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across ve metropolitan areas providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON

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ANNUAL COMMUNITY GUIDE

COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT 13 Data from Austin and Dripping Springs GOVERNMENT 18 Stories from City Hall and the Capitol DEVELOPMENT 21 Tesla construction to nish by end of year HEALTH CARE 23 More vaccines coming every week

Deeda Lovett, GENERALMANAGER

FROM JACK: This edition looks ahead to the most important stories of 2021, and there is no bigger story right now than the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. It aects everything from how teachers teach to how people commute to work (or don’t). And yet, Austin’s pre-COVID challenges are still here. How do we navigate our growth? And how can we continue our successes without pushing community members out? Those questions are as important as ever, and the changes will not stop as our city, hopefully, returns to some version of normal. Jack Flagler, EDITOR

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stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON CONTACT US 16225 Impact Way, Ste. 1, Pugerville, TX 78660 • 5129896808 PRESS RELEASES swanews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2021 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

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CORRECTIONS: Volume 13, Issue 9 An article on Page 7 incorrectly characterized a business announcement related to Lewis Family Medicine. The locally owned doctor’s oce and urgent care facility continues to operate three locations in Dripping Springs, Bee Cave and Manor. An article on Page 7 incorrectly stated the ownership group for Austin’s Pizza. The local chain is owned by Austin’s Pizza, LLC.

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IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon

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Austin oce will have about a dozen employees initially and is expected to grow over time. The company, which has an existing presence in Austin with a data center at 7500 Metro Center Drive, Austin, did not provide a specic date for the headquarters relocation. 877-378-3282. www.digitalrealty.com 7 Gabriela’s will be opening a second location in spring or summer in the Southpark Meadows shopping center at 9500 S. I-35, Austin. The original location of the Mexican restaurant remains open on East Seventh Street. Owner Gabriela Bucio also opened Taquero Mucho downtown and took over ownership of Revival Coee in East Austin in 2020. www.gabrielasdowntown.com 8 National pizza chain Marco’s Pizza announced Dec. 17 that it will be adding 20 new locations across Texas by the end of 2025, including one in South Austin located at the Cannon West shopping center at 6800 West Gate Blvd., Austin. www.marcos.com 9 Precision Camera & Video is opening a new location in late February at 9600 S. I-35, Austin, in the Southpark Meadows shopping center next to Marshalls. The store, oering cameras, video equipment, gear and educational resources, originally opened in Austin in 1976. Its North Austin location on West Anderson Lane remains open, but the pop-up William Cannon Drive location will be closing as the new South Austin shop opens. www.precision-camera.com 10 Dr. Christina McGee of Sullivan Physical Therapy will begin treating patients in February at a new location in Sunset Valley, 5601 Brodie Lane, No. 1000, Ste. 502, Sunset Valley.

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SOUTHWEST AUSTIN NOWOPEN 1 The oce of Internal medicine physician Dr. Mousumi Chanda-Kim opened at 1905 Matthews Lane, Austin, Jan. 11 and is accepting new patients. The oce accepts most insurances and is currently oering virtual and in-person appointments. Chanda-Kim has served the Central Texas area for more than 20 years. 512-444-4001. www.drchandakim.com 2 California-based Man vs Fries opened its rst local food truck in the Olympic Heights neighborhood at 11410 Menchaca Road, Austin, on Dec. 15. The business oers pickup and delivery of fried foods and foods that feature french fries, including burritos, crunch wraps, quesadillas, loaded fry plates and nachos. The food truck is the rst of three planned to open in Austin by the end of the year. The business told Community Impact Newspaper that it will stay at its

current South Austin location through at least the end of 2021 and hopes to become a permanent xture beyond that. www.manvsfries.com 3 Pinthouse Brewing opened its new location at 2201 E. Ben White Blvd., Austin, on Jan. 6. This is the fourth location for the local brewery and restaurant. It is oering a limited menu of sandwiches and bar snacks, such as popcorn, peanuts and hummus, along with 14 beers on tap. Eventually, that menu will be expanded to include more items. 512-717-0873. www.pinthousepizza.com 4 Goodwill Central Texas opened a new location at 2415 S. Congress Ave., Austin, on Jan. 14. The store is located in a remolded 22,000-square-foot suite in the South Congress Square shopping center and is open shopping and donations. Goodwill Central Texas operates more than 50 locations in the region, including two in Austin south of

