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Austin Could Be First Texas City To Make All Single-Person Public Restrooms "Gender Free"

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

On August 28th the Austin City Council will consider a resolution to make all single occupancy restrooms "gender free." In practice this means goodbye to the traditional gender binary signage on restrooms intended for individuals -- no changes will be made for restrooms with multiple stalls.

Austin would be the first major city in Texas to make the change that has already made its way on to some Texas University campuses including the University of Texas.

See what this means for the transgender community and small businesses below the jump...

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Austin Could Get Roads Without Urban Rail But That Won't Reduce Traffic

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:30 PM CDT

Correction: This post had said the bond would be for $1.4 Billion, it will be $1 Billion and has been corrected.

In November Austin voters will decide whether to fund a $1 billion transportation bond proposal that will include about $400 million for road projects.

Personally as someone lucky enough to still live in central Austin I'd be happy to just remove I-35 altogether between Ben White to 183, but city planners have other ideas.

The picture to the right is what East Ave., now I-35, looked like sometime in the 1950s before it was one of the most congested portions of Interstate in the country.

Click below the jump to see why my ultimate wish to bury I-35 may not be so far fetched, and what Project Connect proposes we do in the meantime through this bond package...

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Left In Texas: Trains, Planes and Machine Gun Boats

by: Joe Deshotel

Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 05:04 PM CDT

We're back after our most popular episode so far! Thanks for joining us for a wrap up of Texas politics for the week of July 30th.

In episode 30 Imad and I discuss the proposals for urban rail in Austin and a high speed bullet train from Houston to Dallas.

We cover the continuously unfolding situation on the Texas-Mexico border, and far beyond.

You'll also get to find out which Texas state rep.'s now infamous faux pas, made in reference to our neighbors to the east, has him under threat of a lawsuit.

Listen to the full episode below the jump!

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Texas Teen Facing Up to Life in Prison For Pot Brownies

by: Joe Deshotel

Sat May 24, 2014 at 01:30 PM CDT

While many states have already legalized medical use of cannabis and 2 have moved to legalize it for recreational purposes, the supposedly small government loving state of Texas is still firmly under the spell of "reefer madness."

A Williamson County teenager now faces a sentence of 5 years to life for hash brownies. Even though 19 year old Jacob Lavoro is a first time offender the fact that his recipe included hash oil instead of plant matter raises the level of offense from a misdemeanor to a first degree felony.

That is because when weighing the substance authorities don't just include the weight of the hash oil but the entire weight of the brownies including: flower, chocolate, eggs, etc. That means Lavoro is being charged with having 1.4lbs of hash brownies instead of the mere few grams of hash oil he used.

See the Williamson County DA's explanation below the jump...

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As Austin Grows, Its Black Population Continues To Decline

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:30 PM CDT

Austin is America's fast growing city that is also losing its Black population. That trend is fueling a larger conversation about gentrification of the historically Black neighborhoods in East Austin as well as the future of representation by Black elected officials.

While the population of East Austin's black neighborhoods, established by forced segregation, continue to decline, efforts to preserve its colorful history continue.

There is now an African American Cultural & Heritage Facility, located in the African American Cultural and Heritage District which is intended to help preserve historically Black institutions like Huston-Tillotson University and the Carver Museum and Library, as well as historically Black-owned businesses and churches. Rosewood Courts, the first public housing project in the United States -- thanks to LBJ -- was recently recommended by the Texas Historical Commission's State Board of Review as an addition to the National Register of Historic Places.

All this to preserve to the footprint of African Americans as the feet themselves continue to flock away from the City's urban core.

More below the jump...

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Austin City Council Votes to Consider Rideshare Pilot Program

by: Joe Deshotel

Sat May 17, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

Image Yellow Cab used to characterize rideshare services
On Thursday the Austin City Council approved a measure to allow stakeholders to begin the process of developing a pilot program to legalize Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) -- colloquially referred to as "rideshare." Another measure was passed to direct the city manager to work with existing taxi franchises and other stakeholders to consider ways to meet increased demand including additional and speciality permits, and explore the role of TNCs.

