austin city council


  • The Austin City Council’s process for holding public hearings is broken
  • Hearings are held late at night, draft ordinances are released just before meetings, and residents may speak for only one minute each
  • The Austin Neighborhoods Council has proposed 10 reforms to fix the problems

The Austin City Council’s process for holding public hearings is badly broken, and our community is at risk of losing basic democratic rights.

Fortunately, the Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) has proposed 10 sensible reforms designed to fix public hearings and increase participation by local residents. We support all of them. Please contact council members today and ask them to adopt these changes!

Here’s what’s wrong with the council’s current public hearings:

  • Council members often give local residents only one minute each to testify on critical policy matters
  • Special-interest lobbyists and unelected staff, on the other hand, are usually given as much time to speak as they wish
  • Important hearings are delayed until late at night to minimize public input
  • City Hall refuses to release draft ordinances until the last possible moment, so the public does not know what they include and cannot meaningfully comment

You don’t have to look hard for an example of these failings.

Just before Labor Day, the council held a hearing on the controversial redevelopment of the Austin American-Statesman site, a project with enormous implications for the downtown area, Lady Bird Lake, and our community at large. The politically influential land developer managing the project is seeking a special deal with sizable tax breaks, lax water-quality regulations, and less public parkland than current law requires.

The latest draft of the deal is long and complex and was released to the public just two days before the hearing. Mayor Steve Adler proposed that every resident who wished to be heard be given just one minute to speak.

ANC’s proposed reforms would go a long way toward fixing these issues and restoring democracy in Austin. They would require the council to do the following:

  • Hold hearings on major ordinances at publicly convenient times
  • Allow appeals of the chair’s rulings
  • Allocate time to speakers in an equitable way
  • Release all substantive ordinances and amendments in time for the public to review them before relevant hearings
  • Close loopholes in the council’s conflict-of-interest laws

Please contact Mayor Adler and your representative on the Austin City Council using the information below and tell them you support ANC’s 10 reforms for strengthening democracy and public participation. Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.

Together we can build an Austin for everyone!

Mayor Steve Adler: | 512-978-2100

Natasha Harper-Madison (District 1): | 512-978-2101

Vanessa Fuentes (District 2): | 512-978-2102

Sabino “Pio” Renteria (District 3): | 512-978-2103

José “Chito” Vela (District 4): | 512-978-2104

Ann Kitchen (District 5): | 512-978-2105

Mackenzie Kelly (District 6): | 512-978-2106

Leslie Pool (District 7): | 512-978-2107

Paige Ellis (District 8): | 512-978-2108

Kathie Tovo (District 9): | 512-978-2109

Alison Alter (District 10): | 512-978-2110

You may send a single email to the mayor and all council members using this form.