Ben White Boulevard and one in Dripping Springs. 512-637-7177. www.goodwillcentraltexas.org COMING SOON 5 Copperstone , a new residential development from developer Meritage Homes, started construction in January, and move-in dates are projected to begin in late 2021. The community will include 154 homes on a 31-acre lot near the intersection of FM 1625 and Twin Creek Road. According to a news release from Meritage Homes, the prices of the units will start around $300,000 and range from 1,363 to 2,844 square feet. 877-275-6374. www.meritagehomes.com 6 Data center provider Digital Realty announced Jan. 14 it will move its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to 5707 Southwest Parkway, Austin. According to Executive Vice President of Operations Erich Sanchack, the new

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Tesla plans to invest $2.5 million into renovations for the project at The Yard.

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15 The Saint Mary, a 240-unit apartment building at 7500 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin, was purchased by private equity real estate management company Velocis on Jan. 13. The complex, completed in 2019, was previously owned by Stratus Properties. This is the rst multifamily purchase for Velocis in Austin. 737-265-4742. www.thesaintmary.com 16 Local specialty care group Texas Orthopedics , with a location at 3755 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Stes. 130 and 160, Austin, announced Jan. 4 it has merged with ve other orthopedic practices from Dallas, Houston and Tyler to form OrthoLoneStar. The new OrthoLoneStar is now the largest independent orthopedic group in Texas, according to a company Construction could begin on the project this June, and it will take an estimated three months to complete. The 29,936-square-foot property is currently occupied by Music Lab Austin’s rehearsal studio, which has FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON Tesla is planning a new South Austin showroom within The Yard at 500 E. St. Elmo Road, Austin, according to a permit led with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Similar permits were led with the city of Austin on Jan. 14. According to the ling, Tesla will renovate the property for auto sales and vehicle services at an estimated renovation cost of $2.5 million.

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not yet announced its future plans for the business. When reached by Community Impact Newspaper, a Tesla representative declined to comment on the company’s future plans. www.tesla.com

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NEWMANAGEMENT 13 The apartment complex Bee Caves Vistas is under new ownership and management as of Dec. 15 at 6508 Steep Cactus Trail, Austin. Real estate investment rm Sendera Investment Group purchased the community located in the Oak Hill region and has assumed the management of the property. Bee Caves Vistas features pet-friendly, three-bedroom townhomes with Hill Country views and oers close proximity to the Hill Country Galleria. 512-649-7234. www.beecavesvistas.com 14 Mighty Fine Burgers Fries & Shakes was sold by local hospitality group K&N management and purchased by Tony Ciola and Creed Ford on Jan. 4. Ciola and Ford are the co-owners of Tc4 & Co., the hospitality group behind Tony C’s Coal Fired Pizza and The League Kitchen & Tavern. Mighty Fine operates ve locations, including one at 5601 Brodie Lane, Ste. 1300, Sunset Valley. 512-735-2800. www.mightyneburgers.com

New patients can ll out a form on the clinic’s website, and McGee will evaluate and treat patients Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sullivan Physical Therapy’s Northwest Austin location remains open. 512-335-9300. www.sullivanphysicaltherapy.com 11 Synthetic Turf World will be opening a new location at 4211 Todd Lane, Ste. B, Austin, on Feb. 1. The business will continue oering turf installation around the Austin area, and the new location will allow customers to come in and review the products as well, according to oce manager Meaghan Callahan. 512-299-2330. www.synturfworld.com ANNIVERSARIES 12 The Rick’s Cleaners location at 8400 Brodie Lane, Ste. 101, Austin, celebrated 15 years in the community in January. The locally owned dry cleaning service rst opened in 1987 and has 15 area locations, including another in South Austin on South Lamar Boulevard. 512-291-1588. www.rickscleaners.com

