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Historic Districts in Houston


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Sure, just because I say some one has or doesn't have rights doesn't make it so. The courts determine what people's rights are:

"A municipality has the constitutional power to regulate the use of private property in the interest of historic preservation." Mayes v. City of Dallas, 747 F.2d 323, 324 (5th Cir. 1984); Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York, 438 U.S. 104, 132–34, 98 S.Ct. 2646, 2662–64, 57 L.Ed.2d 631 (1978);

That just means a city CAN regulate land use. It doesn't mean a city should, or that a city will fo a good job of land regulation. In fact, it's my view that city regulation should be avoided entirely for esthetic items, and should be restricted to life safety and infrastructure issues. Want to preserve an old building? Great! But don't try to force your neighbor to fit your idea of what a building ought to look like, especially if you do it after the fact.

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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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That just means a city CAN regulate land use. It doesn't mean a city should, or that a city will fo a good job of land regulation. In fact, it's my view that city regulation should be avoided entirely for esthetic items, and should be restricted to life safety and infrastructure issues. Want to preserve an old building? Great! But don't try to force your neighbor to fit your idea of what a building ought to look like, especially if you do it after the fact.

Spot on. And if the political class desires to get up your butt retroactively wrt your domicile aesthetics, nothing is sacred.

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You set your own precedent of speaking on subjects with which you have no knowledge, why should I assume this any different?

So, you ask for an explanation, and I give you one. You just go back to your childish insults instead of actually taking on the topic. If you are not comfortable discussing the subject matter, just step aside. But, you do not get to void everything I say just because you disagree with other things I have said. That is weak and is just harrassment and internet bullying to try to get someone who holds a fundamentally different viewpoint from you and the others who have claimed this forum as their anti-historic ordinance echo chamber from posting. If you disagree with me, step up to the plate and take a swing. I can take it. But this "you are always wrong, so we don't have to respond to you" stuff is just pathetic.

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That just means a city CAN regulate land use. It doesn't mean a city should, or that a city will fo a good job of land regulation. In fact, it's my view that city regulation should be avoided entirely for esthetic items, and should be restricted to life safety and infrastructure issues. Want to preserve an old building? Great! But don't try to force your neighbor to fit your idea of what a building ought to look like, especially if you do it after the fact.

Exactly my point. Historic preservation ordinances are a political issue. The debates over them are policy debates that are tied to one's political views of the role of government. But, there is no constitutional prohibition. The so-called "coercion" of historic preservation is not a violation of constitutional property rights (absent a takings, but then the issue is only that the municipality has to provide compensation), but the same kind of "coercion" that exists in every other land use regulation from set backs to building codes to noise restrictions and so on. These are all within a municipality's police powers. The real issue is the political one of how much power should the municipality have, not a constitutional one. That ship has long sailed.

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it means that a municipality does have the right to enact and enforce historic preservation laws. It is possible for historic preservation laws to be a regulatory taking, requiring the municipality to provide compensation to an affected land owner. But, that has not been alleged by anyone against the historic ordinance. the lawsuit has some argument about procedural due process that is more directed at the formation of the districts. That is really an argument that ends up asking a judge to second guess how a municipality enacts its laws and runs afoul of separation of powers. So, you can't just hold up a copy of the constitution and get rid of historic preservation laws.

This is why I don't think the rulings you provided are good references of precedence, the rulings you provided seemed to be with not the process of creating the districts, but with the process of making changes to a property once the district is established.

As you state (bolded) the current lawsuit is with the formation of a HD, it's pretty clear in the Texas Constitution what's required for a historic district to be created (it's part of the restrictive covenant), or for changes to be made to a current HD. Municipal laws cannot do things that the state law doesn't allow, just as the state law cannot do things that the national law allows. So really, since the state law has specific statutes that go over how to create a restrictive covenant, a city must follow that.

Now, can you provide a reference from the US law that allows the creation of a HD different from how the state allows it? and specifically, that shows that the way Houston did it to be within that US law? or perhaps a ruling that sets precedence with creation of a HD the way that Houston did it?

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This is why I don't think the rulings you provided are good references of precedence, the rulings you provided seemed to be with not the process of creating the districts, but with the process of making changes to a property once the district is established.

As you state (bolded) the current lawsuit is with the formation of a HD, it's pretty clear in the Texas Constitution what's required for a historic district to be created (it's part of the restrictive covenant), or for changes to be made to a current HD. Municipal laws cannot do things that the state law doesn't allow, just as the state law cannot do things that the national law allows. So really, since the state law has specific statutes that go over how to create a restrictive covenant, a city must follow that.

