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Porchman

Battle for the Soul of the Heights?

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OK. So, I have received two mailings (actually one was a personal delivery via my mail slot this afternoon). Apparently, there is a SHOW-DOWN FOR CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF THE HOUSTON HEIGHTS ASSOCIATION between people who believe...well, let me excerpt

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Went looking for more info and found a list of candidate statements in the October newsletter:

Park Blair: As a business owner in The Heights I have seen the diversity of the people who live and really enjoy being a part of the Houston Heights. I appreciate the support of the people here and welcome the opportunity of giving back to the community. Thank you all for your support and consideration.

Hilary Cobb: A resident and member of the Houston Heights Association since 1994. Docented Home Tours including her own on Arlington in Home Tour 2000. My mission would be to find common ground to incorporate the very best of the old with the promise of the new in our neighborhood.

Anne Culotta: I feel strongly that the Heights is a neighborhood with a great history behind it and an even better future ahead. The key word here is

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Is the underlining yours, or did the mailers come that way?

The "responsible new development" was included in the mailer. There was a lot of other underlining. I guess I got into the groove because the rest in my post was mine

Went looking for more info and found a list of candidate statements in the October newsletter:

Thanks, Tmariar. Both mailers came with bio's that were slightly more in depth. They all seem to have their stripes.

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Below are some notes I took on the candidates from internet research for myself, in case they're useful to anyone else:

Blair Park - Building contractor who owns the Heights Berryhill

Hilary Cobb - Realtor

Anne Culotta - Her husband signed an ipetition in both their names, and left this comment: "We wholeheartedly support the efforts of Historic Houston, the Heights Association and other concerned residents of our neighborhood to see this loophole in the PVLS ordinance closed quickly an definitively. The Heights and surrounding inner city neighborhoods are quickly becoming too densely populated for existing or planned infrastructure to support, and the character of the neighborhood, so carefully preserved and nurtured by so many of us over the last twenty years or more and one of the real draws of the Heights, is increasingly threatened. The City's promise was to restrict the ability of developers to run roughshod over the consensus of the neighbors. That promise has thus far not been fulfilled, and an important constituency has taken notice that nothing is being done to follow through on the promise."

Mary Ellis - Only additional info I could find is that she appears to live in a new construction on Allston

Simon Eyles - Ditto, new construction on Arlington

Michael Jungnickel - Signed the same ipetition mentioned above, commenting: "My neighborhood worked hard to get under the protection these ordinances are supposed to ensure. It is unbelievable that the city created a loophole to undo the integrity preserving ordinances it put in place! A commission makes recommendations, not policy!"

Amy Lawson - Only additional info I could find is that she appears to live in a 1908 house on Harvard

Sue McFarland - Though she says she chose to live in the Heights in part because of the historic homes, she bought a new construction

Genie Mims - Helped organize the 2008 bike rally, KPFT supporter, blues fan

Martin Pike - Helped organize the 2006 bike rally, custom clothier

Paula Swain Priestly - Spoke at an Historical Commission meeting (along with Bart Truxillo) on the designation of the Houston Heights Historic District West

Margarete Sanchez-Ripps - Has also raised money for CERF, a national nonprofit organization that has helped save the careers of artists affected by theft, fire, natural disasters and illness

Christine Spin - Built a new construction

Bart Truxillo - Lots of preservationist credentials

Janet Wagner - Found other examples of her work as a local historian

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I tried to read this thread, but my eyes glazed over in parts of it. What is the nature of this battle? What "soul" are we talking about?

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While neither supporting nor opposing any of the candidates, I feel the need to point out that Anne Culotta's husband's statement are likely incorrect, not being supported by any facts. The Heights was built and prospered as a middle class neighborhood during a time when families were much larger. The 2 bedroom bungalows that many of us have saved were often populated with families of 4 to 8 people. These days, the Heights homes are increasingly populated with singles and couples. The families that do live in these homes often only have one or two children. The argument that density is increasing is just not true.

As for existing infrastructure, fewer persons per home puts less stress on existing infrastructure. Additionally, the Heights is seeing more upgrading of infrastructure than at any time in recent history. Studewood has been completely rebuilt, including the storm sewer capacity. Yale is slated for reconstruction. Several smaller streets are being rebuilt, and this trend is slated to continue. Woodland Heights just got a massive storn sewer rebuild, which tangentially affects the Heights.