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news release, with more than 150 physicians and 1,000 employees. Locally, Texas Orthopedics will keep its name as a division of the new group. 512-439-1005.

www.txortho.com CLOSINGS

17 Austin Pizza Garden, a local pizzeria located at 6266 W. Hwy. 290, Austin, closed Jan. 17 after 27 years in the community. The restaurant—which served specialty pies, salads, sandwiches and starters—operated inside a stone building built in 1898 and is just east of the Y at Oak Hill. The structure was designated a historic landmark in 1970. 512-891-9980. www.apgatx.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon

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CLOSINGS 4 Gabrick BBQ , which formerly operated a trailer at Last Stand Brewing Co., 12345 Pauls Valley Road, Bldg I, Austin, closed its trailer but remains in business selling its barbecue sauce online and in H-E-B grocery stores. Owner Mark Gabrick said in a news release the limitations due to the pandemic and increasing rent prices caused him to switch up his business model, and beginning Jan. 18, H-E-B started selling three varieties of Gabrick’s sauce: Texas Tang, which he said was the most popular, Rebel Red and Sweet Heat. www.gabrickbbq.com

at the Ledge Stone Commercial development at 235 Ledge Stone Drive. The project includes a 6,600-square-foot building on a 3.7-acre site. An opening date has not yet been announced. www.firestonecompleteautocare.com 3 Turcotte Butchers & Delicatessen will open in early April at 100 Commons Drive, Ste. 9, Dripping Springs. Co-owners Erik and Christin Turcotte said the local deli and butcher shop will offer choice cuts raised in Texas, and roast beef prepared in-house. Erik operated the Salt Lick BBQ food truck in Dripping Springs from March to September before deciding to open his

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NOWOPEN 1 Abby Jane Bakeshop , owned by Austin baker Abby Jane Love, opened Jan. 21 at 16604 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs, in the Barton Springs Mill building in the back of the Treaty Oak Distilling property. The bakery offers a menu of croissants, cakes, cookies, brownies, quiches and fresh baked pizzas made with the flour and grain produced by Barton Springs Mill. Outdoor seating

is located on the bakery’s patio and in a picnic area out front. Prior to opening, Love had worked as the pastry chef at East Austin restaurant Dai Due. 512-383-5923. www.abbyjanebakes.com COMING SOON 2 A Firestone Service Center that was approved by Dripping Springs City Council in March 2020 is now under construction

own business. 512-829-4657. www.turcottebutchers.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

FDA Approved DEPRESSION TREATMENT: Drug/Medication Free

January & February events

ARTIST TALK: TORBJØRN RØDLANDAND PHILIP LORCADICORCIA VIRTUAL EVENT

• NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Dripping Springs • Spa-like environment

FEB. 02

Dr. David K. Weber, MD Board Certified, Award winning Psychiatrist

FEBRUARY 04 AND 11 ‘FOCUS ON THE FUTURE’ WEBINAR HOSTED BY UT’SMCCOMBS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS The annual discussion series spotlighting industry and talking to experts in their elds goes virtual this year. Topics for the series hosted by McCombs School interim Dean Lillian Mills include health care Feb. 4 and technology and innovation Feb. 11. Noon. Free. 512-471-5921. www.mccombs.utexas.edu 05 AUSTINHISTORY CENTER’S The Contemporary Austin will open its new spring exhibits Jan. 23, including “Bible Eye,” featuring the work of Norwegian photographer Torbjørn Rødland. To commemorate the opening of the new exhibit, the modern art museum will host a conversation between Rødland and American photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia. 7 p.m. Free. 512-453-5312. www.thecontemporaryaustin.org (Courtesy Sarah Schultz/Contemporary ATX)

