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After reading Outfield Dan's post, I thought I'd post what I wrote to city council members last night, since I cannot attend tomorrow. I'm largely on the same page with OD, but thought I'd post what I wrote and maybe encourage others to write to city council tonight as well. And I agree there is no way Annise Parker will get my vote next time after her blatant disregard for the opinions of the majority of her constituents. Using Lovell as the point person on this is brilliant since Lovell can't run for re-election.

"City Council Members,

We live in the Heights West district and live in a 1915 bungalow. Since I’m aware you will probably be inundated with emails this week, I will start with our position which is that we absolutely want a re-vote on the ordinance. Not an opportunity to go door to door to collect signatures with the hope of having the chance to re-vote. The people already stated very, very clearly during the town hall meetings that we wanted to re-vote once the final ordinance was passed by city council and CM Lovell clearly stated that we would get that.

This new proposal seems extremely shady and politically motivated. The original ordinance that was passed had drastically different provisions from what is now being considered, and the residents deserve to have a say on something that is very personal and financially important. This should not be something that is forced upon us. Let the people vote on it. This is a democracy last time I checked and that is the only fair way to truly hear what the residents want.

PLEASE READ::::: We love our home and our neighborhood. We have already gone through an expansion, the COA process, HAHC guidelines, etc, and had our home on the Spring Home Tour in 2009. We were approved by HAHC/COA on the first pass for two separate projects, so we really shouldn’t care, right....except that we do care. We care about our neighbors and wouldn’t want them to lose the ability to do what they want to do with their land, their houses, their investments, their property. The sad part is that everyone talks about “loving the Heights”...but for us, what makes the Heights special aren’t the houses. It is the people who live in those houses, and open their doors to neighbors and strangers alike. It isn’t about windows that look like they did 100 years ago, or siding that matches. People are getting lost in the details. The Heights is great because of the people who have made it great, and you know what; it was made over time and without any of these controlling ordinances. Let us be the way we have been, and continue to evolve. Great houses will “find” great people to maintain them, and to adapt them to fit their uses today, and again tomorrow. This ordinance will ruin that ability.

Please let us vote!"

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I was here before you "preservationists". It is because of people like me that you thought the Heights was worth moving to. If I were to tell you to go f yourself, would you find that offensive? Becau

This is not a bully and name calling situation so much as forcefully pointing out the callousness of your position. You and others claim that your position and this ordinance protects the character a

http://swamplot.com/houstons-historic-districts-will-remain-as-they-are/2011-01-04/ It is over. All districts surveyed failed to muster the 51% needed to opt out. Yes, I know. You all are going

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This editorial was not written by the Chronicle editors. It has the antagonistic tone that only the preservationists and their leader Sue Lovell can mimic. If the Chronicle is going to lend its considerable clout toward an issue, the least its editors can do is educate themselves on the issue, and form their own opinions and write their own editorial.

This is political patronage. And, it will not work. The tactics of Lovell and the preservationists have galvanized opposition to them and the ordinance. They've made our job much easier. Those who can appear at City Hall tomorrow, please do. Those who cannot, please contact me. We are organizing to defeat the historic districts.

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I won't be able to make the meeting, but I just fired off my e-mail to the mayor and all council members. Like poyea, I have already made an addition to my bungalow and I don't plan any more, so the ordinance would probably not affect me. Furthermore, there's a vacant bungalow on a giant lot next to me that would probably be "forever preserved" by the new ordinance, likely preventing my home from being overshadowed by a McVic. But property rights are property rights and I won't let someone take them away without a fight!

If the ordinance passes and someone starts going door to door with a petition for a re-vote, I've got my blue sign up so you'll know I'm on your side!

Edited by heights
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Received one reply so far:

Thank you for your email comments regarding the proposed historic preservation ordinance. The Mayor is very aware of all the issues, opinions and facts regarding the proposed amendments and has posted the items for consideration by City Council this week. We do expect some of the council members will offer amendments, including one extending the 15 day time frame, and will ask for a week’s delay of these items. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Diana DuCroz, AICP

Senior Planner, Historic Preservation

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Received one reply so far:

Thank you for your email comments regarding the proposed historic preservation ordinance. The Mayor is very aware of all the issues, opinions and facts regarding the proposed amendments and has posted the items for consideration by City Council this week. We do expect some of the council members will offer amendments, including one extending the 15 day time frame, and will ask for a week’s delay of these items. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Diana DuCroz, AICP

Senior Planner, Historic Preservation

Form letter....I got the same one. How about they just let us vote, and eliminate the 15-30 day time frame extension.

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My major concern is the need for only 10% to apply for historic district status. Was this issue touched any? From what I understand, once your neighborhood is under review for historic district status, you are "temporarily" forced under the rules immediately. This could essentially strong-arm any section of the heights to be under the rules for ~6 months of EVERY year.

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From the GHPA:

Houston City Council has voted to delay consideration of the amendments to the historic preservation ordinance until next week. During spirited debate this morning, council members submitted additional changes to the proposed amendments.

