>>> good morning, everyone.


and with a

quorum present I'll call

this meeting to order.


This is the council special

committee on economic





And the first item is to

approve the minutes from the

JUNE 29th, 2012 REGULAR

Meeting and those are in

front of you.

A motion by councilmember

morrison, seconded by

councilmember tovo.


All those in favor?

That motion carries



3-4 And one abstention.


All right.


Week go to citizens


We have several speakers

signed up.


The first one is miss carol



>> [Inaudible].

>>> That's fine.

Paul sadana.

>> Good morning, paul



On august 15th we emailed

each of your respective

offices and the city manager

a copy of a letter from our

alliance regarding what we

believe is a failure to

comply with the standards

and principles of the m.b.e.

Third party policy and the



Specifically we were

referencing the chapter 380

agreements with u.s.


Marathane and apple.


You received a memo from

city staff which we believe

grocery misrepresent the

current status of those

chapter 380 agreements and

frankly we believe the

responses the city staff

provided you were not only




inaccurate but they were



In our letter dated

august 15th we pointed out

about six findings in


I think that's happening now

is we have incongruent

policies that undermine the

spirit and intent of the

third party agreement which

we worked for six years to

bring forward to council.

It also undermines the

spirit and intense of the


Let me give you specific

examples we pointed out in

the letter.

and third party

agreement specifically calls

for -- first of all, let me

back up.


Within 14 days of you

approved chapter 380 the

recipients of the agreement

are supposed to submit a

m.b.e./w.b.e. plan.


It says they have 90 days to

do that so that's a good

example where the third

party says one thing, the

chapter 380 agreement says


It talks about following

standard and principles.


So when you have bidding

opportunities, they are

supposed to notify all the


of your list are

construction oriented




and apple cases they failed

to provide at least seven

days for people to supply a



That is basically a

violation of the ordinance.

They also failed to provide

the plans and specs so that

certified local small

businesses can provide bids.


And they also basically

failed to make contact with

the trade associations.


Also the reports are

supposed to provide city of

austin, your staff reports

reported at the


committee and that's not

happening on a regular


So my specific ask and

request of this council

subcommittee is that you all

either seek the assistance

of the auditor's office or

the integrity unit to

basically evaluate the




current process.

We had a long, drawn-out



I want to thank mayor

leffingwell for agreeing to

facilitate and host the

meeting in his office friday



We met with city staff for

about an hour and a half,

very vivacious discussion --

[buzzer sounding]

-- but we feel both

agreements are really in

breach of contract.


And the followup speakers

will offer some specific



I'd be happy to answer any

questions martinez any



hadnot would you

like to go in and out?


You have three minutes.

>> Good morning, carol

hadnot, alliance for the

asian contractors, hispanic

and african-americans.


The examples that I'd like

show you, I did not know

about this meeting until

30 so I would have made

copies, but I'll make copies

and leave them.

They did not advertise the



They have never sent out a

solicitation regarding the

projects that they have

available for bid.

ramirez called on a

monday morning, that was

august the -- I can't

remember the date.


But it was the date before

AUGUST 15th.

And he wanted to know my

email address so he could

send us the potential

subcontractor's opportunity.


When he sent them, the date

that they were going to

have, the bid date, was the


And then he sent me another

one on august the 28th

because I received -- i

received a notice from miss

farland, the architect,

telling she would send it in

a pdf file.

We don't use pdf because we

sent it out in a special

software we sent to all the





I told her was she aware the

dates, that you have to give

s at

least seven days for


So they finally sent out a

notice and the markup on the

notice was like this.

This is what they were

expecting us to print in a

bid notification document.

We couldn't do that.

So we asked them to do it in

a word doc.


And they more or less

insulted us like we didn't

know what adobe software was

and they would steer us to a

free program we could use.


I have more software than

what I need.

With apple projects, they

did a little bit better.


They did send us the plans

and specs, however, we've

had numerous addendums just

on the first piece, the

[inaudible] anchor shell


I think we had eight

addendums to that.


But how we found out they

were having a bid, pre-bid

conference, I was reading

the austin

american-statesman, on


And I saw this notice that

they were having a pre-bid

conference the next day on


I checked my emails.

I had not received any

notification regarding that.


And they were going to close

the bid on august



I called smbr.


The staff was not aware of

those dates.

Neither one of the dates.

So they did -- I have to say

that miss teals and raymond

young, they did try to get

the dates moved up so they

could get the notices out.

[Buzzer sounding]

so I have the [inaudible]

martinez thank you.

Mayor leffingwell.

>> Mayor Leffingwell:

Could I ask the staff, those

pesky pdf documents, I don't

much like them myself but is

there a reason using those

as opposed to a word






>> Not that I'm aware.


I'll have to talk with the

company specifically.

Those are with the documents

coming through their

contractors and we work with

smbr in terms of working

with the contractors on



But we can talk with them

and see if there's a way it

can be done in a word


>> Mayor Leffingwell: I

thought it was because pdf

couldn't be altered whereas

word documents can.


>> I'm not aware exactly why

they use what software but

I'll be happy to work with

them and make sure that's

the reason.


>> Mayor Leffingwell:

That's my understanding so

if you could check that out

martinez the next speaker is

juan ramirez.


Welcome, juan.


>> Good morning, mayor and


We had to submit an open

records request because

we're not getting the

information on smbr and we

did that in the meeting we

had last week.


I have a copy.


Sorry I only have one.


I can pass it out.


Also I want to read into the

record the patches for the

380 agreement.


The obligation to comply

with the m.b.e./w.b.e.

Ordinance -- shall be

material terms of the


Failure to comply with the

standard and principles of

ordinance and/or the

diversity commitment shall

be treated as breach of the

contract which shall be

subject to breach of

contract remedies.


Breach of contract remedies

shall include the

appropriate sanctions

provided in the m.b.e.


Additionally under chapter

380 agreement, the third

party for landlord fails to

comply with the standard and

principles of m.b.e.


It shall be required to

forfeit the city's financial

investment either the

payment of dollars or waiver

of taxes or fees for the

applicable compliance period

as defined in the agreement.

In the event the third party

has received an up front and




contribution or

waiver of taxes or fees on

the front end of the

compliance period and the

third party for landlord

fails to comply with

standards and principles of

ordinance, it shall

be required to promptly

require all moneys or

reimburse the city for any

waiver of taxes or fees

received from the city with


All in all, just in summary,

after having attended the

meeting, the mayor's

conference room last week,

it's obvious to me that we

have a problem with

leadership and management at



We felt that these things

were going to be facilitated

easier now that we have

these agreements in place.

We've been working on this

for quite some time, as you


And frankly I just feel that

we need to review that.


Maybe that's a good

suggestion, to try and look

at that leadership to see

what's happening because

we're not advancing, we're

missing opportunities, our

contractors are not getting

the benefits of the city's

effort so far.


So that's all I would like

to suggest.

>> Mayor Leffingwell:

Councilmember tovo.


>> Tovo: You mentioned in

the beginning there's

information you've been

requesting from smbr.

>> Yes, ma'am.

Can I hand it to you?

>> Tovo: Sure.

Thank you.

>> Martinez: The next

speaker is jim quinn.


>> We had asked for the smbr

to provide us a good faith

effort, like the logs,

phones, emails, all that



Staff would not provide it

to us so we had to submit it

open meetings request for

that information.

>> Martinez: Thank you.

And folks, I appreciate you

giving us this information,

but this is about -- talking

about creating new

incentives and I realize

this information is going to




be helpful in coming up with

potentially new policies,

but keep in mind that the

mayor is working on this,

others of us are working on

this and we will take the

issues that you've brought

to us and certainly apply

them if appropriate to any

decisions this committee



>> And our only point is

your process right now is

not working.


That's why we're here.


>> Martinez: I understand.


>> Good morning.


I'm jim oquinn with our lady

of guadalupe catholic

church, leader of austin

interfaith and business

owner in austin for the past

16 years.

Last april, 35 institutions

of austin interfaith got

together around the

importance of setting a wage

standard for the economic

incentive deals.


At the pre-election meeting

we asked council candidates

to commit to setting a wage

standard for these economic

incentives deals.


Four sitting members of the

council agreed to such a

standard, but it ranged

between $22,000 a year and

$32,000 a year.


Since then, our member

institutions have been out

in the city knocking on


We've held civic academies

to educate austinites about

the importance of a wage

standard in these economic

incentive deals.

In coordination with the

labors international union

of north america, our

institutions have begun

recruiting workers into

specialized training and

construction to qualify them

for jobs that pay

substantially more than the

prevailing wage for entry

level jobs.

This job training program

was authorized by the

incentive package with

trammell crow so we're

starting to see good things



Last friday two

councilmembers celebrated

the opening of this training

program organized by liluna

and the workers [inaudible]


We look forward to expanding

these opportunities for


In particular we look




forward to working directly

with this committee to

establish this wage



One that works for the city,

one that works for

businesses, and one that

works for families.

Thank you.

>> Martinez: Thank you.

There's actually three

councilmembers and there

would have been a fourth but

we didn't get it posted for

a quorum so councilmember

tovo agreed to not go so the

other three of us could.

>> My apologize.

My car was in the shop so i

couldn't make it.


>> Tovo: I'm glad to hear

the clarification.

I got bumped and only two

showed up.


>> Martinez: Next is greg


>> Good morning, everyone.

Greg kasar, I'm part of the

workers defense project and

we're, of course, very

excited about this special


Just because we've

identified an opportunity.


And not just an opportunity

for us to get more rest on

thursdays which I think we

all think is important, but

also an opportunity to make

sure our public investment

benefit all of austin.


At workers defense project

we regularly work with folks

who can't pay the bills or

who can't find steady

employment or a safe job.


And so what is a better way

to use these economic

incentives than to attract

innovative, responsible,

exciting businesses, attract

jobs and then also partner

with the local community to

make sure that those jobs

are good jobs and that

workers who are having

trouble finding good work

actually get good jobs

building those businesses.


Good jobs are the basis for


Steady households start with

good jobs.


A cohesive and thriving

austin would be built so

it's a good chance to invest

in businesses and workers

and that's the best

investment in austin we can

make so really looking

forward to the discussions.


>> Martinez: Greg, I have




a question, more of a state.

I did talk to emily about

some research that you guys

are doing, hopefully to

either bring to this

committee or to each

individual council office,

about the true impact of a

wage floor and how many --

kind of a percentage of how

many workers on a particular

job site would be affected

by that and what the cost to

the overall project would



And I really am looking

forward to seeing that

information because I think

that's what we need is hard

data as opposed to political

fights and political

conversations, it needs to

be based in true information

that's from the ground in


>> Sure.

