The Downtown Austin Community Court will not find its new home in East Austin. The city council had been considering moving the court into that area of town, but heavy pushback from both State Representative Eddie Rodriguez and Austin councilman Sabino “Pio” Renteria, city staffers have now been sent back the drawing board.
Renteria has vocally opposed the relocation into his district for a while, arguing that the city has other options at its disposal that might be more feasible and less expensive. But among Renteria’s chief complaints has been a possible rise in the number of homeless people in his district — something he says has already been a long-standing issue.
“We have a soup kitchen right across from the library,” Renteria said at Tuesday’s work session. “It attracts the homeless and they’ve been there forever.”
His comments have been criticized by some who point out that he has been a strong supporter of the council’s revamp last year of homeless ordinances that have facilitated the rise in campsites around the city, including at numerous underpasses.
“I’ve known people, even some of our staff members have gone down there and seen how aggressive these people are,” he said.
Alex Gale with Austin’s Real Estate Services Department confirmed on Tuesday that the East Austin relocation is no longer on the table.
“We don’t plan on bringing that back,” Gale said.
Last month, State Representative Rodriguez penned a letter to the city council making a similar argument, and also claiming the public had not been given enough of an opportunity to weigh in on the relocation plan.
City officials say they will turn their attention to other properties that could serve as a potential home for the Community Court. It’s not clear how long that decision may take.