Austin City Council preview for May 4

City Council discusses short-term rentals (Kylie McGivern/KXAN)
City Council (Kylie McGivern/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s a quick rundown of some of Thursday’s top city council agenda items:

Mobility Bond
Thursday, Council will have the opportunity to take several steps forward when it comes to implementing the mobility bond approved last November. There are three interlocal agreements that will be brought up with TxDOT for Loop 360, 620 and 2222, and Parmer Lane – Austin is contributing $70.5 million and TxDOT will put in an estimated $227.9 million. Also on the agenda – spending on sidewalks, bike paths and urban trails, safety improvements at dangerous intersections and near schools, and consideration to hire a team to plan and implement the rest of the massive bond.

Sexual assault exams for children
Council will consider approving an amendment to a contract with Seton Family Hospitals to increase funding for sexual assault medical forensic examinations for children. In 2016, 392 examinations were performed at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

City staff write, “The additional funding amount requested is based on increased use of the services and a change in the law enforcement reimbursement schedule for costs associated with forensic sexual assault examinations through the OAG.” The agenda item goes on to read, “Delay or failure to approve this amendment will limit APD’s ability to pay for future services for victims of sexual assault.”

Unmanned bomb squad robotic vehicle for APD 
Council has the opportunity to authorize a $303,019 contract with REMOTE INC., for an unmanned bomb squad robotic vehicle for Austin Police. APD purchased four robots in the past through Homeland Security grants. One was purchased in 2009 and another in 2010. The other two were bought more than a decade ago. Staff notes, “Newer technology gives the ability to lift heavier objects in its arm claw and gives the ability to see into tighter spaces than before. The new robot also has the ability to collapse in itself to fit into a smaller area. This robot will transport device(s) to a secured location such as a closed bomb trailer if necessary.”

Robotic delivery services pilot program 
Council will consider directing the city manager to explore the use of robotic devices for in-city deliveries, to figure out of changes to the city code or other actions are required to authorize a pilot program to use the devices. Starship Technologies, started by the founders of SKYPE, uses robots that use sidewalks to deliver packages from different businesses. The agenda item says, “the robots are 99 percent autonomous and recognize obstructions during delivery including adults, children, pets, poles, traffic signals, and other items commonly found on sidewalks.” There was a one-week demonstration in the Mueller Community back in July 2016. There are long-term pilot projects currently underway in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley.

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