And so I look forward to a

later committee meeting,

having a presentation that

I'm working with staff to

make sure that can happen.

A couple of professors from

are doing that research

currently and have turned

out two case studies.


We're trying to get that up

to three current projects in

austin and so far

preliminary results show if

there is prevailing wage on

a project which is the case

in most of these deals that

the budget impact for a

living wage is very small,

even smaller than we

predicted earlier with

hearings with apple and

trammell crow and we'll be

presenting that information

hopefully next month.


>> Martinez: And I realize

that may be the case for

that specific project, but

what I want you also to help

me with is -- help us with

is what does it do to that

individual contractor who

may be using workers on this

job site that they've

partnered with the city but

then be on a private site

where they didn't partner

with the city, what are the

practical logistical

problems that could come to

a contractor in a scenario

like that.


So if I'm working for

company xyz over here at the

city project and making $12

an hour, I get pulled off

this job and get sent out to

f-1 and I get bumped down to

eight bucks an hour.


How are we going to

logistically impose that and




what happens to those



Do they jump back and forth?


>> Great.


I will -- I will look into

that and see if some

businesses can write maybe a

letter or memo about how

that works.


I know that already happens

on other projects.

On this prevailing wage,

folks might be paid $13 and

under a -- it's a very

substantial difference.


And I know that's happening

all over the city all the

time so I'm sure that

instead of we can probably

get someone to talk to you

or communicate with you

about that.


>> Martinez: And I would

ask that you also talk with

the associated general

contractors and the other

contractors in town.


>> Great.


Thank you.


>> Morrison: I wanted to

comment, it's relevant here,

I think, that we received

the recommendation from the

construction advisory

committee back on june 22

regarding recommendation

about reporting on con

construction jobs.


And I wanted to ask if -- as

part of all this

conversation we could also

maybe get some reports from

staff on their

recommendation and how that

might play into the work

that we're doing.

>> Martinez: We still have

one more speaker, miss and


William, ann.

Welcome, anne.

>> Good morning, everyone.

I'm ann kitchen, chair of

livable city, and I want to

thank you all for having

this committee and

addressing important



You may remember in to it

the city commissioned a

study on economic incentives

and there has been a number

of important improvements to

the process since that



We do have some additional

recommendations which we

will give you in writing

with additional detail as




well as backup information.

Today I just want to simply

read out those to you so you

can know what we will be

sending to you.


So our recommendations for

the process going forward

are, first, that we think

that you should identify

through a public process

what specific goals the city

intends to achieve through

the use of economic



And revise your written

policy and evaluation matrix

to align with those

identified goals and ensure



We understand there are

goals, but what we're

talking about is more

specific goals.

We're talking about

answering the questions what

exactly are you trying to

achieve for the city with

the economic incentives.

Second thing is we want to

recommend that you require

companies that receive city

subsidies or incentives to

provide health care benefits

for all workers.


We'll provide more detail

about that.

Health care reform will be

helpful, but it will not

solve all the problems and

there will continue to be

workers at risk for no

health care, and we think

the city subsidies should

recognize that and require

health care benefits.

Third, we are going to

suggest reforming the

process, reforming the

process a number of ways.


First by disclosing -- the

disclosure of competing

cities by the applicant.


Again, you can do that in

closed session to

councilmembers and still

maintain important



Second, we propose requiring

supporting information for

each element of the

evaluation criteria matrix

to be attached to the matrix

and available for all city

c briefings, public


Without that backup it's

difficult to fully

understand the matrix.

Finally to require a city

council briefing in

executive session by the

city manager, the assistant

city manager, the egrso

director and economic

development staff before the

city manager accepts a staff




recommendation and contacts

the applicant with letters

of proposed incentive.


The concept is to provide

you all as councilmembers

with an earlier time in this

process to actually evaluate

a deal.


Finally we're recommending

you create a uniform

economic development budge


A unified economic

development budget that maps

across the whole city.

Across city departments and

subdepartments to specific

policies, expenditures and



The idea is to --

[buzzer sounding]

-- well, we will provide you

with more detail and with

background and councilmember

martinez, you asked for

specific, you know, facts,

those sort of things.

We intend to supply that.

>> Martinez: Thank you.

Councilmember tovo.

Toe would you mind finishing

up that last point?


>> With regard to the

unified budget, there's a

number of advantages to it

that we wanted to speak to.

And those include providing

the public with clear

information about all the

city's activities.


We need to understand what

the city is doing across all

departments that really are

supporting economic



Particularly the spending

related to economic



The economic incentives is

only part of that, only a

piece of that.


We also think it will help

the city avoid duplication

of effort so the public

understands what's occurring

across the entire city and

helps the city assess

performance and returns on

public investment.

So that you can be more

efficient with your


Thank you.

>> Tovo: Thank you.

>> Martinez: Councilmember



>> Morrison: I'm not sure

staff is here that can

answer this, but there were

some suggestions in what was

said about briefings in

executive session and i

wonder if we could get

information about whether

there is an allowance for

that in our state law to




actually have business

briefings in executive


>> We'll look into specifics

in terms of legalities.


But let me explain, any time

we have potential project

coming, we do brief through

the director and myself, we

brief the assistant city

manager and the city manager

on the project itself.


Any recommendation that we

would be making in terms of

an incentive, and then a

letter would go out.

Based on that letter the

company would either decide

to move forward on the

process or not.


If they decide to move

forward, that's when we

would put together a full

economic development

agreement which is

ultimately what council

would vote on.


>> Morrison: I think

what's being suggested here

is there be an allowance for

discussion including the

council before moving

forward, before the city

manager has made a


>> Martinez: Mayor



>> Mayor Leffingwell:

Yeah, I think we need to vet

that proposal thoroughly

with the law department.

To my knowledge there are

three reasons, one is

discuss legal issues, one

personnel matters, and third

would be real estate.

Maybe there's something i

don't know about, but i

think that ought to be

thoroughly vetted.


>> Martinez: The next item

is a presentation from

opportunity austin.


And committee members and

folks here just so you'll

know, item number 4 is being


Leslie browder from travis

county is not able to attend

this morning.

Yes, sir.

William, mr. taylor.

>> Thank you.

It's a pleasure to be here

today representing

opportunity austin.

As you are probably aware,




opportunity austin is an

effort by the greater austin

chamber of commerce focused

solely on economic

development, which includes

a lot of other stuff that

I'm going to run through.

A couple opening notes.

One, the united states

economy remains very


1 Million people were laid

off between 2009 and 2011.


56% Of those have found

work, but 33 that did took

lower paying jobs.


Dean barber, who is an

economist with the center

for economic policy said

compared with other

recoveries, this is really

bad and economic growth has

never been weaker in a u.s.


Post-war recovery.


All of these reminders we

cannot afford to take our

eyes off the ball.


A competition for jobs has

never been tougher.

We're competing not just

nationally but

internationally for jobs and

opportunities for our

citizens to have those jobs

and we have to focus on job


Opportunity austin was

started 2003 and we raised

money through private

donations primarily, but

here's where we were coming

up to 2003.


1999 To 2003 we were ranked


Cities and other cities in

the united states and you


versus some in the teens and



The chamber and opportunity

austin, which is actually a

function of the greater

austin economic development

corporation, which is a

subsidiary of the chamber

set three program goals.


72,000 Net new jobs, 2-point

# billion net increase in

payroll and 14 billion in

grp and in 2004 we raised

14 million-dollar from

austin businesses and

individuals in order to fund

opportunity austin 1.0.

This is a look at our





When we say economic

development, it's important

to remember that one of the

biggest components is

education and workforce



3 million budget,

2 million went just

to education workforce


As you might expect, the

largest chunk, 40%, went to


15% Went to business



And it was during

opportunity austin 1 we

started the business

expansion area of the

chamber which has grown

tremendously, which is how

we make sure that local

businesses are continuing to

offer the opportunities to

grow and expand here so that

we're helping businesses

already in austin grow and



I'm not going to read all

this because everybody says

don't read your power point

slide, but these are the key

points on economic and

workforce development.

There's really sort of four



One is making kids aware of

the opportunities for



The second is helping them

get financial aid.

And I would note there that

the fastest submissions grew

by 108% to 11,000 in 2005

with an economic or

financial impact of families

of $101 million.


Career and college readiness

and that's working through

austin partners in

education, make sure folks

were ready to go to college

or go on to career if



Finally working with acc to

increase opportunities for

certifications, and this was

real important in the area

of improving workforce on

allied care industries.

What were the results of

that initial $13 million

investment from the austin



Five-year result, our goal

was 72,000.

We got 119,900 jobs, nearly

doubled our payroll


We hope to have 100

corporate announcements, we

got 144.

Out of region visits were




more than double prospect

visits, and regional

retention visits.

As I mentioned, that was

something that we really as

we started through the

process became more and more

important to us focusing on

the businesses, local

businesses and other

companies already in austin.


So to say opportunity austin

was a success is a very true



We're pretty proud of those


Of course, I would point out

none of this would have been

possible without the

continued cooperation of the

city and other local



So you saw what happened '99

to 2003.

Fast forward the next four

years, '04 to '08.


We're number one, had the

largest percentage in job

growth during that period.


I think it's interesting to

note and doesn't really have

to do anything, but when you

look at the difference in

number of jobs, for instance

houston and here, we may

have had larger job growth

but they are such a larger



You can see the difference.


Those sorts of opportunities

or the people we're working

with to get good companies.


>> Martinez: Tim, sorry to

interrupt you.

When I compare the two

slides of rankings, there's

different cities from the

first slide to the second


Is that to assume if the

cities aren't on the second

slide they are below the

rank of number 10?


>> Yes.


These are the top


>> Martinez: Okay.



>> No problem,



As we wrapped up opportunity

austin, we started planning

for opportunity austin 3.0.


And we were able to

recognize that a large part

of our success was focusing

on job creation and

increasing the money coming

into this community from

outside sources.


As we like to say, austin

has an incredible quality of

life, but quality of life

really begins with a job.




If you don't have a job,

it's hard to enjoy austin.


We set our goals of 117,000

net new jobs [inaudible]

diversification and raised

$18.6 million.

Again, the budget.

Similar except you will see

workforce and education was

32% over 6 million invested



Economic diversification,

which is really seeking out

new companies to come here

and help diversify our

economy was 39%.


Business retention 16%.


The other smaller


Again, the workforce and

development is a fairly

detailed slide which I won't

bore you with reading, but

some of the key points i

would note was that we set a

lot of goals increasing,

getting kids to college.


We worked with 15 area

school districts to set up

goals to reach in that area.


And we've increased college

readiness from 38% to 55%.

And in 2011 our work with

the kids filling out their

fafsa forms and their

families, we increased 102%,

and the 2011 financial aid

was up $50 million over the

class of 2006.

