NEW! Full AMP 2016 Candidate Questionnaire Responses

AMP 2016 City Council Candidate Questionnaire Responses

Austin Music People (AMP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization registered as a 501(c)6 with the federal and state government. Our eight-question instrument was sent in September via email to all candidates in the 2016 Austin City Council races. Their answers to these questions on specific issues facing Austin’s $1.8 billion music economy may be helpful to you as you decide how to cast your vote.

1. How would you describe the impact of the music industry to the city of Austin, known internationally as the Live Music Capital of the World? How do you view creativity and culture in your district?

DISTRICT 2

WESLEY FAULKNER: The arts are integral to Austin’s culture and add a tremendous amount to our value as a city. People visit and move here in large part to the perceived openness we champion.

DELIA GARZA (incumbent):  The music industry is an integral part of Austin’s culture and economic vitality. The revenue we are able to generate from tourism as a result of being the Live Music Capital of the World plays a big part in our ability to fund essential city services like fire, police, parks, and social programs that benefit Austinites in every part of the city thanks to the sales taxes paid by visitors.  We must make protecting our status as the Live Music Capital of the World a priority by finding meaningful ways to protect our venues and our musicians.

While there are not many live music venues in my district, I know that the creative and cultural community is alive and well in my district since we are one of the last affordable places to live in Austin. I recently attended a music forum hosted by my appointee to the Austin Music Commission and it was a lively discussion about the issues the music industry is facing and I appreciated the honest conversation and dialogue. I also appreciated the Mayor’s attendance at this forum. We are a mostly Hispanic community in District 2, so much of our creativity and culture is inspired by the Latino heritage, but I do believe we have a diverse culture that is also reflective of the entire city.

CASEY RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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DISTRICT 4

GONZALO CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

GREG CASAR (incumbent):  My District has much of Austin’s remaining affordable housing stock. Many of my constituents didn’t just come to Austin for our music, they make their living because of it. Before moving in with my better half, I lived with 5 other young adults: a poet, a baker, a collagemaker, a drummer, and a yoga instructor. Creativity is a part of who we are as a city, and creative people being pushed out of Austin is a very personal issue for me, because creatives are my friends and my family.

My District is full of creativity and culture. District 4’s international music, art and culinary scene is sometimes forgotten in Austin, and I think could be better highlighted and leveraged for our community.

LOUIS HERRIN III: Did not complete questionnaire

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DISTRICT 6

JIMMY FLANNIGAN: It’s hard to quantify all the ways in which the music industry supports and expands Austin’s unique culture and community. There are many people with a love of music starting small businesses and growing our economy because of the music community. While District 6 isn’t the home to many live music venues, it is the home to many musicians. Affordability concerns have pushed many to the suburbs, trading housing affordability for transportation costs.

DON ZIMMERMAN (incumbent): Did not complete questionnaire

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DISTRICT 7

NATALIE GAULDIN: For many, the music industry defines Austin as they know it. Having grown up here, I spent childhood and teenage years experiencing that Austin. Our creative culture is still a big attraction and drives tourism to the area, especially for festivals. I am concerned this city is becoming less welcoming to creatives due to unaffordability in housing and for music venues. District 7 includes all of the Burnet Road Corridor as well as the Domain and North Lamar. In the coming years, it will be important to preserve the venues that exist and promote expanding music culture farther north. We won’t be able to do this if the city is working against the industry by imposing unreasonable roadblocks for new venues.

LESLIE POOL (incumbent): If Barton Springs is the soul of our city, then music is its heart. A large part of the City’s reputation and prosperity – its all-round popularity – is due to the musicians and creative artists who are from here, have made their homes here, or wish they were here! I am pleased to know many artists and musicians in District 7 – I’ve sponsored three office art installations in the last year and a half, two featuring artists from the District and one featuring work from McCallum Fine Arts Academy students. My appointee to the Music Commission, Elizabeth McQueen, is a well-known Austin musician, and my Arts Commissioner, Teruko Nimura, is an artist who is making a name for herself with her art.

I’m supporting the City’s effort to map iconic places around town, including murals – and murals includes graffiti art. This dovetails with my Graffiti Abatement proposal. I’ve directed the City Manager to look at best practices around the country relating to graffiti and tagging that would do two things: reduce the frequency of tagging and gang spray in communities, and directing talent to productive avenues, similar to the artwork crafted at the HOPE Gallery at Castle Hill (and possibly keeping some kids from joining a gang and encouraging them to stay in school).

