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Everything posted by Trae

  1. Should childless couples pay school district taxes even though they don't have kids? You're never going to have a catch all situation. Besides, your example is not really similar. At least you are paying for that state's gas tax if you do buy gas there and when you drive in Texas, you'll eventually buy gas here too (and hey, maybe you drove a few miles in the other state with Texas gas, unless you crossed state lines on empty). Meanwhile, miles driven is much harder to capture, especially if you live close to a bordering state. Someone in Beaumont going to New Orleans will have only driven 60ish of those 400+ miles in Texas, yet be charged as if they drove all of it in Texas? How would you want them to prove they drove those miles out of state? And your last sentence is very easy... you just charge more for electric use at that home. If everyone is going to use more electricity, then the cost of using it will for sure go up especially in the summertime. Charging at one of those Tesla-like stations would be cheaper and faster, and then you go home. And supercharger stations will definitely charge faster than a plug at home will.
  2. You can charge for electricity at whatever future "supercharger" stations that get built. You can impose higher taxes on electric vehicles at purchase. But you definitely can't just say "oh well" when someone drives x amount of miles out of state but has to pay Texas taxes on it. Those are lawsuits waiting to happen.
  3. And how would the state prove that all 200 of those miles was done within the State of Texas? I don't think this plan would work. I am in favor of increasing the gas tax. An extra 5-10 cents won't break the bank. The last toll road in this stat to convert after the tolls were paid off was I-30 in DFW. I thank the DFW lawmakers for bringing this forward. If tollroads were promised to turn into free roads after being paid off, then they should. Economics change, which is why the gas tax needs to go up. It'd probably help to alleviate some traffic on certain freeways (45), but it'll definitely lead to an increase in use overall. If the West Beltway traffic is bad now, imagine if it were "free".
  4. That's not what their press release said. All 17 cities will get a bump in jobs coming from this decision. Seattle, DC, and Nashville will probably get larger shares of the 25k, but not everything.
  5. Frankly NYC doesn't need Amazon and now the other 17 cities not chosen for HQ2 get a piece of the 25,000 jobs that were going to go there. Just like with migration, NYC once again helps beef up the rest of the US.
  6. Drainage improvements includes a lot of things and it's up to that particularly city to decide on what gets done, then they'll bring that to flood management agencies for final approval. After that, it gets put up to vote by citizens of that city. Obviously the way Houston has been doing it now (your preferred way) hasn't worked at all, especially recently. It's time to stop the status quo and allow for change. Adding more brains in the room that oversee cities would make things easier, in my opinion. It'd reshape the H-GAC to be more like the North Texas Council of Governments. It's hard to do much when there's so much ETJ land that's not governed well. What's easier? City of Cypress or MUD #400+MUD #233+MUD #105, etc.? Really, Harvey's damage could have been mitigated had their been more individual municipalities that needed to take care of their population. You see this in DFW where the construction of all of their area lakes was partly due to help with drainage and was pushed by some of the suburban cities. With so much of the developed land in Houston falling under an ETJ (and most within an ETJ of a city with no zoning and lax ordinances), most developers were in it for a quick buck. That's the only reason why I could see things like Canyon Gate/parts of Cinco Ranch neighborhoods that were built IN the reservoir. If those areas fell within an actual city then I doubt it would have been approved. As for your last paragraph, it's always been a wonder to me why stuff like that is specific to Houston, while other metro areas don't have that problem when they've all experienced white flight. For example Dallas had a lot of white flight, yet it's suburbs still all built (mostly continuous) sidewalks. Los Angeles had a TON of white flight, yet its suburbs all built sidewalks (and many developed before Houston started to really grow in the late 60s/early 70s). There are sidewalks in many affluent/former white flight areas all across the country. The reason for the lack of sidewalks in Houston is due to weak ordinances and the tendency to do things cheaply. It's good that most master-planned communities are built with sidewalks but the problem is that they lead to nowhere once you leave the development. I used to think like that too being from the Houston area and thought that sidewalks meant "poorer area" because that's what we were told. Once I got older and moved around it showed me that was bullshit. In fact, one of the areas that needs sidewalks most (North Katy-South Cypress) doesn't have any. It's a shame to see moms pushing strollers, people carrying groceries, or kids pushing their bikes on dirt paths along the streets there. That's what happens when your tax dollars are sent elsewhere because you're an ETJ...
