Central Austin Edition - September 2021

CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION

VOLUME 13, ISSUE 11  SEPT. 27OCT. 24, 2021

ONLINE AT

Austin nursing shortage builds Hospitals struggle to sta beds as delta variant rages

BY OLIVIA ALDRIDGE

“[Our workers] honored those aected by COVID-19. ... For many, that includes family and friends,” Bay- lor Scott & White Health, St. David’s HealthCare and Ascension Seton said in a joint statement. “Health care workers have shown incredible cour- age and resiliency. Today was a time to honor their continued work.” But after 18months of pandemic con- ditions, the ranks of thoseworkerswere smaller—especially among nurses.

On Sept. 3, nurses in Austin’s three major hospital systems paused for a moment of silence to observe one year and six months since the rst COVID-19 case was reported in the state. By then, Austinwas in themidst of its third catastrophic coronavirus surge. Hospitals in Austin’s 11-county trauma service region had treated more than 134,000 coronavirus patients, and Travis County was within a week of recording 1,000 deaths from the virus.

COURTESY BAYLOR SCOTT & WHITE HEALTH Registered nurses for a local Baylor Scott &White Health hospital participate in a moment of silence Sept. 3 to recognize a year and six months since the rst Texas COVID19 case.

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Since October 2014, about 57% of city cultural arts funding went to white individuals or majority white organizations. Census data from 2020 shows 47% of Austin residents identify as white. Here is a breakdown of the funding by race.

E Q U I T Y in the arts

Citypressespauseonarts fundingchangesamiddebate Community worries about timing of eorts aiming to address racial inequities

BY BEN THOMPSON

sustainable. City sta said those cuts became much deeper as the pandemic slashed the city’s overall bottom line. The combined eect of the smaller pot of money and the reorganization of its distributionwouldmeanmany organizations that had received money historically would no longer be able to rely on the cash. Questions and concerns from the creative community regarding implementation of the changes led the city to put the plan on hold.

Austin city sta spent months rolling out a plan to address inequities in cultural arts funding, but they announced Sept. 20 theywere pumping the brakes due to public feedback. The proposal, developed after two years of community input, would have redistributed arts funding to reach more minority-led organizations, which city data shows have not received funding at an even level. The proposal would also trim funding to be more

White $ 37.14M

Asian $ 1.39M Other $ 2.86M

No predominant race $ 16.05M

$ 64,651,943 Total

Black $ 1.2M

Hispanic/Latino $ 6.01M

FISCAL YEAR 201415 THROUGH FY 202021

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SOURCES: CITY OF AUSTIN, U.S. CENSUS BUREAUCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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RECENT LEGISLATION

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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FROMDEEDA: I did it again! I put a pumpkin on my porch too early for the Texas heat. As the pandemic presses on I nd myself searching for the light even if it’s to be found in the bottom of a rotting jack-o’-lantern. In our front-page story, we explore our local nurse shortages and applaud those stepping into the profession for the rst time trying to be that light for our loved ones who nd themselves in a dark place. Deeda Lovett, GENERALMANAGER dlovett@communityimpact.com

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FROMDARCY: As I wrap up my rst full month at Community Impact Newspaper , I’m excited to jump into fall— both for the weather and our reporting plans. This month, we looked at how changes to arts funding could aect the future of Austin’s creative scene. Darcy Sprague, EDITOR dsprague@communityimpact.com

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CORRECTION: Volume 13, Issue 10 On Page 26, the Austin ISD assistant superintendent’s name was misspelled. Her name is Erin Bown-Anderson.

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon or relocating

COMPILED BY OLIVIA ALDRIDGE

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Chicken Salad Shoppe

Komé

GRAND CASCADE DR.

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COURTESY JESSICA SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

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JACKSON AVE.