District C Council Member Anne Clutterbuck offered what appears to be the most workable compromise. Council Member Clutterbuck’s amendment would provide for a two-tiered system of historic districts. Existing historic districts would continue to be governed by the current preservation ordinance unless a majority of property owners in the district petitioned the City for protected district designation. Property owners in new districts would decide which level of protection they wanted when they petitioned for district designation. The two-tiered system is already in place in Houston’s Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District.

The tape of this morning’s city council meeting can be viewed online later today on the Houston Television website (formerly the Municipal Channel). [Click here] to access Houston Television’s online tape library.

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Chronicle article on the Council meeting.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7235336.html

Thanks to all who were able to show up and voice their opposition. And a big thanks to Councilwoman Clutterbuck. Sounds like she may be offering a proposal to let the homeowners decide what is best for their neighborhoods, as opposed to the mayor, who seems to know better than we do what is good for us.

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I just watched the meeting from yesterday and I felt like several of the council members really are listening to our complaints.

I really enjoyed when the mayor attempted to interrupt Clutterbuck, and she spoke over her and said what she wanted. I dont really care if it was out of order or not, I dont like Parker, I dont like that she thinks she knows better than I do what to do with my own property, and I think that Clutterbuck thought it was disrespectful, and let it be known by just not stopping when she opened her mouth.

I am interested to see what happens. The two tier system is a big improvement, and increasing to 30 or 60 days to get a petition out for a re-vote would make it much easier to do. Also I like the 75% majority idea for adding restrictions to property not currently restricted, that was floated by the short haired black council member ( I dont know her name) but I really liked the idea.

Even the tone of the meeting seemed different. Almost like they were losing and they knew it. I would sure love to win on this issue.

Clutterbuck seems to actually have listened to the homeowners. I wonder if they will accept her ammendment proposition.

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Here is a quick rundown of the options being suggested by certain Council Members:

1. The amendments offered by Oliver Pennington will require that all districts be re-considered by the city. We think this is a great option. We will still have to work towards educating the community about what a "yes" vote will mean to them. This is real due process, the most straight forward, and will mean that if there isn't a super majority response to become a district, we will have a year break from this to see how this works in the districts that do get this protection.

2. The amendments from Ann Clutterbuck will keep all existing historic districts under the rules we had before the moratorium. If a district wanted to become a protected district, they would have to petition under the new rules. We would still have the 90 day waiver and still have to get a certificate of appropriateness for renovations or new construction. The downside is that we still will have to deal with the HAHC who has been a difficult group to deal with for some homeowners but we would have protection that worked 85% of the time. We also will likely have a push by the same group that got us into an historic district to get signatures to be an historic district with the new protection. They will only need to get 10% to start the process again. This option offers every district due process.

Either of these options mean the battle over this issue will be significantly less contentious and require less work on the part of our group. We won't have to jump through hoops and spend the next month, and into the holiday season, and into next year actively working on this. It means there is an end in sight, which we all welcome!! both of these options eliminate the transition process and give us either a straight-forward vote or the proponents have to petition everyone again and we can say no by not signing.

3. This is the worst of the three. The number of days in the transition will likely change from 15 to at least 30, and perhaps 60. The 25% threshold may or may not be lowered to 10% but we aren't counting on it as we have heard that the mayor is not willing to yield on that. In this option, we have to go get the signatures on their petition. The city will then allow us to reconsider being a district by sending out cards for us to vote. Then they record that vote and decide whether we remain a district or if our district boundary shrinks. It means we really have to step up and will be very busy for an undetermined length of time.

I stole this from an email I received, but I don't think she'll mind.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please email ALL members of Council, telling them which option you support! Those not in a current historic district may be satisfied with CW Clutterbuck's amendment, but I recommend that you support your neighbors in historic districts by supporting CM Pennington's amendment. Make sure you say specifically that you do not support the current amendment. The members of council are likely counting 'yes' and 'no' emails, so your email is VERY important. Ask your friends to write in also.

Scroll up a few posts for every council member's email address.

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Here are the email addresses of Council.

districta@houstontx.gov; districtb@houstontx.gov; districtc@houstontx.gov; districtd@houstontx.gov; districte@houstontx.gov; districtf@houstontx.gov; districtg@houstontx.gov; districth@houstontx.gov; districti@houstontx.gov; atlarge1@houstontx.gov; atlarge2@houstontx.gov; atlarge3@houstontx.gov; atlarge4@houstontx.gov; atlarge5@houstontx.gov; historicpreservation@houstontx.gov

Simply copy and paste the entire 3 lines into your email address bar.

Edited by RedScare
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Unfortunately there was no specific discussion about the 10% minority that can abuse the ordinance and force historic district rules on their entire neighborhood every year or nearly every year. Therefore I plan to present this topic to City Council next Tuesday. I think we need another good turnout to support our opposition position.

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I just recently decided to read this, as I am not too concerned with the Heights Historic Districts, I didn't pay it much mind, but I got bored at work last Friday and decided to dig in.