Dr. David K. Weber, MD

Dr. Eve Weber PhD Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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IT’S TIME TEXAS HOSTS

FAMILY MEALS

COMMUNITY CHALLENGE The nonprot organization dedicated to improving the health of Texans hosts this competition to improve community health. Participants can register online; earn points by engaging in healthy activities; and can join as part of a school, company or team. Free. 512-533-9555. www.ittcommunitychallenge.com 14 THROUGH FEB. 18 ‘THE PATH TO RACIAL EQUITY’ VIRTUAL CONVERSATION SERIES A group of 17 local organizations hosts this virtual series of discussions with experts on racial inequity in the Austin community. The series occurring weekly on Thursdays includes guests Tom Hawkins, president and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, on Feb. 4 and Chas Moore, executive director and founder of the Austin Justice Coalition, on Feb. 18. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Free. www.austinchamber.com/events/the- path-to-racial-equity-virtual-conversations 30 THROUGH FEB. 06 AUSTIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAONLINE CONCERT “Slavic Splendor” features works from Antonin Dvorak, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Modest Mussorgsky, Igor Stravisky and Sergei Prokoev. The ASO has virtual concerts scheduled through spring. AT AUSTIN FILMSOCIETY The Sundance Film Festival, which normally takes place at a ski resort in Utah, will take place digitally and via satellite partners, including Austin Film Society, which is hosting drive-in screenings. Various times. $25 per car, $15 per additional passenger. Jourdan- Bachman Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive, Austin. 512-322-0145. www.austinlm.org 7 p.m. $50. 512-476-6064. www.austinsymphony.org 28 THROUGH FEB. 03 SUNDANCE FILMFESTIVAL

FAJITAS Chicken, Beef or Combo $50 Party of four with all the fixin’s incl. guac

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TACOS 6 for $24 or 12 for $36 Crispy or Soft, Beef or Chicken

ENCHILADAS 8 for $32 Chicken, Cheese or Beef with choice of sauce

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All meals come with rice beans, chips and salsa

FAMILY MEAL DEALS Order online at Maudies.com Curbside pickup

ANGELINAEBERLYCELEBRATION The Austin History Center Association presents its annual fundraiser, which is moving online this year. The virtual event features the play “All Aboard! The Train Arrives in Austin,” written by local playwright Paullette MacDougal, which dramatizes the arrival of the rst train in Austin in 1871. The annual event is named for Eberly, an innkeeper who red a cannon shot in 1842 to start o the “Archives War,” alerting residents that rangers sent by president Sam Houston were taking ocial archives in an eort to move the capital from Austin to Houston. Noon. $75-$100.512-270-0132. www.austinhistory.net 06 AND 13 ‘THE SCIENCE OF POLLINATION’ ONLINE CLASS This class for gardeners from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildower Center is hosted by Alice LeDuc, adjunct professor of horticulture at Texas State University. She will help gardeners learn how plants have adapted to attract pollinators and how gardeners can bring more butteries and bees to their gardens. 1-3 p.m. $40. www.wildower.org 12 A VIRTUAL DISCUSSIONWITH MARGARET ATWOOD Atwood, the author of books such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace , will discuss her work in the context of current events in this event moderated by Emily Ramshaw of online news organization The 19th. 7 p.m. $15-$30. 512-472-5470. www.austintheatre.org

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Find more or submit Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs events at communityimpact.com/ event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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SOUTHWEST AUSTIN  DRIPPING SPRINGS EDITION • JANUARY 2021

FALL IN LOVE WITH SAVING WATER

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Wastewater averaging is calculated from mid- November to mid-March. Embrace the savings while you can! The volume of wastewater you use determines how much you will be billed each month for the next year. Find your wastewater averaging period, conservation tips and more to start saving today! austinwater.org

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT

Data & analysis on local communities

COMPILED BY JACK FLAGLER

AUSTIN

DRIPPING SPRINGS

The city of Austin grew by more than 86,000 residents between 2014 and 2019 according to estimates released in December by the U.S. Census Bureau. That 10.02% growth rate outpaces the statewide rate of 8.31% over the same time period. However, Travis County as a whole grew faster then the city, going from 1.09 million residents to a population of 1.23 million according to the estimates, an increase of 12.26%.

