Austin City Council vote on Holly Street Power Plant, ride sharing


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on May 23, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Updated Thursday, May 23 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The Austin City Council took on an 117 item agenda Thursday, deciding on an array of issues from Austin Energy to new construction. And it looks like there is a new battle brewing between entrepreneurs and taxi cab drivers.

They are disagreeing over something called ride sharing. New mobile apps, including SideCar and Ride Scout, allow people to request a ride on their phones. A private citizen shows up, they negotiate a price and then get on with the ride.

Many entrepreneurs say the mobile apps used to catch a ride are a good idea.

"Drivers are protected from robbery, there's no cash exchange and GPS enabled, it's GPS enabled so all the rides can be monitored by friends, family," said a representative from SideCar during the meeting. 

But Austin cab drivers don't like it.

"That's direct competition against the licensed drivers in the city who operate under a lot of regulations and a lot of rules," one driver told the council during the meeting. 

Because there aren't any regulations on the apps, the Austin City Council considered defining ride sharing and implementing regulations for the app companies. It was set to make a decision Thursday but postponed the matter until June 6, 2013 allowing more time for discussion and research.

The council did pass a resolution to try to bring the X-Games to the Capitol City. Austin is one of four cities competing for the event. Austin City Council is now allowing the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee to apply for state event money on the city's behalf. It also voted to direct the city manager to waive $150,000 in fees for the extreme sporting event.

The council also increased the contract with the company decommissioning the Holly Street Power Plant in East Austin by about $3.8 million because crews found asbestos inside. That brings the total project cost to about $10.8 million.

Council also voted to take $7 million from Austin Energy's budget to use in the decommissioning.

And Austin Energy won't be getting it's own governing board after all. The council postponed the ordinance to create the board, indefinitely.

However, at 7 pm, the council will vote on whether to create a city council committee on Austin Energy.

"Council needs to spend more time and looking into more depth, issues going on at Austin Energy," said Council Member Laura Morrison. 

The Council also has several decisions ahead of them, including one about Auditorium Shores. The $3.5 million construction project to revamp the park is set to begin in November and take one year to complete. The council is expected to vote on looking into moving events scheduled at the park during construction to Camp Mabry.

Click here for more information on the decisions made by the Austin City Council