The move was the culmination of several factors: long standing traffic congestion, demand for increased transportation options, complaints about existing legacy taxi services, recent deaths due to drunk driving, and TNCs like Uber and Lyft that have begun to target the Austin market.

Several petitions in favor of allowing TNCs have also played a role in sending tens of thousands of voices to City Council on this issue.

See who said what at Council and who is behind the petitions below the jump...

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Austin B-cycle Hits 50,000th Trip, Plans Expansion

by: Joe Deshotel

Wed May 14, 2014 at 01:31 PM CDT

With Its ubiquitous presence on downtown streets, it's hard to believe that the bike share program B-cycle has only been operating in Austin for 4 months. The December launch was highly anticipated and the company reports it has clocked over 87,000 miles in over 50,000 trips.

Austin B-cycle also conducted a telephone survey and found that their service is responsible for replacing over 10,000 car trips and introducing or reintroducing cycling to almost 7,000 people.

That is all great news for the company but with increasing traffic issues it is also great news for commuters and the City of Austin -- especially since the survey also found that almost half of users are more likely to now use transit since using B-cycle.

See where B-cycle plans to expand below the jump...

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The City of Austin launches "Know Before You Go, Get Home Safe," Council to Consider Rideshare

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri May 09, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

On May 4th the City of Austin  -- reeling from several recent highly publicized drunk driving deaths -- launched a new page on its website aimed at helping residents and visitors find their way home safe at night. It includes every current legal means to get home along with their contact information, plus some basic helpful tips.

One thing you won't find any mention of is rideshare. That's because the City of Austin has so far not approved any, but on May 15th the Council will consider a pilot program to do just that.

I spoke with Transportation spokeswoman Samantha Alexander -- see what she said below the jump...

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Austin's Creative Community Loses ATXhipsters' "Kelly" To A Drunk Driver

by: Joe Deshotel

Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 03:01 PM CDT

Another drunk driver takes the life of yet another Austinite. It's a headline that has appeared too often in our fun-loving, laid back city -- the 2nd safest big city in America according to Police Chief Art Acevedo. This time "Kelly," the person behind the Twitter handle "@ATXHipsters" and the website ATXHipsters.com, was killed blocks from his home early Saturday morning on the Northbound feeder lane of I-35 near 8th St.

I saw the flashing police lights still there just after 3 a.m. as I left IHOP on my own way home -- apparently another drunk driver had crashed into the crime scene. It is such a familiar sight these days it rarely draws a second look, but what I didn't know was that a life had been taken, or that that the person had some integral connection to why I love my city so much. I never met Kelly, but have interacted with him via Twitter. I'm not one to shy away from the "Hipster" label and even though it is never something one dawns on themselves, I appreciated being engaged by someone who clearly had their finger on the pulse of our creative community.

Much more, and what you can do below the jump...

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Residents of Major U.S. Cities Flock To Austin -- Because It's Cheaper

by: Joe Deshotel

Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 02:30 PM CDT

Austin is the nation's fastest growing city since 2010. That's not breaking news to those have have lived here at least that long. But, where is everyone coming from and why? The short answer is easy: from other major U.S. cities and...California, and because it's relatively cheaper.

Folks coming from New York or Chicago may appreciate not shoveling snow, but the weather isn't the only reason people are giving up their sprawling metropolis.

Despite the outcry of decreasing affordability by current residents, Austin is still cheaper to live than most established big cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago or Washington D.C.

The housing shortage, let alone the affordable housing shortage, is still pretty apparent in Austin. From talks with local real estate agents I'm told almost every sale ends in a bidding war, and long time renters lament their rent going up at the end of every lease. For many residents it certainly doesn't feel like one of America's most affordable major cities.

More below the jump...

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