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DISTRICT 10

ALISON ALTER: The music scene helps retain and attract a talented workforce in other industries and enriches the lives of young and old. Our musical landscape is as eclectic – as electric as our City. It is vibrant, varied, active and energizing. Creativity is as much a part of our core as tacos and barbecue and the hike and bike trail.

My district values creativity and culture. We benefit from the artistic vision, for instance,  of The Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria and welcome creative additions to our parks and other public spaces. District 10 is not rich in venues, but is full of residents who enjoy or participate in the musical scene.

SHERRI GALLO (incumbent): We all have the same anecdote when traveling.  We meet new people.  We tell them we are from Austin, and then we wait for the great reactions – they love Austin, and they love Austin live music.  Austin is live music and live music is Austin.  They cannot be separated.

Creativity and culture are alive and well in D10.  From artists to musicians to museums, D10 has plenty of what Austin has – creative people.  If we can protect the culture that allows these people to express themselves and be able to afford to live here at the same time, then the rest is easy – just get out of the way and enjoy their music, art, film, dance, and theater.

NICHOLAS VIRDEN: I see the live music industry in Austin as not only a reputation that Austin carries in the present, but a connection to the roots of the sleepy college town that it was a little more than 30 years ago. It’s part of what makes Austin one of the most attractive places to live, especially with the Music District along Red River in downtown. Most of District 10 is a mass of interwoven suburbs that lacks the creativity and artsy feel that downtown gives off.

ROBERT WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

2. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the music community, and how would you address them? Are the mayor’s Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution and accompanying staff response sufficient? Consider music venues, cultural/entertainment districts, music-based businesses, local musicians, and service industry workers (bartenders, pedicabbers, etc.) in your response.

 

D2 FAULKNER: There were some great ideas in the Omnibus. We need to find a way to preserve and nurture the creative community here in Austin. Affordability is a citywide problem and we need to do something to tackle this issue.

D2 GARZA: It’s crucial to take steps to ensure Austin has affordable housing options so that our musicians are able to live in the City where they perform.  Our artistic community is one of our greatest assets and they need to be able to live in the city that benefits from their craft. I have supported efforts to increase our affordable housing stock and I will also protect and increase funding to support our music industry and support music options throughout the city.

Additionally, we must improve our public transit which is something I have been working on as member of the Capital Metro Board of Directors. Affordability impacts all Austinites including musicians trying to support themselves through their craft, and transportation costs are usually the second highest expense for folks after housing costs.  If we can provide reliable, frequent, and convenient public transit services, we can get Austinites out of their cars and could save them money in the process.

I’m also supportive of the Mayor’s Omnibus resolution which is a good start, but we must remain diligent in building on ideas and options to best support our music industry and local music culture.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: Artists and musicians in my district bring up their issues to me regularly: especially housing affordability, affordability of performance and creative space, licensing and code issues for their venues, genre development, and challenges with revenue generation even in our booming economy. The Mayor’s Omnibus and accompanying engagement process is a good first step to solving these issues, even though the resolution and the staff response can’t solve it all. I believe that the Music Commission’s approach going out into the different districts asking the music community organize, prioritize, and advocate has been one of the most important parts of this process.

Thus far, the initial input has signaled to the City that we should commit significant funding for venue/creative space preservation and assistance which I am proud to have supported in helping craft budget amendments. We also funded an ombudsperson for our venues, which was a high priority for the community. Much of our other work on the Council has been very important for moderate to low wage working people in our City (including artists) including: healthcare enrollment initiatives and historic amounts of general operating dollars being dedicated to affordable housing.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: I don’t think any response is “sufficient” as we must stay vigilant to protect what makes Austin special. The Omnibus resolution is a great start that has been the result of a very extensive public vetting and analysis. The top issues facing the music industry are the same issues facing Austin as a whole… primarily tied to housing affordability and transportation costs. The music community in Austin also faces problems on the business-side with venues struggling to keep up with rising rents and downward pressure on what little income musicians were able to generate.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN:  There are many issues facing Austin’s music community. The greatest issue is affordability for musicians and service industry workers.  Many musicians work low income service industry jobs and are either being forced out of the city by rising rents, or have to work longer hours in order to make ends meet so they can’t devote as much time to music.  Affordability, especially in housing, is a key issue for my campaign.

