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Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Another look at AirBnB

Interesting. The hotel industry is starting to object. On Wednesday, a report funded by a national trade group claimed some Airbnb hosts function illegally and operate essentially as full-time hotels without the same health and safety oversight. It also says they can reduce the number of affordable options for full-time renters. The home-rental site has […]

Two more places that Uber won’t operate

Goodbye, Galveston. Just days after the City Council passed an ordinance designed to regulate transportation networks, Uber has shut down its service in Galveston. Monday evening, people in Galveston who tried to use the phone app to order a ride received a message that Uber is no longer available in Galveston “Due to new regulations […]

Maybe the state should regulate Uber and Lyft after all

Texas Monthly reviews the current state of affairs with transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft and their fight against mandatory fingerprinting as part of the background checks that new drivers must ondergo, all of which is playing out in Austin right now. The argument in favor of the [fingerptint] provision is simple: Lyft and […]

Petitioners may force vote to change Austin rideshare ordinance

Assuming there were no shenanigans, this is an impressive show of force. A group looking to overturn an Austin ordinance requiring fingerprinting of ride-hailing drivers said Monday it has gathered more than 65,000 petition signatures, more than three times what it will need to force a possible election on a substitute ordinance. Ridesharing Works for […]

Austin versus San Antonio on ridesharing

The Current reviews the state of play. In the spring of 2014, Lyft led the way in Austin, but the company launched without city approval and was eventually banned, along with Uber, which launched in the capital a short time later. Roughly a year ago, Austin’s city council eased its fight, allowing ride-hailing companies to […]

Maybe we just shouldn’t have nativity scenes on government property

Seems like the obvious answer to me. A “winter solstice” display by the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been ordered removed from the Texas Capitol after Gov. Greg Abbott called it a “juvenile parody.” The display had been approved by the State Preservation Board, of which Abbott is chairman, after it was sponsored by state […]

Austin passes new vehicles for hire regulations

It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out. Defying implied threats that such a vote would chase Uber and Lyft out of town, the Austin City Council late Thursday put into city statutes mandatory fingerprint-based background checks for ride-hailing drivers. But the move will not immediately empty the streets of transportation network company […]

What people use B-Cycle for

From Rice University: A new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research finds that Sun Belt city residents are most likely to use bike-share programs for recreation, compared with users in the Midwest or Northeast, who regularly use the same programs for their daily commute. The report, “Shifting Gears: Framing Bike-sharing Trends in […]

Everybody wants in on the rail action

We’re like a magical land of opportunity for high-speed rail interests. For more than three years, Japanese-backed Texas Central Partners has drawn attention with its plans to develop a Dallas-Houston bullet train. While that project is furthest along, French and Chinese rail interests are more quietly discussing the prospects for rail projects with state and […]

If you really want to improve turnout in city elections

This is a plan that would do it. Councilman Ron Nirenberg [recently] called for a major change to local elections that he says would boost voter turnout and bolster public participation. The councilman said he’s spent years considering ways to address abysmal turnout in municipal elections, which are held in May of odd-numbered years. His […]

Uber returns to San Antonio

They’re back. The ink had barely dried on the signed operating agreement when ride-hailing firm Uber restarted operations in San Antonio Tuesday, ahead of competitor Lyft, which agreed to a deal in August but has yet to implement services here. The Uber smart-phone application went live Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m., just as the company […]

Uber and Lyft versus fingerprints

They prefer to do their own background checks, which of course do not require fingerprint checks. Houston, San Antonio and Austin currently take different approaches to a key regulatory issue: whether vehicle-for-hire app drivers must undergo fingerprint background checks. The issue has proven pivotal to Uber and Lyft in Texas. Lyft refuses to operate in […]

Rep. Susan King not running for re-election

Though she may run for Senate instead. State Rep. Susan King has decided against seeking re-election as she considers a run for the Texas Senate, the Abilene Republican announced Tuesday. King said she would announce by the end of the month whether to launch a bid for Senate District 24, where Troy Fraser is stepping […]

The local minimum wage fight

Not quite on the radar here, but it could be. After years of failed proposals in the Texas Legislature to raise the minimum wage, organizers and advocates for higher hourly wages are going local. Leaders in two major Texas cities and two large counties will vote soon on raising minimum wages for public employees and, […]

Lone Star Rail District to ask SA Council for funding

Not so much for now, but over time there will be real money spent. Officials with Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) have asked City Council to allocate up to $500,000 in the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget to help fund staffing and consulting services in anticipation of the $2-3 billion passenger rail project. Lone Star […]

Change to term limits will be on the ballot

Whatever. Houston voters will decide whether elected city officials should serve two four-year terms rather than three two-year terms starting in 2016, potentially lengthening the terms of some current council members. The City Council voted 12-5 Wednesday to place the item on the November ballot. Councilmen Richard Nguyen, Mike Laster, Steve Costello, Michael Kubosh and […]

Lone Star Rail faces Council vote in San Antonio

It’s a big step. While there is little opposition to the idea of a commuter rail line (the LSTAR) between San Antonio and Austin, the City takes serious pause when confronted with the yearly costs of operation and maintenance. But there are no tax or fee increases on the table, [Lone Star Rail District Director […]