  7. That's just one article. There are several out there about the ETJs incorporating with Meyers having exact quotes like this (link in the first post): “You are taking away their voice from the standpoint that their elected body [Fort Bend County Commissioners Court] can be overruled by an unelected body [the city of Houston],” Meyers said. “That’s un-American, un-Texan; it’s just not right.” “I don’t want people to get out of the ETJ and not be able to create a city,” Meyers said. “It will be done probably through some type of petition.” “Legislators are reluctant to pick up legislation that is going to be extremely controversial,” Meyers said. “We certainly anticipate opposition from Houston and the Texas Municipal League on our efforts.” To me, that looks like he favors incorporation. In regards to Katy, how is building additional detention ponds and upgrading drainage under existing streets going to mean that Houston floods worse? By planting some trees, adding sidewalks, and maybe some playground equipment those detention ponds become nature trails or pocket parks in normal weather. Going by your logic, there shouldn't be any development out there because any additional concrete will flood Houston. Furthermore, you don't think the City of Katy (or any others) consult with the flood management districts about the improvements that they want to put through? Cities are independent but like you said, there's still an overarching agency that they'll have to report to. There are already some master-planned communities that take a little extra step for drainage but they can't do too much since the developer wants to make money. Those smaller KB Home-type neighborhoods do the bare minimum and those dot a lot of northern Harris County in the Spring area which has serious flooding problems. Imagine if Spring was a city and they put up a vote to raise homes and require developers to build more detention ponds? Perhaps that would have saved quite a few homes from taking on water.
  8. It's just a little nuisance that could be avoided in addition to being able to vote for more drainage improvements locally like the City of Katy just did.
  9. I read about some of the flood issues from this article. Maybe you know something different since you're also closely involved: Another problem that came up during the flooding of Hurricane Harvey was that county commissioners could not have emergency meetings as one single group. “We could not all meet with the county judge because of the open meetings act,” Meyers said. The open meetings act requires a government meeting to be announced to the public three days before it takes place. Meyers pointed out that if unincorporated areas were incorporated as their own cities and towns, there would be municipal staff available to go to emergency meetings. Right now, Meyers is basically the staff of unincorporated Fort Bend County. There is no other expert to send to vital meetings. He has a very small staff that represents more residents than many cities in Texas. “It made it difficult to get quality information during the flooding,” Myers said. Meyers says the Houston area has a problem with ETJs that are not found in other parts of the state. He says Houston has a very high population that lives in its ETJs. Most major cities in Texas, he says, only have a small percentage of people who live in their ETJs, he said. He notes that they are taking tax money that’s needed to serve millions of people, and spending that money in Houston instead of the unincorporated areas. https://coveringkaty.com/local-news/commissioner-meyers-talks-annexation-and-houstons-ability-to-tax-katy-residents/ And with separate cities then maybe one that floods more often passes a law that requires higher elevation for homes or requires more detention ponds, etc. You see it now with the City of Katy passing its flood control bond last year that was in addition to the county wide one. What if that was more widespread? That would only happen with cities. The MUDs and ETJ of Houston does the bare minimum for almost everything. And definitely a guy lol
  10. When I mentioned home prices, I meant that similar homes in the incorporated city would be higher on average than the ones in a nearby unincorporated area. So homes in Missouri City are worth more than the homes in Fresno right next door, etc.Sometimes an advertising line homebuilders would use is being in an actual city. I remember this when my parents were looking for a new home 15 years ago in the Katy and Sugar Land areas. I think it would have been a tougher sell maybe 14-20 years ago but not as much now. Look at Atlanta, a metro area that's just as, if not more conservative. They've had a few incorporation over the last 10 years that were driven by Republican representatives who want more control on what's built around them. The most conservative parts of the Houston metro is in well planned areas like The Woodlands and incorporating for them looks cheaper than originally thought. What I meant about flooding is that if the unincorporated areas were cities there'd have been more flood control. It's much harder for the county to handle all of that and just as hard for the city to manage its bloated square mileage + ETJ. The collective growth method is the reason for the flooding. It's a wonder why we didn't get more area lakes earlier on in the 20th century like in DFW. Would have been perfect for NW Harris County. Funny you mentioned emergency planning. That was one of the big issues with Harvey actually. It was harder for officials to meet due to the 3-day rule, but if they were mayors instead of county commissioners, it would have made things much easier. The easiest way to get better planning is to break the county down into sections (aka incorporating). Right now these commissioners oversea such large land areas and huge populations.