D7 POOL:  I’m working with Mayor Adler on adopting provisions of the Omnibus Resolution to begin work on improving circumstances for Austin musicians and music venues. I think the service industry workers should consider unionizing to add muscle and focus to their efforts to win livable wages and fair workplace policies. Joining in common cause can have a lot of positive outcomes.

AMP’s 2013 White Paper described the place music and musicians hold here, their contributions to our local economy, and their continuing and vital role in sustaining and expanding the reputation of the city. The 2015 White Paper takes that conversation further with specific recommendations. The Council acknowledged the needs clarified in the Music Census earlier this year and we are actively looking for ways to provide support as part of our FY17 budget (AMP note: After the questionnaires had been returned, $475,000 was designated in the FY17 budget in support of Mayor Adler’s Music & Creative Ecosystems Omnibus Resolution).

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D10 ALTER: I think affordability and venue availability are the biggest issues facing the the local music community. Many musicians and creative artists across the spectrum are struggling to pay rent, to keep their venues open, to put food on the table. This is not sustainable if we want a vibrant creative class.

The Omnibus is an important step in addressing some of these challenges but we need to have a longer term discussion. Many smart and dedicated people are working on these issues. I am confident that, working together and creatively, we can implement a host of solutions to improve the ecosystem.

We can work for ways to slow that cost-of-living growth, but equally important is finding ways for artists to make more money. Cultural shifts are needed – we as Austinites should go see local musicians, should pay a cover charge, should tip the band and the wait staff. Just as a start, of course… but small steps build momentum over time.

D10 GALLO: The Live Music Capital of the World should be a city where musicians can afford to live and the music industry can thrive.  The biggest challenge facing our music community is affordability.  If we cannot create a city that is affordable for everyone – especially the creative class, then it won’t matter how we handle the other major issues in our community.  The Mayor’s Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution is a good first step in dealing with our crisis of disappearing musicians and music venues and proposes creative solutions for our creative class. The ideas in the Resolution were the result of listening to people in local music and arts.  The Resolution also directed the City Manager to come back to the Council in 90 days with a prioritized action plan. One hundred and twenty-three days later, the report, “Music & Creative Ecosystem Stabilization Recommendations” was released and contained 68 pages of analysis and recommendations of ideas to stimulate economic development and make it easier for creative ventures to operate.  The success of the recommendations will be determined by what, when and how Council and city staff choose to implement the recommendations. (AMP note: After the questionnaires had been returned, $475,000 was designated in the FY17 budget in support of Mayor Adler’s Music & Creative Ecosystems Omnibus Resolution)

D10 VIRDEN: The biggest issues facing the music community is the unaffordability crisis. Musicians are some of the lowest income earners in the city by nature of the immense competition to make it big. If they can’t afford a decent place to live that’s close to the places they’re playing, then there’s no way they’ll be able to follow their dreams.

For music venues, either ticket and drink prices go up, staff gets cut, or they close their doors to deal with property taxes, so someone gets the short end of the stick. I would propose more lax zoning laws so that property prices stop spiraling upward out of control. If we can build more housing and businesses easily and quickly, then property prices will stop rising, allowing our music and arts districts to manage costs better and for musicians to find cheap, decent places to live.

Resolutions are cute, but someone needs to actually propose solutions that solve problems, and that’s what I’m going to do on the dais.

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

3. In the last four years, Austin’s primary (non-festival) music industry has lost more than 1,200 jobs, as both rents and land values have skyrocketed. What specific, practical steps would you take to preserve Austin’s iconic music venues – and the jobs and tax revenue they represent? Is CodeNEXT the answer?

 

D2 FAULKNER: CodeNEXT is [and] should be the answer. The new codes won’t actually be available till 2017, so it is hard to say. There are protections that will be built in the code the keep the character of an area intact. Those protections should be honored for long standing structures that helped define the area.

D2 GARZA: Given the music industry’s impact on our economy and local culture, we must make preserving live music in Austin a top priority.  Many valuable services are provided through the staff and funds dedicated to music in our Economic Development Department, and I believe we should invest further to ensure our City has the resources necessary to truly serve and protect our local music industry.  I’m also open to discussing creative funding options with experts in the industry.  One possibility that I would consider would be utilizing a larger portion of our Hotel Motel Taxes to support live music and the music industry, which can be used for the arts and activities that promote tourism.  I have asked about possible ways to use the HOT to support our music industry and I supported a resolution to convene a group of stakeholders to explore expanding the use of the HOT.