The population of Dripping Springs nearly doubled between 2014 and 2019 according U.S. Census Bureau estimates, increasing 92.27% from 2,088 to 4,119 residents. The median household income, meanwhile, jumped 38.1% from $57,929 to $80,000 per year. That income level is slightly above the median in Hays County as a whole, which is $68,717.

ALI LINANCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

NICHOLAS CICALECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

SOURCES: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY 2019 5YEAR ESTIMATESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

LOCAL DEMOGRAPHICS *HISPANIC AND LATINO INDIVIDUALS MAY BE OF ANY RACE. THE OTHER CATEGORIES LISTED DO NOT INCLUDE HISPANIC OR LATINO RESIDENTS.

POPULATION CHANGE Austin Dripping Springs

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME

33.91% 48.28%

23.82% 73.03% 0.46% 0% 1.19% 0% 1.51% 0%

Hispanic or Latino*

10.02% 92.27% Five-year change

$55,216

2014

White

7.43% 0.19% 7.53% 0.02% 0.2% 2.44%

Black or African American

$71,516

2019

American Indian or Alaska native

Asian

Native Hawaiian or other Pacic Islander Some other race Two or more races

$57,929

2014

Texas 8.31%

$80,000

2019

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SOUTHWEST AUSTIN  DRIPPING SPRINGS EDITION • JANUARY 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATION

Updates on key transportation stories

COMPILED BY JACK FLAGLER

2 0 2 1 S P E C I A L E D I T I O N

OTHER PROJECTS TO FOLLOW IN 2021 While these projects have not yet started construction, they will be moving forward in 2021 for South Austin residents to keep an eye on.

TOP STORIES OF 2021

OakHill Parkway project scheduled formid-year groundbreaking, but lawsuit aims to scale it back

CESAR CHAVEZ ST.

360

A $677.1 million highway project that was initially scheduled to break ground in 2020 is now set to begin in the middle of 2021, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. However, the project will only proceed as planned if the state wins an ongoing lawsuit against a group of local residents pushing for a dierent design. The Oak Hill Parkway project would expand the roadway in a stretch of Southwest Austin near the intersections of Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71 to two to three main lanes and two to three frontage road lanes in each direction. TxDOT says the design will deliver much-needed trac relief in an area the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranked as the 43rd most congested roadway in the state in 2020. The lawsuit led by the Save Barton Creek Association, Save Oak Hill and other neighborhood groups argues the 12-lane design TxDOT has proposed would “divide Oak Hill for generations.” The groups are putting forth a dierent design, which they call Livable Oak Hill, that proposes six lanes at grade level, which they say will provide more connectivity to the region and better access to businesses while still addressing trac. The two sides entered mediation in November, but those eorts ceased in mid-January, according to both TxDOT and Save Barton Creek Association president Angela Richter. “I urge TxDOT to adopt the community-driven design and use the millions that would be saved for other needed transportation projects in our region,” Travis County

COLORADO RIVER

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MOPAC

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The Oak Hill Parkway project would expand portions of Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71 to 12 lanes in order to address trac concerns near the Y at Oak Hill.

MoPac South After the project that could add toll lanes on MoPac was on hold for three years, Mike Heiligenstein, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority executive director, said progress is once again being made. According to Heiligenstein, the Mobility Authority will schedule public input meetings likely around the middle of 2021 before it nalizes an environmental study for the project area. Timeline: construction could begin in 2024 Cost: $540 million Funding source: Mobility Authority toll revenue bonds, federal loans

RENDERING COURTESY TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

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Commissioner Brigid Shea said in a news release. Meanwhile, workers in the area are preparing for construction, drilling into the ground to gather information about soil and rock features, installing fencing and relocating a transmission line.