  11. Houston has dense enough corridors for a complete light rail system in the inner loop with extensions to both airports (which isn't the same as a bus from downtown to IAH). You can have lines towards the west and southwest sides of towns. This isn't Houston 1985. With the location of the largest employment centers in Houston and the increase in density within the Beltway, it makes getting rail ridership here easier. The recent expansion was incomplete and doesn't show the full potential of the current lines. Would be a lot different if the University and Inner Katy lines were also complete at this point. I agree with those that say commuter rail would work best from the suburbs, especially since the trains could run more often throughout the entire day than the current Metro P&R system. Studies have shown that even BRT is less favorable to potential riders than rail would be. It's still a bus, just in its own lane. There's talk of autonomous buses from folks who don't want rail but we already have autonomous rail in the world. Hindsight 20/20 (or not since it was voted for by citizens but turned down by the mayor at the time), Houston should have heavy rail down most major freeways with limited stops until you reach the core and it could 17-20 hours a day.
  12. Agreed and it took living there and in other places with incorporated suburbs to see it. Not only does it breed all of those things you named, I think it's also the reason why DFW has higher rated schools and school districts than the Houston area. We know in Texas school districts don't follow city limits but in DFW students living in a suburban city will generally go to that school district. So most students in Arlington attend Arlington ISD, most in Mansfield attend Mansfield ISD, most in Plano attend Plano ISD, most in Frisco attend Frisco ISD, most in Grand Prairie attend Grand Prairie ISD, etc. This helps with community involvement in my opinion. A good example of that is the City of Allen with Allen ISD. They opted to be a one high school town which has pumped out state championships in football (and other sports). Besides schools, other small things are noticeable like stoplight camera/sensors. In DFW or here in LA, rarely would I need to wait at a light for an entire cycle because it would change as my vehicle approached (or the countdown on the pedestrian walkway would trigger with usually 10 seconds or less of wait time). If no one was in a turning lane then the light would only change for the thru lanes. The suburban cities in both places almost have that as standard at most intersections. In unincorporated Houston I've had to stop for a shopping center light while on a major road when no one was entering/exiting the shopping center. I've had to wait in turning lanes for entire cycles because there are few left turn yields in Houston even though you can clearly see all oncoming traffic. Granted those are small issues in the grand scheme of things but stuff like that is hard to maintain for a stretched-thin county. A city where tax dollars stay local might be able to do more traffic studies and decide to upgrade their intersections... If allowed to incorporate into cities, I really think the western/northern arc of 99 between 59S and 59N could become Houston's version of a Collin County. It can be a contiguous area of generally more planned communities (or cities) that become attractive to relocating companies. The vast unincorporated areas I believe are a deterrent to outside companies because there isn't a general plan of what is going to be built around them. They see the long range planning of the suburbs in DFW or Austin and go there instead.
  13. I'm well aware of the history of annexations/ETJ in Houston. But the whole reason why this topic even came about is because people who live in unincorporated areas are tired of the services (or lack thereof) that they receive. It's become a huge problem in Harris County and becoming a problem in Fort Bend County. MUDs have limited power and ISDs have even less power. They can't provide everything that a city can. I think Harvey really highlighted this issue and over the past year there's been much discussion about it. I also think you're looking at this from a different lens than I am. I never advocated for the CoH to annex these areas. Quite the opposite actually. People want to be annexed, but not by Houston. North/South Katy residents want to be in the City of Katy or to create a new city. Cypress area residents would rather be in a new City of Cypress than the CoH. You can go on down the list with Klein, Spring, etc. These people in ETJs almost have no say in what goes on around them. This has never been possible due to prior Texas ETJ law, which is why a new bill will be proposed in the upcoming session. Houston's annexation efforts in the past were very short-sighted and the limited-purpose annexations of commercial areas left the residential as "taxation without representation" areas. They pay taxes at stores in their neighborhoods but those tax dollars don't remain local to that area. So these unincorporated areas have inadequate roads, no sidewalks, generally poorer muni services, inconsistent flood control, minimal neighborhood planning, etc. If they were instead cities I think there would generally be more design into where and what gets constructed. You see the areas in the region that are cities tend to be laid out better and often have higher-priced homes on average: Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, League City, Conroe, etc. There's a definite upgrade in quality in my opinion versus the unincorporated areas, even within master-planned communities. Small things like searching for homes, viewing crime, demographics, etc., is easier if there are well-defined borders that becoming a city creates. High crime areas where a glut of apartments were built in one spot (parts of Alief for example) could have been avoided if it started out as a city rather than unincorporated. There are potentially future Aliefs in some unincorporated areas. You'd also have more votes on H-GAC which would help with regional needs. Houston is 600 square miles, has all of the largest business districts, the cultural institutions, the airports, and entertainment venues for a fast-growing top 6 metro area in the US. It will not lose its position or power in the region if the unincorporated areas form cities of 250k-400k each, even with it releasing the strip annexation of commercial areas. Those would mainly be outside of Highway 6-FM 1960's semi-loop anyway. If anything, it'd make the region more attractive as these newly formed cities can create their own plans and attract other businesses into the Houston area.