With regards to housing affordability, CodeNext is definitely part of the answer but will not solve all of our affordability issues on its own. We have a housing supply issue and the quicker we can get new housing on line without compromising safety or our environment, the quicker we can hopefully bring rents and homes sales prices down and preserve our creative community.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: CodeNEXT is very important, but it’s not the answer alone. I support creating a simpler land development code so that local businesses can more easily improve, expand or open spaces for creative ventures. I believe in capturing more of our tax base and development inside the city limits so that we don’t continue to subsidize growth outside of our area, driving up the taxes paid for per capita. I believe that through CodeNEXT adding more capacity for housing, office, and retail space can slow displacement. I support looking into incentives in our land development code to promote music venue creation, and I’m supportive of the entertainment license concept becoming a reality.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: CodeNEXT is a process that is critical to addressing our land use/affordability issues but we should not be so shortsighted to think it’s the answer (especially given it hasn’t even gotten close to being finished). Venues that support the community (through paying living wages, etc) should be supported. The same holds true for all manner of small, locally-owned businesses.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN:  CodeNEXT is definitely a big part of the answer but I would not hesitate to take steps outside of CodeNEXT to address our affordability issues.  I am supportive of mixed use developments and neighborhood level amenities that not only allow for more walkability, but give more opportunities for local businesses to grow and thrive.  More density in key areas can help absorb demand from growth and keep rent prices down.

D7 POOL: The FY17 budget may have some support for Austin’s music venues. We are looking at HOT funds to test our ability to extend their use in aid of issues identified in the Mayor’s Omnibus initiative.

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D10 ALTER: CodeNext is not an answer on its own. For one, the management decisions and choices that accompany CodeNext will be critical. Second, we may need to pursue innovative private-public partnerships.

D10 GALLO: We must protect our venues.  I believe cultural and entertainment districts are important, but I also believe Austin must have great diversity in its venues.  If are creative community can better afford to live in Austin and if there is great diversity in the types of venues, then the live music community and iconic venues will be better able to succeed.

Help make it less costly and cumbersome for music venues to operate and easier for new venues to open:

1)  The Entertainment License chapter of the Report suggests creating an entertainment license is to provide a single point of contact for entertainment establishments.  As it stands now a music venue must have 16 different permits to operate which involves seven different city departments.  The entertainment license would also serve as an incentive to encourage non music venues to provide live music.
2) The Live Music Venue Best Practice Guide chapter of the Report suggests that the city provide incentives for clubs that meet quality standards in terms of safety and superior treatment of musicians. Such incentives might include rebates, expedited inspections, and Temporary accessory use without having to complete an application.
3) When revising Austin’s land development code, builders could be incentivized to include creative spaces in new developments

D10 VIRDEN: CodeNEXT may be the answer, but we have yet to see the entire proposal. Again, it goes back to relaxing zoning and land-use regulation. If we managed our growth like Tokyo, Japan, then the music industry would thrive because property prices would not be going through the roof. Growth can be managed by city government in a hands-off way that is both good for the community and future sustainability.

See also: How Tokyo’s Model Manages Growth: https://fee.org/articles/why-isnt-rent-in-tokyo-out-of-control

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

4. Given that live music is Austin’s cultural soul, a massive economic driver in its own right, and a key element that distinguishes us in the competitive tourism and business recruiting market, how can music continue to improve its relationships with neighbors while ensuring the music economy remains healthy? In your answer, consider the “compact and connected” vision of Imagine Austin, as well as that plan’s specific recommendations that music venues and residents work more closely together, as partners, to address shared issues.

 

D2 FAULKNER: No response to this question

D2 GARZA: We can protect the interests and needs of both our music industry and our neighbors at the same time.  The compact and connected vision of Imagine Austin helps to provide tools we can use to disperse our live music industry throughout the City while being respectful of the needs of our neighborhoods.  We can continue to improve relationships with neighbors by ensuring that all stakeholders have a seat at the table when creating any entertainment districts. Protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods doesn’t preclude healthy relationships with a potential music neighbor.

