Save Austin Now, the local advocacy group calling for the enforcement of the homeless camping ban, announced that along with four local business owners, they have filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin for the "absolute refusal to fully enforce Prop B."
The group made the announcement via a Facebook Live session at 11 a.m., explaining their frustration and asking in a press release, "Why are they allowed to continue public camping which is illegal throughout the City of Austin?"
Along with Save Austin Now and lead counsel Michael Lovins, Headspace Salon and Co-op owner Laura North, Balance Dance Studios owner Stuart Dupuy, owner of three local Dairy Queen franchises Robert Mayfield and owner of Buckshot Bar on East 6th Street Bob Woody joined the lawsuit. The business owners said the lack of enforcement has "resulted in severe business disruption."
"It has now been 117 days since Prop B passed on May 1," Save Austin Now Co-founder Matt Mackowiak said. "We have been unbelievably patient with the City of Austin—it has not been my goal to sue them on this. I really did hope, and actually expect, that they would fully enforce Prop B."
The group claims that the city has not taken enforcement seriously, as they have only issued a few dozen citations for the city's thousands of homeless. Additionally, Save Austin Now said they believe the City Council has been dragging its feet on making actual solutions for the homeless.
"We're here to say enough is enough. It's now time for our mayor and our city council and our city manager to respect the will of the voters and fully enforce Prop B," Mackowiak said. "We're going to fight to the ends of the earth with an aggressive and vigorous lawsuit and legal effort because we believe safety is not too much to ask for in our city."
Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek said she helped found the group because as a mom, she worries about the safety of women, children, the disabled and people who have to walk on the streets or take public transportation.
"This isn't an either-or proposition—this isn't where you help neighborhoods be safe again but out of sight, out of mind for the homeless," Petricek said. "We all have compassion for the homeless but we also know that they should not be subject to this chaos and inhumane condition… because of our City Council's refusal to comply with the city law. What we see now is them kicking the can down the road."
Save Austin Now secured another victory after campaigning to reinstate the camping ban through May, gaining enough signatures on its petition to add more police officers to the Austin Police Department to add it to the November ballot.
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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