ANNIVERSARIES 7 Komé Sushi Kitchen will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in October, according to Director of Operations Elizabeth Hyman. Located at 5301 Airport Blvd., Ste. 1, Austin, and owned by Takehiro and Kayo Asazu, Kome serves family-style Japanese comfort food. 512-712-5700. www.kome-austin.com CLOSING 8 Chicken Salad Shoppe closed its ghost kitchen at 7433 Burnet Road. The kitchen opened in summer 2020. On July 26, it opened a new dine-in location inside the Furniture Mall of Texas at 12901 N. I-35, Bldg. 3, Ste. 300, Austin. It is the first dine-in location for Chicken Salad Shoppe. In addition to chicken salad, the locally owned restaurant serves vegetarian salad options and half-pound cookies in a variety of flavors. 512-790-7790. www.chickensaladshoppe.com

Companies, will break ground in summer 2022 at the corner of Bull Creek Road and Jackson Avenue. The 260,000-square- foot community will include 186 independent and assisted-living units and 34 memory care units. Construction is expected to wrap up by late 2023. www.ryancompanies.com 5 Mother and son Jin and Nelson Lin will bring Soup Leaf Hot Pot to 6929 Airport Blvd., Austin in May. Jin, who has owned several restaurants in California, is moving to Austin to be with Nelson, a local real estate developer. The restaurant will offer buffet-style hot pot. RELOCATIONS 6 Floor Centers of Texas moved to 7120 Burnet Road, Austin, after nine years in East Austin on Sept. 1. The owners sold their 5209 Cameron Road building after increased interest from investors and renovated an old mechanic shop to create their new site. 512-989-7737. www.floorcenterstx.com

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NORTH CENTRAL NOWOPEN 1 Spirit Halloween , the holiday-themed chain of pop-up stores, has opened a location at 7727 Burnet Road, Austin, in the North Star Shopping Center for the 2021 Halloween season. Each year, Spirit Halloween opens approximately 1,400 locations at strip malls and other spots around the United States and Canada beginning in early August, selling costumes and themed decor. Additional Spirit Halloween stores are open throughout the city. The pop-ups will close Nov. 2. www.spirithalloween.com 2 Studio 103 , a yoga and creative space for local artists, opened Aug. 7 at 3435 Greystone Drive, Ste. 103, Austin. The studio is home to Yoga With Shanin’, an inclusive yoga company run by owner

and founder Shanin’ Smith. The yoga instructor hosts classes for yogis of all skill and fitness levels. Smith also opened Studio 103 as an affordable space for local creators to sublet. The studio offers 1,000 square feet of space with natural light, Smith said, and is available for weekly, monthly and one-time rental. 512-222-3659. www.yogawithshanin.com, www.studio103atx.com COMING SOON 3 Pizza chain Domino’s will open a new location at 6929 Airport Blvd., Ste. 100. A Domino’s representative told Community Impact that the restaurant is slated to open near the end of 2021. The location will be locally owned and operated by Kris Sanches. www.dominos.com 4 Grand Living at the Grove , a new senior living community from Ryan

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or renovated

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BlackDenim Records

The Linden

COURTESY BLACKDENIM

COURTESY RHODE PARTNERS

COMING SOON 4 Fitness studio chain Barry’s plans to open a location at 408 W. Second St., Austin. An opening date for the 6,620-square-foot space has not yet been announced. It will be the first permanent Austin gym for Barry’s, which has operated out of a pop-up space on North Lamar Boulevard since March of this year. The fitness chain offers a cardio and strength interval workout experience under red light intended to heighten focus. www.barrys.com 5 The Linden , a 28-story residential tower in Austin’s Museum District blocks north of the state Capitol, broke ground Sept. 15. Located at 313 W. 17th St., Austin, The Linden will feature 117 one- to three- bedroom units alongside several two- story penthouses. Amenities will include a lap pool and an adjacent bar, a fitness center with a sauna, and a public art gallery set to feature a rotating selection of work from local creatives. Outdoor dining and lounge areas are also included in the project plan. www.thelinden.com 6 The Trail Foundation is set to begin construction on Rainey Street Trailhead , an enhanced entry point to the Ann & Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, next summer. TTF filed a site development permit application in August for the project, which has been in the planning stages since 2019. The project will feature improvements to parkland at 36 East Ave., Austin, located south of Cummings Street between Rainey Street and East Avenue, including a neighborhood lawn, a nature playground, upgraded sidewalks and an overlook area with views of Lady Bird Lake, according to preliminary designs. www.thetrailfoundation.org

