Austin History Center

Austin (Tex.). Law Department Records

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Austin (Tex.). Law Department
Title: Austin (Tex.). Law Department Records
Inclusive Dates: 1963-1997
Bulk Dates: 1963-1994
Abstract: The City of Austin Law Department's mission is to provide timely, effective, and affordable legal counsel and representation to the city and its officials. Currently this collection consists of documents and maps pertaining to the Kealing Urban Renewal Project and the Blackshear Urban Renewal Project dated from 1963 through 1976, research and reports from the City of Austin Charter Elections in the early 1990s, and litigation files.
Identification: AR.2004.040
Quantity: 1.2 linear feet (4 boxes and 8 maps)
Location: Archives stacks and qAR
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

The City of Austin Law Department's mission is to provide timely, effective, and affordable legal counsel and representation to the city and its officials. The Law Department is organized into several functional divisions: Litigation, Land Use and Real Estate, Municipal Operations, Employment, Austin Energy and Criminal Prosecution.

The Litigation Division both defends actions against the City of Austin and initiates actions on the City's behalf. Litigation handles several hundred cases in the civil courts, including those involving civil rights, collections, contracts, eminent domain, and tort (e.g., slip and fall) matters. Litigation has two (2) claims investigators who are responsible for investigating, evaluating and disposing of claims against the City involving property damage and bodily injury. The Land Use and Real Estate Division handles legal issues relating to development and permits, housing, environmental, zoning, water, wastewater, and solid waste issues. These attorneys have special expertise in real estate and regulatory matters. The Municipal Operations Division advises City management regarding City operations. The Division focuses on questions of municipal authority and municipal finance including open meetings and open records, ethics, purchasing, finance, elections and campaign finance, lobbying and lobby registration, citizen health issues, and other unique legal needs of City departments. The Employment Division advises management on day-to-day personnel issues. The attorneys provide counsel on the full spectrum of employment issues, from hiring to discipline and discharge. The employment attorneys also defend the City in administrative proceedings, such as Civil Service hearings, and proceedings before the Texas Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Law Department has six attorneys and three staff members who are located at Austin Energy. This group handles utility and franchise issues as well as general legal issues for that department. The lawyers in the Criminal Prosecution Division prosecute all Class "C" misdemeanors under state laws and City ordinances. The prosecutors practice solely before the City's Municipal Court.

Scope and Contents

Documents (copies) from the Land Use and Real Estate Division (formally the Housing Division) of the COA Law Department pertaining to Urban Renewal Projects in East Austin during the 1960s and the 1970s. The documents are copies sent to the Law Department from a City employee in the Development Review and Inspections Department looking for an opinion for a customer considering development in the Kealing Urban Renewal Plan area.

Materials from the Municipal Operation Division include reports and research conducted by the Law Department in the early 1990s for the City Council appointed Charter Review Committee while they considered whether certain provisions of the City Charter should be revised and/or amended.

Materials from the Litigation Division include court documents and reports, mostly court briefs, concerning specific legal cases involving the city of Austin.


As additional materials from the Law Department are transferred to the Austin History Center additional series will be added.
Arranged into three series:
Land Use and Real Estate Division
Municipal Operations Division
Litigation Division


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Brothers, Charles A.
Golden, L. Wayne.
Granger, Diana L.
Lurie, Leon.
Overton, Volma.
Tinstman, R. M.
Williams, W. T. Jr.
Austin (Tex.). Charter Review Committee.
Austin (Tex.). City Council
Austin (Tex.). Dept. of Law.
Austin (Tex.). Urban Renewal Agency.
Blackshear Residents Organization.
Citizens Committee for Community Improvement.
Save Our Springs Coalition.
Austin (Tex.)
Austin (Tex.)--Charter.
Austin (Tex.)--East Austin.
Austin (Tex.)--Laws, statutes, etc.
Urban renewal--Texas--Austin.

Related Material

General Collection

  • A 711.4097643 AU Austin (Tex.). Urban Renewal Agency Annual Reports
  • A 344.7643106 BL Blackshear Residents' Organization, Clarice Carr, Gloria Aguilar, Carrie Moore, Arlene Brown, Sedonia Bryce, and Katherine Mathis ... Plaintiffs vs. Housing Authority of the City of Austin ... Defendants : Complaint
  • A 352.0976 AU Final Report: City of Austin Charter Review Committee, February 2, 1994

Archives and Manuscripts

  • AR.2002.037 Austin (Tex.). Urban Renewal Agency Board of Commissioners Records

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Austin (Tex.) Law Department Records (AR.2004.040). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2004/169, COA records transfer

Donation Date: 2004, 2010

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults/2010. Addition items added and finding aid updated by Mike Miller/2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Land Use and Real Estate Division, 1963-1976, 1997

Series Abstract: The Kealing Urban Renewal Project was originally proposed in 1957 and was Austin's first urban renewal program. The project consisted of a 70 acre tract with the boundaries being Rosewood to E. 12th (south to north) and Angelina to Chicon (west to east). Work on the project ran from 1964 to 1972 and the gross cost listed as 2.3 million with some money to be returned through re-sale of some of the land. A total of 294 structures were demolished; 52 new residences were built; 42 substandard houses were rehabilitated; Kealing Junior High School was expanded from less than five acres to 20.5 acres to include a park and playground; streets were paved and adequate water and sewer mains were built; and low-income apartments were built. The Blackshear Urban Renewal Project originally began in December of 1964 with the Citizens Committee for Community Improvement recommending that the City Council establish an urban renewal project in the Blackshear Community. There was opposition to the plan from the Blackshear Resident Organization and the Urban Renewal Agency board ultimately recommended in 1969 that City Council abandon the project. In December of 1969 City Council approved the Blackshear area as a Neighborhood Development Project (NDP), an annually funded redevelopment program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This new approach would be a more flexible plan that would allow for new and improved homes for low income families; land for expansion for both Blackshear Elementary School and Huston-Tillotson College; and improved streets and utilities. This program was halted by a cutback in federal funds during 1973.