Noise and time restrictions can help strike a necessary balance that allows our music industry to operate and thrive while providing fair parameters to protect nearby residents.  These measures should be implemented where appropriate to help foster a strong relationship among all impacted.  The City should take an active role in fostering these negotiations and providing policy and negotiation support wherever possible.  For many neighborhoods, having music venues nearby is an incredible benefit that allows folks to participate in our music culture closer to home.  I believe that with a thoughtful and deliberative approach, we can find ways to incorporate music venues that are congruent with each individual regional culture in our city.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: During my time on Council, we have had several zoning cases come before us that deal with the intersection of venue space and taking care of a variety of residents’ concerns about quality of life in their neighborhood. I’m committed to working toward a greater mix of our residential and entertainment venues, and I showed that commitment through my office’s collaborative approach on these votes and decisions.

Furthermore, I support the ‘Agent of Change’ principle. However, I also support putting in extra effort to ensure new venues get a fair shot at creating new, eclectic space for Austin’s music scene, even if they didn’t “come first,” because frankly, new spaces don’t have the luxury or choice of being there first.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: It does ultimately come down to community and understanding the challenges of growth as new people join our community. Better relationships with venue owners and surrounding properties can go a long way to solving these issues in advance. Even in District 6, a venue changed hands and suddenly dramatically shifted the noise level, causing much consternation in the surrounding neighborhood. A process that starts confrontationally rarely has a positive outcome.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN: I enthusiastically support Imagine Austin’s vision of a “compact and connected” city.  I recognize that noise complaints are a major issue for many music venues and neighborhoods, and I would look for practical ways to address these issues.

D7 POOL: AMP has worked hard to build relationships with businesses and residents alike. That work should continue.

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D10 ALTER: I believe we can find win-win solutions when we come together as a community, interested in learning about each other’s needs and perspectives, and committed to think outside the box to find solutions that work for the greatest good. This works better than each side coming to the table with their heels dug in. The health of the music economy depends in part on a recognition that musicians are professionals and deserve to be paid for their creative contributions. We can find ways to make that easier and alter the culture.

Neighbors are often concerned about noise and traffic, but they also love proximate cultural events. Events that are compatible with the community and address these concerns can be a great addition and contribute to a compact and connected city.

D10 GALLO: The Agent of Change Principle chapter of the Report suggests a policy to address sound disputes between residential buildings and music venues with a common sense approach. If the venue was there first, the residential building must adapt, but if a new club opens in earshot of an existing residence, the club would be responsible for sound mitigation measures.

D10 VIRDEN: In my opinion, people that move downtown close to music venues need to understand that they’re moving into an area where there’s going to be loud noise. That’s like moving in next to a train station and asking them to move the train. Frankly, music venues aren’t obligated to work with their communities unless they want to because the tenants and neighbors should know what they’re getting into first.

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

5. Even as the number of Austin hotel rooms continues to rise – and the total Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) dollars increase as a result – our City’s music industry does not directly receive any of those funds, despite being a primary driver of tourism. What is your position on designating a portion of HOT funds for our city’s music tourism industry, and why?

 

D2 FAULKNER: No response to this question

D2 GARZA: I am absolutely supportive of using a portion of HOT to help our music industry. Unfortunately, our staff has advised that there is little room for us to move where HOT is designated due to State regulations, but I am willing to push forward with ideas and attempts to see what more could be done to commit a significant portion of HOT funds for our music industry. Using HOT funds this way benefits musicians, but also benefits our residents by protecting one of the parts of Austin’s culture that makes this city such an incredible place to live.  Also, as stated above, I supported a recent resolution to convene a group of stakeholders to explore expanding the use of the HOT, and hope that opportunities arise from this process that enable us to strengthen our support of the local music industry further.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: A primary reason people come to visit Austin is because of our music industry. I’m interested and would continue to be supportive in looking at how we can further utilize our Hotel Occupancy Taxes to support the music industry and music venues.

I supported a Council resolution passed in August [2016] that will create a task force so that stakeholders in the music industry can assist Council in finding creative uses for the Hotel Occupancy Tax to support the industries that contribute to Austin’s economy. In particular, many great uses of the HOT tax are restricted by state law. However, many municipalities have worked with their legislative delegation to create exemptions to these rules through a collaborative process, and I’d look forward to engaging in that work.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: I support a complete re-working of HOT funds and intend to work with my friends in the state legislature to relax the rules. HOT taxes should be available to help offset the impacts of tourism, especially in a city like Austin where hotels are enjoying exceedingly high occupancy rates.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN: I am very concerned over City Council’s current position on HOT funding; it seems to be pulled in every direction. As I mentioned above, I believe our city, on some level, has been defined by music. I certainly believe the music industry should benefit from the HOT funds.

