You’re editing down your presentations, you’ve got your merch deliverables in bright colors on your calendar, and you’ve already started dreaming about tacos. SXSW can be a magical time of year for those of you who get to join us and experience all Austin has to offer- from tech nerds to tortas. Here’s what’s changed since SXSW 2014!
1. Hands Free: New Cell Phone / Electronic Device Ban!
There’s a new ban in town, and APD is taking it seriously. To the tune of $500 seriously. When operating a motor vehicle OR bike, one must not use, answer, or interact with an electronic device such as a cell phone unless the vehicle is at a complete stop. Only exception is to use 911 or 311 to report a crime or accident.
Still confused? Check out APD’s handy page on what’s permissible and what’s not.
2. We’re #1! For Economic Segregation…
A report by the Martin Prosperity Institute confirms it- Austin is the #1 economically segregated city. Perhaps you’ve noticed this, and the gentrification crawl, in the past years you visited. A decade ago, East Austin (east of IH 35) was rarely visited. Last few years, it’s one of the most hopping spaces during both Interactive + Music. Now- it’s highly sought-after property for businesses, new venues, and condo developers. With this has come some raised tensions and massive issues with gentrification.
Not convinced? Read up on the Jumpolin demolition. Jumpolin was a family-owned Pinata and party supply store on Cesar Chavez in East Austin. It was wrongfully demolished by the building owner (a move seemingly embroiled in racist undertones), and immediately after released as an event location for SXSW. (The initial renter has chosen to look for a new location.)
This is not to make you or any other attendee feel bad about SXSW. We as a city still host it, and profit greatly from your presence. Just be conscious of the houses you’re parking in front of, the gentrification creep, and how it’s affecting our population.
3. Plastic Bag Ban- Still in Effect!
Hooray! We managed to not overthrow this. If you know you’ll hit up a store- of any variety- while in town, be prepared to either pay for a paper reuseable bag, or bring your own. If you feel particularly miffed that you don’t have access to plastic, head into Westlake or Round Rock. Locations not considered within Austin city limits still carry dead dino bags. And of course, promoters will likely continue to give them as swag. 😉
4. New Restaurants!
New bars, new eats, new fun- oh my!
With several new bars on the East 6th scene, there’s plenty of fun to be had. The Scoot Inn on E. 4th has undergone some great renovations, and boasts a new outdoor bar + patio. And of course, one of our best attractions- food. CultureMap has a good list of the 2015 openings. Launderette on Holly St is in fact open, to much fanfare.
Another favorite, El Chilito (of the El Chile family), as expanded with a second location on E 7th street. I recommend their puffy taco and a frozen sangria.
5. Bright Light Social Hour Drops a new Album
That’s right! Local darlings and rock gods The Bright Light Social Hour will have a new album out by the time you make your way to our city. Space is Still the Place, releasing 3/10/15, is an artfully created work of art. With the EP, each song has accompanying artwork to set the scene. Check out their new songs Slipstream + Infinite Cities.
6. Uber Still Exists
Around this time last year, Uber was sneakily planning its Austin attack. Since then, they have been given a go-ahead and are thriving in Austin. It seems almost everyone knows someone who drives for Uber. While surge pricing still exists, and will likely be in full effect this SXSeason, it’s at least another transportation option in this wildly lacking city. Similarly, Lift also has an Austin presence (or so I’m told).