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[Austin Pecan Gardens Update Press Conference on May 20, 2022]

[00:00:05]

ATX ARE READY.

OKAY, GREAT.

THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE TODAY.

I'M AUSTIN CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, MACKENZIE KELLY, AND I REPRESENT DISTRICT SIX IN THE CITY OF AUSTIN DURING YESTERDAY'S COUNCIL MEETING ITEM NUMBER 85 RELATED TO THE NEGOTIATION AND EXECUTION OF A CONTRACT WITH FAMILY ELDER CARE WAS DISCUSSED DUE TO ONGOING COMMUNITY CONCERNS AND SIGNIFICANT BREACHES OF TRUST BETWEEN THE CITY OF AUSTIN AND THE COMMUNITY.

I MOTION TO AUTHORIZE NEGOTIATION ONLY AND PROVIDED DIRECTION RELATED TO THE CONTRACT.

MULTIPLE MEDIA OUTLETS INCORRECTLY REPORTED THIS AS APPROVAL OF BOTH THE NEGOTIATION AND EXECUTION BEING APPROVED.

BUT I WANT TO BE CLEAR HERE TODAY THAT THE ONLY ACTION COUNSEL TOOK YESTERDAY WAS TO NEGOTIATE THE CONTRACT WITH ADDITIONAL DIRECTION.

THE JOURNEY TO PURCHASING THE CANDLEWOOD SUITES FIRST CAME TO LIGHT WHEN I INITIALLY TOOK OFFICE, BUT THE DISCUSSIONS RELATED TO REAL ESTATE PURCHASES TOOK PLACE BEFORE I WAS ELECTED.

THIS IS NOT HOW I SEE COUNCIL MOVING FORWARD WITH FUTURE PURCHASES, AS IT HAS CAUSED MISINFORMATION AND DISTRUST IN OUR COMMUNITY, HAD THOSE DISCUSSIONS TAKEN PLACE PRIOR TO THE ELECTION, THE VISION AND OVERALL GOALS FOR PECAN GARDENS, WOULDN'T BE CLOUDED BY AS MUCH PUSHBACK.

LOOKING BACK TO SOME OF THE EARLIER DISCUSSIONS THAT WERE HAD ON COUNCIL AFTER MY ELECTION, MANY IN OUR COMMUNITY RIGHTFULLY EXPRESSED CONCERNS RELATED TO SECURITY AT THE PROPERTY.

I ALSO HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY AT THIS PROPERTY WITH CONSTANT MISCOMMUNICATIONS, NOT JUST WITHIN THE COMMUNITY, BUT WITHIN CITY STAFF.

ONE EXAMPLE WAS SECURITY NOT BEING THERE.

DESPITE OUR CITY STAFF SAYING THAT IT WAS IN PLACE, THE LACK OF A SECURITY CONTRACT PRIOR TO THE CRIMINAL MISCHIEF THAT TOOK PLACE AT THIS PROPERTY EARLIER THIS MONTH IS SOMETHING THAT NEVER EVER SHOULD HAVE OCCURRED DUE TO THESE ONGOING CONCERNS.

I COULD NOT SEE A CLEAR PATHWAY FORWARD ON THE PROPOSED CONTRACT WITHOUT CLEAR AND CONCISE DIRECTION FROM COUNCIL THAT RECTIFIES OUR CURRENT PROBLEM AND HELPS TO REBUILD THE TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY WE SHOULD STRIVE TO ACHIEVE AT THE CITY OF AUSTIN.

PECAN GARDENS IS A RESOURCE THAT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS FROM ALL OVER OUR CITY WILL BE ABLE TO UTILIZE.

IT IS LOCATED IN THE DISTRICT.

I REPRESENT DISTRICT SIX AND THE ISSUES THAT OCCUR THERE ARE INHERENTLY MY RESPONSIBILITY AND AS THE ELECTED OFFICIAL FOR THE AREA, I TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN THE ACTIONS THAT TAKE PLACE IN MY DISTRICT.

I ALSO DISLIKE THE MISCOMMUNICATION AND DISTRUST THAT THIS EVENT HAS CAUSED AS SUCH AS THE ELECTED OFFICIAL.

I NEEDED TO ADD CLEAR DIRECTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO MAKE SURE THAT NOT ONLY OUR DISTRICT'S VOICE WAS LOUD AND CLEAR, BUT ALSO THAT THE CONCERNS THERE WERE ADDRESSED FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER UPON PURCHASE OF THIS PROPERTY.

AS WE HAVE SEEN OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS, MASSIVE FAILURES HAVE CAUSED SERIOUS SECURITY CONCERNS.

I'VE SPOKEN WITH NEARBY NEIGHBORS AND BUSINESS OWNERS WHO HAVE LOST EVEN MORE FAITH IN THE CITY OF AUSTIN.

THEY'VE EXPRESSED DISCONTENT AND FEEL THAT THEY WERE LIED TO THE DIRECTION I PROVIDED YESTERDAY TO CITY STAFF IN REGARDS OF THE NEGOTIATION OF THE CONTRACT, CLEARLY OUTLINES AND ADDRESSES THOSE CONCERNS IN AN EFFORT TO HOLD THE CITY OF AUSTIN STAFF AND CONTRACTORS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE BUILDING THAT WE PURCHASED AS WELL AS IN NEARBY PROPERTIES.