D7 POOL: The current lay of the land, from the City’s Law Department and past practice, has been to interpret the state law for use of Hotel Occupancy Taxes conservatively. That interpretation holds that HOT funds can only be used when a direct connection exists to tourism. Previous Councils were not willing to test these boundaries. This Council is testing them with our FY17 budget discussions.

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D10 ALTER: HOT fund expenditure restrictions are dictated by state statute. The ACVB portion of HOT funds goes, in part, to generate tourism, including promotion of Austin as the Live Music Capital of the World. I understand that Council has convened a group to review the HOT budget in the near term. Many musicians and music organizations are supported through the Cultural Arts program, which is funded by Hotel Occupancy funds.

D10 GALLO: Yes, I support, if allowed by state law, designating a portion of HOT funds for our city’s music tourism industry.

D10 VIRDEN: As soon as an industry gets in bed with the government, it gets tangled in a web of bureaucracy. I’m afraid diverting HOT to our music industry would drive more people out at the expense of only the privileged and connected music industry insiders getting those taxes. If anything, we need to get rid of HOT and fund our government and convention center through sales tax revenues, which are also on the rise. We could even think about giving property tax relief to not only homeowners, but business and other commercial property owners, like our live music venues, as well.

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

6. Austin’s multibillion dollar nightlife economy – the “other 9 to 5” – is powered by Austinites working, in many cases, for minimum wage or tips in an increasingly expensive city. As downtown parking options decrease, these artists, service industry workers, and their patrons need safe, affordable, dependable transportation options. How would you work to expand CapMetro’s late-night service, and/or the availability of other transportation options to meet these community and visitor needs?

 

D2 FAULKNER: No response to this question

D2 GARZA: Improving and expanding our public transportation has been a top priority of mine, which is why serving on the Capital Metro Board of Directors has been one of the most rewarding parts of being a Council Member. I am optimistic of the first iteration of the Connections 2025 plan that provides expanded routes and more frequent service. Capital Metro was also recently awarded a federal grant so that they can add more busses to their fleet which will translate to more frequent and reliable service, and hopefully increased ridership.

I strongly support expanding late night Capital Metro services, and will work to see what interlocal agreements could potentially assist in an expansion.  This would be an invaluable service for our late night service industry staff, as well as an effective way to combat drunk driving issues.  We should also take a critical look at our existing policies to ensure we’re not hindering the ability of musicians and people in the service industry from being able to work downtown including our current approaches to parking and housing policies, as well as ensuring that musicians are able to load and unload equipment without unnecessary burdens.

I also support our other transportation options including taxis and TNC’s and I am glad that there are currently 8 TNC’s operating in Austin and providing much needed transportation options. I am also open to any other creative transportation options.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: I plan to support many of the proposed changes in Cap Metro’s 2025 Plan, which include streamlining late night bus options and increasing the frequency of routes headed into downtown from working class neighborhoods like those in North Austin. In addition, I would be supportive of creating more affordable parking plans for Austinites working downtown in our local venues. I realize that the City’s Transportation Department is already taking steps to revamp existing parking facilities downtown to be more welcoming to late night workers, but I believe
there is more to do. I’m also supportive of getting the city back into the rail business, especially an urban rail running from downtown up toward the N Lamar Transit center.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: CapMetro’s newly proposed Connections 2025 plan, which does expand late night options, is a great start and I would support implementing these improvements. But private transportation options are still a critical component, as CapMetro service doesn’t effectively reach some of the more affordable housing options like those in District 6. We need to make sure that the regulatory environment is supportive of safe and affordable options based on data-driven analysis.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN: I frequently use the bus, it is my preferred mode of transit when I am going downtown or north to the Domain, so I am personally familiar with the limitations and weaknesses of Capital Metro’s services.

I would support efforts to increase bus service late at night.  Most busses stop running before midnight and even the night busses stop running at 3AM, before many downtown service industry workers get off work. Connections 2025 appears to be shifting night service away from various parts of time. Land use is also a major component of this issue, if we allow more people to live on or near the transit corridors served by late night busses, we can give more musicians, service industry workers, and their patrons the option to utilize those late night services and make it more cost effective for capital metro to provide those services.