I've read through this post in its entirety, and well, after reading I think this post needs to be moved to an area that will get more observers, and possibly contributors with valid thoughts.

As has been referenced in this thread, this concerns all people who live in Houston in areas that are over 50 years old, and indeed other areas have already been targeted, my neighborhood has not been targeted, but as my house and most of those in my neighborhood are over 80 years old, it's very likely that we will at some point be mounted in the crosshairs.

Anyway, please move this to a more appropriate area that will be by more potentially affected Houstonians.

edit, and did my part as a concerned property owner and contacted the city council.

Edited by samagon
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Without stronger protections your 90+ year old house will be worth nothing but the land on which it sits.

Excuse me for asking a silly question...

What does it matter what the house will be worth?

When you bought your house, presumably, you bought the land that it sits on as well, right? So it is a package deal. If you are worried about value, you have to include the price of the lot with the price of the sticks that are situated on that lot.

so if the land was worth 70k and the house was worth 140k when you bought it, but now the house is worth 70k and the land is worth 200k, what does it matter? if the numbers add up to more than the value you bought the combination of house and land at, you've made a wise investment. if it hasn't well, that is part of investing, go ask people that invested in the stock market, IT IS A RISK. Am I seeing this wrong?

There are people who buy old houses for the very specific reason of not having their neighbor try and thrust their belief system upon them, before you say it, that should never be a risk one has to take. Lets play a game here, what if the government said screw the church and state thing, we're going Muslim. Guess what guys, if you want to not be fined, you're gonna have to start praying to the east. That's illegal you say? Not any more, 10% of the people over there voted for it, we approved it, and now you gotta do it, sorry, the 10% that voted for it mentioned that when you were not praying to the east it was invading their rights.

That's a stretch, but it is govt invading rights that you and I each have protected based on the desires of a few to have conformity in their surroundings so that they feel better.

I also saw someone reference what happened to the old homes that were in Rice Military, yeah, it's townhouse central today, but had you gotten in your car and driven around out there before all those townhouses were there, and the old houses were still up? Yeah, they were being lived in, and yeah, the original structures still stood, but the best thing that could have happened did happen, they put those things out of their misery. Some houses just aren't houses that individuals want to invest in. not because they aren't as big as their neighbors house, but because they are rotten to the core from lack of maintenance and care. Sure there are a few people who knock down a perfectly well maintained home in favor of something larger and styled to a taste they enjoy, but the majority are buying a house to live in.

No matter the size of the house compared to the neighbors house, if it is livable, someone probably wants it, and not just to tear down, but to enjoy without all the restrictions they face out in suburbanlandia where every house has a perfectly manicured lawn, and a coordinating paint scheme that follows some pattern set in place by some designer in a cubical in some office building in Atlanta. People bought in the Heights cause if they want to paint their front door lime green, they can, or maybe some bright yellow trim, or heavens forbid, maybe they want to paint each slat of wood on their house a different color! Sometimes I wish I had wood rather than brick exterior... oh well, I digress.

I have a right to not have that happen to my house. I also have a right to not have huge Mcmansions blocking the sun in the backyard and invading my privacy. Don't tell me your rights are more important than mine. That's not the Houston Heights I know.

'Scuse me for another silly question, but did the contract when you bought the house guarantee you a certain number of days with sun shining in your backyard? Did they not tell you that yeah, your neighbor may build a house that will shade your backyard. Would it still be an invasion of your rights if your neighbor planted a tall pecan tree that cast a shade on your backyard? What if the owner of the pecan tree built a treehouse for his kids, and it had direct line of sight into your backyard? Build a bigger fence.

There is absolutely no protection afforded to anyone in this country, real or implied for getting a specific amount of sun in their backyard, it is not an inalienable right. Property rights however, are protected.

The only preservation I will agree to is the preservation of individuals rights as homeowners and landowners to do with their own property that with which they had the option to do when they bought the house/land.

Cause you know what, while I don't live in the Heights, that is the Heights I know.

It's also the neighborhood I live in that I know, and my home is 80 years old. Point of fact, I moved in to this area with the express interest in the lack of any restrictions. I may wake up one morning and decide I want to paint each brick on the exterior of my home a different color, or I want to put an old toilet in my front yard as a planter/bird bath. I want to replace the roof with something that is more energy efficient, I want to put solar cells on my roof. I want to take out the lamppost in my front yard and replace it with a lamppost I design out of old car parts (okay, maybe not that, I don't know how to weld), I want to have the option to raise the foundation on my house so it looks like a beach house on Galveston. Right now, assuming I get permits from the city for the stilt thing, I can do any of that and not have to wait for approval from some committee that wasn't even elected.

I hope that at some point the slum apartments 2 streets over are knocked down in favor of a 5plex of townhouses, or the duplex with a caved in roof on the corner gets demo'd in favor of a mcmansion. I can't wait. I love the dynamic of an area that changes and isn't the same from day to day. I love people being able to do what they want with what they own.

