Travis County

Agenda Item

Consider and take appropriate action on the creation of the Velocity Crossing Public Improvement District. (Public Hearing 2) (Commissioner Gómez)


Department:CC Agenda requestSponsors:
Category:General Government

Meeting History

Feb 12, 2019 9:00 AM Video Commissioners Court Voting Session
draft Draft

Members of the Court heard from:

Diana Ramirez, Director, Economic Development & Strategic Investments, PBO

MOTION: Move forward with the creation of the Velocity Crossing Public Improvement District (PID)

MOVER:Margaret J. Gómez, Commissioner
SECONDER:Jeffrey W. Travillion Sr, Commissioner
AYES:Sarah Eckhardt, Jeffrey W. Travillion Sr, Brigid Shea, Gerald Daugherty, Margaret J. Gómez


Feb 12, 2019 9:00 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoCommissioners CourtVoting Session

9:47 AMNeighborhoods? So I appreciate the list, but I think we have some way to go.
And judge, did I understand that with this vote, if we were to create the pid today, that we can continue working with the developers aen the community to try and add additional features? Is that correct?
Judge, if I may, would you please go ahead and call up the action items since you all are starting to deliberate?
You are absolutely right, julie. If I may, could I take a motion to close the public hearing?
So moved.
We have a motion and a second to close the public hearing. All those in favor?
So judge, there won't be any other public comment allowed?
No, we're going to the deliberation item next.
So if there is public comment, they can comment on the deliberation --
9:48 AMI don't believe there is anyone signed up for public comment on this item. Let me make sure. Is there anyone else signed up for public comment?

