Austin Police Not Ending 6th Street Weekend Closures Yet

AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Monday, a memo from the Austin Police Department and City of Austin offered further updates on several actions as part of the Safer Sixth Street initiative, which aims to scale up efforts to security along the entertainment district amid a spike in violent crime.

Among the updates, Austin Police said they do not plan to explore the end of weekend closures along 6th Street.

Earlier, the city had come up with several recommendations aimed at “bringing a larger population to the Sixth Street neighborhood and starting to help change the character of the street.” These recommendations included a potential pilot program that would allow some businesses to use designated areas on the sidewalk, parking lanes and part of the street to sit and eat, live music or art, according to city documents.

The initiative would also potentially mean adding more lighting, changing the layout of the entertainment district, or working with bar and venue owners on types of safety training.

On December 27, new responses to the action points were highlighted in a note sent to the mayor and city council.

Action # 8 suggested a process and program for entertainment licensing that includes safety training for staff and increased coordination and communication with public safety officers.

  • The interdepartmental team suggested the implementation of an annual “entertainment permit” that would be required for gathering places in the Sixth Street neighborhood with hours of operation after midnight. The permit would include a required safety plan.
  • The team suggested that the City coordinate regular meetings with licensees to increase communication between departments.

Action # 10 suggested initiating the development of a nightlife management plan.

  • The city said the creation of its already established interdepartmental team is working on strategies to improve neighborhood safety and the development of nightlife management.

Action n ° 12 suggested analyzing the Sixth Street weekend closures and seeing if the team thinks any changes would be beneficial. If so, the city should develop a list of measures that should be followed for the reopening of Sixth Street.

  • APD said that due to the current high volume of pedestrians during nighttime rush hours (11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.) and narrow sidewalks, the team does not believe reopening Sixth Street would be feasible.
  • The team said more diverse uses of Sixth Street would bring people to the area at different times of the day instead of just during the late hours of the night.

Action # 13 suggested engaging with landowners and relevant stakeholders to discuss land use regulations along Sixth Street to determine if the changes could foster ‘more diverse uses along the historic corridor “.

  • The ODA calls for new land use regulations that would remodel historic Sixth Street buildings to include kitchens, which could lead to more investment and more diverse uses.
Austin’s Sixth Street Entertainment District is located between Fifth and Seventh Street and stretches from Brazos Street in the west and Interstate 35 in the east (City of Austin Photo)

Bob Woody, president of the East Sixth Street Community Association and owner of several downtown bars and restaurants, said he thinks the recommendations are a “good start,” but believes more needs to be done.

“Why do we have these problems? Because no one applies. Who does not do the execution? The police department. Why? Because the city told them not to do it, ”he said. “I think the easy answer is, let the police do their job. “

Woody also told KXAN he was concerned the entertainment licensing requirement was a way to tax businesses. Still, he said he was happy to see city leaders taking action to look after the area.

“It’s nice to see something happen,” he said.

The initiative was passed by city council in June, following a mass shooting that killed one man and injured 13 others.

To read the December 27 memo, visit this link.

About James Almanza

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