Now, can you provide a reference from the US law that allows the creation of a HD different from how the state allows it? and specifically, that shows that the way Houston did it to be within that US law? or perhaps a ruling that sets precedence with creation of a HD the way that Houston did it?

The HDs are not restrictive covenants. They are just the function of the historic preservation ordinances. Restrictive covenants are promises between land owners that can be enforced by one land owner against another (or by an association or municipality, depending on how drafted). Restrictive covenants are recorded in the chain of title and "run with the land". They are private agreements created by landowners. The historic ordinance is an ordinance created by the legislative body of the municipality. All that is required to create a historic ordinance is a vote of city council. The ordinance then set forth how to create and destroy a historic districts.

I think you probably saw HD opponents argue that the vote for the HDs should require a 75% majority of each block because that is what is required in order to get an entire block to be subject to a restriction. But that was a political argument, not a legal one. The 75% rule does not apply to historic districts and no one has argued that it does.

Looking at the lawsuit again, I am really not sure exactly what the constitutional argument is. It is actually set up in terms of an equal protection argument ("The City's enforcement of the aforementioned municipal ordinances resulted in Plaintiffs being treated differently from other similarly situtated landowners without any reasonable basis"). The rest of it is about the election code, which is probably inapplicable and filed untimely. If there claim is that they were denied equal protection under the law, the municipality only has to show that it had a reasonable basis for treating the plaintiffs differently from other homeowners. Penn Central establishes historic preservation as something that is within the police powers of a municipality, which would establish a reasonable basis as a matter of law. So, Penn Central should be on point, to the extent the plaintiffs are arguing what I think they are.

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Ok, now where were we? O yeah, the Historic Preservation Ordinance is an affront to the history, culture and Charter of Houston, Texas.

History: see the photo of the sawed-off house herein.

Culture: “Zoning goes down for third time” read the morning headline of The Houston Post last November 3, 1993. As they had in 1948 and 1962, Houstonians voted once more to remain America’s largest city without a zoning ordinance….Yet, the vast majority of Houstonians were not crying out for zoning. Hispanics and low-income blacks voted overwhelmingly, 58 percent and 71 percent, against a measure touted as the way to “save” their neighborhoods.

Charter: “There are other laws that affect land use, such as the new historical preservation ordinance, which allows citizens to petition the council for designation as a historic area, which comes with additional restrictions. These are all government measures that, in my opinion, operate as “de facto zoning”— they prescribe different land use rules based partly on geographic location.” Professor Matthew Festa - South Texas College of Law

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Ok, now where were we? O yeah, the Historic Preservation Ordinance is an affront to the history, culture and Charter of Houston, Texas.

History: see the photo of the sawed-off house herein.

Culture: “Zoning goes down for third time” read the morning headline of The Houston Post last November 3, 1993. As they had in 1948 and 1962, Houstonians voted once more to remain America’s largest city without a zoning ordinance….Yet, the vast majority of Houstonians were not crying out for zoning. Hispanics and low-income blacks voted overwhelmingly, 58 percent and 71 percent, against a measure touted as the way to “save” their neighborhoods.

Charter: “There are other laws that affect land use, such as the new historical preservation ordinance, which allows citizens to petition the council for designation as a historic area, which comes with additional restrictions. These are all government measures that, in my opinion, operate as “de facto zoning”— they prescribe different land use rules based partly on geographic location.” Professor Matthew Festa - South Texas College of Law

The vote in 1993 was 52% to 48%, which was remarkably close considering the gross disparity in funding between the pro-zoning camp and anti-zoning camp, which had tons of money from the real estate/construction community. Minorities and low income residents were targeted by anti-zoning groups with ad campaigns claiming that zoning would mean a rise in rents. Minorities were also wary of the days when Jim Crow zoning would define a "family" for single family residential neighborhoods as excluding minorities, gays, and so on. Middle class voters were overwhelmingly for the measure as they saw it as a way to preserve their neighborhoods.

Houston has tons of de facto zoning laws. Setbacks, parking requirements, minimum lot size, drainage, and the new height limitation are all arguably de facto zoning laws set up as "performance standards". Some developers consider Houston's "performance standards" to be more onerous than actual zoning (probably because they can usually grease the wheels and get a variance on zoning laws). But, if you really compare the historic ordinance with the many different flavors of zoning laws in effect across the US, calling the historic ordinance de facto zoning goes too far.

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Houston has tons of de facto zoning laws. Setbacks, parking requirements, minimum lot size, drainage, and the new height limitation are all arguably de facto zoning laws set up as "performance standards". Some developers consider Houston's "performance standards" to be more onerous than actual zoning (probably because they can usually grease the wheels and get a variance on zoning laws). But, if you really compare the historic ordinance with the many different flavors of zoning laws in effect across the US, calling the historic ordinance de facto zoning goes too far.

apples and tennis rackets comparison.