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ANNIVERSARIES 7 Kirby Hall School celebrates 45 years this fall. Located at 306 W. 29th St., Austin, Kirby Hall School is a private college preparatory institution for kindergarten through 12th grade students that offers a “challenging curriculum, a warm and inclusive environment and small class sizes,” according to a school representative. The school building was originally used as one of The University of Texas’ first dormitories for women. 512-474-1770. www.kirbyhallschool.org RENOVATIONS 8 The Driskill Hotel announced Sept. 9 that 14 renovated guest suites were ready for reservations. The hotel, located at 604 Brazos St., Austin, last saw hotel room renovations in 1998. Plans for future renovations, including updates to all 175 guest rooms, will begin in September 2022. Other hotel spaces, such as The Driskill Bar, will be refinished. 512-439-1234. www.driskillhotel.com

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DOWNTOWN/ WEST CAMPUS NOWOPEN 1 Favorite Pizza opened at 801 W. Sixth St., Austin, on Aug. 4. The pizzeria, operated by Austin restaurant and hotel group McGuire Moorman Hospitality, serves New York-style pizza and sub 2 Nightclub and restaurant Higher Ground opened at 720 Congress Ave., Austin, on July 23. Located in a Gothic church-themed space, the bar’s kitchen serves Italian-style small plates and sandwiches as well as a cocktail menu sandwiches. 512-478-4136. www.favoritepizzaaustin.com

with drinks named after the seven deadly sins. 512-291-2060. www.highergroundatx.com 3 The Verde Store , Austin FC’s official retailer for club merchandise, held its grand opening Sept. 18 at 506 Congress Ave., Austin. Fans of Austin’s professional soccer team can purchase jerseys, apparel and Austin FC-themed Yeti products at the store. www.austinfc.com BlackDenim Records , a new indie record label, announced its launch out of Austin on Aug. 31. The label is planning a citywide showcase next year that will also serve as a competition offering a $100,000 recording contract and publishing deal to one Austinite. www.blackdenimrecords.com

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COMING SOON 5 Owned by husband and wife Ricky and KodiKay Cain, Cain Realty will open its new location at 4010 Menchaca Road, Austin by late December or in early January. The Realtors have worked out of the Keller Williams Realty building on MoPac since 2007. The couple bought the new space in April and have been working on renovations since. 512-675-7653. www.cainrealtygroup.com 6 Maaribu Home & Cafe will open in October at 1423 S. First St., Austin. The home furnishings and decor store opened its first Austin location, a showroom on Guadalupe Street, this summer. The South First Street location will also include a cafe serving coffee, wellness drinks and baked goods. www.maaribu.com RELOCATIONS 7 Downtown Austin Community Court temporarily relocated operations to One Texas Center at 505 Barton Springs Road, Austin on Aug. 30. DACC, which offers case management to people experiencing homelessness, will operate from One Texas Center for around two years while a new, long-term location is identified and prepared. An announcement regarding DACC’s next permanent home is expected this fall. 512-974-4879. www.austintexas.gov/department/ community-court ANNIVERSARIES 8 Assisting Hands Home Care will celebrate five years in business at its West Austin location Oct. 3. Based at