I appreciate the work of those who want to protect the character of the Heights. I do not appreciate misleading statements to further those efforts.

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I live in Shady Acres, just due west of the Heights. I wish we had residents fighting to join the board. :D I'm proud of HHA for having so much interest in this volunteer position.

For those interested in running for a Shady Acres Civic Club officer position, here goes the site

http://www.shadyacres.org/index.php?page=41

Edited by samiamj

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While neither supporting nor opposing any of the candidates, I feel the need to point out that Anne Culotta's husband's statement are likely incorrect, not being supported by any facts. The Heights was built and prospered as a middle class neighborhood during a time when families were much larger. The 2 bedroom bungalows that many of us have saved were often populated with families of 4 to 8 people. These days, the Heights homes are increasingly populated with singles and couples. The families that do live in these homes often only have one or two children. The argument that density is increasing is just not true.

I'm not positive..... but I think Anne Culotta's husband may be Ken Culotta, who is (or at least was) a partner at Baker Botts. In the early 90s they had one of those brick terraced bungalows right along the bayou. If I'm correct, it's even more entertaining to watch you rip the argument up, Red.

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I'm not positive..... but I think Anne Culotta's husband may be Ken Culotta, who is (or at least was) a partner at Baker Botts. In the early 90s they had one of those brick terraced bungalows right along the bayou. If I'm correct, it's even more entertaining to watch you rip the argument up, Red.

Wow, really? I'd hate to get crossways with a fellow lawyer...wait, no I wouldn't.

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I'm not positive..... but I think Anne Culotta's husband may be Ken Culotta

I believe you're right

edit - yep, you are

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I believe you're right

edit - yep, you are

I remember because he was a favorite of the hired help. He was one of 2 partners who were down to earth, and nice to the support staff slaves. He was also extremely good looking. I'm kind of amazed they stayed in the Heights.

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i am all for development- there are a lot of areas in the Heights that need it. however, i think the HHA needs to stay as conservative as possible. they are the only foil to the "development at all costs" way of thinking that plagues Houston. we have more of Houston's history and character under the jurisdiction of the HHA than any other part of the city. because the HHA has been so strict and fought so hard, there has been a middle ground. look at what's going on up on 19th? but we need to try and save some of the "historic" nature of the neighborhood, or we might as well take down the Historic Houston Heights signs now.

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OK. So, I have received two mailings (actually one was a personal delivery via my mail slot this afternoon). Apparently, there is a SHOW-DOWN FOR CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF THE HOUSTON HEIGHTS ASSOCIATION between people who believe...well, let me excerpt

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Ken's at K&S now. They still own an old house, but their current house is not on the bayou. I probably shouldn't even have quoted his comments, esp. not out of context, as Ken's not a candidate.

No argument with Red's points, though of course Ken isn't here to explain his comment (which concerned a proposed condo development on Cortlandt at White Oak). Maybe he wasn't comparing now to the Heights' first boom. Even if he was looking that far back, I see an argument with regard to traffic. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I'd guess that a one- or two-person house in the Heights today is likely to have as many cars as (if not more cars than) the large families of yesteryear. The last 50 years saw small apartment complexes spring up all over the Heights and, in the last 20-odd years, large swaths of Heights-area land that were once industrial have been covered by large apartment complexes. (Not too long ago, land values in the Heights were such that I think apartments and condos were seen as the major threat to historic properties - at least that's how it seemed to me, and that the threat of single-family new constructions is more recent.)

Anyhow - my point on traffic is that I'd be surprised if traffic volume has not been a steadily increasing concern over the years. While White Oak was always a commercial or mixed street, and is wide, parking is apparently becoming more of an issue. You can address that kind of issue on an ad hoc basis, as proposed projects come up, or you can do things like creating set-back, minimum-lot-size, and parking ordinances. I'm hoping that those candidates talking about "responsible" growth are talking about growth/development that is not inconsistent with the goal of preserving the neighborhood's historic character, but I don't think that's a safe assumption.

I'd like to see people on the HHA board who will fight for large-scale protections for the neighborhood (hopefully not to the exclusion of heron-tree-type projects). It matters to me if someone has preservationist leanings, and if they live in an old house. But I also like to see candidates with track records of volunteering time to causes in which they believe b/c that's what the board work is going to require. Beyond that, if they have experience in fighting for preservationist causes and the connections that can help in that fight, so much the better. It's not that important to me that the person be a business-owner - in fact, some business interests may not be very compatible with preservationist goals, as businesses will generally profit from an increase in the income base.