The 'de facto zoning laws' you mention are a very clear set of instructions that every building that might fit specific criteria has to fit within, unless they get a specific variance, and outside of the minimum lot size (a few years back they removed the minimum lot size from inside the loop developments, which ironically is one of the main factors that led to the heights becoming so popular for knockdowns), there are no restrictions based on a specific location.

The other is a very subjective set of outlines that govern land use in very specific areas.

based on the what zoning is (and even discounting the clear set of instructions vs subjective outlines), your 'de facto zoning laws' do not fit, which unless you misunderstand the definition of de facto, is why they are apples and tennis rackets comparison to historic districts.

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apples and tennis rackets comparison.

The 'de facto zoning laws' you mention are a very clear set of instructions that every building that might fit specific criteria has to fit within, unless they get a specific variance, and outside of the minimum lot size (a few years back they removed the minimum lot size from inside the loop developments, which ironically is one of the main factors that led to the heights becoming so popular for knockdowns), there are no restrictions based on a specific location.

The other is a very subjective set of outlines that govern land use in very specific areas.

based on the what zoning is (and even discounting the clear set of instructions vs subjective outlines), your 'de facto zoning laws' do not fit, which unless you misunderstand the definition of de facto, is why they are apples and tennis rackets comparison to historic districts.

Wereas Historic Ordinance does fit the definition of de facto zoning in that they prescribe different land use rules based partly on geographic location.

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Minorities and low income residents were targeted by anti-zoning groups with ad campaigns claiming that zoning would mean a rise in rents. Minorities were also wary of the days when Jim Crow zoning would define a "family" for single family residential neighborhoods as excluding minorities, gays, and so on. Middle class voters were overwhelmingly for the measure as they saw it as a way to preserve their neighborhoods.

I had no clue you were so knowledable about minorities in the early 90s in the neighborhood... The minority gay couple that owned my home (during that time frame up until 06') were not supporters of zoning... nor the gay couple that lives two houses down (also there during that time frame), although they definitely support minimum lot size and setback.

(small sample size for sure, but I actually talk to these people)

Nice fabrication though.

You are still allowed to have Horses in areas of Acres Homes (not just acreage), I doubt the residents there are/were supporters of zoning.

Edited by SilverJK
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I believe that minorities in Houston are not simple, ignorant victims of targeted ad campaigns but can think for themselves, and they voted down the Zoning referendum for the third time because they are smart enough to know what makes Houston great.

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apples and tennis rackets comparison.

The 'de facto zoning laws' you mention are a very clear set of instructions that every building that might fit specific criteria has to fit within, unless they get a specific variance, and outside of the minimum lot size (a few years back they removed the minimum lot size from inside the loop developments, which ironically is one of the main factors that led to the heights becoming so popular for knockdowns), there are no restrictions based on a specific location.

The other is a very subjective set of outlines that govern land use in very specific areas.

based on the what zoning is (and even discounting the clear set of instructions vs subjective outlines), your 'de facto zoning laws' do not fit, which unless you misunderstand the definition of de facto, is why they are apples and tennis rackets comparison to historic districts.

The new height restriction does not apply in certain high density zones in the City. So, in a way, those restrictions are based on specific locations, i.e. outside of the high density zones.

Nothing in the historic ordinance governs land use as that phrase is known in zoning law. There are no height limits, no size limits, no limits on business v. residential v. multifamily and no limits on density. And whether the historic ordinance is or is not de facto zoning is purely an academic exercise for law professors and internet message boards. Historic preservation ordinances have never been held to be de jure zoning in Texas.

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I had no clue you were so knowledable about minorities in the early 90s in the neighborhood... The minority gay couple that owned my home (during that time frame up until 06') were not supporters of zoning... nor the gay couple that lives two houses down (also there during that time frame), although they definitely support minimum lot size and setback.

(small sample size for sure, but I actually talk to these people)

Nice fabrication though.

You are still allowed to have Horses in areas of Acres Homes (not just acreage), I doubt the residents there are/were supporters of zoning.

You are right. I completely made all of this up and did not get my information from the following well sourced scholarly article:

In addition to market-based arguments, the anti-zoning

campaign employed racial scare tactics to persuade potential

swing voters. Led by business and residential leaders

who felt secure in a system of deed restrictions and preferred

the status quo, zoning opponents hired the consulting firm

Calabrese & Associates to help refine their campaign strategy.