2906 S. First St., Ste. 103, Austin, the in-home health care service provides homebound clients with caregivers and personal assistants to help with heath needs, companionship, housework, meal preparation, errands and more. 512-999-7379. www.assistinghands.com 9 Mainspring Schools will celebrate its 80th anniversary Oct. 15. Located at 1100 W. Live Oak St., Austin, Mainspring Schools was founded in 1941 and was the first early childhood program in the United States built within a federal housing complex, according to the school. At least 75% of students come from a low-income household, are refugees, in the foster care system or have experienced trauma. The school offers education, nutrition, and family and community services. 512-442-2301. www.mainspringschools.org 10 Taste of Ethiopia is celebrating its fifth anniversary at its 3801 S. Congress Ave., Austin, location Sept. 27. The restaurant offers traditional Ethiopian cuisine. The restaurant also provides coffee brewed and served according to Ethiopian tradition. 512-814-3141. www.tasteofethiopiaaustin.com NAME CHANGE 11 Park Dental has changed its name to Magnolia Family Dentistry . Located at 4000 Menchaca Road, Austin, the dental office rebranded and transferred ownership to Dr. Molly Burton on Aug. 4. Magnolia Family Dentistry is currently accepting new patients. 512-441-2098. www.magnoliadentistryatx.com

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512-831-8807 www.succulentnative.com 3 True Rest Float Spa opened July 15 at 2919 Menchaca Road, Ste. 105A, Austin. Tanner Heim, who co-owns the spa with Liz Wolf, said people can experience “the absence of everything” while floating in water and Epsom salt. Next door in Suite 104A, Heim and Wolf will open an independent yoga-focused spa called Lizard Yoga in mid-October. 512-954-7118. www.truerest.com 4 Toomey Taproom , a new sports bar from the owners of Kerbey Lane Cafe, opened Sept. 23 at 300 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste. A, Austin. Located in the space formerly occupied by High Note Kitchen, Toomey Taproom serves local beer, burgers, hot dogs and wings along with Kerbey Lane’s queso. www.toomeytaproom.com

1 Miami-based doughnut shop The Salty Donut held the grand opening of its first area location at 2000 S. Congress Ave., Austin on Aug. 27. The shop sells a rotating seasonal selection of small-batch craft doughnuts as well as Intelligentsia coffee. 512-494-4148. www.saltydonut.com/austin 2 Succulent Native held the grand opening of its new shop at 2058 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin, on Sept. 18. It is the second location for the succulent and cactus boutique, which also has a shop at 5501 N. Lamar Blvd. Succulent Native sells custom arrangements and hosts “planting parties” and workshops.

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

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Huston-Tillotson University

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6 Teacher Retirement Systems of Texas announced Sept. 17 it will move its agency headquarters from its 1000 Red River St. space to the Mueller Business District at 1900 Aldrich St by 2023. It will save an estimated $15 million over the next 20 years. www.trs.texas.gov ANNIVERSARIES 7 Co-owners Jeremy Murray’s and Erick Sanger’s ‘70s-themed bar, Kitty Cohen’s , celebrated its fifth anniversary at 2211 Webberville Road in June. The cocktail lounge features a pool outside and often hosts pop-up restaurants. www.kittycohens.com IN THE NEWS 8 The Texas Historical Commission nominated Huston-Tillotson University at 900 Chicon St. on Sept. 18 to join the National Historic Register. Huston College was founded in 1875 and Tillotson in 1877. They merged in 1952. 512-505-3000. www.htu.edu

2022. Construction will begin on a new 1,250-space parking garage during the same month and wrap up in August. 512-324-0000. www.dellchildrens.net 4 Construction is set to begin at Austin ISD’s Northeast Middle School after negotiations with the city over real estate stalled the project. The district and the city have reached a leasing agreement, which allows construction at 4401 Tilley St. to take place while the two entities work to hammer out a long- term deal. The school is now slated to open in 2022, a year later than originally anticipated.512-414-1700. www.austinisd.org RELOCATIONS 5 After 18 years, El Chile Cafe y Cantina is moving from its current location, 1809 Manor Road, to a new home at 1900 Manor Road. The new location offers a larger patio and updated interior. The restaurant will move this fall. 512-457-9900. www.elchilecafe.com

