Photo by City of Austin
Monday December 27, 2021 by Jonathan Lee
While board member Kathie Tovo between last year as District 9 representative and her 12th year on city council, she spoke with the Austin Monitor to discuss what She hopes to accomplish in 2022, including a potential mayoral bid and how she responded to the considerable challenges of 2021.
While Tovo said 2020 was certainly his toughest year on the board, “2021 is a very close second. ” Her the main priority over the past year has been recovery from Covid. Beyond the collective efforts of the Council, Tovo has focused specifically on the business takeover, having spearheaded relief efforts for the besieged creative sector of Austin, particularly musicians. Other notable initiatives related to the pandemic response included strengthening childcare services in the city and increasing access to food.
Tovo also lobbied for recovery efforts from winter storm Uri, including an audit and several board meetings “to make sure we understand in the pretty concrete details where we need processes to work best.” . The Resilience Centers initiative, which she sponsored, is a key component of the city’s disaster preparedness plans. The hubs, which will start as a pilot and eventually expand to every neighborhood, are envisioned as a must-have resource for residents to provide food, water or heat in the event of a disaster.
2021 also marked a historic year in the city’s battle against homelessness. Tovo called the city’s $ 100 million federal stimulus fund allocation “a big step forward … which I hope will help us move closer to this goal of ending homelessness.”
She identified public safety as a key issue for the city as crime rates rise. One solution is a fully staffed and well-trained police force. “We have had a lot of officer retirements,” Tovo said, adding that the replenishment of force is “a major concern”. It also supports the city’s reimagined police cadet academy. “I truly believe that our cadet academy, our revised program, is a model for the nation.” In her district, Tovo has worked to make Sixth Street safer after a wave of violence in the area this year, including a mass shooting.
On housing, Tovo lobbied for changes to the Downtown Density Bonus to make housing more affordable. She also recently sponsored a resolution to open more areas for accessory housing units and create a menu of pre-approved plans. Next year, she aims to tackle ADU’s “main challenge”: connecting people to affordable construction loans. A resolution on this is slated for January or February, when other members may also bring in other policies to make ADUs viable for more people.
Tovo hopes Council members will work towards common ground in discussions on land use and housing. “Let’s do what we have a consensus on; do what the community supports; do what we think – and what the data shows us – will have the most impact on creating the most units. So far in 2021, the Council has reached consensus, but that could change as some members bring in more controversial policies.
Tovo said creating more affordable housing should be a major concern in housing debates. “We need to make sure that as we develop we capture some of that value to address one of our biggest challenges, which is the need for truly affordable housing,” she said.
At the start of 2022, all eyes will be on Tovo as she is expected to announce her candidacy for mayor. Although she did not confirm the leak, she told the To watch she “thinks strongly about it”.
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Posted in: City Council
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