Council passes more safety improvements for Austin’s entertainment district after mass shooting

The city council passed additional measures aimed at making Sixth Street safer after a mass shooting last June left one dead and injured several others.

AUSTIN, Texas — Almost nine months after the mass shooting in Austin’s entertainment district that left one person dead, the Austin City Council is still working through changes to improve safety in the area.

On Thursday, the city council passed Councilmember Kathie Tovo’s second set of actions to improve safety in the Sixth Street Entertainment District.

The resolution focuses on the following:

  • A pilot program for street cafes on four blocks of Sixth Street
  • A lighting study to look into where additional lighting may be needed
  • Working with business owners to add lighting to their property, especially in alleys
  • Creating an entertainment permit for businesses open after midnight
  • Encouraging bar owners to create written safety plans and train door staff
  • Continuing work to create a staging area near the entertainment district for medics

“We’re taking strong actions, and we’re going to work together until we have made sure that Sixth Street is again a place where everyone feels comfortable spending time,” Tovo said.

Other actions that are part of the resolution include asking City staff to look into what legal actions the City could take against businesses where there are reports of repeated violence.

City staff would also be directed to look into creating a gun buyback program to help reduce violent crime citywide if the measure is approved as written.

Read the resolution in full.

“We look forward to exploring opportunities to partner with the City of Austin to create a more family-friendly atmosphere downtown,” Molly Alexander, executive director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation, said. “It is paramount to the culture and vibrancy of downtown Austin to activate public spaces on and around East Sixth Street. We appreciate the proposed fee waiver, which would allow us the opportunity to experiment creatively while we simultaneously continue to raise funds and accept donations for the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation.”

RELATED: Four months after deadly mass shooting, Austin’s Sixth Street gets safety improvements

Already, the City has improved lighting in some areas of the entertainment district. The Austin Police Department has also conducted joint operations with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to crackdown on underage drinking, according to Tovo.

“There have been some immediate actions,” she said. “Has there been enough? You know … I would say, absolutely, there’s more to do and we’re not going to stop until [Sixth] Street is the kind of place where everyone feels comfortable and safe going down and spending time.”

Douglas Kantor, a 25-year-old visitor to Austin, was killed during the June 2021 mass shooting on Sixth Street. Fourteen others were injured.

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