We're working real hard to

make sure everybody in

austin has the opportunity

if they are able to apply to

college and obtain funding

and we're assisting with

those efforts through our

education and workforce


0 were the

base targets were con vernal

he knows technologies and

creative media and

diversification, green

headquarters and offices and

health care and life



It involves wire less,

software, nano technology

and semiconductors and

automotive tech which has

continued to be a real

opportunity and think it

will continue to be n the

creative medians everybody




knows how important that is

in austin and how much i

love that part of our

economy personally and

that's focused on research

development production and

distribution for everything

involved in that.


It's all intertwined now and

I think a lot of our growth

there has been due in no

small part to sxsw and being

a truly international

destination for people to

come talk about these things

and share idea.

Green industries.

Very important.

Solar panels, fuel cells,

et cetera.


We're working hard on that

and that continues to be a

high priority target


I think it's one shared with

the city and the city's


Health care and life



Everyone is aware of how

important that is not just

to our economy but to our

citizens and improing

health care.


Improved life sciences and

hopefully the [inaudible].

And then corporate

headquarters or professional

offices, our hope is when

you bring in lots of new

jobs for people who are

running companies and

regional parts of the

company that is correct

means money from other place

is coming to austin to be

spent in the austin economy

and to support our local


That's one of the reasons

for that focus.


The results year to date for

0, 160,000 new jobs,

1 billion payroll

increase, 243 corporate

announcements, nearly 2,000

out of region visits, 1,000

pros suspect visits to

austin, and, again, you may

note the comparison on the


Our regional retention

visits are up ten fold.


This is just a graph chart

showing our corporate



243 To date.


You can see where it's

trended pretty steadily.

Then here are the areas by

targets -- target industry.


Clean tech was 16, digital

media with 34, hq and

regional 38, and medical

devices, biotech,




biosciences and software,

and then the others a huge

category, there's a lot of

different industries that

don't fall into these



Here's where our folks are

coming from.

Probably no surprise to

anyone the majority are

coming from california.

It remains a very target

rich environment for

recruiting companies to come

to the great state of texas

and austin.

Relocations for within texas

are big.


As you all know, that just

happens more organically

with people want to go come

to austin.

International is big and

then new york was next.


We do focus across the

country in providing

opportunities for companies

who want to invest in



Again, ranked number 1 in

the time, '09 to 2012.

You will see the percentage

change are dramatically

different but as everyone

knows 2008 to the present

was dramatically different

in the national economy and

the recession.

I think the fact we're in

positive territory at all is

a real testament to the

leadership in both the city

and the county and the

business community and all


Committed to making austin a

better place.

Payroll jobs, we have

outperformed other than the

'01, '02 is the bock of the

tech bubble burst, other

than that we've outperformed

the national committee.


Since 2010 and the reason we

go only back to 2010 on this

slide is that miss kitchens

mentioned we reworked the

policy back then and this is

the projects we've done

under the new policy.


Hangar, facebook, legal

zoom, e-bay and apple.

One of the key investments

with the city and what we do

with fairly small dollars

leverages millions of

dollars in the texas




enterprise fund.

I think if you see on that

right-hand column, those are

the dollars that through our

local investment we're able

to leverage to bring quality

jobs and more wealth into

this community to help



That's it.


Happy to answer questions if

you would like.

>> Martinez: Thanks, tim.

Can you email us a copy of

this so we can have the

color version because it's

hard to see stuff on certain


>> Absolutely.

It's pretty big.

I think they emailed it to

me and I think it's about 12


Sometimes I get kickbacks

from the city when I send


If not we'll send it on

flash drive.


>> Martinez: Questions?


Councilmember tovo.


>> Tovo: I have a few

quick questions.

Let me find my way to the

chart that talks about

announcements in different



>> I've got it up here.




>> Tovo: Do you also track

how much -- how much time

and resources are spent on

each of those sectors, the

base industries versus

the -- the base targets

versus the diversification


>> You mean in terms of

chamber staff time and

effort to get it?


>> Tovo: Exactly.

I'm trying to see are there

certain industries --


>> dave porter can answer


>> Tovo: Where you are

having more success than


>> Sure, good question.

>> As a result of

opportunity austin, we have

five people in recruitment

and so we have several staff

members in recruitment

assigned to the specific

industry sector.

So specifically your

question is do we track how

much time is spent per

industry sector?


>> Tovo: Exactly.


>> Well, it's pretty -- we

set out each year with a

marketing plan for each




industry sector where we go

to various parts of the



We may attend a few trade

shows, but, again, we go to

areas of the country where

we have a cost of doing

business advantage which is

basically california.

But the five people are on

the road constantly, but the

results you can see, the

clean tech individual on our

staff is actually funded

through austin energy and

through the contract with

the city of austin.


So his time is 100% spent on

clean tech.

And then the others, again,

the four other staff members

are responsible for the

other industry sectors.


But it's full time.


>> Tovo: Would you say

anecdotally that opportunity

austin is having more

success in certain areas

than others?


I mean obviously we see the

success up there, but in

terms of the resources being

expended to try to recruit

certain industries.


>> The -- could you repeat


I'm sorry.

>> Tovo: Sure.

We see the announcements by

target industry.


I'm trying to see if there

are certain -- you know, if

they and digital media --

let me go with this one

that's the highest.


Let's stick with digital


Is that high because you are

having higher success with

digital media firms or is it

because there are more

resources in terms of staff

time and energy expended or


>> The goal is to diversify

the economic base.


So these different industry

sectors at one point, for

example, digital media is

hot right now.

That includes the mobile

apps industry and the mobile

apps is really hot here in

austin right now.


So there has been more focus

or that person who is in

charge of that has been




extremely busy.


We're seeing a lot of

headquarters, the apple



Semiconductors even, we had

the samsung announcement

last week.


So semiconductors continues

to be.

So you know at various

points there may be a little

more activity, you know,

from one industry sector to

another, but it all requires

a full-time individual.


>> And dave, the full-time

are supported by their



>> Correct.


>> It's not just one person

on it, but there's

significant chamber and o.a.


Staff supporting.


>> And we have a business

retention person responsible

for each of those industry

sectors that collaborates

with recruit many staff to

identify opportunities for



>> Tovo: Great.


With regard to announcements

by target industry, are you

tracking announcements

generally in each sector or

announcements that correlate

to actual recruitment



>> No, what we do is we

track all announcements that

we either are involved with

or that we read about.

Of the 243, we are involved

in some form or fashion with

80% of those.

Some of them it's the full

gamut of site selection from

the first introduction to

going through the incentive


Sometimes it's strictly can

you help us identify

opportunities for training,

for new employees.


Can you put us in touch with

somebody at the university

of texas.


So the site selection

process varies from project

to project.


But, you know, for the most

part when we get engaged

it's typically the full


We are interested in

austin,er one of three

cities under consideration.

We need to know everything

about labor, availability of

labor, which is by far the




number one attraction for



We're the sixth most

educated workforce in the

united states.


And it's talent, talent,

talent is what drives these

companies here.


And so that's why our tag

line is the human capital.

>> Tovo: And then I have

one last question for the


In terms of the target

industries, the base target

industries versus the

diversification targets --

let me get back to that



On page -- I guess it's not


There it is.

Can you help me understand

why certain industries have

been identified as base

targets versus


How often there is

rethinking of that and

how -- you know, how you --

opportunity austin

interfaces with the city in

terms of coming up with that

list and making adjustments

to it.


>> Back in 2003 we had the

tech bust where we lost 40,

50,000 of our best tech


Most of those were in

software and semiconductors.


And so at that time when

opportunity was launched, as

sam was going back through

the history, the consultant

that was hired, market

street services, what you

do -- what they did is took

a look at the skill set of

our employees, of those jobs



And what other industry

sectors would fit well with

those skill sets of the lost



Or of the genital ent of the


-- General talent.

It's not we rely too much on

semiconductor and software,

we didn't have have a

proactive program like today

to diversify the economy.

The consultants came up with

market street services.


These are the other industry

services that fit well with

the talent base you have in

central texas and in austin,





So these are the industry

sectors that we suggest and

that, you know, city of

austin is a big investor in

opportunity austin but we

revisit these all the time.

They change.

As tim mentioned, some of

the base and targets under

first opportunity austin

change understand the second

because there's a total

convergence of technology


So we're always relooking

what are the new targets.


Many of them are going to

stay the same, but they are

just called something


Mobile apps wasn't even on

the radar screen in 2004.


Clean tech was just getting

on the ready screen and look

where it is today.


So we, like any good plan,

have you to -- have to be --

we have to update it.


But the base targets are the

same based off the

availabilities of the

existing talent in this



>> Councilmember, if I could

point what may be obvious to

most, but sometimes I have

to remind myself, that's

critically important to

pursuing the economic

development goals that we


If we go out and don't have

a focus on recruiting

industries and business who

will utilize the existing

talent in austin, then all

we're doing is recruiting

people who would have to

hire people and bring more

people in and not

necessarily provide jobs to

folks that are already here.

It's very important.

It's been one of our

fundamental key goals every


It's one of the most

important to us in

determining how we identify

those targets.


>> Tovo: So to ask one

final followup question.

So how often, I guess, have

you had a consultant look at

the field to say yes, this

is still where we have

strength in terms of people

who need opportunities,

employment opportunities?

I guess in particular I'm

wondering health care and




life sciences may become

more of a focus in the

upcoming years if indeed a

community --

>> we continue to work with

market street and they

helped us do 1.0, plan 2.0.

I think we had a midterm

checkup in 2.0.


It's a five-year program,

halfway through they came

in, made adjustments.


0, we had a

half-time check jut and they

are in the process of doing

a checkup in 3.0.

It's fascinating to watch,

but we readjust -- you can't

recalibrate more than every

couple of years, it's pretty

hard to turn the battle ship

but every two to three


>> Tovo: Thank you.

>> Martinez: Any other

questions, comments?




>> Mayor Leffingwell: I

just want to point out that

this is not an exclusive


Obviously we recruited and

entered into economic

incentive agreements with

companies that wouldn't be

on this list.


and I think we need to pay a

little more attention to

businesses that provide

employment for specific

groups that have been sort

of left out in the past.

And, of course, u.s.

Farathane is a great example

of that.


We had people from workforce

solutions, the leader of the

naacp come down testify at

council in favor of this

project because of the kind

of jobs it provided for

people, so we don't want to

lose sight of that.

>> Martinez: I think we

need to broaden that


There are employment sectors

such as farathane went after

that would add to the list

that to my mind I see it

being more attractive to

companies knowing that

talent base is here and kind

of meshing our policies

along with their goals in




moving to austin.