  14. The 65% of Los Angeles County that remains unincorporated are all of the desert lands and mountain regions. The vast majority of urbanized areas in LA County are incorporated. There are only a handful of areas that aren't: some of those mountain towns and there's a few areas in the LA Basin that are completely surrounded by other cities (Baldwin Hills, Florence-Firestone, West Athens, East LA). The interesting thing about them is that they're lower income/poor areas aside from Baldwin Hills. All of those areas are just a few square miles large with East LA being the largest at 7.2 square miles. Compared to Houston's ETJ, that's a tiny neighborhood. Parishes in Louisiana are literally just counties, but the state calls them by a different name due to its history. City-County mergers have happened in a few places (Miami, Nashville, Indy, etc.) and could be an option but I don't think the suburban areas want to be in Houston. Plus Harris County is larger than those other counties. The most normal way seems to be that urbanized areas are incorporated into cities, while semi-rural/rural areas are unincorporated until development comes. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Hopefully it's moved forward and people are allowed to vote on what happens in the area they live in.
  15. This seems to be a uniquely Houston problem. Other areas don't have the same issues with incorporation. There has been new information released about incorporation in TW and it now looks to not be as expensive as first presented. The unincorporated area of Harris County I grew up in (North Katy) is basically bare-bones suburban. Some major roads are just now getting sidewalks after about 20+ years of small dirt lines along the roads where people walk. There is so much commercial space nearby that CoH annexed. Half of that money goes into the city's coffers when it should stay in the local area. Look at places like Webster or other incorporated cities in the Houston area. They are generally more appealing than unincorporated areas. Locals also have no say in limited-purpose annexation. That's between MUD officials and the CoH. Residents just have to deal with it with most being completely unaware.
  16. https://communityimpact.com/houston/katy/city-county/2018/06/21/fort-bend-county-official-etj-legislation-may-affect-up-to-300000-residents/ Also: https://communityimpact.com/houston/katy/city-county/2018/08/23/katy-state-representative-etj-bill-could-affect-1-8-million-houston-residents/ It's about time. Unincorporated Houston is very weird. I grew up in unincorporated Harris County and didn't realize how different it was until I moved to different places (DFW and now LA). There are definitely some things missing in the Houston metro that having more incorporated cities would solve. It's also about time all that money that's spent stays local to their respective areas. Maybe now there can be more planning and design to areas that are stuck in this weird limbo. I hope this moves forward. I think it can really benefit the Houston area overall. Houston still would have gigantic city limits that it already has a hard time maintaining. What does HAIF think?
  17. Texas Southern University is not a school that's sought after by most undergrads. Prairie View definitely has more prestige than TSU but it too is just a blip (and I went to PVAMU my freshman year). Sam Houston State is in Huntsville so that doesn't count. Houston is indeed the only top ten metro area without multiple 4-year public universities that rank. Phoenix is the 11th largest metro and the only one with just one large public university, but at least it's the state's flagship. It'd be like having UT-Austin somewhere in the Inner Loop. But I guess you could say that DC only has one large public university in it's metro, but that again is the state flagship (Maryland) and there are so many other colleges in and around DC that make up for it. Something Houston can't say. Texas in general punches below it's weight in higher education, and so does Houston. Don't forget CSU-Northridge in LA city limits. It's actually quite amazing how 4-year public unis there are in SoCal.