An executive summary prepared by the firm sheds light

on the goals of the anti-zoning campaign. It stated: “Our arguments

are most effective with minorities (especially

blacks), low incomes, females and Democrats.”216 Because

zoning opponents had capitalized on fears of segregation in

the 1962 referendum, zoning advocates anticipated that the

anti-zoning campaign would target minority- and low-income

voters with similar messages again in 1993.217 Despite

their anticipation, zoning advocates felt secure that support

among minority- and low-income voters was strong enough

to withstand these tactics. Commentators recognized that in

1962 African-American voters feared zoning would serve

as government-sanctioned segregation, but they expected

their support in 1993 because minority leaders were among

zoning’s strongest supporters.218 In February, well before

the campaign came into full swing, minority city council

members Al Calloway and Ben Reyes both publicly supported

the proposed zoning ordinance and believed it would

help their constituents.219

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=9&sqi=2&ved=0CGAQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pszjlaw.com%2Fmedia%2Fpublication%2F427_Kapur%2520-%2520ELR%2520land%2520use%2520regulation.pdf&ei=28n1UJS9HLO02AXCm4HABQ&usg=AFQjCNF8qHH2NaqKbI195p4ly_uUwHePYQ&sig2=8lRARvN8R6aDUv0cPV0_Jg

But your reference to your gay friends is obviously superior to what actually happened and has been recorded in numerous articles from when this all actually happened. You actually talked to two people. I will contact the author of the article and tell him he needs to publish a retraction immediately.

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the methods used by either side in gaining support for or against zoning are irrelevant, as are the tally of votes for or against, the majority of the city in 3 separate instances voted against zoning, and our charter doesn't allow for it.

what is relevant is that the historic district is (by the true definition of de facto) de facto zoning.

The new height restriction does not apply in certain high density zones in the City. So, in a way, those restrictions are based on specific locations, i.e. outside of the high density zones.

Nothing in the historic ordinance governs land use as that phrase is known in zoning law. There are no height limits, no size limits, no limits on business v. residential v. multifamily and no limits on density. And whether the historic ordinance is or is not de facto zoning is purely an academic exercise for law professors and internet message boards. Historic preservation ordinances have never been held to be de jure zoning in Texas.

you're talking in circles, and yes indeed there are height limits, size limits and limits on density.

from the ordinance 33-241 (a)(10):

The setback of any proposed addition or alteration must be compatible

with existing setbacks along the blockface and facing blockface(s)

from the ordinance 33-241 (B)(1):

An addition taller than any point of the roof of the structure conforms to the

following standards:

a. The addition does not encroach into the front half of the existing

structure, measured from the front façade of the existing structure

to the farthest point of the rear of the existing structure from the

front façade;

b. The plate height of the addition does not exceed 1.25 times the

plate height of the existing structure; and

c. The roof of the new addition does not deviate from the roof pitch of

the existing structure.

from the ordinance 33-241 (B)(2):

For new additions that are not taller than any part of the roof of the

structure and are adjacent to the sides of the front façade of the existing

structure, the new addition conforms to the following standards:

a. The addition does not encroach into the front thirty percent of the

total depth of the existing structure, measured from the front façade

of the existing structure to the farthest point of the rear of the

existing structure from the front façade;

b. The addition is not wider, as measured from the side adjacent to

the front façade, than half of the distance that the addition is

actually set back from the front facade. For example, if an addition

is set back forty percent of the total depth of the existing structure

from the front façade, the addition may not be wider than twenty

percent of the total length of the existing structure; and

c. The roof of the new addition does not deviate from the roof pitch of

the existing structure except for cross gable roofs.

I'm too bored to find the limit on density, but since you can't tear down a structure and subdivide a lot (it's in there), that pretty well does do exactly what you say it doesn't.

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/docs_pdfs/Chpt33_councilamded_20101013.pdf

you honestly have no idea what you are fighting for do you?

Edited by samagon
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Kind of funny that s3mh is disgusted that marketing toward supposedly uneducated minorities killed the zoning referendum, when it was exactly that same sort of marketing toward supposedly educated whites that garnered the "majority of signatures for the Heights historic district. That majority later became a decided less than majority due to withdrawing of signatures and people moving away, but somehow the City didn't care about that.

Since the inevitable claim will be made that this is untrue, let me go ahead and refute it now by reminding any doubters that I was besieged by these HD people from 2004 to 2008. That would be years prior to some people's arrival in the Heights.

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Kind of funny that s3mh is disgusted that marketing toward supposedly uneducated minorities killed the zoning referendum, when it was exactly that same sort of marketing toward supposedly educated whites that garnered the "majority of signatures for the Heights historic district. That majority later became a decided less than majority due to withdrawing of signatures and people moving away, but somehow the City didn't care about that.