Why am I here in the Heights forum responding to and reading this? Cause right now this ordinance that was created specifically for the heights and another few areas is being changed drastically so that it could reach as far as my house with little support from my neighbors, and I don't like that. I've contacted as many people as I can to garner support for the preservation of individual property rights, I've petitioned the people that represent me, and I plan on asking for the help of developers, architects and anyone else who has money directly tied in housing to help the cause as well. They've got as much as stake here as you and I, in that they put food on their table by doing what they do, and while you may not think it is pretty, it is well within their rights to do what they do, and no matter how you try to play it, they are not invading upon your rights when they do it.

I don't have any stats either. But I've never seen "Next to a McVic" or "New construction next door!" or listed as a feature of a bungalow advertisement on HAR by said realtors. I'd suspect if that was driving the sales of bungalows, it would be touted up more often.

hmmm, You've not looked at HAR listings in the east end too often. Almost every one says something like: "lots of new developments in the area", or "New townhouses right across the street!", or some other such.

I haven't trolled HAR in the Heights, but I'd suspect that all the HAR listing needs to say is "House is located in the Heights" and people feel all warm and fuzzy, but I'd still imagine that they will say something to the effect referencing lots of positive activity in the area, as this does denote that the area is on its way up.

Decided to do some trolling to see if there was any mention of anything, didn't find anything, but I did find this gem. It's a fixer upper right? Not allowed to demo that baby, lots of historic value there.

http://search.har.co...HAR31662746.htm

probably a very extreme example, and I admit I just glanced through, didn't stop at the townhouses, or mcvics, or even a lot of nicely renovated bungalos, that just caught my eye, so please don't shoot me for only referencing one place...

but rolling over the pictures, there are 6 pictures total, 2 of the house, 3 of new constructions on the street, and one of the street itself. While the listing doesn't say in the description that there are new constructions, half of the pictures show that, and describe it, again, extreme example...

Edited by samagon
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The amended historic ordinance passed. Clutterbuck was swayed by a preservationist at yesterday's open meeting. The turnout of supporters of the amended ordinance out numbered those against yesterday by over 2-1.

I stand corrected. Do you have any more details on what was amended?

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Just got an email that the ordinance passed 13-3 (without amendment I'm guessing). We now have 30 days to get 25% of district residents to sign petitions for a re-vote.

There were a bunch of amendments to the amended ordinance. Clutterbuck withdrew the one keeping existing districts under the 90 day waiver. I think 25% got taken down to 10% as a compromise with Pennington who wanted to have an automatic revote.

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The GHPA's statement:

This morning, Mayor Annise Parker succeeded in her efforts to eliminate the 90-day waiting period for demolitions and inappropriate alterations to properties in Houston’s 16 designated historic districts. The amendments extend protections that already exist in the Old Sixth Ward to the city’s other historic districts and create a mechanism for other historic neighborhoods to request protected district designation.

City Council approved the amendments, with some last minute changes, by a vote of 12 to 3. A breakdown of the roll call vote is at the end of this message.

The most significant change added this morning makes it more difficult to create new historic districts. The amended ordinance requires the approval of a supermajority of 67% of property owners in a proposed district. The ordinance previously required the support of 51% of property owners to create a district.

Earlier in the session, Council unanimously passed the transitional provisions that allow for the repeal of existing historic districts, except for the current Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District. Council also approved changes to the provisions that will make it easier to eliminate individual historic districts.

To initiate the repeal process, preservation opponents must gather signatures from the owners of 10% of the tracts in an existing historic district and submit them to the City within 30 days of the amended preservation ordinance going into effect. The Planning and Development Department will then mail postcards to property owners in the district in question. The owners of 51% of the tracts in the district must return postcards requesting repeal for the historic district designation to be removed.

IMPORTANT NOTE

In the coming weeks, property owners in existing City of Houston historic districts may be asked to sign petitions to repeal their neighborhoods’ historical designations. Please do not sign these petitions. If you do, you could remove all preservation protections in your neighborhood.

GHPA will e-mail a copy of the repeal petition as soon as it is available so that property owners will recognize it. If you have any questions regarding the petition process, please contact GHPA at info@ghpa.org or 713-216-5000.

The tape of this morning’s City Council debate and vote can be viewed online later today on the Houston Television (formerly The Municipal Channel) website.

Council members voting for the amendments

Adams, Clutterbuck, Costello, Gonzalez, Hoang, Jones, Lovell, Noreiga, Parker, Pennington, Rodriguez, Stardig

Council members voting against the amendments

Bradford, Johnson, Sullivan

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...and from Sue Lovell:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today, October 13, 2010, at City Council, we passed a new historic preservation ordinance that protects and preserves the history of our city. The Council vote was 12-3, which shows strong support for historic preservation. I want to thank Mayor Parker for giving me the responsibility for this very important issue and for her trust. I want to thank my colleagues (even those who voted no) for their input and advice and willingness to compromise.

I want to thank my staff for their many hours of hard work. I want to thank the Legal Department—particularly City Attorney David Feldman, Deborah McAbee, and Omar Izfar—for their patience and legal skills. I still don’t understand why plain English can’t be used in a legal document, but I appreciate their efforts in trying to explain it to me.