Scope and Contents: The Kealing Urban Renewal Plan documents (1963-1969, 1997) consist of copies of Deed Records from Travis County that outline the Plan and include a description of the Urban Renewal Area and Land Use Plan with detailed land use provisions, building requirements and deed restrictions. Also included are City of Austin reports, City Council resolutions, correspondence between the Urban Renewal Agency and the parties involved with the Plan, memorandum from the Austin City Manager referencing the Plan, legal agreements, financial documents, and Law Department correspondence. Of interest is a report of the public hearing held by the City Council at the Kealing Junior High School on the Plan with a transcript of the question and answer period. Maps of the Urban Renewal Project No. 1 include the Urban Renewal Agency's 1963 Conditionally Exempt from Acquisition map, Clearance & Redevelopment Land Acquisition map, Land Use map, Conditionally Subject to Acquisition map, Boundary map, Public Facilities Land Acquisition map, as well as City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department Kealing Park To Date and Proposed. The Blackshear Project files include the City Council resolutions to dispose of (sell) parcels of land in the Blackshear Project Area as well as other resolution pertaining to the Project, City of Austin reports, Urban Renewal Agency correspondence. Of interest is a report written by the Community Design Center (affiliated with the University of Texas) at the request of the Blackshear Residents Organization to assist them with articulating their wishes and needs into the proposed Urban Renewal Plan. This report includes a study of the Kealing Urban Renewal Project and the Glen Oaks Urban Renewal Project.
Urban Renewal Projects, 1963-1976, 1997, undated
Box Folder
1 1-2 Kealing Urban Renewal Project, 1963-1969, 1997
Location FlatFile
qAR 04/01/021-027 Kealing Urban Renewal Project maps, 1963, 1970, undated
Box Folder
1 3-4 Blackshear Urban Renewal Project, 1965-1976

Municipal Operations Division, 1990-1994

Series Abstract: In July of 1993 the City Council appointed the Charter Review Committee to recommend to the Council whether certain provision of the City Charter should be revised and/or amended. Seventeen propositions were submitted to voters on May 7, 1994. Charles A. Brothers, Assistant City Attorney with the Law Department, was assigned to assist Jesus Garza (Assistant City Manager) with his work with the Charter Review Committee. In this capacity he was responsible for researching and reporting on legal questions that developed as amendments were proposed and reviewed by the Committee, the City Council and the City Manager.

Scope and Contents: The bulk of the materials were created and maintained by Charles A. Brothers and concern the legal aspects of the various propositions to adopt or reject amendments to the existing Charter of the City of Austin. Included are Charter Review Committee agendas and reports; correspondence between the Law Department, City Council and the City Manager's office about proposed amendments; copies of relevant City resolutions and ordinances; legal opinions and law review articles relevant to proposed Charter amendments; recommendations for Council action as well as post-election analysis of the provision changed by the voters. Materials bound together were left intact. One three-ring binder was removed before transfer but original order was maintained and the folders are marked (3rb) to indicate the relationship between the materials.
Charter Revision, 1990-1994, undated
Box Folder
1 5-6 Charter Review Committee, 1990-1994, undated
7 Proposed Charter amendments, 1993-1994
8-10 Charter amendment research, 1993-1994
Box Folder
2 1 Ordinance ordering a municipal election, 1994
2 Analysis of propositions, 1994, undated
3 Charter review schedule and ballot language , 1994, undated
4 Charter amendments, 1994
5-6 Individual proposition, circa 1994
Charter Review bound materials, 1993-1994, undated

Litigation Division, 1977-1992

Scope and Contents: The series contains court briefings and other records related to specific court cases involving the City of Austin. The subject of the case is included in parentheses.
Box Folder
3 1-2 Volma Overton vs. City of Austin (minority voting rights), 1985, 1987, undated
3 Jorge Zapata vs. City Manager (campaign rights for city employees), 1982
4 Charles Lee & White Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan vs. City of Austin (denial of parade permit), 1983
5-7 Save Our Springs Coalition vs. City of Austin (Barton Springs Protection Ordinance), 1992
Box Folder
4 1 Ryan Green and Martha M. Quinn vs. James R. Moffett, Gary Bradley, Ronney Reynolds, Charles E. Urdy, Robert A. Larson, Louise C. Epstein, Freeman McMoran, Inc., and James E. Aldridge (voting rights), 1992
2 Highland Resources, Inc. vs. City of Austin (Constitutionality of the Historic Landmark Ordinance), 1977-1979
3 Robert Mueller vs. City of Austin (zoning), 1981
4 Charles Urdy, Ronney Reynolds, Louise C. Epstein and Robert A. Larson vs. The Honorable W. Jeanne Meurer, Judge of the 98th District Court of Travis County, Texas (Save Our Springs ordinance), 1992
5 Jerry K. Quick, Kaira G. Quick, John M. Bryant, Ruth E. Bryant, Joe Cox, Dolores Cox and Florence Turck, and Circle C Land Corp. vs. City of Austin (Save Our Springs ordinance), 1992