  18. I love my hometown and have defended Houston endlessly in the past, but there have been decisions made over the years that have accumulated and I think Houston may be at a crossroads. From all of the strip annexation that left vast amounts of unincorporated areas relying on a stretched thin county instead of allowing for more local incorporation. Then there's the weak flood control policies, failure at attracting non-energy companies, inadequate rail transit, no major amusement park=less outside tourism dollars, bad roadway planning (the arterial grid in Houston looks nice but the implementation of it leaves a lot to be desired --- the small things like dedicated turning lanes or right turn yield lanes can go a long way), very patchy sidewalk network, and arguably the worst of the bunch is not allowing the state's largest university system to build a school in town. If Houston just had a couple of those items (namely more incorporated suburbs and better flood control), then the future outlook would look brighter in my opinion. There are other mid-size Southern cities that are starting to rise (Nashville, Raleigh, Orlando, Charlotte) who have become stronger competition than in the past. Like Nashville just landed Amazon's operational HQ that'll have up to 5,000 jobs. Houston would never be considering for something like that today. Houston is not even attracting medical companies. Those go to DFW. It's shouldn't be a mystery why the governor of the state who comes FROM the Houston area can't even get outside companies to relocate their HQ to it. The I-35 corridor has gotten all the love. Houston has made strides in many areas but there's a lot of work to do and I don't think residents want to be taxed to make these things happen.
  19. I hear you but this is still a short-sighted position in my opinion. Yeah it's unfair that UT/A&M get most of the funds, but you let the school come first. The finances and how money is distributed across all state public universities can be decided on and worked out later. That will happen with or without UT putting a school in the middle of Houston. Let that money flow into the city. Instead that money will continue flowing to DFW, Austin, SA, etc., while Houston will be left behind. Other metros of similar size have multiple public universities that are gearing those cities towards the future economy. UH at worst would have remained the same with a UT-Houston coming on. With all the history UH has in this region, do you think it would have become a Paul Quinn College? I think having just one large university in such a fast growing metro area is not going to work. Trying to make UH into the one super college campus in Houston is going to be similar to Houston gobbling up so much unincorporated area. You're going to stretch things thin instead of sectioning off and letting different areas compete to bring out the best. That's what you see in DFW where the suburban cities have competed so much to where now they're seen as pristine and very attractive for relocating companies. Those companies move in and give funding to the multiple colleges in the area, hire people who move from out of state and then send kids to those colleges, and now those colleges are shooting up the ranking with giant tech departments. Not putting another 4-year school in town is just not preparing Houston for the future at all.
  20. Yeah this will go down as an all time stupid decision by Houston leaders. And I'm a UH grad and would have liked having this school there. The difference between a UT-Houston vs a UTEP, UT-Tyler, etc., is that this would be in Houston, an international city with a top 8 population and economy in America. Houston is nothing like those other small cities with a UT campus. Look at where UT-Dallas is now versus 10-15 years ago. It's attracting high numbers of National Merit Scholars and the school's rankings have really improved. That's what a UT-Houston could have become. Houston is way too big to have just one large public university and A&M is too far to count as a legit second. DFW having three large public universities within it's metro is starting to really benefit it now and will help in the future. UT-Arlington and UNT may not be that high of ranked schools but they're higher than before. They've helped improve the cities they are located in (Arlington and Denton) because of services (often free) to the local community and have spurred development around them (UT-Dallas has too). Houston has one of the highest birth rates of top ten metros in America and we're not going to be able to squeeze all of those kids into UH if they want to stay home. I hope somehow this can still happen even if it's somewhere else in the city. If not then hopefully A&M or Texas Tech opens up a public 4-year campus within Harris County.
  21. At a projection of 59,500 riders on 22 miles, the University BRT would have more than enough ridership to justify it being rail. It'd have the 8th highest ridership per mile out of all light rail systems in this country. Even better, the Inner Katy line would have the 4th highest riders per mile if it were a light rail system. Some short-shortsightedness going on by making these lines BRT. But such is Houston nowadays, where people band together to stop another flagship university from forming.
  22. If you work at a job that regular drug tests or are on say probabtion then the synthetic weed can give you a similar feeling to being high on the natural stuff. And unlike the natural stuff, it can become addicting to some folks.
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