Thank you to the Planning Department—Director Marlene Gafrick, Deputy Director Michael Schaffer, and their team—for the hundreds of hours they spent to guarantee a transparent process that ensured that property owners were heard. Thank you to the Mayor’s staff and a special thanks to Marty Stein, the Mayor’s agenda director, and her staff for keeping us organized. Minnette Boesel, the Mayor’s assistant for cultural affairs, was awesome.

I appreciate all the time spent and suggestions from the stakeholders group, which included the Greater Houston Builders Association (represented by Adam Aschmann), Houstonians for Responsible Growth (represented by Josh Sanders), the Houston Building Owners and Managers Association, and the Houston Association of Realtors.

To the thousands of Houstonians who showed how much they care about their neighborhoods and spent hours of their time to attend meetings, write emails and letters, and make phone calls, I want you to know that I share your love of Houston. We now have a historic preservation ordinance that really does preserve the history of our city.

Sincerely,

Sue Lovell

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So now we're stuck. We either live with what Lovell & Co have forced down our throats, or we live with no protection at all. Fortunately my block has minimum lot size and minimum setbacks. If we can garner enough signatures to tell them "No Means Hell No to your tyranny!", it will tide us over until "one-term Parker" and some of the others get voted out of office and we can try for a reasonable compromise.

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The GHPA's statement:

10% should be a number easily attainable...by areas who do not agree....the harder part will be getting people to actually check their mail and return the cards. Even if the initial ballot cannot get the ordinance repealed because people do not return their cards, after a few people have the HAHC deny their permits, and then the HAHC comes in and acts like they control everything people will be outraged enough to sign the cards to repeal.

I dont consider this an outright loss...I consider it a compromise that will enable a later victory for those who oppose the ordinance.

I am curious now as to what this does to a persons title on their home? Homeowners organizations are mandatory disclosures....will this now be a mandatory disclosure? If so, it will be interesting to see how negatively potential buyers act.

Now would be a good time to make note of the prices of homes in newly created historic districts and then compare them with the areas surrounding them that are not historic.

Edited by Marksmu
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10% should be a number easily attainable...by areas who do not agree....the harder part will be getting people to actually check their mail and return the cards. Even if the initial ballot cannot get the ordinance repealed because people do not return their cards, after a few people have the HAHC deny their permits, and then the HAHC comes in and acts like they control everything people will be outraged enough to sign the cards to repeal.

That isn't how I read it, you've got 30 days from when the ordinance goes into effect to generate 10%, then they will send out mailers and 51% have to want it repealed.

To initiate the repeal process, preservation opponents must gather signatures from the owners of 10% of the tracts in an existing historic district and submit them to the City within 30 days of the amended preservation ordinance going into effect. The Planning and Development Department will then mail postcards to property owners in the district in question. The owners of 51% of the tracts in the district must return postcards requesting repeal for the historic district designation to be removed.

It doesn't seem to have any reference for how long they will wait for the postcards to be returned before they consider the tally final?

I do like the change to 67% to introduce new HDs, and it looks like you guys that are affected right now from the ordinance being changed are given some fair due process to change your HD status, and an appeal process if the historic committee doesn't give you a CoA, which they pretty much had to do, according to the 5th and 14th amendments to the constitution.

It isn't perfect, by a long shot, but it certainly makes it more legal, from a constitutional standpoint.

Thankfully for me, I don't currently live in a HD, and if did vote, I'm hopeful that since I live on the edge of the neighborhood that my property would be ones they draw around, should they decide to re-draw the district based on votes, to try and reach that 67%.

Hopefully for you guys that are currently in one of these districts, you can either get it changed now (to be removed from HD status), or in the future the ordinance will be updated again to be less draconian.

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I'm kind of late to the party. My area North Norhill already has deed restrictions which as I understood it in the past do a better job of policing demos and inappropriate construction with or without a historic designation. However, I am NOT for the newly passed ordinance. Is there anyone on this board from my area who is aware of a petition drive for our neighborhood?

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10% should be a number easily attainable...by areas who do not agree....the harder part will be getting people to actually check their mail and return the cards. Even if the initial ballot cannot get the ordinance repealed because people do not return their cards.

Unfortunately, there will be a deadline for return of the cards and if the deadline passes without a reply from a homeowner, it's not a vote to rescind the historic district. This is going to be very hard to achieve - here's the math:

Assumptions:

A landslide of landowners return the card, say 75%

A landslide by 2:1 vote to get out of the HD.

In a 100 home HD, here are the numbers:

75 return the card

50 vote to get rid of the HD, 25 vote to confirm the HD

The final result is 50% (50/100) actually tally to cancel the historic district.

According to the ordinance, 51% is needed, and you're one vote short.

All this means that there will have to be an overwhelming vote to overcome apathy to not return a vote.

