Audrey McGlinchy | KUOW News and Information

Audrey McGlinchy

Audrey McGlinchy is the City Hall reporter at KUT, covering the Austin City Council and the policies they discuss. She comes to Texas from Brooklyn, where she tried her hand at publishing, public relations and nannying. Audrey holds English and journalism degrees from Wesleyan University and the City University of New York.
 
She got her start in journalism as an intern at KUT Radio during a summer break from graduate school. While completing her master's degree in New York City, she interned at the New York Times Magazine and Guernica Magazine.

The City of West Lake Hills started with a drunken plot of revenge.

A decade before Emmett Shelton founded the city in 1953, his brother, Polk, had political aspirations. But when he failed to win the 1937 Democratic primary for a seat in Congress – losing to Lyndon B. Johnson – the brothers and their friends hatched a different plan: build a city to keep their political enemies out.

At least that's how the legend goes.

Austin released a second draft of CodeNEXT, the city’s rewrite of its land development code, on Friday.

"The CodeNEXT code and the maps are getting better and all of the community needs to stay engaged,"  Mayor Steve Adler said.

Austin homeowners will pay more in property taxes and fees to the city next year under a $3.9 billion budget approved by City Council on Wednesday.

Wendy Rivera sat on a metal folding chair outside the shelter for Harvey evacuees in Southeast Austin. She shared a 44-ounce convenience store soda with her husband, Ramiro, a soft-spoken and tattooed man, who used his body and a white towel to shade the two from the sun.

An 8-foot-tall shelf. That’s what it would have taken to keep Dolores Martinez's belongings dry in La Grange.

Martinez, 53, and her family had nearly 8 feet of water in their home when the nearby Colorado River crested at nearly 30 feet above its banks Monday. Then-Tropical Storm Harvey brought a level of flooding some who have lived their whole lives here say they’ve never seen before.

Addi Reichle, 7, stood in the back of her family’s SUV and helped unload diapers, socks, underwear and pillows.

“Can you take two?” she asked her 3-year-old brother, Jude. He obliged, grabbing a second pair of socks to add to an ever-growing hill.

Vanessa Dean, 35, sat in a chair by a row of forest-green cots her family had been sleeping on for four nights and recounted how they left their home in Nixon, Texas, on Friday as Hurricane Harvey barreled toward the coast.

Jay Jajal says he began knocking on doors at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

“There’s flooding here, so you need to start moving your vehicle up high and start moving somewhere else,” he says he told guests at the motel he owns in La Grange, Texas, about an hour east of Austin.

Candelario Vazquez, 34, stands in front of a group of 20 people. None of the adults and children, some of them squirming in their hard plastic chairs, have asked to be in the audience.

UPDATE 8:17 a.m., Aug. 21: The Texas A&M Fire Service reports the fire is now 95 percent contained.

UPDATE 6:10 p.m.: The fire is now 90 percent contained, Texas A&M Fire Service reports. 

Hundreds gathered outside Austin City Hall on Saturday to rally against white supremacy and hear from activists and elected leaders. Demonstrators wrapped around the exterior of City Hall and helped themselves to free water bottles from coolers to combat the triple-digit heat.

An industrial-sized fridge hums in the background as Hannah Frankel, 28, gives a tour of her housing cooperative, pointing out the shared kitchen, pantry and meeting rooms.

“We consistently have a waitlist,” she says. “We consistently have a great demand.”

As cities around the country debate the removal of statues depicting members of the Confederacy, Austin City Council members have initiated their own street-level response: They have applied to officially rename Robert E. Lee Road in South Austin.

Becca Dobberfuhl has a name for her Bouldin Creek home.

“It’s all this rusty, rusty, rusty color,” she says. “And the house is a modern house, and it has a box-like look to it so we call it the ‘Rusty Box.’”

Users of short-term rental company Airbnb can pay to stay in the "Rusty Box," while Dobberfuhl and her family are out of town.Dobberfuhl estimates she made $6,000 last year renting out her home. The extra income goes to help pay the family’s property taxes.

Following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar is calling for the renaming of Robert E. Lee Road in South Austin and Jeff Davis Avenue in North Austin. 

Nine-year-old Janiyah Johnson shows off her lung capacity.

“Count! Quickly!” she shouts at a reporter who dutifully begins counting the young girl’s time underwater. At her very best, she spends 14 seconds fully submerged.

Austin City Council voted Wednesday to raise the maximum rate at which it can tax homeowners, as it considers a "tax swap" plan that would divert that extra money to the Austin Independent School District.

For five weeks in 2001, Karen Paup spent her afternoons with other Austin residents talking about the city’s changing Eastside. The group included a pastor, a developer and a now-professor at New York University.

Austin homeowners could see higher property tax bills next year. 

Under the city's proposed $3.9 billion budget, most residents with a median-value home ($305,510) would pay an additional $118 in property taxes compared to last year. Utility fees would rise, too – with median-value homeowners seeing an additional $60 annually in fees.

The proposed budget also aims to increase the city’s permitting capacity, while maintaining current service levels across the board.

Did Travis County lower the typical homeowner’s property tax bill in the last year? It depends on how you look at it. Travis County took issue with a KUT story that said despite the county lowering its tax rate, most homeowners ended up paying more in county property taxes.

During a recent committee hearing on a property tax bill, a state lawmaker made an unusual comment: He praised Travis County.

Earlier this year, Austin announced that it would have to close Givens Pool on East 12th Street for the summer. A couple weeks later, it revealed that Mabel Davis in Southeast Austin would need to close, too. A total of four pools are closed this season. The reason? Leaking and aging infrastructure.

Texas senators are considering a bill that would lower the annual percent increase of property taxes cities and counties would be allowed to collect before triggering an election. The measure was one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priorities for the special session.

B-cycle, Austin’s bike-share system, recently added three new stations as part of an 18-station expansion over the next 18 months. All the new stations will be close to or in downtown, adding to the company’s existing 51 docks.

Paul Slutes is accustomed to less-than-enthusiastic welcomes.

At times, this often resembles a recent scene at Balcones Pool: Despondent swimmers greet him, seated on the concrete with their knees to their chins. Forty minutes earlier, a lifeguard closed the pool because of low chlorine levels. That’s why Slutes is here.

Black inmates in the Travis County Jail were locked up for longer periods of time in 2015 than white inmates charged with same-level offenses, according to a new study from the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership.

On a Sunday in late April, Pastor Clarence Jones asked his congregation to join him.

"Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together. Congregation?" he said, his voice booming from the front of the church. Roughly 40 congregants seated in the pews responded: "I saw the Lord and he heard me ..."

More than 100 people filled an auditorium yesterday to hear from Democratic candidates running for the Texas House District 46 seat – a district that stretches from East Austin out to Manor and north to Pflugerville – to hear five candidates opposing 12-term state Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin. 

Austin City Council members have delayed a vote on the so-called “agent of change” proposal, which would establish rules aimed at easing tensions between neighbors and music venues over amplified sound. An early version of the rules asked both new businesses and established venues to commit to “build accordingly to accommodate for sound.”

The Austin City Council on Thursday decided to do away with the city’s 27-year-old daytime curfew for juveniles, but extended the city’s nighttime curfew for people under 17 until Oct. 1. 

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