9:48 AMNo? All those in favor? The public hearing is now closed. Let's go ahead and pull up the action item, which is agenda item number 17. Thank you for keeping us on the straight and narrow, and ms. Valdez, you are welcome to stay at the table. 17, consider and take appropriate action on the creation of the velocity crossing public improvement district and the question on the floor was by its creation today, will we continue negotiating on possibly additional benefits that might be raised by the community. Is that a correct restatement?
Yeah, you can always -- this is the initial creation. What this does is it -- after 20 days after creation, it allows for construction of public improvements to begin. It makes them eligible for reimbursement from either the pid assessment or pit bodies. You are making some of the public improvements eligible for reimbursement. That's all you are doing today. The idea is that we will continue negotiating. There are a slew of legal agreements that come forward before the commissioners court votes on levying the assessment and issuing pid bonds, those don't happen at the same time for wildhorse ranch, we levied the assessment and they weren't ready for the pid bonds yet. It happens in different ways for each pid.
9:49 AMWhat is the mechanism for representatives from the community, because I think she raised some very good concerns. The pid tool is a powerful one and enables the developers to raise substantial amounts of money. This is also an opportunity zone, which is this sort of weird new category created under the federal tax law changes that from the briefing i've gotten from staff is sort of the wild, wild west. I do think we need to educate ourselves better on these opportunity zones. But what is the mechanism for people from the community participating in these negotiations? I know we as staff, and it takes up an enormous amount of staff time, do a great deal of legal and economic analysis and negotiations, but what's the mechanic anymore for people from the community to be involved in trying to get more for the community out of these pids? Is there one?
9:50 AMWe don't have one right now, a specific codified process for that. We do listen to what the community wants. Again, like we had -- like I had indicated earlier, you know, there's only so much community benefit that we can get on each individual pid before it -- we have to balance it with its still remaining feasible for the developer. So we try to get what's the most important or critical for the commissioners court. I think that there are opportunities for other things that we can do with our economic development strategy that etsy is working on, it's going to be coming to commissioners court soon. We do talk about trying to find other tools and mechanisms to add to our toolbox to make sure that we have affordable, you know, child care, that we have, you know, creative spaces, sustainable food, all the different kinds of community benefits that we all want to see for our community, especially in low opportunity areas. And also trying to figure out how to handle those without displacing the folks that are already there, bringing opportunity without moving them out, but actually having a way to let them stay there to actually enjoy the higher opportunity they are very complex problems that take money, and some of the money can come from the developers, but some of the money has to come from the local governments also. A lot of these community benefits have to be subsidized. That's the only way you can get anybody to do this. Which is why we're asking for affordable housing through the pids because basically affordable housing has to be subsidized in some way. So through the pids it's subsidized through the pid financing that a developer is able to get to make it feasible for them to either give us -- donate the community benefit fee or for us to be able to buy a multi-family parcel. So I think that that's --
9:53 AMI would also like to add we are statutorily working with the balance in terms of what we can use those pid bond proceeds on that qualifies under statute as a qualified public improvement. So not everything that we might want as a community benefit is something that would be a qualified public improvement, and so the proceeds can't be used for it.
So we May not be able to negotiate in a very specific deliverable, say a cultural center specifically, but in negotiating in commercial space that fronts 71, perhaps by putting residents who are interested in a cultural space in contact with the developer, it might increase the probabilities that a community to developer relationship could produce that result. Also I do want to remind folks that if you just type in travis county pid, p-i-d, it takes you to a website that we host that has all of the pids that are currently in process. This one is not on there yet because we would only be voting it today. But it does give folks an opportunity to see what's happening there and to kind of follow along with the programs that are developing precinct by precinct.
9:54 AMAnd I think the thing that we're also really interested or at least we've talked about it a lot is to be careful to not displays families. And in reading the city of austin's discussion on using their housing bonds, they've been talking about having -- building affordable housing, but then prioritizing the families that are already here. So that they can have, like, the first choice of getting an aforwardable place. So since this pid, I like to refer to it as partners in development because I think that's what's really happening here, that's what's really happening here, and especially in our unincorporated area. That perhaps that could be something that can be talked about since it is in the city of austin. And I would imagine that they have some housing bonds that they can utilize in that area, and maybe go ahead and prioritize families who are already living there.
9:56 AMUh-huh.
Since it's inside the city limits, a developer that was building affordable housing on site could potentially qualify for some of those g. O. Bonds, but they would have to apply at the time they were ready to construct the project. That's not something we could go after right this minute, but your point is well taken.
As the process moves along, perhaps the timing will be better.