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Unfortunately, there will be a deadline for return of the cards and if the deadline passes without a reply from a homeowner, it's not a vote to rescind the historic district. This is going to be very hard to achieve - here's the math:

Assumptions:

A landslide of landowners return the card, say 75%

A landslide by 2:1 vote to get out of the HD.

In a 100 home HD, here are the numbers:

75 return the card

50 vote to get rid of the HD, 25 vote to confirm the HD

The final result is 50% (50/100) actually tally to cancel the historic district.

According to the ordinance, 51% is needed, and you're one vote short.

All this means that there will have to be an overwhelming vote to overcome apathy to not return a vote.

Well when you use numbers it does make it look much more bleak. The apathy really is going to be the hardest part to get past. The active 10% for the re-vote should be fairly easy to get. I was thinking the vote would be 51% of those who return the cards....not 51% of all homeowners...

Another question - where are the cards being mailed to? I have a rental house in one of the areas, and I never received a card at all. Only the paper flyer that was put on the outside of the mailbox. Are the cards being mailed to the owner of record, or to the address in the district? That matters with all the renters in the neighborhood. A renter has little incentive to do anything, so I sincerely hope the cards are mailed to the owners of record and not to the actual home address.

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Got an actual response from Rep. Alvarado regarding the HD stuff...

Thank you for your email. When I was on Houston City Council, I supported the efforts of any community that wanted to protect itself from the changing face of growth or the barriers that some feel historic preservation puts on a neighborhood. That is why there has always been detailed, specific criteria that has to be met before a neighborhood is even considered for protection by the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

Wednesday, the Houston City Council passed sweeping changes to the ordinance, providing more "teeth" to the law, preventing one back-door from staying open - a provision that allowed a property owner to do what they wanted despite the recommendation of the City's historic preservation commission, but also providing those neighbors who wish to opt out of their neighborhoods' historic designation an avenue to do so through a process called "reconsideration".

Under the current law, neighborhoods that wish to enter into the protection of the Historic Designation must start by having 67% of their property owners sign off on the move, making the process inherently inclusive of property owners and community members. A smaller percentage (10%) of property owners are required to begin the "reconsideration" process. Ultimately, the Houston City Council must designate a community as "Historic" or choose to amend/revoke that same designation. While the Eastwood Community that you live in is not currently "protected", I would urge you to discuss your concerns with your Council Member for District I.

Sincerely,

Carol Alvarado

Texas State Representative

Very thoughtful response, wish there were others on the council like her.

Edited by samagon
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Did anyone go to the meeting last night? I'm kind of behind on everything.

Yes. You can read about it here. There was a very good turnout of people opposed to the new ordinance as passed by Council. Many of the residents opposed (like me) are not at all opposed to historic preservation, but the badly written ordinance that requires bad architecture so that the "original structure" may be preserved. I seriously doubt the supporters of historic preservation realized that they supported an ordinance that will make the neighborhood uglier and cause many homes owned by residents of limited incomes to fall into disrepair. But, this is exactly what the ordinance does. The HAHC, in an effort not to be arbitrary, will (and already does) deny quality remodels that do not strictly follow the ordinance, in favor of ugly remodels that do.

Perhaps this is the goal of the mayor and Councilwoman Lovell, that the required modifications be so unattractive that the homeowner will not go forward in order not to have an unsellable house afterward. It is truly a situation where everyone lost. A much better solution would be a concerted effort to enact the deed restrictions that allow for construction in keeping with the character of the Heights, while keeping out the condos and highrises that no one wants. But, we're stuck with this hideous ordinance, and no other choice but to defeat it.

Those who wish to sign the petition should PM me so I can get you a copy.

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For those who do not read the City Hall forum, I posted this over there about how to sign the petitions...

ATTENTION historic district residents!

I may have figured out how to attach the petitions to this post. Download both petitions and fill them out. When you are finished, you can PM me for my address to drop them off, or to give me your address to come get them if you can't come by. I'll send my address by return PM.

Here is a paragraph about how to fill out the petitions...

Quote

I am sending you 2 petitions. The Microsoft Word document titled 'HPO Petition For Reconsideration' is the official City of Houston petition to force the recall vote. You'll need to type in the name of the historic district that you are in (for example, 'Heights South'), and fill in the other blanks. It must be signed by one of the property owners. If you do not know your lot, block and subdivision, you can look it up on HCAD or leave it blank. We will verify the legal description and fill it in.

The 2nd petition is a petition requesting that your specific property be excluded from any historic districts created. We hope to impress upon City Council the overwhelming opposition to this ordinance and perhaps get the ordinance changed. I urge you to sign both petitions, but the City petition is most important. If you can print off extra petitions and get your close friends and neighbors to sign as well, you make our job easier. Please consider helping out in this way.

Once both petitions are filled out and signed, you may drop them off at my house at 935 Columbia Street. Just put them in my mailbox. If you cannot make it by, let me know and I'll come by to pick it up. Any questions, send me a PM.

Thanks to all,

RedScare

HPO Petition for Reconsideration.doc

HISTORIC PRESERVATION BINDER.pdf

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Does anyone have an update as to how the petitions are going? Specifically, has 10% already been reached for Houston Heights West? I looked on the Responsible Historic Preservation website but I don't see anything there.