The way Uber and Lyft left town is very unfortunate.  Uber and Lyft provided a late night transportation option for many people as well as flexible jobs for many musicians and people in the service industry.  I think regulations should be community and/or data driven. I do not recall any community outcry or significant safety concern prior to City Council’s efforts to push for more stringent regulations. For that reason, I voted yes on Prop 1. As a council member, I would have supported the mayor’s MoU instead of forcing a city wide vote.

D7 POOL: Cap Metro’s service is connected to requests from riders – current and potential – and I hope AMP participated in the service change discussions Cap Metro held earlier this year so that these issues would be heard loud and clear, and so that changes would be made to accommodate the “other 9-to-5” ridership.

Austin has many ride-hailing and cab service choices and I support these types of on-call and safe rides home especially where bus routes aren’t close to a rider’s home.

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D10 ALTER: If sufficient ridership exists I would support an expansion of Cap Metro’s late-night service.

D10 GALLO: The safety of patrons and employees downtown should be a concern for the City.  I support efforts to improve mobility options and Cap Metro should be at the forefront of that discussion.

D10 VIRDEN: I would actually like to create more competition by opening up the bus system to more bus companies instead of putting them all under the umbrella of Cap Metro. As a rider myself, I realize that Cap Metro is already doing a horrible job with the resources it has – it hardly keeps track of operating expenses and if it were a private business, it’d have gone under years ago. Instead, we need to bring more bus competition, give taxis a fighting chance against rideshares leveling the playing field with less regulation, not more, make fingerprinting for ridesharing companies optional so we can bring back Uber & Lyft, which drive traffic to local venues and increase parking options for those working late night jobs, and even contemplate getting rid of the curfew on alcohol sales so that those working late shifts have more time to earn cash and music venues can increase their revenue streams.

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

7. Sixth Street is a big part of Austin’s cultural tourism brand, for better or for worse. What do you think the key challenges are for this area? Do you think Sixth Street needs to change? How?

 

D2 FAULKNER: No response to this question

D2 GARZA: 6th Street currently faces security issues and an increasing homeless population. I think that our city is trying to tackle these issues but we can do more. I don’t think 6th street needs to change as a whole, but I think there is more we can do to make sure that all who visit this area feel safe while enjoying our city. We should increase investments in wrap around services to help our homeless population, and look at increased security measures we can implement that improve safety without being intrusive for our music patrons.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: Sixth Street is a major challenge. The resources necessary to keep the peace in this area are very significant for both prevention and enforcement, and virtually no amount of policing can guarantee that people won’t get hurt.

Sixth Street is also a major economic driver and a place where lots of people are able to make their living. It’s viability is important not just for Austin’s cultural tourism brand, but also for lots of people’s livelihoods. Longterm, to keep this sustainable, we need to make some changes. Austin needs to continue to address in a public way our relationship with drug abuse, and alcohol abuse in particular. We need more public transit that runs late night, we need a mix of venue types on 6th, and we need to ensure our officers are properly equipped, prepared, and trained for the challenges we face in the area.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: There are some key public safety issues, exacerbated by the concentration of activity and, at least in the more recent months, a reduction in the alternatives to drinking and driving. The rapid and continuing growth of Downtown hotels and residents has created more conflict over noise, but as I addressed earlier, there should be acknowledgement of what existed before new buildings are built and a better focus that some of those hotel/residential properties are valuable because of their proximity to entertainment, not in spite of it.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN: I believe safety is the key concern in this area. While it is still a popular destination, we’re seeing more violence and larger crowds. The COA needs to continue to provide resources so that Austinites and tourists feel comfortable visiting Sixth Street.

D7 POOL: Do Austinites go to Sixth Street anymore? I’ve ridden with APD on the Sixth Street patrol; it’s instructive to see interactions. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts of the Pecan Street business owners, DAA, and AMP on what you see as the challenges and what needs to change.

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D10 ALTER: I think the musicians engaged on Sixth Street deserve to be paid a livable wage. We need to create a culture where it is normal to pay a cover charge, tip the band etc. and promote local talent.

