Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

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Louisa Brinsmade
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:27 pm

Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Louisa Brinsmade » Tue May 05, 2020 9:05 am


On May 7, we are introducing an initiative to build more a more resilient Austin, so that our most vulnerable communities can recover more quickly and successfully from destabilizing and sometimes chronic shocks and stressors. Nothing has made this need clearer than the current COVID-19 crisis and the disparate impact that we see across our city. We are proposing comprehensive community resilience planning that builds on the climate mitigation work we’ve done so successfully, and expands our understanding of resilience to include the many chronic stressors that undermine the capacity of so many of our families to bounce back and thrive after experiencing destabilizing life events.

Here in Austin, the pandemic is a tale of two communities, with one side experiencing what some news organizations are calling a “cozy catastrophe” where losses and stressors are buffered by financial security and good health insurance.

The other side is enduring a much lonelier and scarier crisis where underemployment or loss of employment combined with a lack of health insurance and little or no savings weaken struggling families. Food and housing insecurity strain networks along with the burden of a system reliant on costly bandwidth to connect and keep children learning through school closures.

And for front line workers, going to work means potential exposure to the virus and compromising the well-being of your family, while carrying the unexpected financial burden of childcare during the school year. Risking your family’s health seems a poor bargain.

Our most vulnerable residents at risk – seniors, families experiencing housing and food insecurity, children and adults with chronic health issues, and our neighbors experiencing homelessness – are all living through both the catastrophic event of COVID-19 but are doubly harmed by the chronic stressors of poverty and social and racial disparities that erode resilience.

We are in the trenches of this crisis at this moment, but even as we fight the daily battles, we have our eyes on recovery, and looking to how we can shape our future in what could be a new reality. As we do that, we need to ensure that Austin’s future is focused where it should be – on building community resilience for the next, and the next, crisis, and relieving the daily stressors that challenge many residents.

Building stronger communities that can survive, adapt, and thrive throughout challenging times should be our focus through this recovery as we collaborate with our residents, businesses, and non-profit partners to shape a stronger and more resilient Austin.

This resolution is just the first step; we’ll have an opportunity to enhance or amend this proposal when the City Manager returns with options in June for how to implement a comprehensive community resilience plan. And in this uncertain financial time, we need to be flexible and innovative in our partnerships and funding opportunities. But always, we are committed to building stronger, resilient communities.

We look forward to the discussion.

Council Member Leslie Pool
Mayor Steve Adler
Council Member Alison Alter
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison
Council Member Kathie Tovo
Policy Advisor
Office of Leslie Pool, Council Member District 7

Delia Garza
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Re: Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Delia Garza » Wed May 06, 2020 3:44 pm

First, thank you to all who have worked on this item. I am offering the following amendments and I hope they would be considered friendly. I appreciated the discussion yesterday pointing out the work our staff has already done and how there is a need and desire to emphasize equity in this broader approach to a resilience plan. Most of my amendments are simply emphasizing that focus of equity which seems to align perfectly with the intent in the resolution. In addition, since our work session yesterday, I was able to do a little research on some of the what led to the end of the 100 Resilient Cities program and subsequent name change, including the risks of relying on private dollars to create public policies, out of control spending, and differences of opinion on what exactly plans should focus on to be effective. There are some great takeaways on how cities can learn from some of the missteps of that program, so some of my additions address thinking of how we implement a resilient and effective Resilience Plan.

I look forward to discussion tomorrow. Below is the link to the amendments and we have also asked staff to include the amendments in the backup. ... 151747.pdf

All my best,

Delia Garza
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Jimmy Flannigan
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:44 am

Re: Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Jimmy Flannigan » Wed May 06, 2020 4:49 pm ... 164551.pdf

Here are a few amendments of my own related to this item, including sustainable development and regionalism as parts of resilience.

And thanks MPT for your amendments, which I also support.
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6

Paige Ellis
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:37 pm

Re: Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Paige Ellis » Wed May 06, 2020 4:52 pm

CM Pool and Cosponsors –

Thank you for bringing this item forward. I’m offering two minor but important amendments which I hope will be taken as friendly. The added language is marked between asterisks (***) below.

1. [Line 5-10] “WHEREAS, more recent efforts include promoting Citywide carbon reduction through strategies such as renewable and electric fleets and a carbon-free energy portfolio, developing and implementing Austin’s Community Climate Plan, ***adopting the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan with a primary goal of 50/50 mode share by 2039,*** implementing comprehensive urban forest and green stormwater infrastructure plans, enacting the Austin Water 100-year water management plan (Water Forward) and ratifying the Wildland Urban Interface Code, among other measures; and”

Rationale: Transportation is tied as the leading source of our community’s greenhouse gas emissions (as of 2018), with its share on the rise. Our mode shift goal to drastically reduce driving alone is a key recent policy effort that should be included in this list.

2. [Line 153-158] “Organize the comprehensive community resilience plan effort as a collaboration across all necessary City departments, including but not limited to, Equity Office, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Public Health, Office of Police Oversight, Austin Police, Fire, and EMS Departments, Economic Development, Watershed Protection, Austin Water, Austin Energy, Parks and Recreation, ***Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, Planning and Zoning, Austin Transportation,*** and the Offices of Innovation and Sustainability.”

Rationale: Housing and transportation costs are the two heaviest financial burdens on most households in Austin. To comprehensively address the range of major economic risks that families face in times of shock and stress and to develop informed resilience strategies related to housing and transportation, we need to include representatives from NHCD, ATD, and Planning.

And I appreciate seeing MPT Garza and CM Flannigan's suggestions as well and will review those proposed amendments.

Paige Ellis
Paige Ellis
Council Member, District 8

Delia Garza
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Re: Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Delia Garza » Wed May 06, 2020 7:22 pm

I support both of CM Flannigan’s and CM Ellis’ amendments.


Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Leslie Pool
Posts: 188
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Re: Community Resilience Initiative – Item 22

Post by Leslie Pool » Wed May 06, 2020 8:14 pm


The success of our community resilience work necessitates earnest collaboration – in that spirt, I want to thank everyone who contributed amendments here – I truly value and appreciate your input.

MPT Garza, thank you for your thoughtful amendments, and I do view them as friendly. We know that many different lived experiences need to influence this effort and our marginalized communities and communities of color need to have agency in how this plan is crafted. We see you as a vital collaborator in helping to move this forward with a vision of equity and inclusivity.

CM Ellis, I appreciate your recommended inclusion of the ASMP goals and the inclusion of additional departments that will be engaged in this effort.

CM Flannigan, I could not agree with you more that climate change does not observe jurisdictional boundaries. We need a regional approach for mitigating the damage that affects our communities, and I know that you understand this well from your work on CAPCOG.

I am open to accepting your additions to the Whereas clauses, with two requests:
1. That we make sure we are on the same page that community resilience inherently includes climate resilience, but the intent of this resolution is to take a more holistic view for our city and region.
2. While I support the idea of regionally sustainable growth, it’s key that we elicit from the community through discussions and collaborations how they define “regionally sustainable growth” because this is a community plan.

On your final amendment, I cannot support eliminating language that empowers our staff to explore outside funding for a Chief Resilience Officer – we want to ensure that city staff has all options available to them when determining our best path forward.

Many cities with Chief Resilience Officers have been initially funded by an outside entity, including the cities of Dallas, Houston, and El Paso.

I’m enthusiastic about further collaboration on this going forward and excited to see Austin join our peer cities who already have completed community resilience plans.

Again, thank you to all who proposed amendments here – I look forward to our discussion tomorrow.

Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7

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