Just my opinion, though - what qualifications are important to others?

[lwood - I'm sorry that you had a bad experience at the HHA meeting. I share the view that purchasing a new construction in the Heights is adding to the neighborhood's problems (the tear-down trend being dependent on demand), and am not surprised to hear that being a new-home owner in the Heights can sometimes feel like you've wandered into a PETA rally in a fur coat (I'm more surprised that anyone would be surprised by that). BUT I'll add to my ideal candidate qualifications "someone who doesn't automatically write off purchasers of new constructions as unlikely to contribute" - because I'm sure there are new-home purchasers who want to and will volunteer for neighborhood projects. I hope you're still one of them, and have found ways to volunteer.]

Edited by tmariar

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If there is showdown for control of the HHA, it's been going on at least for the 15 years I've lived here. This is just the latest shot in a long, long, gunbattle [and at times fought on one side by Festus and on the other Barney Fife]

[deleted the balance of my original post.]

Edited by jgs1419

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Porchman,

I don't post very often, but I believe I might be able to provide a little more background. I will tell you here at the beginning that I support the candidates on the pro-preservation slate. This is because I believe they will bring a more reasonable and respectful approach back to the board.

This is the first time in many years there are more candidates than there are openings on the board. You are correct. It is because of last February's vote to allow builders who demolish historic houses to once again purchase sponsorships and have their logos displayed in HHA printed materials and on the Web site. Many in the neighborhood believe the board turned a deaf ear to their concerns about this.

I do not believe you are correct in assuming that both slates would support the purchase of 1414 Ashland to save the Herons. In fact, the author of the letter you received in the red envelope believes it was the worst thing the HHA has ever done. His lingering anger about it is one reason he is working against the pro-preservation slate of candidates. BTW, one of those pro-preservation candidates is, Paula Priestley, who lives in the 1400 block of Ashland. She organized her neighbors and got the attention of HHA.

There is a pro-builder push from the board members elected last year without opposition. In fact, many of them have very strong professional or personal ties to builders. Can you imagine arguing over whether the board should adopt a resolution in opposition to the proposed high-rise on White Oak? Well, there was argument about whether such a resolution was going too far.

Bike rallies, campouts, home tours, boulevard and park maintenance are very important, but they are not all there is. Take a look at any civic association and you'll also find a strong land use component. Were it not for the lot size and setback protections, the deed restrictions and the historic districts, Houston Heights would look like Rice Military. HHA played a role in all of it. A large segment of this neighborhood believes HHA should continue to play an integral role in helping to shape the future of the neighborhood. It cannot, and should not, be handed over to the developers.

Edited by Krol

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Porchman,

I don't post very often, but I believe I might be able to provide a little more background. I will tell you here at the beginning that I support the candidates on the pro-preservation slate. This is because I believe they will bring a more reasonable and respectful approach back to the board.

{...}

Krol,

Thank you very much. This is exactly the insight I was seeking.

BTW, you should post more! :)

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There is a pro-builder push from the board members elected last year without opposition. In fact, many of them have very strong professional or personal ties to builders. Can you imagine arguing over whether the board should adopt a resolution in opposition to the proposed high-rise on White Oak? Well, there was argument about whether such a resolution was going too far.

It's in another thread, but here again is the HHA resolution that was adopted: "In furtherance of its mission to preserve and enhance the historic character of Houston Heights, the Houston Heights Association cannot support the construction of a high-rise commercial building (9-13 stories with three lower floors of parking garage) currently proposed for the corner of White Oak (6th street) and Oxford. The scale and form of the proposed building is not in character with adjacent commercial and residential architecture or with the neighborhood as a whole, which is largely composed of one and two story buildings. Such an intensive use of the site would result in a building that would tower over and impose itself on the views of historic residences and their gardens. It would also create a significant increase in vehicular traffic at the intersection of 6th and Oxford. The HHA understands that change is inevitable, and actively encourages the construction of new buildings (on non-historic sites) that are compatible with the form, scale and character of the Houston Heights. The construction of this office tower would create a precedent for the future development of large scale multi-story commercial and residential buildings that would be in direct conflict with the unique small-town character of one of Houston's special neighborhoods."