So I look forward to that



Councilmember morrison.


>> Morrison: Specifically

to follow up on that, i

think that's one of the --

certainly one of the things

that the county is looking

at or has already put into

their economic incentive

plans and that is working --

companies that work with

disadvantaged or

economically disadvantaged

folks that need training and



So I think that being able

to put that into our process

and get some accountability

for that is certainly

something I look forward to

talking about.

One of the things I wanted

to highlight that is one of

the many things you are

talking about in terms of

achievement here is the

financial aid program that

you have.

For me that's really a

wonderful thing because that

is opening up opportunity

for folks that live in the

city that might not know how

to open the doors and you've

got some hard numbers that

shows, you know, some real

specific results that i

think are pretty clear --

there probably are other

folks working on this in the

city, but you all have such

a laser focus on that and

get such great results, i

wanted to highlight that.


In terms of the -- actually

the questions that

councilmember tovo is

asking, one of the things

that's challenging for me

when you are looking at, you

know, how many of those

recruitments you all were

involved in and things like

that, the challenge is that

you are out -- if anyone is

interested, I'm mildly

interested, in what if

opportunity austin hadn't

been around.


Some of those folks probably

still would have come, but

there's probably no way

really to separate out what

results we would have had

with -- without opportunity

austin versus what we've got


Have you all given any

thought to that or --


>> I can tell you of 13




deals that would not have

come here.

Those were extremely

competitive deals.


The other ones, there were

competition, but where

incentives may not have

played a key role.

Any time the incentives play

a key role, you know, we get

people involved, you get

people involved and I know

that there's 13 or --

there's probably 14 deals,

two of them are no longer

active but that would not

have come here as a result.

And then there's numerous

others we were dealing with

that incentives weren't as

important but they were

looking at other cities

and -- so it's very


>> Councilmember, might also

like to note a lot of times

companies come here without

any assistance or

solicitation, but a lot of

them are coming here because

they are following companies

we did recruit.


They are the companies that

come here to support them.

I know specific examples of

people who looked at austin,

texas and said I'm moving

there, but there are a lot

of these companies who are

following the companies we

recruited and partnered with

the city on to bring into


So it's probably -- with the

secondary and tertiary it's

probably hard to nail down a

good number.


That's something we're all

interested in knowing at

some point.


>> Kevin johns, a couple


On the last point, samsung

supports 800 local


So [inaudible] once there's

an anchor in a clustered

industry, they do seem to



Then on the very important

question that you raised

about how do we identify

cluster industries to help

the hard to employ.


We earlier this year, each

year or so worked with texas




a&m's global supply chain

institute to conduct a study

on what types of companies,

what type of industry groups

we might recruit to austin,

what are the trends we could

then share with opportunity

austin so that we could

begin to revise that.

So that we could look at

some of the larger issues,

austin being on the nafta

corridor of i-35, how we can

take advantage of that.

How we can take advantage of

the opening of the panama

canal and the overflow of

trade to our sea ports and

how that might inflow to



And we recently -- we got

this studying afew months

ago and the consultants with

opportunity austin are

looking at it.


But some of the preliminary

analysis seem to suggest

that we could recruit in

technology manufacturing,

that we could recruit in

those areas which are

exceptional jobs for hard to

employ people because

training, you don't have to

have a college degree.

There's always reskilling.

That is on the plate now as

part of the process.


I didn't want to -- I didn't

want to leave you with the

impression that we were just

looking at the successes we

had and not looking at that


>> Morrison: And to follow

up on that, I think that as

much as possible to keep

council in the loop as those

discussions between

opportunity austin and the

city proceed so that there

can be comment and

discussions at the council

level I think would be


You know, one of the issues

we have right now, dave, you

were talking about we're

looking where we have

available talent and that's

where we recruit.


On the other hand, as i

understand it right now, we

have a real challenge in

having not having enough

technically skilled workers

in the city.

So how do you balance that

if we're still trying to

attract that -- those kind

of companies but we really

don't have the workforce at

this point?


>> Well, depends.


Where we have a shortage

right now is software

engineers, and that's


After the tech bust,

software -- as students

coming out of high school

saw what happens if you go

into software engineering

and decided not to do that,

but enrollment figures are


other major universities

that offer those programs.


So there is a pipeline, you

know, long-term pipeline of

software engineers.


Where we're seeing the

challenge, you know, we

still have that -- that's a

challenge anywhere.

If a company is in software,

they know it's going to be a

challenge so they want to go

to places they know they can

recruit the talent if they

need to and austin is a very

attractive place to recruit.

Again, our cost advantages

are much more favorable than

california or the northeast.

So that's a global or a u.s.

Problem in general.

But that's really about the

major skill set in


We added 6,000 tech jobs

last year.


We're year over year right

now ahead of pace and last

year there's over 102,000

tech jobs in austin.

But at one time there was

much more than that.


So we do some talent

recruitment efforts.

We're testing out a program

that -- it's a talent

initiative tied into linked

in for local companies to

find potential employees for

specific skill sets.


But that is a challenge

we've always faced here

during good times.


And bad times.


>> Morrison: And one of

the things about software is

that it's great for people

to have degrees in it.

On the other hand, you know,

folks that have other kinds

of nontechnical degrees with

some training can certainly

come up to speed and be very

productive so they can

transfer into that arena and

that industry.


Do you know of any programs

going on in that regard?

>> Acc has a shortened

version of exactly that.


And there are many service

providers trying to --

understanding that there is

a tremendous need for

engineers and not

enough talent, acc is just

one example, but every

community that has a tech

base is having the same


I go back to kevin's comment

last career, our biggest --

our biggest request for

information or prospect

generation was on general



We had 52 leads last year in

general manufacturing.

So I think that there is an

opportunity at this point to

help employ certain segments

of our citizens in the near


>> Morrison: And on a

different topic, you talked

some about your business

retention program, and

that's been a topic of

conversation recently and i

know that the council passed

a resolution asking for ways

to look at actually

translating and doing some

incentives for smaller



So my question is about the

business retention program.

You talked about visits.

Are there other things that

fill out that program

besides visits?

>> Well, I mean, we partner

with -- it started out with

the austin chamber having a

software program where we go

out -- it's a comprehensive

survey of information that

we collect from b level

execs in austin and now

we've spread that, city of

austin has a license, it's

for business retention, it

helps detect trend issues.


But now we have just -- not

only the city of austin, but

we have 14 other cities

through their chambers or

economic development using

the same thing so that we

can collectively as a region

see what the trends are in

industry sectors locally and

what issues.

But I know brian and eve

both utilize the program.


>> I would add the important

thing there is we're talking

to the local businesses and

asking them what problems

are you facing, what needs

do you have, what are your

issues right now.


And we would be happy at

another time to provide some

of that information.


Some of the feedback we get.


But it's probably things you

would expect.

You know, transportation is

a challenge, talent and

workforce is a challenge,

expansion, you know, right

now it's no secret it's

difficult to get things

processed right now at one

texas center.


And those are the kind of

things especially the small

local businesses face.


The big companies who can

hire lots of people to push

things through the city

process, get it done, but

the small local businesses,

they may need help getting

through the process as much

as they might need a

financial incentive to stay

or expand.

I would suggest that's

somethg the city and the

chamber should focus.

>> And, of course, we have

been focusing on elevate


The mayor and council

convened 50 small businesses

and we've had two summits to

debrief them with raw

material and they give us

straightforward information

of examples.

And rosie's team has

assembled 10 departments to

do coordinating and each

department is making two

adjustments to make

improvements to the process.


A lot more customer service.


Interdepartmental operation

and longer hours in some

cases, but we've given quite

a bit of attention as a

result of the surveys.


And I think the next report

will show there's

substantial progress on


But the software that

opportunity austin uses,

that the city uses is pretty

revealing and I think

there's hundred of

businesses that are surveyed

[inaudible] phone calls



>> Morrison: I guess,

yeah, I appreciate that and

so working in that regard

and from a big picture is



I'm curious if there was a

proposal that said we are

going to do an incentive

program for small local

businesses, if that would be


I'm curious what the answer

would be.


>> When we have posed that

question, they are very



And I think without

exception they are all

looking for lower taxes.


They would like to pay less

taxes and they would like to

have streamlined permitting

and processing.

And so those are the areas

where we can reduce their

costs I think is [inaudible]

>> Morrison: And so do we

have some formality

responses where we have

asked that question?


>> We do have a formal

survey that was taken and we

also have a couple of best

practices that we're looking

at around the country that

might provide us some



>> Morrison: I would be

very interested in knowing

especially about

specifically that because i

understand the trials and

tribulations they have as it



But this would be to start

thinking a little bit

differently to see if it

makes any sense to transfer

some of the big companies'

incentive programs down to a

smaller scale.


So anything you can provide

in terms of information and

response to that kind of

question would be



>> Surely.


>> Morrison: Thank you.


>> On that small business

note, I'm certainly

supportive of helping our

small businesses as much as

we can, but one of the

things that comes to mind we

may not have tracked it well

enough since 2003.

As you mentioned, 800 small

businesses are supported by

the work samsung does here

in town.


So it's not that they are

not -- it's not just that

they are not getting an


It's the incentives that we

have done do provide the

opportunity for those small

businesses to thrive.


And to expand.


And I certainly want to look

at every policy we can

probably contemplate to

improve the process, but i

also want to look at what's

actually happening on the



What happened from 2003 to

now in terms of the small

business picture in austin.


And what I think we'll find

is that it expanded greatly

and that it's extremely

healthy and thriving.

But if there are certain

things we can do like permit

waivers, you know, to entice

businesses to take a little

more risk maybe a little

sooner, that may be

something where we could

strike a neat balance to

help those smaller

businesses out as well.


But I would really like to

take a look at that snapshot

of 2003 to now as well.


The other points I'll make,

and I'll be brief.

The mayor has to leave soon

so give him his time as well

to speak.

Yes, he has a memorial

service this morning for a

family member.

I want us to have the



It always comes up in

contemplating 380 agreements

and I don't know if there is

a policy and if there is i

hope you provide it to us to

let us look at it, that

always comes up about you

got to make these folks live

in austin.


If you are going to give

them our taxes, they've got

to stay here.


And that just seems like a

logical request because as a

firefighter I got the same


Why don't you live in



But it's not as easily

handled in a policy, you



I chose to live in austin as

a firefighter.

Many of them don't.

And I don't want to get into

the business of trying to

find out why they don't want

to live here, that's their


I want us to have this



If there are policies out

there, examples, please

bring them to us.


I don't know that there is.


I know during the apple

discussion that was a huge



If you can -- maybe they are

region based, maybe they are

county based, I don't know.


But I know that is going to

continue to be an issue.