I am checking on that for you. Meanwhile, here is a blog illustrating what impact the new historic district ordinance has on actual Heights residences. If you have not signed the petitions, send me a PM so that I can get you one.

EDIT: This is for everyone else. I know kat_zor has already signed a petition and I enjoyed meeting her. :)

Edited by RedScare
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Unofficial tabulation so far indicates that South and East Heights already have enough signatures for a re-vote, and West Heights is close. There are many petitions still in the pipeline, so all 3 districts are likely over the limit. However, there has never been a doubt that all 3 districts would get enough petition signatures for the re-vote. The continued signature gathering is intended to show City Council the depth of the opposition to the ordinance. The final size and outline of the districts can also be redrawn. It is important to get your (and your surrounding neighbors') petitions in to ensure that your block is left out if the entire district vote is close.

The petitions are attached to post # 534 above. Download, sign and contact me to get them turned in.

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Did I miss the link? Was it to this? http://www.myhoustonhouse.com/?p=1195 Thought that was an excellent post.

Yes, that is it. It seems to have disappeared on my post. It is a great example of the unitended consequences of this ordinance. Most people in the Heights are fans of old houses, and support preservation (including me), but this ordinance does not do it. I hope people will actually READ the ordinance, because, as they say, the devil is in the details. The friends of the preservationists at City Hall blew it.....Big Time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Did the homeowner contact the City and tell them that she was under an insurance deadline and needed to get her application in after the deadline? Did the homeowner contact her insurer and ask for an extension of the deadline? Did she contact the City and tell them she was only making repairs? Looks like she had a very good argument that it was just maintenance and should not have been red tagged.

This is another example of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" logic of the realtors who want to smash every bungalow in the Heights so they can get bigger commissions. Just because one building inspector gets it wrong doesn't mean the entire preservation ordinance should be scrapped.

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Did the homeowner contact the City and tell them that she was under an insurance deadline and needed to get her application in after the deadline? Did the homeowner contact her insurer and ask for an extension of the deadline? Did she contact the City and tell them she was only making repairs? Looks like she had a very good argument that it was just maintenance and should not have been red tagged.

This is another example of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" logic of the realtors who want to smash every bungalow in the Heights so they can get bigger commissions. Just because one building inspector gets it wrong doesn't mean the entire preservation ordinance should be scrapped.

This shouldn't matter....I'm not a realtor or a builder and I live in a historic 1915 bungalow. I even went through the COA process to do an addition. And I was fine with the 90 day rule because ultimately it left me to do what I wanted with MY property. I even signed it. However, this new ordinance completely takes it out of my hands and into the city's hands. And we know how good the city is at running themselves.

Let me change out my siding if I want to without getting into MY business. My house....I paid for it.

And stop saying it is just builders/developers who want to ruin the neighborhood. It is people like me. Nothing else in the game except to keep others/gov't out of my business.

SCRAP THE NEW ORDINANCE!

Edited by poyea
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At all of the meetings I went to I was told that if you didn't need a permit for the work you wouldn't need a CoA. Changing fascia and siding doesn't require a permit so not only are they changing the definition of necessary maintenace but they are also going back on their stated policy of not requiring of CoA on non permitted work. And how long has that taken? A little over a month. How do you think it's going to be when the districts are ironed out?

Also, I know the inspector that wrote this tag and he's as knowledgable and reasonable as any inspectors we have in this city. He's also the main HD inspector. He would only write that tag if he were instructed to by his supervisors, so if he wrote it I'm sure that's policy and not overaealousness..

Edited by SCDesign
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I am upset that a future "non vote" on this issue by a property owner counts as a YES vote in the current ordinance. I'm smart enough to know that this must have cleared the city legal department, but it nonetheless concerns me that apathy will lead to the current ordinance not being overturned. With all of the attorneys that put their eyes on these postings, does anyone know if this type of vote has any grounds to be challenged and upheld?

I own two parcels of land adjacent to each other, but they are under one hcad account for tax payment simplification. Does anyone know for certain if I Will get two votes, or one?

Are any Heights residents like myself considering moving away if this ordinance is upheld? I guess that may depend on how this affects their investment.

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Did the homeowner contact the City and tell them that she was under an insurance deadline and needed to get her application in after the deadline? Did the homeowner contact her insurer and ask for an extension of the deadline? Did she contact the City and tell them she was only making repairs? Looks like she had a very good argument that it was just maintenance and should not have been red tagged.

This is another example of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" logic of the realtors who want to smash every bungalow in the Heights so they can get bigger commissions. Just because one building inspector gets it wrong doesn't mean the entire preservation ordinance should be scrapped.

I know it may look like a baby in all that swaddling, but it really is too bad the baby in this case is really a demon possum that will scratch your eyeballs out and do some nasty things to the sockets.

I wish luck to all of those people who are currently in a historic district, I feel for you.