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Did anyone go to Monday's meeting and know the results of the vote, by chance?

EARLY RETURNS

37%: I got here before you so I get to make the rules

32%: Let's organize continued community improvements

17%: Now that I did what I want with my property, let me tell you what to do with yours

14%: Wow, I thought we could all get along?!

Edited by jgs1419

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EARLY RETURNS

37%: I got here before you so I get to make the rules

32%: Let's organize continued community improvements

17%: Now that I did what I want with my property, let me tell you what to do with yours

14%: Wow, I thought we could all get along?!

Well....at least it adds up to 100.

(I think the "get along" block is overepresented.) ;)

Edited by RedScare

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OK. So, I have received two mailings (actually one was a personal delivery via my mail slot this afternoon). Apparently, there is a SHOW-DOWN FOR CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF THE HOUSTON HEIGHTS ASSOCIATION between people who believe...well, let me excerpt

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Well....at least it adds up to 100.

(I think the "get along" block is overepresented.) ;)

The 'HHA, why don't you go f*** yourself' coalition formed a last minute caucus with the 'get along' block.

Edited by jgs1419

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Did anyone go to Monday's meeting and know the results of the vote, by chance?

The pro-builder/chamber of commerce types who appointed themselves the decision-makers for the neighborhood last year and who skirted the HHA policies to engineer an unethical taking of this year's election were successful. The announcement at the meeting indicated there was no specific pattern in the voting, but the results sure seem to indicate otherwise. Just one of the seven candidates supported by the group that believes HHA can focus on both parties and neighborhood preservation was elected. The other six board members-elect are from the pro-developer group.

Here's who won regular three year terms: Simon Eyles

Margarete Sanchez-Ripps (sp?)

Anne Culotta

Martin Pike'

Mary Ellis

BartTruxillo, the one candidate from the neighborhood slate, and Christine Spin received the fewest number of votes and will each fill one-year terms.

In addition to claiming there was no pattern in the voting, the election committee also went to great lengths to attest to the honesty of the process. The bottom line is that a board member violated long-standing board policy by misusing an HHA membership list to achieve an advantage and skew the results. It is clear from the outcome that his effort had the desired impact.

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do you think if the next 3 years are full of willy-nilly development at all costs, people will regret their votes and vote for the neighborhood next time?

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do you think if the next 3 years are full of willy-nilly development at all costs, people will regret their votes and vote for the neighborhood next time?

I don't think the economy will support willy nilly development in the next 3 years, so the effect, if any, of the pro-developer board will be somewhat blunted. I don't think the economically slowed development of the next 3 years will look markedly different than what has occurred in the last 3 years.

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I don't think the economy will support willy nilly development in the next 3 years, so the effect, if any, of the pro-developer board will be somewhat blunted. I don't think the economically slowed development of the next 3 years will look markedly different than what has occurred in the last 3 years.

good point. while i don't wish hard times on anyone (well, except harry james), the economic downturn is the best thing that could happen to the Heights.

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The pro-builder/chamber of commerce types who appointed themselves the decision-makers for the neighborhood last year and who skirted the HHA policies to engineer an unethical taking of this year's election were successful. The announcement at the meeting indicated there was no specific pattern in the voting, but the results sure seem to indicate otherwise. Just one of the seven candidates supported by the group that believes HHA can focus on both parties and neighborhood preservation was elected. The other six board members-elect are from the pro-developer group.

Here's who won regular three year terms: Simon Eyles

Margarete Sanchez-Ripps (sp?)

Anne Culotta

Martin Pike'

Mary Ellis

BartTruxillo, the one candidate from the neighborhood slate, and Christine Spin received the fewest number of votes and will each fill one-year terms.

In addition to claiming there was no pattern in the voting, the election committee also went to great lengths to attest to the honesty of the process. The bottom line is that a board member violated long-standing board policy by misusing an HHA membership list to achieve an advantage and skew the results. It is clear from the outcome that his effort had the desired impact.

I guess i'm not surprised by this outcome.... thanks for the update..

I think if most people sent their ballots in a timely manner, they wouldn't have received the second, opposing-side (pro preservation) letter, that came much later than the first letter (pro bulldozer)...

i always say procrastination is the way to go (it always seems to work in investing too..."see, we haven't hit the bottom just yet...glad i procrastinated") <_<

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