Each and every time we do

these agreements, you know,

people are going to wonder

is liberty hill, burnet

benefiting more so than



And I don't believe that's

the case, but I want to

clearly demonstrate that

with facts and not with

anecdotal stuff.


There is a program actually

at the university of texas

because I met with two young

gentlemen, and it's being

funded by the private


So if you have a four-year

degree but it's not a

technical degree, you come

through their program at

, you spend six months

getting retrained or eight

months, however long it

takes, and then they go out

and -- it's kind of like a

head hunter group.


They find out what the need

is, they bring in some

recruits, train them to that

specific skill and then go

and get them hired.


I think that demand is so

great right now they've

actually made a company out

of it and partnered with



That's their business, two

bright entrepreneurial kid

and they said instead of

going and working in this

industry, we're going to

create the workers for the

industry and made a company

out of it locally.

All of those things are



I just want people to be

aware of that.

Our small business

development program is

arguably -- I will argue

it's one of the best in the


Those are the incentives for

small business.


That's the taxpayer funded

free services that we have

at the city for those small


We just need to make sure

everyone is aware of that.


Get the word out.


And keep doing the go work.


Mayor leffingwell.


>> Mayor Leffingwell: Good


Arguably we are the best

city in america for small


I forget the name, forbes --

>> the international

development council gave the

top two awards to our small

business division.


so I think we're doing a

pretty good job.

Small businesses are

eligible for economic


It's sometimes more

difficult for them to do

because we have a very -- a

hard and fast requirement

that all of our agreements

be cash positive and

sometimes that's harder for

small businesses to meet

that qualification.

But we pay a lot of

attention to them.


And the city furnish

training, meet the lender



We had a mayor's summit on

small business two years ago

and there was a followup

based on that summit and

that we're still continuing

to look for ways to help

small businesses within the

framework of our existing



Just how important is it,

80% of the businesses in the

city of austin have fewer

than 10 employees.

About two-thirds of the

companies, private sector

companies in the city have

fewer than 100 employees.


So we are a city of small

business and we have been

paying attention to small

business and we'll continue

to do that.


In january I went with eight

small business owners,

happened to be tech

companies to, london to meet

with their counterparts over

there in our new friendship

city and we met with a lot

of folks that are in similar



As a result that out of the

eight, four of the companies

now have presences in


And so we're getting more of

this international interplay

through that.

So I think our program has

been very successful and i

want to continue to make it

successful and I want to

continue to make austin

right at the top of all the

list, and I've got a list

about that thick of number

ones for the city of

austin's economy and other

things, even like best city

in america for rowing.


We have a lot of accolades

over the last couple of



One thing I would like to

see formally, you will hear

a lot about it anecdotally,

but I think it's important

to realize that the city of

austin gives economic

incentives with a scalpel

and not a sledgehammer.

Compared to peer cities

around the country, the

percentage of agreements

that we do is very small

compared to others.

I'd like to see those

numbers on our peer cities.


I think we would see where

we're doing 13 agreements in

the l 10 years or

whatever that number is, the

cities that we're competing

with are doing 130 or month.

I think it's really on that

order of magnitude and i

would like to see that data.

>> Martinez: Any other

comments, questions?


Brian, can you give us a

layout of -- obviously item

4 will be pushed to the next


We had a rough draft of the

specific -- thank you, tim.


Thank you, david.


Of the conversations that we

would have before we started

getting into I guess the

nuts and bolts of any

potential policy changes.


Can you give me a sense of

where we are?

>> In terms of looking at

the different components of

how we handle different

areas, and what we looked at

was first addressing the

chapter 380 agreements.


I think based on some of the

conversations that were had,

I think looking at the small

business program in depth is

a segue for the next


Also travis county, leslie

was unable to attend,

looking at what they are

contemplating in terms of

their revamped economic



But then also looking at and

segueing this out into be

waivers and master

development agreements.

Our intent is to look at all

those areas, just kind of go

from one to the next.

What we'll do is put

together an agenda for the

next meeting.

We'll work with individuals



I do want to get back to the

travis county component, but

I think looking at small

business makes sense for the

next meeting.


We don't want to throw too

much into the meeting at one

time but looking also at

that time master development



>> Let me throw an idea out

here because john hokenyos

was instrumental in the

formulation of the policy

and the matrix and perhaps

instead of focusing on small

business, which is actually

doing very well and you've

got a number of reports, we

could bring john back so you

could have that both policy

and the detail discussion on

the logic for what's in it

now and how it could be



Because I hear a lot of the

issues and questions that

you are raising really have

to do with the core of

how -- what to incentivize

and how much and how much to

measure it.


Maybe to amend brian's

suggestion, we could still

have travis county and maybe

john hokenyos.

If that's not too much for

you at one meeting.


>> Martinez: No, I'm happy

to work with out getting an

agenda for the next meeting.


I would like to ask for some

additional information as to

one of the chamber slides

regarding best performing

between 2009 to 2012 among

the top 50 metro areas.

And in this slide it lists i

guess in rank of order, and

austin being number one.

What I wanted to see and i

would assume you guys would

have this information, is a

comparison of a few of

those, maybe the top five or



In a side by side comparison

as to what austin does and

what austin has in place as

opposed to those cities as



So are the other cities, are

they running opportunity

pittsburgh, opportunity

houston, you know, what is

it called in those cities

and what do they do

different than what we do

here or vice versa.

Just to see if there is

something in those cities

that we could add, you know,

to our arsenal.


Rosie, welcome.


>> Thank you, assistant

director for egr.

I'm not privy to that slide

so I don't know what those

cities are.

A real important data point

to look at, small business

incentives, the research

staff and I have been

looking at, we have found

that those incentives that

are offered by government

entities to small businesses

are really talking a lot

about corporate taxes and

other kind of tax structures

that we don't have in texas

and we don't have in austin.

For example, some cities

will waive -- some cities

you have to pay fees to

start a business and so they

waive those fees.

Then there's added taxes on

payroll and so they waive

those or reduce them.

I would be interested, if we

could possibly, a suggestion

to you, in looking at this,

actually what do they do for

small businesses.

And you might start seeing a

pattern there.


That there's some things we

just don't have it because

we don't tax people, we

don't tax businesses.

>> Martinez: Understand.


Good point.

Councilmember tovo.

>> Tovo: Thanks for

raising that and I think

part of your research may be

responding to a council

resolution focused on the

aiba, the austin independent

business alliance's report,

and they cite some incentive

programs that other places



But I would like to try to

get to a discussion of best

practices with regard to

small businesses that are

legally, are legal options

within -- within our city.

You know, even if the

structure doesn't

necessarily exist, at least

we can have a discussion

about what the options are.

And I wonder if you can

point us to some of the

state laws governing

economic incentives.


I've been uncovering some in

my own research and I can

continue that, but if you

have that kind of

information at the ready

that you could provide to

us, that would be very


And just one other

information request.


johns, you mentioned a

study and I've forgotten the

name of the university,

institution --

>> texas a&m.

>> Tovo: Texas a&m.


It wasn't because I'm a



If you could provide us with

that study, that sound like

it might be useful.


I don't know if it's in a

format that is easily



>> We can provide the

summary of it.

The surveys that were done

of the -- of the different

s order in order to

make what they would and

would not do are



But they have released a

distilled version that i

think would be pretty


I would be happy to release



>> Tovo: That sound great.


Thank you.


>> Martinez: Any other

questions, comments?

With that, we stand

adjourned and we will notify

everyone as soon as we pick

a date for the next meeting

to make sure that you all

can attend if you would


Thank you.

Tentatively scheduled for

monday -- wednesday,


From 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

We'll keep working on that



>> Hello, good morning,


Welcome and thank you for

coming to the city's home

composting class.

I work for the city of

austin solid waste services


Solid waste services proudly

picks up your garbage daily.


It also collects your

recycing, brush and bulky



Today we are here to provide

with you the tools you need

to manage up to 50% of your

waste at home and convert it

into a far more valuable

resource that will save you

money in the long run.


As you may know, in 2009 the

city of austin set a zero

waste goal to reduce the

amount of waste sent to the

landfall to 90% by 2040.


Composting is just one way

of the many ways you can

help us reach this goal.


Today's composting class is

part of our home composting

rebate program which

encourages austinites to

review their waste that we

send to the landfill by

composting at home.


The composting rebate

program is a call to action.

Austinites need to do three

simple things to get the


One is to down size to a

32-gallon garbage cart, the

little green one, and

second, you need to take a

free composting class.

And finally, you need to

purchase a home composting

system and obviously start



The city of austin while its

waste consumers are eligible

for rebate.


The rebate goes to up 75% of

the total composting system

or up to $75 in value.


Solid waste services

consumers can reduce their

cart by calling 311.


Downsizing will safe you

money in the monthly bill

that you receive.


All you have to do is to

apply for a rebate by

filling out the application

and send it with the receipt

for your composter attached

and in about six to eight

weeks you will receive a

check in the mail.

Applications and further

information could be found

in our website, austin



Now, without further ado i

want to introduce you to our

speaker jeff payne.


He is an earth scientists, a

physicist and a chemical

engineer at the graduate


Thanks to his research, jeff

developed a strong ability

to digest long and complex

sets of information quickly

and apply it to solve



That is why leaving school

he had focused his energy to

austin's sustain ability by

directing and expanding lock

composting industry.


Now I'm going to turn it

over to jeff payne.

Please give a hand.


>> thanks.

It's good to see you all out



We're going to be talking

about home composting today

and, like you can see there

on the first page keeping it

easy, that's what it's all


We're going to talk about

very simple ways of

composting at home, how to

get started, how to run a

basic program at your house

and how to do it without too

much work.

That's not to say there's

not a range of ways that you

can compost.

There's very simple ways

that we'll discuss and

there's complex ways.

And a lot of what you end up

having at your house depends

on who you are, depends on

what kind of time you have,

what kind of time you want

to put in, and just how into

it you get.

So I like keeping it easy



A lot of us are busy.


What is it?


What is composting?


Well, it's a natural process

where organic material

decomposes and breaks down.


We've got vegetables, food

scraps, paper, anything that

will slowly decompose will

end up in a kind of an

earth-like compost


This is nice for soil.

It's beneficial.

It's got a lot of nutrients

and it's a lot more

appropriate use of resources

than sending that fort hood

waste to landfills.

Okay, so that's what it's

about, it's about taking

materials that's creating

problems at landfills and

getting it back to soil

where it belongs.


It saves money and makes you

feel good about what you are



Now, there's a lot of

different helpers we have

when we're composting and

most of them are



There's bacteria, fungi.


I'm not going to spend long,

but these are the organisms

that are breaking down all

that food waste.