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EAST AUSTIN NOWOPEN

August. The restaurant serves staples such as tacos on corn tortillas as well as churro doughnuts and burritos stuffed with french fries. The restaurant previously had a Bastrop location, which is now closed. 512-829-8226 www.instagram.com/macocoatx COMING SOON 3 Dell Children’s Medical Center will begin construction on a fourth tower at its 4900 Mueller Blvd. campus, which will add 72 beds over three floors, in July 2022. At a Sept. 14 meeting, hospital representatives said construction should be complete by November

1 Biru Cocina Peruana moved into a shared kitchen space in Springdale General, 1023 Springdale Road, in June and began selling its menu of ceviche, empanadas and other Peruvian food. Longtime Austin chef Julio-Cesar Florez began the restaurant informally in his home during the pandemic after his job at Lucky Robot sent him home during the pandemic shutdown. 512-416-1234. www.birucocinaperuana.com 2 California-style Mexican restaurant Ma’Coco opened at 501 Comal St. in

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

September & October events

COMPILED BY DARCY SPRAGUE

OCT. 0109

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS ZILKER PARK

ACL is returning to Zilker Park for two weekends of live music. Headliners include George Strait, Miley Cyrus, and Billie Eilish. According to ACL’s website, attendees must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event or proof of vaccination. 2207 Lou Ne Road. www.aclfestival.com (Courtesy C3 Presents)

This family-friendly event will feature plenty of festive photo-ops. (Courtesy Barton Hill Berry Farms) WORTH THE TRIP Sept. 25 throughNov. 07 Fall Festival andPumpkin Patch at BartonHill Farms Visit this family-owned farm for the Austin Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch. Visitors can pick pumpkins, complete a corn maze, take a train ride and more. The festival is open Saturdays, Sundays and on Columbus Day. $21.95. 1115 FM 969, Bastrop 855-969-1115 www.bartonhillfarms.com

SEPT. 29 KISS THE BAND GOODBYE After 45 years, Kiss will make its way throughout the country on one nal tour. “The End of the Road” tour, featuring David Lee Roth, will include music from across the band’s 20-album career. 7 p.m. $35 and up (general admission). 9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd. 512-301-6600 www.austin360amphitheater.com 29 HAVE A LAUGH The Buzz Mill will host Buzzkill comedy, a free stand-up comedy show with Carlton Wilcoxson and Angelina Martin. The event mixes emerging talent with established comedians. 9 p.m. 1505 Town Creek Drive. 512-547-9909. www.buzzmillcoee.com OCT. 01 THROUGH 10 EAT FOR A CAUSE Austin Restaurant Weeks will return after a year o due to the pandemic. The event raises money for the Central Texas Food Bank to provide meals to those in need. The complete list of restaurants participating will be released Sept. 30. Location varies. 512-684-2549 www.austinrestaurantweeks.org 17 ENJOY OUTDOOR ART IN THE COOLERWEATHER On the third Saturday of every month the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum will oer a guided tour, free with admission. $7 adults. $1 13-17 years old. Under 13 free. 605 Azie Morton Road. 512-445-5582. www.umlaufsculpture.org 22 THROUGH 24 BUCKLE YOUR SEATBELT Formula 1 will return to the Circuit of The Americas for a three-day racing