D10 GALLO: I am concerned about public safety on 6th St and in other downtown entertainment districts.  One of the safety issues happens at the time when bars close and hundreds of inebriated people are suddenly pushed together on the street.  I am also concerned about patrons avoiding downtown or other entertainment districts because of traffic and poor mobility options.  6th street has changed a lot since I was an undergrad at UT, and it will continue to change.  The city should find ways to help business owners create a safe and fun area.

D10 VIRDEN: While 6th does have a certain notoriety on the “Dirty” stretch, I think that there’s really nothing broken with it. Live music is still alive and well here, but we need to stop penalizing owners with noise ordinances and such. It’s part of the appeal – the music blasting and bass pumping from clubs, the variety of tunes heard on its East and West stretches outside of Dirty 6th. If anything, the city should mold to 6th Street, not the other way around.

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

 

8. Roughly, how many live music performances in Austin have you attended this year to date? Do you have a favorite local music event? What was the most memorable local music performance for for you so far this year, and why?

 

D2 FAULKNER: No response to this question

D2 GARZA: As the new mother of a 15-month old and with my Council commitments, it’s a little harder to get out and enjoy live music lately. But, I have been able to enjoy approximately 5 live music events this year. My favorite this year was a performance by Bidi Bidi Banda at the Hard Luck Lounge. They are a great Selena cover band and it was nice to have a much needed night out dancing with my husband.

D2 RAMOS: Did not complete questionnaire

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D4 CAMACHO: Did not complete questionnaire

D4 CASAR: Lots – even with the demands of being a Council Member, I try to see live music at least every couple of weeks. My favorite local music events aren’t festivals, they’re those regular but unique Austin nights dancing with Asha and my friends at Esquina Tango, the White Horse, or the Sahara Lounge to our local talent. My favorite performance this year was seeing my friends Cecilia and the Broken Hearts play in KUT’s Tiny Desk Concert at the Cactus Cafe. They bring together the Latino music my mom raised me listening to with a 2016 Austin groove.

D4 HERRIN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D6 FLANNIGAN: I do not attend many live music shows. But I don’t pretend that one’s personal experience is necessary to listen and learn from others in my community. I do not rely on my own anecdotal info, or the anecdotal stories from others. Smart, data-driven solutions require being able to think out of your own comfort zone and integrate the expertise and knowledge of others. That is the kind of community-based leadership I hope to bring to City Council.

D6 ZIMMERMAN: Did not complete questionnaire

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D7 GAULDIN: I’ve attended countless performances at outdoor festivals, community events, and local restaurants. I love attending Austin City Limits tapings at the Moody Theater. I love its intimate setting and, of course, the quality of talent they attract to their tapings. I had the pleasure of attending Florence and the Machine earlier this year and I would definitely put that show among the top three I have seen. Florence has a true talent for involving and interacting with the crowd (not to mention her voice!).

D7 POOL: Not as many this year as previous years, as my free time is essentially nonexistent, but obviously I care a whole lot about the creative sector in Austin. When I have free time again, I’ll get back to listening to music in my favorite Austin joints.

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D10 ALTER: I would say I have attended 25 or so events. I am partial to two distinctly different genres – ACL and my kids’ piano and violin recitals.

D10 GALLO: Live music at City Hall almost every Thursday (where I thoroughly enjoy listening to local musicians)

Favorite place to support local musicians – The Soul of a Musician Series produced by St. Matthews Episcopal Church.  It started in District 10 in a neighborhood restaurant across from the Church but when the restaurant closed, the Series moved away from District 10 and is now held at the Iron Cactus restaurant.

My most memorable local music performance was dancing the night away with Austin’s local band, The Night Owls, who I hired for my daughter’s wedding reception.  They are my daughter’s generation’s version of my favorite soul music from the 60’s!

D10 VIRDEN: I’ve attended at least six live music performances this year, all of them during SXSW, which I’ve attended every year since 2011. Also, I plan to go to ACL this year, as I have since 2013. As for this year to date, I’m big into Rap, especially Latin Rap, Hip Hop, and EDM as of late, so I’ve attended:

Alvaro Diaz @ The North Door
Los Rakas @ The North Door
Krewella @ Summit Rooftop Lounge
Marc E. Bassy + 2 other rappers @ Mohawk
I saw another soft rock band at Sidewinder, but I forget their name since it was a band my friend wanted to see

D10 WALKER: Did not complete questionnaire

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