These are the guys

responsible for taking food

scraps and getting it back

into the soil appropriately.


So our very simple goal with

composting is just create an

environment that encourages

and helps these guys to do

their jobs.




And there's a few things

that these micro organisms

need to do their job well.


First of all, they need

organic material.

They need something to eat.

They need carbon and they

need nitrogen.


Some people call that the

browns and the greens.

The browns might be leaves,

straw, dead grass that's

turned brown, mulch can work

fine for that.


So it's various other carbon

materials too, paper,

shredded paper can work


And there's also the

nitrogen foods they like to

eat as well.

That includes all the fruit

and vegetable scraps that

are coming out of your



We call them the greens, but

it might be red, you know,

it might be orange, it might

be yellow, but it is the

whole range of colors.


But in general most of the

stuff coming out of your

kitchen is going to have a

bit of nitrogen to it.

So the micro organisms, they

like to eat a little of

both, a little of that

carbon material, a little of

that nitrogen material.

And what they also like is

air and water.


That's not too different

from us.

They need food, oxygen and



As far as the air goes,

we'll get into talking about

how we encourage that and

keep it in the compost.

And as far as water goes, we

like to have a nice balance.


We don't want to have too

much water.

You can imagine if you are

just drenched all the time.


In the summer it's okay, in

the winter, you know, might

get a little cold.


We don't want to have too

little water in the pile



Now, before we get into some

of the details of all this,

let me just emphasize that

there's no wrong way to



Now, it might be a wrong way

if you are getting a smell

that's offensive to you or

your neighbor, okay?

That's probably the one

wrong way to compost.


But you could do very

little, you could just toss

your food scraps out the

window and you might get

away with it.


That's not a highly

recommended method of doing



You could also be super

intense and you could spend

an hour every day monitoring

your pile and getting into

it and recording what you

are adding and staying on

top of it.


There's no wrong way to do



And whether you ultimately

use the compost or not isn't

that important either.

You may be like myself,

you've got this great

compost pile going and you

are just too busy to ever

bother to dig it up and

apply it to your garden and

that's fine.

When compost is doing the

right thing, it's just kind

of hanging out and it's

sitting there.


It's not hurting anything.


It's not hurting anyone.


You can put your baby on top

of it and it will just play

along and it's no big deal.


So just keep that in mind as

you get started.

You really -- you can ignore

this pile, you can go on

vacation, you know, it's not

going to be something that

needs to take over your life

unless you get really into

it and then it's just

there's no bottom.


So those are the basic

ingredients, that's the

basic recipe of compost.


This is a nice flow chart


We've got compost material

coming in and you can see

all the basic ingredients,

the greens and the browns,

oxygen, water.

So we're putting all those

together and the micro

organisms, and there's some

larger organisms that are

going to show up, they are

all going to chomp down on


Like a potato pug, you will

probably find those in your


You could find some really

large organisms, that could

be another no-no and we'll

talk about what to put in

and what not to put in as



If we have all those

materials and we got our

bin, you don't have to have

a bin, but you might have a



Maybe you will have the one

on the screen here where

you've got to material you

can turn.

It's called a tumbler.

You might have a simple

fence-type system.


You might just have a pile

sitting by itself under a



So you don't have to spend

any money to get this going,

but a lot of you might be

here to get the rebate and

that's great.


Go and browse around and

find the bin that you like.

We can talk about all of



If you have questions, we

can certainly discuss

specific ones at the end


And so you got your bin, and

then what you are going to

get out of ultimately

finished compost.


And you are going to get a

few other things too.

There's going to be see heat

that's generated, there's

going to be some water vapor

that's coming off that pile,

and there's going to be some



So the one gas we don't want

is methane.

That's where the odors are

coming into play.


That's because there's no

oxygen available.

The gas we do want is co 2.

Just like you and I breathe

out co 2, it's the same for

all these micro organisms.

As far as heat, these piles

can get pretty hot.


At a big commercial facility

it might get up to 160°° and

stay there.


If you run a small pile at

your house, you could get up

to 160°°.


It's a little harder

sometimes in home composting

systems just because you can

get it hotter when you just

dump a ton of material in

one spot all at once.

And for most of us we have a

real small trickle of

material every day.

So one home difficulty for

some home composters is just

getting the pile hot enough

to get that heat.


Does it have to get hot?




No, it doesn't have to get


Now, we could have a great

hot compost pile, but there

are other ways to do it like

sheet composting where the

material never gets hot.

In fact, I think sheet

composting is one of the

best ways for the lazy

composter to do it.


Because what it means is

you've got your -- your

garden bed and your rose

garden, maybe you just got

some shrubs, put some mulch


And every day you got your

pail, compost from the

kitchen, scoot that mulch

aside, add some vegetable

scraps to the soil and just

cover it back up with the


You want to make sure you

have a nice bet of mulch or

leaves ahead of time, but

you literally put the

material on the soil, cover

it up and the next day you

go to a different spot.

Maybe you go right next to

it, work your way down the

row, maybe you pick a

different spot willy-nilly

each day.

But literally, that is all

you do for sheet composting.


So it's great, there's no

turning, there's no

monitoring, it never gets


The food will just slowly

break down and disappear.


And in the process it's

improving the dirt beneath

all of your vegetables or

bee night your shrubs or

your flowers.


I like that method a lot,

especially maybe you don't

have space for a bin or you

don't like the aesthetic of

a bin or you just don't want

a bin.

So something to keep in



Okay, so as we were saying,

the first step, you got your

compost bin, you got your

spot picked out.

You add materials.

You got your carbons, your

browns, your nitrogen, your


I'm not very good with



I don't really like to use

numbers in composting, but a

nice way to think about it

is kind of a three to one



Three handfuls of carbon

mulch to one handful of

vegetable scraps.


That's kind of the general

goal you should aim for.

You definitely don't want it

the other way around.


Because you can imagine a

pile of rotten tomatoes is

probably going to act a lot

differently in your backyard

than a pile of leaves.


All right.


So a pile of leaves is just

going to sit there and

nothing is going to happen.


Rotten tomatoes is going to

offend everyone on the



So what we're aiming for is

somewhere in between where

we're not offending anyone

but the pile is not just

sitting there where it

starts to get active,

material starts to break

down and you start to get a

nice finished product.


So we've got our carbon and

our nitrogen and we're

adding that every day or

maybe we hold on to it and

we just add it once a week,

however you like to do it.

There's a couple things that

help to keep the compost

pile going, and basically it

amounts to making sure the

pile has adequate supply of

oxygen and water.


In texas we don't have to

worry too much about our

piles getting too wet

naturally, unfortunately,

but -- so you can bust out

the hose when you feel like



If you find that the pile is

super dry, get it wet.

You don't want to get it

soaking wet.


Just get it nice and moist

where you stick your hand in

and it's not swimming, but

you know, it comes out and

it's dirty.


You can tell there's some

moisture in there.

That's kind of what you are

aiming for.


You could -- if you get into

it, you could set up a

soaker hose with your

compost pile.

You could put it on a timer

if you want.


You could get really into it

and keep your pile nice and



If you keep it consistently

moist, it's going to turn

into a finished product a

lot quicker.

So in that sense the more

work you put in, the more

time you put into it, the

quicker you'll get something


I haven't watered my pile, i

haven't watered my pile,


I don't know when the last

time is.


Because I'm not concerned

about when I'm going to get

compost back.


It's not important to me.


It's hanging out.


It's still going to break

down, it's just going to

break down a lot, lot


But that's okay.

So it depends on what your

goal is and how quickly you

want compost.

It depends on if you run out

of space.


Maybe your compost pile is

too big.

Maybe you need to monitor it

a little bit so you can

finish it off and take it

away and add it to your

garden bed.

So that's water.

Oxygen is the one other

thing that you need to do a

few steps, make sure it's

got enough oxygen in there.


The oxygen that's in the

pile isn't going to last

very long.


It's going to be, you know,

breathed in by these micro

organisms and used up

quickly so what you need is

a nice flow of oxygen where

oxygen is constantly flowing

into the pile and out and

exiting the pile.

So you don't want to stomp

on your pile too much.


You don't want to run over

it with the car.

You don't want to have your

kids playing on it

constantly and just

squashing it down because if

the pile gets really smashed

and oxygen can't flow in

there very well, we might

start to get some odor

problems eventually.

You might dig into that pile

and it might really stink.


It's like whoa, there wasn't

any oxygen in here.

No wonder this wasn't

breaking down well.


That's where stirring the

pile can come into play.

Get out that pitch fork or

that shovel, you know, run

out during half time of the

longhorn football game and

quick give it a stir, work

up some energy.


You don't have to do it all

the time, but it's worth

doing to check on your pile.


It's worth turning it just

to see, well, how far along

is this pile.


Oh, it's really dry in the

middle as well as not having

any oxygen.


Maybe I should have watered

it more.

Just monitor a little bit

and just watching it and

paying attention to it you

are going to get some

feedback on how is it going,

is there something I could

have done better or is there



Some things people will do

is take some sticks and they

will put them at the bottom

of their pile when they

start a compost pile.


You generally don't want big

sticks in your compost

because they are going to

take forever to break down.

But if you have a few right

at the base, that's going to

keep that base just a little

loser, it's going to keep it

easier for oxygen to flow in

the bottom of the pile and

then to percolate up in

through there.


So a few -- a few big sticks

or if you've got a garden

and you've got some big

stalks or sunflower stalks

or different okra stalks,

try sticking them at the

bottom and see if that helps

improve the aeration of the



Okay, so here's a few

different examples of some

compost bins.


We got our kind of build

your own pile sort of



There's different boxes you

can buy on the market that

will simulate that, or you

could build it out of wood

and chicken wire.


What's nice is it's simply

going to contain all the

material in a neat and very

organized fashion.

Some of them will come with



If you live in certain parts

of austin, you might have

issue with the deer or

raccoon so something like

this can be really nice to

just contain and keep larger

animals out of it.


Typically they are going to

move in and show up at your

pile if the pile is not

breaking down too well.

If you are putting food

waste out and it's just

sitting there because you

are not paying attention to

it, it's not hot, it's

really dry, there's no

water, there's no oxygen,

now you just got food scraps

sitting out, you are like

trying to feed the deer.


But if you got a really

happy, hot compost pile

that's activity and you got

material in there, then

there's not going to be too

many pests showing up

because you can imagine the

deer being oh, wait, it's

160°° here, I don't want to

eat that, it's too hot for



They are choosey.


Keep that in mind if you are

thinking about bins and

depending on where you are


We have an example of a



There's tumblers.


There's a -- there's this

indoor system you can look



There is a black soldier

fly, a system that I think

is really interesting.