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SouthAustin I35work set towrap up in 2021 After nearly ve years of construction, a twice-delayed project to reconstruct the William Cannon Drive and Stassney Lane bridges across I-35 is set to nish in the middle of 2021, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The $78.8 million project also improved ramps on and o I-35 in the area. According to TxDOT, the nal work to take place will include constructing curbs and gutters, installing shared-use paths and paving the main lanes. The project was initially supposed to be completed by the end of 2020, but it was pushed back in November. When it is completed, this will be the end of a long period of construction along the highway for South Austin drivers. A separate three-year, $42.6 million project to reconstruct the Oltorf Street bridge and improve entrance and exit rams wrapped up in June 2020.

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I-35 Capital Express South This project would add two non-tolled managed lanes in each direction along I-35 between SH 45 SE and Hwy. 71. The next step for the Texas Department of Transportation will be a public hearing tentatively scheduled for this spring. At that meeting, TxDOT will present its proposed design and environmental assessment for residents to review and provide feedback. The design process is set to nish in 2022, at which point construction can begin. Timeline: construction could begin in 2022 Cost: $300 million Funding source: TxDOT

A nearly ve-year project to improve I35 in the area of William Cannon Drive and Stassney Lane is set to nish in mid-2021.

NICHOLAS CICALECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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SOUTHWEST AUSTIN  DRIPPING SPRINGS EDITION • JANUARY 2021

EDUCATION

School news to follow

TOP STORIES OF 2021

School funding once again amajor focus area during legislative session

• maintains funding for House Bill 3 initiatives; • bases funding on enrollment, not attendance; • increases funding for special needs programs; • recognizes challenges the pandemic caused in state accountability assessments; • supports local control and district exibility; and • increases transparency in proposed charter school expansions. SOURCE: AUSTIN ISD COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER TOP PRIORITIES Austin ISD trustees approved 35 legislative priorities in November. According to the district, AISD will support legislation that:

BY NICHOLAS CICALE

funding per student in Texas and provided $5 billion in tax compensation and supporting programs, including the expansion of prekindergarten services and teacher incentives. This year, Austin ISD is supporting legislation that would sustain the funding given through HB 3, according to AISD Policy Oversight Director Edna Butts. However, the coronavirus pandemic has shrunk the estimated fund available for all state programs, she said, which means cuts may be coming. Lawmakers will have to make up a $1 billion shortfall in the current budget caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and Popinski said the state could look to education funding as a possible solution to ll gaps elsewhere. AISD is also asking legislators to increase transparency in the process that

Lawmakers in Texas convened for the 87th legislative session on Jan. 12.

Two years ago, Texas passed an $11.6 billion education funding reform bill that lawmakers called historic. This year, the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12, will again be key for the future of the state’s education, according to Bob Popinski, the director of policy at Raise Your Hand Texas, a nonprot that advocates for equal access to public education. “The big issues at the session—I think it’s going to be budget issues; it’s going to be virtual and remote learning and how we fund that and open it up statewide; it’s going to be about the state assessment with AF [accountability ratings for districts]; and there might be some discussion on charter schools,” he said. In 2019, House Bill 3 increased state

JACK FLAGLERCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

charter schools follow to expand into new areas and “level the playing eld” by making per-student funding equal for public and charter schools, Butts said. Outside of school funding, Popinski said some of the more heavily debated topics might involve expanding virtual learning as a more permanent solution beyond the pandemic and adjusting accountability measures. Although the state’s AF rating system for schools has been put on hold, STAAR testing is still scheduled. How the test will be implemented and scored, or potentially canceled for the current school year, could also be determined early in the session, Popinski said.

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