event. Rock duo 21 Pilots will perform Friday after the race events, and Billy Joel will perform Saturday and Sunday. Times vary by day. $49 and up (single-day tickets). 9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd. 512-655-6300. www.circuitoftheamericas.com 23 CELEBRATE YOUR PUP Puptopia Festival will come to Austin. The main stage event In Mueller Lake Park will feature rescue dogs performing sports from dock diving to agility. There will also be an agility course and a bar for pet parents. 10 a.m. $15-30. 4550 Mueller Blvd. www.puptopiafestival.com 23 BROWSE SOME BREWS The Texas Craft Brewers Festival will highlight 85 craft breweries with more than 200 handcrafted beers available. There will also be live music and food trucks. 2 p.m. $45 (general admission tickets include 10 beer samples). Fiesta Gardens Building, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. www.texascraftbrewersfestival.org 24 SHOWYOUR SUPPORT The Susan G. Komen More Than Pink will host a virtual and in-person walk to benet breast cancer research. Participants can meet at the Long Center to participate live or use an app to take part digitally. Free to register. 9 a.m. 701 W. Riverside Drive. 877-465-6686. www.komen.org 30 TAKE INA SHOW Ballet Hispánico will preform “Noche de Oro: A Celebration of 50 Years.” The company, founded in 1970, celebrates and explores Latin culture and experiences through ballet. The show last came to Austin in 2002. Now the company will return for its anniversary tour. 7:30 p.m. $40-$60. Bass Concert Hall. 2350 Robert Dedman Drive. 512-471-2787. www.ballethispanico.org

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15 through 17 Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival Downtown Dripping Springs will host a seven-stage festival featuring 30 shows per day. Free (admission) 27490 RR 12 512-858-4740 www.destinationdrippingsprings.com

121 Pickle Road Austin, Texas 78704

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HAY ST.

6015 Dillard Circle #B Austin, Texas 78752

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Find more or submit 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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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY BENTON GRAHAM

Austin Council members join opposition for TxDOT I35 plan Four Austin City Council members and a growing coalition of transportation advocates and neighborhood businesses oppose the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan to expand I-35 to 20 lanes. The group highlighted the implications for 140 businesses that could be displaced at a Sept. 1. press conference “TxDOT’s expansion is the crazy radical proposal,” co-founder of Rethink35 Adam Greeneld said. During the news conference at Stars Cafe, Council Members Natasha Harper-Madison, Paige Ellis, Kathie Tovo and Greg Casar expressed additional concerns, including that it would not address the environmental impact and that it does not do enough to connect East and West Austin. “We want to get a roadway design that minimizes the impact on the surrounding area,” Tovo said. “We want to see one that really focuses and prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists.” Several opposition groups are oering up other plans for I-35, including turning it into a boulevard or putting part of it underground.

TXDOT SETS SIGHTS ON I35 EXPANS ION

Over 140 properties could be displaced by two I-35 plans under consideration, according to TxDOT.

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Both sides of the Longhorn Dam shared use path are now open. (Courtesy Austin Transportation Department)

4 5 6

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COMPLETED PROJECTS

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1 The Austin Chronicle 2 Austin Bail Bonds II 3 Taqueria Los Altos 4 Just Add Chef

5 Hector The Barber 6 Zebra Smoke Shop 7 Stars Cafe 8 Escuelita Del Alma

ANN AND ROY BUTLER HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL

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LONGHORN DAM

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COLORADO RIVER

SOURCE: TXDOTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF SEPT 23. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT SWANEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. Department spokesperson. Timeline: completed Aug. 25 Cost: $2 million Funding source : 2016 mobility bond connectivity between the path and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail has also been completed, according to an Austin Transportation West side of Longhorn Dam path opens to public The Austin Transportation Department opened the 12-foot-wide shared-use path that crosses the west side of the Longhorn Dam to the public Aug. 25. Much of the

The Capital Metro board of directors approved the establishment of a Capital Metro police force Aug. 30. The proposal drew criticism from community groups who say that Capital Metro should conduct additional research before moving forward. Awais Azhar, a member of the Planning Our Communities leadership team, serves on the Capital Metro diversity, equity and inclusion committee. He said he needs to see data to convince him that a transit police force is necessary. “It’s a really big decision, and creating a whole new transit police, Capital Metro to establish police force

MIXEDFEEDBACK ON PUBLIC SAFETY Capital Metro data shows that while the majority of customers are satised with safety, the majority of sta are not.