And these all have different

advantages and



So you may find that one

works really well for you

and another just doesn't

work well at all.

And that's not -- that's

perfectly fine.


There's no problem with


We've all got our different



Some of us might eat salads

every day and we have a ton

of a certain type of

material and maybe there's

people out there that love

barbecue and they don't have

a whole lot of that.


So you might have very

different types of compost

system depending what you

eat, depending how often you

eat at home.


Those are questions you have

to answer for yourself as

you start to explore.




So we're on to harvesting

some finished compost here.

The schematic here is

showing that you can harvest

between 3 and 12 months

after you start composting.


And I think that's a pretty

good window.

And I think that lines up

with what I was saying

earlier, that it really

depends on how much time and

effort you put in.

If you are monitoring your

pile, watching it get hot

and watching the

decomposition and turning

it, making sure it stays

moist, making sure it has

enough oxygen flowing, you

can have compost maybe

quicker than three months.

If you are more like me and

you are not monitoring it

too heavily, it could take

longer than a year.


It might be done, but you

just haven't bothered to

check to see if it's done.


So, you know, there's

really -- whatever works for



Maybe it turns out the

spring is coming on, you

want to plant some things.


Well, there's the time to

dig into the compost pile

and use some of that compost

that's sitting around.


Important points here.

What can I compost.

I think I've alluded to this

slide three or four times


There's some real basics

that probably almost all of

us will have at one point or



There's grass clippings.


And an important point

there, if the grass

clippings are fresh and

green, then they've got

nitrogen in them.


And they should be

considered in that sense

that have nitrogen that you

are adding to the pile.

Sits on your lawn a

few days especially in this

heat and turns brown, that

nitrogen is gone.


Now what you are in is


Right now you might have a

lot of nitrogen food scraps

coming out of your kitchen

but there's not many bags of

leaves to grab be be be grab

to pair up with that compost


That grass might be useful

to sit on your lawn a day

before it's more carbon and

then used.


You know, any kind of yard

trimming is fine, although

for all the big, larger,

bulkier stuff, I really

recommend just putting that

on the curb and letting the

city of austin pick it up.


It's just not a very

appropriate or useful for a

compost pile unless have you

access to some kind of

chipper shredder and you

want to really grind it and

make it small.


And that kind of brings up a

point I could have touched

on earlier along with our

recipe for composting.

Is that all these micro

organisms, they are hanging

out on the surface of all

these food particles.


So you could imagine if you

put a whole orange into the

million dollars of your

compost pile, it could take

a long time for that orange

to break down because

there's not a whole lot of

sure pavements it's just

that nice rind on the


If you cut that orange in

half it will be quicker.


If you run it through a

juicer and then pour it on

your pile it's going to be

super fast.

This is a point about

particle size of what you

are putting into your



Do you want to put

everything in a blender?


Although I have heard people

doing that for their worm


Some people like to pamper

their worms.


But in general, putting huge

bulky things in your pile is

not as useful as breaking

them up.

It's in terms of how things

are going to break down and

what the time frame is.

Plants, flowers, leaves,

vegetables and fruit scraps,

coffee grounds, coffee

filters are fine, tea bags,

pizza boxes work great.

I think it was on the austin

recycles website where

there's a video, forgive me

I forget the exact name of

the video, some different

families competing to go to


And they discovered that

they could soak their pizza

boxes and get them really

wet first and they broke

down a lot quicker.

You can imagine that's true

if you put just a pizza box

dry on top of your compost

pile it will probably be

there for a few months.

Soak it in a bathtub maybe

after your pet gets a bath

is a great way to go.

Any kind of shredded paper

works great.


I think in general just

regular nice, say, office

paper, paper you are getting

in the mail, junk mail, all



I think it's better to

recycle that than compost.

I think it's got nor value

as a recycle that ends up

into being paper again.

The market price for paper

is way higher than any kind

of market price you could

ever get for the compost in

your front yard.

Or any compost for that

matter, at a commercial


Napkins, paper towels is a

great one to add to the

compost pile.

I think it's one that a lot

of us typically kind of

forget and don't think



Like oh, it's dirty and we

kind of want to throw it in

the trash.


But that's great carbon.


It doesn't matter if it's

got a little grease on it,

maybe you were having some

barbecue or fried chicken.

That's not too important.

So that level of grease is

just really not important or

not at a level that's of



Now, there are a bunch of

nos in fats, greeses and

oils is on there and you

definitely don't want to be

adding that to your home

compost pile.

If you've got a big pan of

bacon grease and you use a

paper towel to scoop that

out, that's maybe further

beyond the level of grease i

was talking about.


Meat, fish, poultry.


You know, perhaps obvious

plastics, metals and



Dairy products, pet feces,

treated woods.

These are the kind of things

that they are organic, there

are commercial facilities

that break all of these

items down.

They don't typically work

well in a home composting


You are much more likely to

have issues of nuisance,

various factors for disease

are possible when you start

introducing these things in

and they don't break down


So I would consider that to

be much more advanced.


And not something that i

would just -- that I would

jump into easily or lightly

at all.

It's not to say it can't be

done and there are systems

out there that -- that have

claims that you can do it.


So I think I mentioned a

black soldier fly composting



Look it up and check it out.


I think that works pretty


The bakashi system suggests

that you can do some of

these things in there.

So, you know, it takes a

little bit of research and a

little bit of consideration

and ask yourself will this

work for me.


So there are a few things

that could go wrong and

we've talked about most of



Compost has a bad odor.


Well, a lot of times that's

because there's not enough



There's no air flow.


And so instead of the

beneficial micro organisms

that we want we end up with

others that end up producing



And that's where the odors

start to come into play.

So real simple thing with

that is to turn the pile.


Introduce more oxygen into


Another possibility is that

you got the pile way too


Again, turning it is going

to help it.


It's going to let a lot of

that water evaporate.

It's just going to loosen

things up because when you

wet that pile down too much,

it's going to compact a lot.


A couple other symptoms.


Maybe the center of the pile

is dry.

Well, not enough water.

Bust out the hose, no



The heap is sweet smelling.


And it's not decomposing.


Maybe it's not getting hot.


That's typically because

there's a lack of nitrogen

in the pile.


This can be really common

for us home compost, because

if you are just adding a

little nitrogen every day or

a couple times a week, it's

hard to get a pile where you

are really building up

enough nitrogen to really

get a lot of activity.


So you just need to add in


Now, I might almost not even

worry about this as a

troubling factor because

your compost pile is still

breaking down, it's just

moving at a super slow rate.


If the heap is damp in the

middle but nowhere else,

maybe the pile is too small

or it might be too dry.

That's pretty common in a

home compost system too

because a lot of times the

pile might only be a foot or

two tall, a foot or two



I certainly know people who

they got really into



They drove out to the horse

farm and picked up a bunch

of horse manure, got a bump

bunchof straw and then they

started adding the food

scraps and it breaks down

real good now because you

have a good size pile.

A common rule of thumb on

pile, it's night to have a

pile that's at least a cubic



That's three feet by three

feet by three feet.

That's a nice size to be at

where you are going to get

some good decomposition

going on.


If you are smaller than that

consistently, it's going to

be hard to have a very

active pile.

Does it mean it's a waste of

time or it's not working?


No, you are still breaking

down food, you are still

keeping it out of the land

fill which is one of the

most important points of

everything that we're

talking about today.


You are just not going to

have a pile -- you are not

going to be producing like

the highest compost quality

in the world for your


That's okay.

So there's a few commonly

asked questions here.


How wet does the pile need

to be.

It needs to be sponge-like

damp, not too wet, but

certainly not dry.

Extra grass clippings and

leaves that don't fit this

your pile, leave them as

mulch around the plants.


This pits in with the whole

sheet composting idea.

Take all these leaves, use

it as a mulch and when you

don't have any leaves scoot

them aside and toss your

food waste underneath them

and cover them back up.


I think that's a great way

to do things.

Again, the tree limbs, large

brushy material, woody

waste, I think that's best

put out on the yard trimming

collection days.

Just not so useful in the

compost pile.


And as far as what tools, a

shovel is certainly plenty

or a pitch fork.


If you want to get into

things, you could have a

soaker hose, you could have

a compost thermometer.

You all are getting one of

the nice little kitchen

compost collectors, but you

need to have some kind of

receptacle for sure in your

cabinet or kitchen where you

are storing material before

you take it outside.


That's really it.


Certainly there are plenty

of blogs out there.

There's plenty of websites

with different types of

compost systems.

You know, so you can feel

free to explore.


This is something that, you

know, all kinds of creative

energy is put into and

you'll find all sorts of

methods out there.


I think -- I think that sums

up the talk.

I'm happy to take questions

from y'all now and I think

daniellea has a microphone

that we can pass around to

make sure we get all of out

the video with your question

as well.

Does anyone have a question

to start?


>> Hi, how are you?


>> I'm good, thanks.


>> Do you have any

recommendations for brand or

types of the different


>> You know, I'm not

supposed to really throw out

specific brands because I'm

not supposed to, you know,

put the stamp of approval on

them at a city function.


I'm happy to talk to you

about some of them



But you know, I think i

mentioned earlier as far as

compost tumblers go without

discussing brand, you don't

want to go as cheap as you

can because they will tend

to break more easily.


Certainly you probably don't

want to go towards the

highest end tumbler because

they are thousands of



Although there's no problem

with doing that if you want



But that's one that I would

be a little careful about.

A lot of them are pretty



You know, they don't have

many moving parts if any and

they will sort of sit there

and act as a receptacle.

For those, there's not much

that can really ever break


I think one of the most

important points is really

aesthetics and what looks

good to you.


What you like -- what you

want to see and look at

whenever you are taking the

compost out.

But we can talk about it

more afterwards too.


>> Hello.


I've had a wire mesh compost

for quite a while and I'm

excited to get a new one,

but I'm thinking that once

you have something that you

are using and you want to

start making compost, what

do you do with the waste

that you continue to create?


It seems like you have to

have one working and you

have to have something else.


>> Good question.


If you are always adding

compoable material to your

pile or bin, then that pile

is never going to be

completely done because it

takes time for that material

to break down.


So if you have kind of an

inert pile, say it's a

static pile that you are

building, whether it's

inclosed or in your chicken

wire, then typically after i

turn ate few times you can

just feel from the middle

where it's been cooked

really nice and it looks and

smells and feels like

compost and leave all the

other stuff around it and

let that keep cooking.

With the tumblers I have

seen varieties that have two

compartments so you add to

one while the other cooks

and you empty the one and

fill the other.