Since the inevitable claim will be made that this is untrue, let me go ahead and refute it now by reminding any doubters that I was besieged by these HD people from 2004 to 2008. That would be years prior to some people's arrival in the Heights.

First, as it was previously made clear, I made up the stuff about the minorities. So, you cannot use that argument against me because it is all fiction. Another one of my lies.

Second, are you really comparing the real estate and construction industry funded campaign to kill the zoning referendum with the little group of homeowners in the Heights that managed to push through the HDs and revisions to the ordinance in the face of massive opposition from the same industry?

Third, where did I say anything about the targeted minorities being uneducated? Another attempt to create a strawman or do you just assume that minorities in 1992 were uneducated? I did not.

Lastly, I just ran across this:

http://www.marthaturner.com/blog/index.php/view/entry/houstons-historic-districts

Another example of the overwhelming opposition to the historic districts and how nothing will ever get built in the HDs. But, I obviously created that blog entry in order to spread more of my lies.

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.....

Lastly, I just ran across this:

http://www.marthatur...toric-districts

Another example of the overwhelming opposition to the historic districts and how nothing will ever get built in the HDs. But, I obviously created that blog entry in order to spread more of my lies.

Let me get this straight. You are citing an award given by the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance (GHPA) to Martha Turner (Realtor, Director of GHPA) "for her exemplary leadership in the community and outstanding contributions to Houston’s growth and prosperity."

And why would she receive such an honor? Because Martha Turner Properties is "flourishing with new projects in The Heights Historic Districts."

“Their secret? An excellent, on-going realtionship (sic) with the Houston Archeological and Historical Commission (HAHC).”

And who is Chair of the HAHC? Phoebe Tudor, also a Director of GHPA and gal pal of fellow Director Martha Turner.

And as Martha goes on….”That’s a win-win for everyone."

It sure is! The Good Ole Boy Network is alive and well, with a new twist….the boys are all props. Want to get in on the action? First off, make sure your name is on this list….http://www.scribd.com/doc/68654482/Annise-Parker-campaign-finance-form . Then move to River Oaks.

Minorities saw through this BS and wisely voted down the zoning referendum figuring River Oaks wasn’t opening up anytime soon. Wannabes and social climbers in the Heights are not nearly as shrewd believing that handing over our neighborhood as a toy to these elitists will somehow get them in the club. But to quote King in Platoon “Ever'body know, the poor are always being [screwed] over by the rich. Always have, always will.”

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Although well thought out and sourced for sure... you are still referencing a sided opinion piece...

It's a law review article. The editors of the journal check every citation and require every factual assertion to be supported by a reference. It can be cited to a court as non-binding persuasive authority. If you think that the facts recited in the article have been misrepresented due to the author's bias, then step up to the plate and provide your sources. And it will have to be something other than your imaginary friends who conveniently have the opinion that is in line with your argument.

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You would have been better served to reference their references, not their assertions supported by their references.

Do you want me to provide a list of the people I know? (i'm not going to) I stated it was a small sample size, I didn't try to distort that, but If the few people I know feel that way, it leads me to think your statement of "overwhelming support" is proabably overstated/exaggerated. The "overwhelming majority" most likely didn't vote, cause they didn't care enough one way or the other to be bothered, don't confuse apathy with support.

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You would have been better served to reference their references, not their assertions supported by their references.

Do you want me to provide a list of the people I know? (i'm not going to) I stated it was a small sample size, I didn't try to distort that, but If the few people I know feel that way, it leads me to think your statement of "overwhelming support" is proabably overstated/exaggerated. The "overwhelming majority" most likely didn't vote, cause they didn't care enough one way or the other to be bothered, don't confuse apathy with support.

You cannot put my proof under the microscope and offer none in response. The article I cited referenced news articles and polling data from the time that showed that there was "overwhelming support" amongst middle class voters (not an "overwhelming majority"--usual tactic of putting words in my mouth when you can't argue against what I actually said). If you have some evidence that there was not overwhelming support amongst middle class voters for the last zoning referendum, then please share it with us. (I think you will agree that your few friends are not a scientifically significant sample size to refute the polling data reported from the time.) Otherwise, you have brought absolutely nothing to the table except a false accusation that I made all of this up.

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You cannot put my proof under the microscope and offer none in response. The article I cited referenced news articles and polling data from the time that showed that there was "overwhelming support" amongst middle class voters (not an "overwhelming majority"--usual tactic of putting words in my mouth when you can't argue against what I actually said). If you have some evidence that there was not overwhelming support amongst middle class voters for the last zoning referendum, then please share it with us. (I think you will agree that your few friends are not a scientifically significant sample size to refute the polling data reported from the time.) Otherwise, you have brought absolutely nothing to the table except a false accusation that I made all of this up.