Edited by samagon
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I am upset that a future "non vote" on this issue by a property owner counts as a YES vote in the current ordinance. I'm smart enough to know that this must have cleared the city legal department, but it nonetheless concerns me that apathy will lead to the current ordinance not being overturned. With all of the attorneys that put their eyes on these postings, does anyone know if this type of vote has any grounds to be challenged and upheld?

I own two parcels of land adjacent to each other, but they are under one hcad account for tax payment simplification. Does anyone know for certain if I Will get two votes, or one?

Are any Heights residents like myself considering moving away if this ordinance is upheld? I guess that may depend on how this affects their investment.

The "inaction is a vote for the ordinance" tactic is Exhibit Number 1 for how the City and the preservationists will treat us if this ordinance remains in place. If there really was that much support for the ordinance, it would be a straight vote. Instead, Parker, Lovell and the 30 or so hardcore preservationists...some of whom live in new construction...realize that only subterfuge will accomplish their goals.

Today is the deadline for turning in the petitions for a re-vote. However, we are still collecting signatures to show the depth of the opposition to this horribly crafted ordinance. Contact me to sign the petition. This is important to show City Council that the majority do not want this ordinance, despite Ms. Lovell's exercise in authoritarianism.

Disclaimer: I am neither a realtor or a builder, nor a developer. I am simply a resident stuck in the middle of renovations to my 90 year old bungalow, when the rules were changed on me. I've also lived in the Heights longer than a year, unlike some posters to this thread.

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Did the homeowner contact the City and tell them that she was under an insurance deadline and needed to get her application in after the deadline? Did the homeowner contact her insurer and ask for an extension of the deadline? Did she contact the City and tell them she was only making repairs? Looks like she had a very good argument that it was just maintenance and should not have been red tagged.

This is another example of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" logic of the realtors who want to smash every bungalow in the Heights so they can get bigger commissions. Just because one building inspector gets it wrong doesn't mean the entire preservation ordinance should be scrapped.

Aren't you the poster who claims the City is underhanded and cannot do anything right in another thread about a Walmart? You're sounding a bit two-faced here.

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Did the homeowner contact the City and tell them that she was under an insurance deadline and needed to get her application in after the deadline? Did the homeowner contact her insurer and ask for an extension of the deadline? Did she contact the City and tell them she was only making repairs? Looks like she had a very good argument that it was just maintenance and should not have been red tagged.

This is another example of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" logic of the realtors who want to smash every bungalow in the Heights so they can get bigger commissions. Just because one building inspector gets it wrong doesn't mean the entire preservation ordinance should be scrapped.

Do you really think you can do ANYTHING quickly with the city??? Are you that naive? Have you ever tried to get permits??? Have you ever dealt with an inspector? I rehabbed an older non-historic house in a newly formed historic district 3 years ago....it was very difficult to navigate the ins/outs of the inspections without having the added layer of Bureaucracy that the HAHC will bring....

The ordinance needs to be thrown out. There is no silver lining here, there is no good part to this ordinance....if the baby is the ordinance, I would take precaution to bulldoze the house the baby is in just to be sure that we kill it before we burn it, and then haul the debris and carcass of this baby to the deepest landfill we can find so that we never see that ugly deformed baby again.

All of your comments on this ordinance are just ridiculous...its all about realtors making more money by just bulldozing entire blocks....Im not a realtor and I hate the ordinance. I have two homes in the heights....one is an investment in a historic district, that was NOT a historic district when I bought it.....My rights and my reasonable expectations of being able to use my property as I please are being stolen from me by a bunch of idiots..actual stupid idiots....and that angers me greatly.

Edited by Marksmu
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My rights and my reasonable expectations of being able to use my property as I please are being stolen from me by a bunch of idiots..actual stupid idiots....and that angers me greatly.

Bull. Did you have to through out your tenants? Are you unable to use the property as a residence? Grow up. We live in a complex society with many interrelated rights and responsibilities. We do not live in the wild west. Our community through their elected representatives have decided that the value of preserving historic properties outweighs the ultra-conservative right to do whatever you want, regardless of whether you crap on your neighbor or the community in the process. Yes, government bureaucracies are not fun and easy. But they are that way because there are piles of people out there who think they are better than everyone else and cannot be expected to follow the law. The funny thing is that I know people who live under historic preservation laws in Boston, and they thought this ordinance was a complete joke because it was so incredibly weak. They couldn't believe we were allowed to add a two story addition to a single story bungalow and only had to sumbit very basic documentation for approval and did not have to hire experts to certify the work before submitting for approval.

If you are looking for stupid idiots, look at the people who knock down bungalows and replace them with giant monsters, or the people who do idiotic crappy diy rennovations on bungalows, leaving them looking like a bad version of a KB home from the burbs. They are the ones that made this necessary.

Property rights are subject to reasonable regulation. Historic preservation ordinances have been upheld around the nation (and in Texas) against takings claims. It is only the reasonable investment backed expectations that are a protected property right, not your wildest dreams.

You are now in a historic district. If you don't like it, sell. We won't miss you at all.

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