Yeah, if you just have a

single compartment tumbler

but you want to make sure

that you get a really nice

finished compost out of it,

then you are going to have

to wait a few weeks or more

without adding some material

to that to let it finish


So typically I would just

keep adding material to it

and letting it build up a

lot of nice compost

material, a nice finished



And then once I have enough

of that, I would just say,

okay, I'm going to stop and

I'm going to compost a

different way for a couple


Maybe I'll do that cheap

composting because I don't

have another bin, maybe I'll

just bury stuff under mulch.


Maybe that's an opportunity

to try some other type of

composting, some worm

composting or go back to the

chicken wire fence system

and just add some material



That you don't have to keep

that pile there forever.

After two weeks take the

finished stuff out and now

you have a nice batch of

material that's two weeks

old that you can add to the

tumbler and continue to add


Yeah, there's not a really

satisfactory way of keeping

things separate other than

literally have two systems.


>> Hello.


Is there anyplace in your

yard that you should avoid

placing your compost pile

either because of the heat

generated or for any other


>> I'm sorry, anyplace



>> Anyplace you should avoid

placing your pile in your



>> In the yard?


Good question.


So there's a couple places i

can think of.

One would be anywhere where

there's water runoff or

maybe there's a gulch where

if you get a big rainstorm

it might fill up and get

saturated for a day.


You don't really want to

have your compost pile right

there because it's going to

get so wet that's where the

odors could come into play.


Also because that pile gets

that wet, a lot of the

nutrients in your compost is

just going to go into the

water and get swept away

with it.

It's not good to have it in

a spot where a lot of water

or runoff can get it wet.

Typically I aim to put piles

in the shade as opposed to

in the sun.

A compost pile is fine in



Certainly right now if it's

sitting out in the sun, it's

going to dry up a lot

quicker and so you would

probably need to water it

more often, so that's one

advantage of having it in

the shade.

Another advantage is that,

you know, if you have a

garden or plants, you

typically like to put those

in the sunny spots in the



Or maybe you've got some kid

who like to play.

Maybe they typically don't

play right underneath the


Well, maybe they do, but,

you know, having a nice open

yard, sunny area, I think

it's nice not to have the

pile there.

So I usually put them in the

back corner, out of the way,

in the shade under a tree,

that kind of thing.


>> I have a compost pile,

I've had it for a couple of

years, and it is teaming

with micro organisms and I'm

thinking a lot of them are

the soldier fly larvae that

you are talking about.


>> Big white and brown --


>> they are huge.


They are huge.


And then I was listening to

what you are saying about

how you could put a baby on

top of the compost.

So I'm wondering, mine is

just teaming with stuff.


Is that because it's not hot

enough or is it fine or --

>> there's a couple



So far one, I mean, it is

fine per se.

Yes, these are pretty big



They can definitely gross

people out.

Those grubs aren't hurting

anything, they are just

eating the primarily

nitrogen material you put in

your pile.

The flies that those grubs

turn into those flies, you

probably don't see them

around much even though

there's all these grubs.

That specific fly, the black

soldier fly, doesn't have a

mouth so it's not really a

vector for disease and it's

very disperive.

They tend to disperse into

the environment.


Typically there are signs of

adding a lot of nitrogen to

a pile and not enough


So when I've seen them at

time and I don't want them

I'll make sure to add more

mulch or leaves over that --

the food wastes you are

taking out.


Because if the fly can't lay

eggs close enough to that

nitrogen or it can't smell

it or find it, then it's

not -- the larva aren't

going to get there.

Certainly if you have a hot

pile too, those larva are

not comfortable in 160°°.

They are not really

comfortable in temperatures

above 100°°.

Maybe 105 is pushing it for



So, you know, a hot pile is

definitely going to keep

them away as opposed to a

[inaudible] one.

>> I was just curious what

you would recommend to do

with pet feces.

Like the soil is black clay.

You don't put them in the

compost, without putting

them in the landfill.

>> Right.

Is there an official city

response to that, daniellea?


>> I definitely don't

recommend them in the

compost pile.


>> Right.


I know there are compost

systems marketed with the

goal of handling pet feces,

one that I recall has to do

with verma composting.


Verma composting in the

summer is hard.

I have a system at home and

my attitude in the summer i

barely feed them, barely do

anything and they just hit

t months.

That would be one issue with

trying that type of method

for pet feces.

Like danielle said the

official city of austin

response is we don't

recommend it and it's not

something I recommend in

general trying to do with

the home compost system.


I think it's a really tough

question that we need to

figure out a better solution

to though.


I'm sorry I can't do better

than that.

>> Yeah, I back up to a

green space and we have a

problem with critters, rats

in particular.


>> Sure.


>> It's a wooden, you know,

man-made compost bin.

>> So how active is your

compost pile?


Does it get hot?


>> We're not real good at

adding water so I don't know

that it is.


>> Sure.


I mean, that's -- you know,

a hot compost pile is

definitely going to keep

mice and rats away from

setting up camp or, you

know, discovering some

babies in it when you are

finally turning it.

That's not my favorite

solution to your problem

because we're all busy and

I'm sure that pile is drying

out because you've got

better things to do than try

to keep the hottest compost

pile you can in your yard.


Typically I would suggest

trying a compost bin that's

more enclosed.


So one example would be the

tumbler variety, which is

essentially completely


Because in those sorts of

situations there's just not

really easy or reasonable

access for the rats or other


So you might look at that

kind of model.


There's a whole range from

do it yourself with those to

I was mentioning thousand

dollar compost tumblers.

Or look at other geometrys

out there, other closed

systems that the walls and

top of the floor are all


And that can keep them out



>> One more question.


Does chlorinated water kill

most of the good things that

are in the compost?


>> You know, that's a great


I'm sure that chlorine is --

I think there's also

fluorine and other stuff

they put in water so the

goal of keeping down all

these microbes so we're

drinking stuff that doesn't

have too much so I'm sure

that is killing some of the

microbes in the compost, but

with these microbes, they

are propagating and

multiplying on a time scale

of minutes.


We've all seen like the

beautiful shot of the

bacteria that turns into two

and four and eight and 16

and boom, it explodes in


And so even if you kill

some, you know, in a few

hours a day or so under the

right conditions you are

going to have trillions to

jillions over again.


In my mind that's why

there's lots of compost

products with the goal of

increasing the amount of

beneficial organisms in your

compost pile or whatnot, and

I'm never sure the purpose

because these bacteria are

going to multiply anyway.


If you build the environment

that they like, the bacteria

are going to multiply like

crazy no matter what's



It's like field of dreams.


If you build it, they will

come, and I don't think a

little bit of chlorine is

going to stop that.

Good question, though.

>> That kind of leads to the

question I had.


I've seen advertise add

thing called compost tea.

Is it even necessary given

the microbes are everywhere

and will do their thing if

you just let them?


>> Well, I think, you know,

without being a complete

expert on compost teas and

all the varieties, I think

one of the purposes is they

have a lot of beneficial

nutrients in them.


So those nutrients are

certainly going to be good

for, say, the plants that

are absorbing them.

Now, will those nutrients

stimulate bacteria that will

improve the plants?

Nutrients are going to be

consumed, so yes, it will

create more bacteria, but

I've also seen scientific

peer review literature that

suggested sugar water can do

just as well at promoting

bacteria because that sugar,

again, is exactly what

bacteria need to grow.


So, you know, I think it

depends on your purpose for

purchasing the compost tea

and applying it.

And I think you have to be

careful when you are reading

about these and learning

about these because there's

a lot of here say on line

and on blogs.


But the stuff I've seen in

the peer review suggests

that I had just said


So yeah.

>> Hi.

How important do you think

it is to have a variety of

the green and the brown

ingredients that you put in

the compost bin?

And the reason I'm asking is

because I know I have enough

variety of nitrogen or the

green stuff, but I'm not

sure how much variety I have

of the brown stuff.


>> By variety, you mean like

you only have one type of

brown, like leaves, or --


>> well, I know I have lots

of paper towels, I might

have a lot of shredded


I don't have that many,

like, leaves.


Because I have a dog and the

dog is like out in the yard

and doing her thing, you


>> Right.

>> So I don't think that i

would be using a lot of

leaves in it.

And so I just didn't know

how much of a variety i

needed to have.

>> That's a great question.

So here's the thing.

If you had enough paper

towels and shredded paper,

that would be very

sufficient when balanced,

you know, in that rough

three to one ratio to have a

nice compost pile.

But the problem is the

aesthetics of your pile is

that what you are going to

end up having on the surface

is paper towels and shredded

paper, okay, so one, if it

dries up, then the wind is

going to grab some of that.


And when your compost pile

is covered with leaves and

the wind blows a few of

them, it's no big deal.

But it's not going to be as

fun if it's blowing shredded

paper around your yard.

So, you know, in that sense

it's really nice to have,

you know, some leaves or

straw or, you know,

something -- mulch,

somet carbon that looks

a little nicer on your

compost pile.


So if you are really limited

in that quantity, what i

would say is, you know, when

you are driving home, keep

an eye out for when someone

puts out a whole bunch of

bags of leaves on the curb.


The city will pick those up,

but it's not illegal for you

to grab one or two of those.




>> How do you know that

those leaves are not the

same leaves I have at home,

which was my concern because

my dog is all over the yard.


>> Yeah.


>> And you know, pet feces

or whatever, that's just an

issue I have wit.


I guess I could find other

items to compost or to make

up the brown stuff.


>> Yeah, if that's the

concern then you really

can't know until you bust

open that pile.

I can tell you from

experience that, you know,

in the number of bags of

leaves that I've picked up

over various times for my

compost pile at home that

it's -- that I haven't run

into that problem to any

significant degree.

I've never had to reject the

bag or put it back up on the


So I don't think that's too

common so you might be able

to get away with it, but i

think it might depend on

your comfort level with it





>> Speaking of leaves, isn't

there an issue with oak

wilt, if you pick up

someone's leaves from a tree

that's infected, can you

sort of spread it or would

bringing the leaves back and

composting take care of



>> You know, I don't know

the answer to that question.

So I'm not -- I can't say

about that.


I would think that if you

got those leaves into a nice

active pile and they broke

down that you probably

wouldn't run into the

problem especially if

there's not a nearby oak

tree, but I really just

don't have any knowledge of

oak wilt enough to say

whether you run into a

danger with communicating it

or not.


I think if you email

austin -- composting at

com, then

someone can get back to you

on that sort of question.




So the question was what

about egg shells.

And I don't think I'm going

to get myself in trouble

with the official response.

I think egg shells are fine.

You certainly don't want the

eggs in there.


That's going to be a


But yeah, egg shells

themselves are pretty inert.


There's a lot of calcium in

them which is great for

garden soil.


Crush them up or not but i

think adding them in is just



I think we're about out of

time here.

I see it's 12:00.

So unless there is one last

question, thanks so much for

coming out today.