I WANT TO THANK MY COLLEAGUES FOR PUMPING THE BRAKES ON THIS CONTRACT AND REALIZING THAT WE OWE THE COMMUNITY NOT ONLY AN APOLOGY, BUT REASSURANCE THAT THE PROTECTION OF THE ASSETS, THE CITY OWNS IS VITAL TO THE SUCCESS OF ACHIEVING OUR INTENDED GOALS.

AS A COUNCIL.

WHEN WE PURCHASED ASSETS LIKE PECAN GARDENS WITH A SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENT OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS, WE MUST BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THOSE ASSETS WHEN THERE'S A FAILURE EACH AND EVERY COUNCIL MEMBER SHOULD STRIVE TO ENSURE THAT THERE IS ACCOUNTABILITY ON BEHALF OF THE CITY STAFF AND CONTRACTORS INVOLVED IN THAT PROCESS.

I WANT TO MAKE ONE THING CLEAR HERE.

WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO ANY VACANT CITY OWNED PROPERTY EVER AGAIN, AND STEPS ARE NOW IN PLACE TO ENSURE IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.

THANKS TO ACTION.

ON BEHALF OF MYSELF AND MY OFFICE, WE WILL HOLD THE CITY OF AUSTIN AND ITS CONTRACTORS ACCOUNTABLE FOR ANY FUTURE MISSTEPS.

AFTER SPEAKING WITH CITY STAFF, I UNDERSTAND THAT THE DIRECTION PROVIDED WILL NOT CAUSE ANY DELAYS IN FURTHER EXECUTION OF THE CONTRACT, WHICH WE'LL COME BACK TO COUNCIL ON JUNE 16TH, I LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING WORKING WITH CITY STAFF AND THE COMMUNITY IN REGARDS TO A SAFE AND SECURE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROPERTY.

I CAN NOW TAKE A FEW QUESTIONS

[00:05:05]

SO THE QUESTION WAS IN REGARDS TO THE CONTRACT AND WHAT WE'RE NEGOTIATING FOR PACOM GARDENS WITH FAMILY ELDER CARE.

MY UNDERSTANDING AFTER SPEAKING WITH CITY STAFF IS THAT THE CONTRACT HAS NOT YET BEEN NEGOTIATED.

AND SO IT'S IN THE EARLY STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT.

THE NEGOTIATION AND DIRECTION THAT WE AUTHORIZED YESTERDAY REQUIRES THAT THE RENOVATION DOES NOT EXCEED 78 DWELLINGS AT THE PROPERTY.

IT REQUIRES THE CONTRACTOR TO PROHIBIT CAMPING ON THE PROPERTY.

PROHIBIT DROP-INS ON THE PROPERTY, PROVIDES SAFETY MEASURES THAT SECURE THE BUILDING, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO 24 HOUR CAMERA SURVEILLANCE, AS WELL AS ONSITE SECURITY, UM, PROVIDE SAFETY MEASURES REQUIRED FOR OPERATIONAL BEST PRACTICES, PROVIDE CITY STAFF WITH SAFETY AND SECURITY UPDATES EVERY 60 DAYS.

AND THAT INCLUDES ATTEMPTED BREAK-INS SUCCESSFUL.

BREAK-INS CHANGES TO THE SECURITY CONTRACTS AND ANY INCIDENTS THAT OCCUR ON NEARBY PROPERTIES.

I'D BE HAPPY TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A COPY OF THE DIRECTION IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT ALREADY.

THAT WOULD BE A QUESTION FOR THE HOMELESS STRATEGY OFFICER TODAY.

WE'RE FOCUSED ON PECAN GARDENS.

THE QUESTION IN, UM, IN QUESTION IN THERE FROM, FROM YOU WAS ABOUT NOT NORTHRIDGE IN SOUTH RIDGE THAT WOULD BE A QUESTION FOR THE APPROPRIATE CITY STAFF.

IT WAS IN REGARDS TO 3, 1, 1 CALLS IN THE AREA.

AGAIN, THIS IS ABOUT PECAN GARDENS AND THE STEPS WE'RE TAKING TO SECURE THE PROPERTY AND REBUILD THE TRUST IN THE COMMUNITY.

WE'LL TAKE ONE MORE QUESTION.

SO THE CONTRACT COMES BACK TO COUNCIL AND ON JUNE 16TH, AT WHICH POINT THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE A DISCUSSION AND DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT WE WILL MOVE FORWARD.

I KNOW THAT MYSELF AND MY OFFICE WILL BE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO ENSURE THAT THE DIRECTION THAT WE PROVIDED TO THE CITY STAFF AND THE CONTRACTOR ARE INCLUDED IN THAT CONTRACT.

AND THEN IT'LL TAKE ABOUT SIX MONTHS ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE THE RENOVATIONS

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Speech-to-Text.