406 customers

80% of customers indicated that “security is good”

63% of Capital Metro front- line sta “view security as needing improvement.”

164 sta

SOURCE: CAPITAL METRO COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

we’ve never had one—we’ve had security but that’s dierent—but this would be a whole other department within Capital Metro,” Azhar said. “And I think there’s a strong need to assess whether there’s an actual need for it.” Capital Metro conducted a survey in the spring that found 80% of riders indicated that “security is good” and

they “do not seem to fault CapMetro for safety issues.” It also found that 63% of Capital Metro front-line sta feel security needs to be improved. “I think we have an imperative as a board to do everything we can as quickly as we can to protect our front- line personnel,” Capital Metro board chair Wade Cooper said.

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATION

Rush hour decline

In 2020, the city’s development-related right of way permits increased by 6.5% compared to 2019.

Total permits

The school year usually increases morning trac, but Aug. 2021 is well below the week of Feb. 2, 2020, the transportation department’s pre-pandemic baseline.

Trac peaks

Morning peak

Midday peak

Afternoon/evening peak

Temporary use of ROW permits

Driveway/ sidewalk permits

Excavation permits

Week of Aug. 15, 2021

Week of Aug. 22, 2021

Week of Aug. 8, 2021

Back-to-school trac has picked up slower than the Austin Transportation Department projected.

2,084

0

4,079

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10,948

-30 -25 -20 -15 -10

2,141

3,662

12,420

SOURCE: AUSTIN TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Austin trac remains belowpre-pandemic levels after school starts

BY BENTON GRAHAM & TRENT THOMPSON

Additionally, AISD shifted to allow for students too young to receive a vaccine, kindergarten through sixth grade, to attend classes virtually. According to the district, 4.6% of AISD’s student body decided to attend school virtually this fall. “SINCE THE PANDEMIC, EVEN AS TRAFFIC COMES BACK, IT’S BEEN A LOT MORE FLAT OF A CURVE, LIKE NOT AS MUCH PEAKING AND MORE SPREAD OUT.”

That dip in peak rush-hour trac had the unintended eect of giving construction crews more time to work on road and development projects throughout the city, due to the city allowing more construction during peak times. In 2020, the city’s development-related right of way permits increased by 6.5% compared to 2019. The 4,200 active daily permits in August 2021 also exceeded pre-pandemic gures, which typically sat around 3,000. Typically, the transportation department prohibits temporary lane closures on heavily tracked roads during peak hours, such as from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. However, fromMarch 2020 to Aug. 9, 2021, the program was suspended due to the reduced trac, giving some crews four more hours to work on projects. Even though trac has not increased to pre- pandemic levels, the open road hours are still in eect. ”We can say anecdotally we had a number of customers report to us that being able to work during typical open road hours prior to May of 2021 really allowed them to accelerate their construction schedules. But it’s just business as usual now,” said Paloma Amayo-Ryan, programmanager with the city’s transportation department.

The Austin Transportation Department prepared for trac to increase as schools in the Austin area welcomed students back to in-person learning, but that surge never materialized. “In the early summer, we were starting to see an increase of a few percent a month, volumes coming back,” said Jen Duthie, managing engineer of the transportation department’s arterial management division. “We were thinking by the fall, we would be back to typical trac conditions.” That is because when classes return to session, Austin morning trac typically sees a 10% increase, Duthie added. However, ATD data from August shows that, despite a minor increase, trac peaks have not fully returned. During the week of Aug. 22, overall trac volume was down 11% and the morning peak down 20% compared to the week of Feb. 2, 2020, the department’s pre-pandemic baseline. Some of the largest schools in Austin began classes in mid- to late August, including Austin ISD on Aug. 17, Austin Community College on Aug. 23 and the University of Texas on Aug. 25. Duthie said the lack of trac peaks could be a result of COVID-19 cases surging due to the delta variant or simply more people working from home than prior to the pandemic.

