February 3, 2020
Someone tweeted that night about how, back when I was mayor, I declared May 3, 2001, to be Gary Clark, Jr., Day in Austin. He was only 17 at the time and a junior at Austin High School. In an interview for my new book, Gary said he first wondered if we had the right guy — “I’m just a kid,” he said.
“I didn’t really know anybody was paying attention,” he said. “That’s really when I realized how music was important in the city.”
It’s so true. It’s a huge part of the story we tell about ourselves. Look no further than the care some Austinites take to ensure that Stevie Ray Vaughan is safe when Lady Bird Lake floods.
Gary has followed a rich tradition of the blues in Austin. No better time than now to celebrate that tradition as Black History Month gets underway.
Protecting Your Home
Researchers at the University of Texas have done some really important work looking at the causes and effects of gentrification and displacement in Austin. One problem they identified was that folks who have inherited a home without a will — known as “heir property owners” — were struggling to get the homestead exemption to which they were entitled because they lacked a deed or other legal document to demonstrate ownership. The homestead exemption is an important tool to help control property taxes as property values increase.
Last session, I passed Senate Bill 1943, along with Rep. Eddie Rodriguez in the House, that will make it easier for heir property owners to get their homestead exemption. The bill went into effect on Jan. 1 and we’re already hearing from people around the state who will be able to take advantage of the new law.
If you want more information, call the Travis Central Appraisal District at 512-834-9138 or, better yet, come by the Property Tax Exemption Town Hall on Saturday morning. I’ll be there along with Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler and Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant to explain it all, answer questions, and provide assistance.
Protecting Your Neighborhood
I’ve teamed up with several other local elected officials — including Rep. Celia Israel, Rep. Sheryl Cole, Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion and Austin City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison — to oppose a new waste transfer station at the Austin Community Landfill in Northeast Austin.
The landfill, which opened 40 years ago, is set to close in the next several years, but this transfer station will ensure that the neighborhoods around it will continue to experience the odors, noise, traffic and other disturbances indefinitely.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold a public meeting on the proposal on Feb. 6 at 7pm at Bluebonnet Trail Elementary School, 11316 Farmhaven Road. It’s a great opportunity to ensure your voice is heard.