I believe the fact that the result of the election was against zoning proves the proposition that there was not overwhelming support for zoning among ANY identifiable group. Perhaps an argument can be made that there was a slight majority, but clearly not enough to win an election.

An alternative proposition would be that perhaps some group, such as the "middle class", enjoyed overwhelming support for zoning. However, given that zoning lost, then the "middle class" must be so small as to be unable to affect the result. In that case, the "middle class" is too small a group to matter. To put it in mathematical terms, consider a group of 100 people. If the wealthy comprise 10 people, upper middle class comprise 20 people, the middle class comprise 10 people, and the poor and minorities comprise 60 people, overwhelming support by 9 of the 10 middle class people would be outvoted by only middling support of only 55% of the other 90 people, resulting in a vote of 51 to 49. In that case, what right do those 9 middle class people have to claim any mandate, when they only comprise 10% of the voters? The answer of course, is none.

The proposition that the "middle class" overwhelmingly supported zoning and somehow got screwed by the developers is preposterous to anyone other than someone trying to rewrite history. The fact is, Houstonians like not being told where they can build and where they cannot. Those of us who have lived in zoned cities also know who runs the zoning commissions...developers.

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You cannot put my proof under the microscope and offer none in response. The article I cited referenced news articles and polling data from the time that showed that there was "overwhelming support" amongst middle class voters (not an "overwhelming majority"--usual tactic of putting words in my mouth when you can't argue against what I actually said). If you have some evidence that there was not overwhelming support amongst middle class voters for the last zoning referendum, then please share it with us. (I think you will agree that your few friends are not a scientifically significant sample size to refute the polling data reported from the time.) Otherwise, you have brought absolutely nothing to the table except a false accusation that I made all of this up.

This argument of yours doesn't change what the outcome was, if zoning were as popular as you say, certainly it would be, then it will be put on a ballot again soon enough.

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I believe the fact that the result of the election was against zoning proves the proposition that there was not overwhelming support for zoning among ANY identifiable group. Perhaps an argument can be made that there was a slight majority, but clearly not enough to win an election.

An alternative proposition would be that perhaps some group, such as the "middle class", enjoyed overwhelming support for zoning. However, given that zoning lost, then the "middle class" must be so small as to be unable to affect the result. In that case, the "middle class" is too small a group to matter. To put it in mathematical terms, consider a group of 100 people. If the wealthy comprise 10 people, upper middle class comprise 20 people, the middle class comprise 10 people, and the poor and minorities comprise 60 people, overwhelming support by 9 of the 10 middle class people would be outvoted by only middling support of only 55% of the other 90 people, resulting in a vote of 51 to 49. In that case, what right do those 9 middle class people have to claim any mandate, when they only comprise 10% of the voters? The answer of course, is none.

The proposition that the "middle class" overwhelmingly supported zoning and somehow got screwed by the developers is preposterous to anyone other than someone trying to rewrite history. The fact is, Houstonians like not being told where they can build and where they cannot. Those of us who have lived in zoned cities also know who runs the zoning commissions...developers.

Maybe you should read the article. It shows that minority turnout surged for the zoning referendum. If you think minorities were not affected by the campaign that tried to scare them into thinking that their rents would go up and they would be zoned out of neighborhoods, but, instead, turned out because they value not being told where they can build and where they cannot, then you have a very Pollyanna view of the power of PR and campaign advertising. People spend piles of money on campaign advertising because it works. As the article shows, the well-funded anti-zoning lobby was very effective at using their advertising to sway the outcome of the election. But, the referendum vote was still very close (52/48, roudning up). Thus, if there was such a consesus in Houston against zoning, why did the developers need to mount such an agressive campaign to stop the referendum? And why was the result still very close after the developers poured so much money into opposing the referendum? The answer is that there so much support for the referendum that it took a massive media campaign to get out enough votes to defeat it.

It is true that zoning commissions fall under the influence of developers. However, that gun can kick as much as it shoots. Developers of residential areas will use their influence to preserve the residential character of areas against developers of multifamily/commercial/retail. But at least there is a plan in place and there is some predictability. As the article shows, Houston has such a hodge-podge of land use restrictions that it is difficult to know whether you will be able to do what you want with your land until you have bought the land and invested thousands into architects and engineers to put plans before the City.

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s3mh, whether you, or anyone else agrees with the methods of campaigning that occurred during the vote for zoning, or the reasons that people voted the way they did in Houston doesn't change the fact that zoning is still against the charter of Houston.