JEN DUTHIE, MANAGING ENGINEER OF THE AUSTIN TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT’S ARTERIAL MANAGEMENT DIVISION

Duthie also said that trac patterns in general have attened since the start of the pandemic. “Typical conditions pre-pandemic were we would see a morning peak in trac and an afternoon or evening peak in trac,” Duthie said. “Since the pandemic, even as trac comes back, it’s been a lot more at of a curve, like not as much peaking and more spread out.”

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Texas and Austin ISD

Abbott approves state funding for virtual learning

AISD total student body

OUTOFSCHOOL SUSPENSIONS

3.86%

Black student body

The graph shows the percentage students who received out-of- school suspension in the district in 2019-20.

12.46%

Hispanic student body

4.64%

White student body

COURTESY AUSTIN ISD

HIGHLIGHTS AUSTIN ISD As Afghans who worked for the U.S. government ee unsafe conditions under Taliban rule in their homeland, Austin ISD welcomed their children to the district in August and September. The rst refugees coming to Austin hold special immigrant visas designated for people who worked for the U.S. and who have undergone security background checks and health screenings, according to nonprot Refugee Services of Texas. Salimah Shamsuddin, AISD’s refugee coordinator, said her oce helps parents with registration and orientations. Every school oers English as a second language classes. AUSTIN ISD As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to surge, Austin ISD reported 658 student cases of COVID-19 during the rst full month of school, amounting to less than 1% of the student population. Austin Public Health praised the district for its mask mandate, which it said is helping to reduce spread and manage cases. AISD has seen less than half as many cases per 100 students as neighboring districts, according to AISD and other districts’ data. The rst day of school was Aug. 17.

BY JISHNU NAIR

1.23%

Percentage suspended

TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Sept. 9 to expand remote learning possibilities during the pandemic for independent school districts and open- enrollment charter schools. The law allows school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to set up virtual learning while keeping state funding, according to John Theis, a political science professor at Lone Star College-Kingwood. The state previously required mandatory in-person enrollment to grant funds. Theis described the bill as a “trial run” for virtual learning, noting it encourages virtual learning until 2023, when a future legislative session can observe how districts implemented their programs.

SOURCE: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

To reduce racial disparity, newAustin ISD code of conduct will remove long-termsuspensions

BY MAGGIE QUINLAN

-school suspensions and discipline placements from 19% to a percentage in line with the district’s Black student population of roughly 7%, according to the 2021-22 District Strategic Action Plan. The district found that during the 2019-2020 school year, Black students were about ve times more likely than white students to receive disciplinary action, per the district. The 2021-22 Student Code of Conduct updates include removing long-term suspensions and reducing both suspensions in and out of school from three to two days.

AUSTIN ISD As part of the Austin school district’s eort to reduce racial disparities in student discipline, Austin ISD’s new student code of conduct will remove long- term suspensions. Per the handbook, a student can be suspended for mandatory reasons— such as misdemeanor oenses—or repeated violations of the student code, such as disrupting classes. One of the district’s goals for the next ve years is to decrease the percentage of Black students experiencing in- and out-of

Newmiddle school breaks ground

BY DARCY SPRAGUE

AUSTIN ISD Construction will begin on Austin ISD’s new Mueller-area campus after the district reached a solution with the city regarding a real estate deal. The $60.96 million Northeast Middle School campus was funded as part of the 2017 bond program. The campus was set to open in 2022, before a snag in the real estate deal halted construction plans on the 10-acre lot in the northeast neighborhood. On Aug. 25, the district sent an email to area parents letting them know a solution had been reached.

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Construction crews are working on the newmiddle school. (Darcy Sprague/Community Impact)

Austin ISD Meets Oct. 5 and 14

at 5:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. State of the District Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. www.austinisd.org Meetings are being held virtually and in person.

While the transaction is still being negotiated, a lease agreement with the city will allow the district to move forward, according to the email. This step allowed contractors to begin on-site work in early August. The update means the campus is slated to open in fall 2023.

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