And we've talked a little bit about opportunity zones, and staff did get to brief Commissioner Shea on what we've been tracking with the opportunity zone tax benefit, and there just isn't enough there there yet for us to be able to figure out is there anyplace for local government to participate in that. I'm going to be at a conference at the end of this month where a white house domestic policy adviser is going to be speaking to the group on opportunity zones. And we have a website that heather ashland from my staff developed that talks about opportunity zones and what we know so far. And so we're hoping that we get the next round of treasury department regs on that later in month, but it all depends on if the federal government is shut down again or not. The last shutdown delayed the rule writing process for the treasury department. So we're keeping our fingers on the pulse of that to try to figure out is there anything that the county could participate in with the opportunity zones to help drive the kind of development that we're interested in seeing in the opportunity zones for travis county, which are almost all in eastern travis county.
9:58 AMCommissioner Shea.
Judge, going back to this issue of what we're getting in addition to -- because again, I mean, all these pids are asking for millions of dollars in the permission to raise all that additional money. Under the item ten on the list of benefits, it says projects that incorporate mea more than a minimum of building standards. It's my understanding that any development within the city limits of austin is now required by law to incorporate a series of green building standards. So I want to be careful when we're tracking what the 'community benefits' are that we're not giving developers credit for stuff that they have to do by law.
So to me, that's something that we've got to just track carefully. The other thing is, I had thought we had had a discussion previously about a desire to not want to do pids within the city limits of another city.
9:59 AMYeah.
And so what happened with that? Because this is entirely within the city of austin, isn't it?
Yes, it is entirely within the city of austin. The city still has a moratorium on pids, which is why developers who want to develop within the city limits are coming to the county, because -- and if they want to do something beyond, you know, an industrial park, that kind of thing, then they're coming to the county asking for the pid creation. The county works closely and keeps in close contact with the city of austin staff. We have a file-share site that we established that we share with the city staff. We meet with city staff. We invite them to our bi-weekly meetings on the pid with the developer. So we share all our information with them so that they are able to take a look at it and opine on it, and make sure that the developer keeps working with the city, that they keep everyone up to date on what's going on, that they work with their city councilmember whose district they're in. So we make sure that this isn't a surprise to the city. Plus, the development is going through the city process for permitting and zoning, and for every approval that they need through the city, they're going through the city anyway. So this becomes more of the financing mechanism for the public improvements.
10:00 AMI would like for us to have a process for revisiting this issue of in-city pids. I think it raises a lot of issues. We've talked about it previously. I thought there was a general agreement that we were not going to allow more pids been the city -- within the city. I'd like a recommendation from staff to look at how we handle that.
10:01 AMYou raise a good point, to make sure that any public benefits that are required under city regulatory scheme not be considered a get y under the pid. We also stay in close contact with the city, keeping them informed, because after we create a pid, the city has 45 days -- 30 to veto it. So if we do something that the city doesn't like, they have a king's x to stop us from doing a pid within their city limits, completely valid. I totally support that. So we make sure that they're well aware if we take the vote today, they've got 30 days to tell us stop everything, we don't want you to move forward with that.
10:02 AMWhen is the moratorium over?
I know that staff have been working on a new pid policy. I just know that they have so much work right now. I don't know where it fits on their priority list.
I would be interested in recommendations from you all about how to include public concerns in this process. We've got -- and I know you guys are literally working overtime with all these pid proposals. It's an enormous crush of additional time required of you. But when the community comes forward and raises concerns like this, i'd like for us to have some process for at least addressing that and it sounds like we don't really have a mechanism for the public to be involved other than to come and speak at a hearing like this.
But the process is informal. I think that there are a couple of things that we're trying to balance. And first of all, I think that staff has done an exceptionally good job of putting a framework together that developers understand. We're looking at an area in this community that desperately needs multifamily, retail space, restaurant space, etc. They've pulled all those things together. And what we have been asking individually informally is for the community to come forward and talk about the cultural needs. Because I don't know that I want a developer from tim bucktu to talk about my cultural needs. We've got to create a platform so that our community talks about the particular things in this community that have been missing and that with we need. So that has been an informal process, but some of us have made sure that we're connected with staff, that we talk about where is the closest park, have you talked to the school district. We talked about how is this going to create the capacity that's necessary to bring public transportation into those areas. Can we standardize that? Yes. But I think that even though we worked on this informally, we've been very consistent working with our economic development staff and asking that these cultural aspects be brought into place. And I think the system is working like it's supposed to work, because our community has come in and said there are several other things that we need to consider. This is the time that should happen. Now, at the end of the day, the question becomes how formal do we want it to be. Do we want it to be a negotiation, or do we want it to be codified in a way that if somebody doesn't do it exactly a certain way, then it vetoes the process. I think that we want to have enough flexibility so that the commissioners in their areas and the community leaders in their areas are an integral part of that process. Now, how formal that becomes, i'm not sure. But I am confident that staff has done all of -- has put all the structural pieces in place. And i'm confident that we have community folks who are not going to let us forget that there's some cultural issues that have been avoided for a long period of time, have not been addressed properly, and need to be addressed now, so.