In addition, you're being more than hypocritical when you consider a vote to be unfair based on the campaigning, yet you consider the means by which the city canvased the areas for HD designation to determine interest in the historic district to have been fair and representative of the majority of owners.

Edited by samagon
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Samagon beat me to it, but if you expect me to give you even a minute of sympathy over your cries of unfair campaigning for a zoning referendum after your statements regarding the refusal to have a vote on historic districts, you are delusional. At least zoning actually got a real election requiring yes or no votes. If anyone doubted your insincerity for fairness or the rule of law prior to these last few days, they certainly do not doubt it now.

If you don't like Houston's lack of zoning, do something about it. With the "overwhelming support" it should be a piece of cake. Make sure you target those gullible minorities.

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Anti-zoning is part of Houston culture, admit it or not. Three referendums plus the initial debate and the pro-zoning elitist minority is oh for four. This HD Ordinance flies in the face of our history, culture and Charter. You want to save history? Save this, and note the prophetic drawing of the HAHC:

post-6469-0-85988000-1358442394_thumb.jp

Edited by fwki
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Apparently the HAHC is doing exactly what we said it was going to do, and is denying extremely reasonable requests just to flex its muscles...This petition is going around asking folks to sign it b/c the HAHC is refusing to approve their addittion.  The HAHC apparently wants a bigger Camelback and has no regard whatsoever for the costs that it is imposing upon the family.  200 signatures and about 1/4 of them have had unpleasant dealings with the HAHC already.

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/houston-archaeological-and-historical-commission-hahc-approve-application-to-restore-my-1920-home-that-has-been-neglected-for-yrs?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=url_share&utm_campaign=url_share_before_sign

 

Shocking!  Apparently this family's only mistake was not choosing the city/HAHC preferred contractor/architect....I would bet that this same exact plan if submitted by an architect who supported the ordinance would have sailed through....It is infuriating to me that some group like the HAHC has the authority to prevent this property owner from repairing their home how they see fit.  This is PRECISELY why the ordinance must be repealed and the HAHC done away with in its entirety.  Good ole boy politics has no place in individuals private property rights!  GTHO of the Heights HAHC!

Edited by Marksmu
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This story needs to go mainstream.  It is time to call out each member of the HAHC personally and expose these elitists for the political power pigs they are.  They have their tea and crumpets over at the GHPA in River Oaks laughing at likes of the Kelmans just trying to get by on a budget......can't wait till SM weighs in on this one.

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This story needs to go mainstream.  It is time to call out each member of the HAHC personally and expose these elitists for the political power pigs they are.  They have their tea and crumpets over at the GHPA in River Oaks laughing at likes of the Kelmans just trying to get by on a budget......can't wait till SM weighs in on this one.

 

I don't see the media picking up a story about how the city abuses the power that it dishonestly vested in a bunch of know it all snots....I have found the media to be pretty much worthless at covering anything at all that actually matters....well at least in an unbiased way.

 

You have well connected snots controlling every day people.  Its sickening but it is exactly what we knew would happen.  A few builders/architects who these well connected snots have wine/cheese with will have their process go smoothly - everyone else - well you should have picked their friends to do your project!  Everyone else just go ahead and get your checkbook out and prepare to design your house to the whims/desires of the snots who make up the HAHC.

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I don't see the media picking up a story about how the city abuses the power that it dishonestly vested in a bunch of know it all snots....I have found the media to be pretty much worthless at covering anything at all that actually matters....well at least in an unbiased way.

 

You have well connected snots controlling every day people.  Its sickening but it is exactly what we knew would happen.  A few builders/architects who these well connected snots have wine/cheese with will have their process go smoothly - everyone else - well you should have picked their friends to do your project!  Everyone else just go ahead and get your checkbook out and prepare to design your house to the whims/desires of the snots who make up the HAHC.

 

You're right about the lame media and its puppet masters, what was I thinking.....crumpet master Martha Turner and her contractor/developer cohorts are ready and willing to take your money to influence their pals on the HAHC.

Edited by fwki
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Yesterday I wrote a suprisingly civil email to the Mayor, Ellen Cohen and my council-hack about this and other HAHC actions that will blow up in their faces politically if it continues.  I received a timely response from Ms. Cohen's office with details demonstrating she is definitely concerned about her constituents who are victims of unwarranted HAHC control.  She finished as follows: "If the request by the Kelman family is denied they may appeal before City Council . We will certainly take your comments into consideration if this item comes for a vote."  If it goes to the Council, it will get mainstream press coverage.  And I would love to see the hundreds who signed their petition show up for the cameras in front of the historic structure on the day of the vote calling out these HAHC overlords and their realtor/develper cronies personally.  Embarass them publicly as the elitist political hacks that they are.