The conservative case for more rail transit

Noted for the record. As conservatives, we find it odd that many people expect us to oppose public transportation, especially rail. In fact, high-quality transit, which usually means rail, benefits conservatives in a number of important ways. It spurs development, something conservatives generally favor, especially in Texas. It saves people, including conservatives, precious time, because […]

Driverless car testing in Austin

Be on the lookout. After years of experimenting with its groundbreaking autonomous vehicle technology almost exclusively in California, Google confirmed Monday that it has begun testing one of its self-driving vehicles in Austin. A white Lexus RX 450h SUV outfitted with the company’s sensors and software began making trips without the aid of a driver […]

The wedding industry is rubbing its hands with glee

Nothing like having your market dramatically expanded overnight. Within hours after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Texas and across the country, local wedding businesses and venues already began getting orders and bookings from same-sex couples. Those in the wedding industry said they expect a surge of gay couples who were hoping to marry […]

HISD Board President backs changing Confederate school names

Fine by me. Amid a growing move to shed symbols of the old, slave-owning South, the Houston school board president said Thursday that she supports renaming six campuses named after Confederate loyalists. Rhonda Skillern-Jones said she plans to discuss the issue with her fellow trustees at an upcoming meeting. Superintendent Terry Grier added that he […]

Taking decentralization too far

Seriously? The governor and attorney general might have to work in Austin, but under a proposed constitutional amendment, they won’t have to live there. Under the proposed amendment, the century-old requirement that state leaders reside in the capital city would be erased and all statewide officeholders could live anywhere in Texas. Supporters cited modern communications […]

Lone Star Rail District update

Haven’t heard from these guys in awhile. According to [Lone Star Rail District], the [proposed rail line] will provide essential relief from the I-35 highway congestion. The express trip from downtown Austin to downtown San Antonio would take 75 minutes. Completing the project, however, crawls slowly forward as the approval for the train involves several […]

AirBnB in Texas

The Rivard Report offers a useful overview of this growing service. With success comes regulation and Airbnb, the wildly popular “sharing economy” website that allows users to rent out portions of their home to adventuresome travelers, has had more than its share of success. Recently valued at $13 billion, the company has more than 340 […]

How many crimes does your police department solve?

Fewer than you think, unfortunately. Violent crime in America has been falling for two decades. That’s the good news. The bad news is, when crimes occur, they mostly go unpunished. In fact, for most major crimes, police don’t even make an arrest or identify a suspect. That’s what police call “clearing” a crime; the “clearance […]

Economic segregation in cities

From Wonkblog: Concentrated poverty is one of the biggest problems facing cities today, as more of the urban poor become isolated in neighborhoods where the people around them are poor, too. Growing economic segregation across cities, though, is also shaped by a parallel, even stronger force: concentrated wealth. A new analysis from Richard Florida and […]

Plastic bag bans work

Someone tell Greg Abbott. Shortly before being sworn in as governor, Greg Abbott called for doing away with local bans on plastic bags, fracking and tree-cutting that he says amount to a “patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.” Austin has bans on plastic bags and one of […]

Uber to leave San Antonio

Not unexpected. Uber management sent a letter to Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council Wednesday, warning that the rideshare service will leave San Antonio on March 1 unless the recently-passed existing is modified or repealed. Uber representatives say the new ordinances raises “substantial barriers” to ridehsare companies operating in the city. The ordinance was aggressively […]

First impressions of the 2014 results

My initial thoughts, for what they are worth. – Let me begin by saying that for all the criticism I had of the UT/Texas Trib’s polling and the skepticism of Internet-sample methodology, they were fairly accurate in the end. In particular, the last YouGov result just about nailed it. I still think what they do […]

Austin gives early approval to Uber and Lyft

It’s temporary pending a second Council vote and further study. After nearly four hours of testimony and debate, council members gave initial approval shortly after midnight to new rules that would temporarily legalize ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, whose drivers have been providing rides-for-hire for months in defiance of city code. The measure, […]

Abbott issues bag ban opinion

It’s complicated. Do plastic bag bans and restrictions in cities like Austin, Laredo, and Brownsville violate Texas law? According to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office handed down on Friday afternoon, that depends on how you define two phrases: “container or package” and “solid waste management.” Opinions on Texas law from the […]

AirBnB in Houston

When people talk about “the sharing economy” for good or ill, the main players that get named tend to be Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB. We’ve heard a lot about the first two in Houston lately, but prior to this Chron story I can’t say I’d heard anything about the latter. Airbnb launched in 2009 as […]

Another lawsuit against Uber and Lyft

That’s three lawsuits that I know of. A coalition of Texas disability advocates sued ride-share companies Uber and Lyft on Thursday as part of dozens of lawsuits filed around the state ahead of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Uber and Lyft are up and coming in terms of transportation companies, and they […]

Here comes the Uber and Lyft vote

Barring anything unexpected, today is the day that Houston City Council settles – for now, anyway – the Uber/Lyft issue. Houston is not the only place where transportation network companies are seeking to do business in Texas, of course. The Trib takes a look at the state of play around Texas. “As the current city […]