10:05 AMWe are in an interesting position doing a pid inside the city limits because we don't have the authority, statutorily, to build cultural centers as such. Although mostly what counties do is we create fertile soil, and then the community plants the seed. And I want to give big kudos to Commissioner Gomez, who's been working so hard on this particular pid, because it has the high probability of bringing the heb, finally, to that quadrant, as well as an adjacent site not part of this pid where acc is planning to locate a workforce development center. Which in partnership May become the kind of small business incubator -- the developer themselves, that's not their skill set. But that is acc's skill set with regard to a small business incubator. So continuing to partner and work these various synergies May be not within the context of a hard negotiation of an element within a development deal, but in the softer negotiations around the development to make sure that we have fertile ground for cultural space, for small business incubation, and for quality childcare if individuals are looking for four square walls -- you know, four walls and an appropriate place to have that childcare.
10:07 AMAnd central health and all those other public entities to make sure that cap metro is in the discussion. All of those entities that should be in the discussion, to create a venue for the community to talk about the types of things that we need.
And I don't know how many folks have been out that way between 73 and 130 recently. There is a beautifully laid bike path which, you know, at first glance you might think well, there's nobody out here to use it. Well, after this gets built, there will be. And that's part of tilling the soil and making it fertile for the kind of development and the kind of community we hope grows in that space on either side of 71 between 973 and 130.
10:08 AMNow, is heb going to count velocity crossing as a rooftop or several rooftops? [ laughing ]
Since they count rooftops.
They do. they have a business model and they don't go into places until they have a density to support their business. And we're trying to -- you are trying to encourage that.
Density. yeah. So we'll keep negotiating. We'll get you the backup. Anything else?
Yeah, I have a question. I don't know how we are tracking the projected ad valorem tax revenue from a project. But I noticed this one is projected to generate more than 14 million on build-out on an annual basis. Is that based on their analysis, or partially some financial due diligence we've done?
That's based on their analysis. Once the development gets started, we will be able to track it by parcel, through tcad, and so we'll be able to determine how much the value of that area has gone up.
10:09 AMSince this pid will give them the privilege to raise anywhere from 50 to 70 or maybe more million --
70 is the max under the petition. Once you have that on the petition, that's the max that you can raise as far as that goes.
I understand.
It's a ceiling that we have.
But that's real money.
Yeah, no. it's real money.
And one of the problems that we're seeing with the tax appraisal process is that the legislature has refused to fix the very large loopholes that provide a significant advantage for commercial and industrial property to challenge appraisals and essentially force appraisal districts to lower them because appraisal districts don't have the staff or the money to take all these cases to court. So i'd like to see staff develop some language -- since this is the first commercial pid -- we don't have it yet. But i'd like to see us develop some language that would include an agreement in exchange for commercial pid that the developers or owners would not challenge the appraisals for the duration of the pid.
10:10 AMWell, then you'll kill the deal. I mean --
Why -- it would be great if you would hike to explore -- like to explore that with the county attorney's office. I think there May be some legal impediments to curtailing somebody's right to protest.
I would like to explore that. my understanding is that in a contract, you can agree to almost anything. But i'd like to explore that because it's such a profound problem and it's forcing a growing problem on homeowners who are having to subsidize commercial properties.
I agree with Commissioner Daugherty that it's probable that from edci's analysis, no one would want a pid under that restriction. And I think it's also -- at least I think it's probable that also there would be some pretty significant legal considerations to curtailing someone's right to protest.
10:11 AMStaff -- attorney's office, i'd like to explore that. Thank you.
Any other questions? Commissioner Gomez, May we have a motion?
I move that we move forward to create the velocity crossing partner in development.
We have a motion and a second. And I love that re-branding of the acronym. All those in favor? That passes unanimously.
Thank you.
Thank you so much. next our third public hearing, to receive comments regarding the request to authorize the filing of an instrument to vacate a public utility easement in easton park, subdivisions in precinct four.
10:12 AMOpen --
That's all, folks.
We have a motion and a second to open the fl public hearing. Good morning.
Good morning, anna bowlin, travis county tnr. The purpose behind this request is to remove the easement, because they are hooki looking to put a condominium site plan in the area and the utilities that are in the current easement will be relocated along the right-of-ways or the drives that are internal to the new site plan. I know of no objections to this. This meets our requirements. And tnr recommends this item.
10:13 AMDoes anyone in the audience who has public comment, concerns, questions?
Move the public hearing be closed.
All those in favor? that passes unanimously. Thank you so much, ms. Bowlin. We'll put this on the consent motion.

10:13 AMRegarding emergency services. Knock on wood, we don't have anything to cover today. Next, we'll go to the consent motion, designed to capture agenda items I anticipate will receive a unanimous vote of the commissioners court because they are noncontroversial.
Yes, ma'am.
If I could just ask for a quick moment of personal privilege, I want to give a shoutout in particular to the staff that was so helpful during my illness when I had to skype in and join the meetings. I especially want to thank the its staff and media for all the help with it. Thank you so much.
10:14 AMThank you for toughing it out and skyping in when you were so, so sick. Really, that kind of dedication is really to be lauded. Thank you so much.