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285 signatures in a few days....that must be representative of the overwhelming support for the HAHC...especially since this thing is barely making its online debut, and is doing so using one of the worst most liberal petition sites on the net....I almost quit when I had to click through the other 4 petitions - tell Obama I love him and want a lifetime dictator, Ban assault rifles, ban high capacity magazines, tell the government global warming is man made - BARF- but alas for the sake of the family, I completed the petition, and skipped the other liberal trash on that site.

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I got a message this morning that said the HAHC again told them to shove it and completely disregarded the petition.  They apparently (this is 3rd hand information) did not budge on their requirement to make the camelback larger and to move it back 3 or 4 feet thereby rendering the garage useless.

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I have encouraged the Kelmans to make their own case before the Houston Archeological and Historical Commission.  The Commission is an independent body, and it is not appropriate for the Mayor to intervene.   However, as I have told the Kelmans, while the Commission takes into account staff recommendations, it also listens to the homeowners and then weighs all the information it has received.I got a message this morning that said the HAHC again told them to shove it and completely disregarded the petition.  They apparently (this is 3rd hand information) did not budge on their requirement to make the camelback larger and to move it back 3 or 4 feet thereby rendering the garage useless.

 

It's on the agenda for the January 24th meeting, warts and all.  Ellen Cohen sent me the application for COA with all the staff comments recommending against approval.  So it's up to the HAHC and Phoebe Tudor to show whether or not they have lost their minds.  A deferral or rejection and the applicant can take it to the City Council for vote.  That's when it gets political and the  gloves come off because we can all show up at council meetings.

 

Edit: I also received a letter response from the mayor: "I have encouraged the Kelmans to make their own case before the Houston Archeological and Historical Commission.  The Commission is an independent body, and it is not appropriate for the Mayor to intervene.   However, as I have told the Kelmans, while the Commission takes into account staff recommendations, it also listens to the homeowners and then weighs all the information it has received."

 

So just because staff recommends reject, the HAHC can keep it in house if they concede enough or accept to the Kelmans' pleasure.

Edited by fwki
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I sense an approval coming. The mayor's response suggests that HAHC can go off script if it wants to. The mayor's response is also an acknowledgment that the Kelman's have garnered attention. There will no doubt be communication between the mayor's office and the "independent" HAHC. I do not expect HAHC to make a Little Big Horn out of the Kelman's application. They are on precarious footing. It is much easier to approve than risk losing their entire ridiculous ordinance.

 

Of course, I thought it would get approved the other day as well.

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I sense an approval coming....

 

I think so.  The Subject line of my email was "HAHC political liability", the District H fool didn't even respond, at least not yet.  I cc'd the Executive Director of the GHPA, maybe it will be a conversation piece next time the crumpets get together, and she can ask Phoebe "WTF? Over!"...."Bad for business! Over!".

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I got interested in the 1207 Harvard part of the thread this morning. Anybody know if it got approved at the Jan 24 meeting? The minutes are not yet posted.

Also, in regards to the petition, it's not clear to me when HAHC first denied the 1207 Harvard plans, because the property is not listed on minutes from previous meetings, at least I couldn't find it. If it wasn't brought to the HAHC prior to Jan 24, were the owners responding to hearsay from their developer rather than HAHC action in posting the petition?

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If 1207 Harvard is the house that is the subject of the petition, it was denied last week. If you read the petition, you'll see the owners claim that "they" would not recommend approval unless the addition was moved back 10 feet. "They" is likely the planning commission employees who review the COA application and plans prior to submission to the HAHC. They review the plans for conformity with the ordinance, and then make a recommendation to the HAHC. HAHC may follow or reject the recommendation of planning.

 

The owners posted last week that they were rejected.

Edited by RedScare
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Right, the staff recommended denial last week after reviewing the application, but it was still on the agenda for 24Jan. The hahc could have concurred and denied, concurred and deferred final action with recommendations or gone against staff and approved. I don't know the outcome.

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Right, the staff recommended denial last week after reviewing the application, but it was still on the agenda for 24Jan. The hahc could have concurred and denied, concurred and deferred final action with recommendations or gone against staff and approved. I don't know the outcome.

Well OK. All the fulmination against HAHC wrt the petition made me think the committee had ruled previously, and the owners were in some sort of appeals process after that. But I couldn't get info on that from the petition, other than an appeal for the Mayor to exercise some authority in the matter. In the interest of understanding the process, I wonder if planning staff based the recommendation of rejection on general standing city codes/restrictions or restrictions specific to the Heights district/HAHC. I think the ambiguity of some of the Heights historic restrictions was one of the worries dicussed on here, could this be an example of capricious application of the rules.

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