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Historic Districts in Houston


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The benefit of anonymous message boards is that we can see people's true colors and not be fooled by a public façade.

 

 

LIke when people gloat about the HD's and threaten those who opposed it.  True Colors indeed.

 

 

You still fail to acknowledge that Mr. Marsh's opinions are baseless as he himself lives in a newer large sq. ft home.  At least the retiree people trying to keep property taxes down live in the old houses they are trying to "protect".  I know a few of those types... and although they agree with you on supporting the HDs (most of them admit it is for selfish reasons), I've heard them say how much they really hate all these people who have recently moved in to the neighborhood and act like they own the place. 

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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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LIke when people gloat about the HD's and threaten those who opposed it.  True Colors indeed.

 

 

You still fail to acknowledge that Mr. Marsh's opinions are baseless as he himself lives in a newer large sq. ft home.  At least the retiree people trying to keep property taxes down live in the old houses they are trying to "protect".  I know a few of those types... and although they agree with you on supporting the HDs (most of them admit it is for selfish reasons), I've heard them say how much they really hate all these people who have recently moved in to the neighborhood and act like they own the place. 

 

I said that people who support the HDs will remember those who made misrepresentations and fought dirty to try to defeat the HDs.  People who tried to scare people into opposing HDs by claiming that property values would crash and the neighborhood will turn ghetto should not just get everyone's business who cared about the HDs.  It is called voting with your dollars and is as fundamental to capitalism as anything.

 

Ok.  I will stipulate that residency is a fundamental requirement for being able to make arguments about the ordinance.  You and Marksmu are hereby banned from discussing the HDs as neither of you actually live in one. 

 

Actually, I won't stipulate to any home ownership requirement.  It is entirely irrelevant.  Whether an application is appropriate and should be approved stands on the merits of the application.  If you make a good argument to reject the application (Mr. Marsh does make good arguments which you refuse to address), it doesn't matter whether you live in a cave, apartment, new construction in Pearland or 100% original 1920s bungalow.

 

And I have heard people on this message board talk about how they hate long time residents who worked for almost a decade to get the HDs because they act like they own the place. 

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i don't live in one... but that doesn't mean I don't own a property in one...

 

 

If owning new construction disqualifies Mr. Marsh, then not actually living in one disqualifies you.  Both are equally arbitrary and irrelevant reasons to disqualify someone's opinion without addressing the merits.

 

And I also must add that the anti-ordinance folks shouldn't be complaining that I advocated voting with dollars after they went nuts slamming the Sash Guy on this board and on next door after he candidly explained why he turned down a job.  He was attacked merely for having an opinion and expressing it with candor.  He did not try to coerce anyone with misrepresentations.

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That makes no sense.  I live in and own a historic home(s), so my opinion on historic homes would hold a lot more clout than Mr. Marsh's.  Owning a home in an HD gives you plenty of reason to be concerned about the HDs.  Your trying to make a connection between the two that isn't there.  (also you don't see me going in front of the commission to sway them either)

 

With sashguy... you know good and well thats not what happened.

 

 

 

 

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I lived in the heights up until a couple months ago (when i moved for better schools to memorial) and I still own a home in the west historic district. My opinion on the HD ordinance affects me directly. I owned the property I have on Ashland long before the ordinance was even written.

At least the ordinance has a direct affect on me, something mr marsh and his new construction can't claim.

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http://blog.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2013/11/interactive-maps-who-doomed-the-dome-and-pushed-parker/

 

This is a very interesting map regarding the recent Mayoral election. I would assume the historic district drama would've affected Parker more negatively, but she still received between 70-90% of the vote in the Heights.

 

Maybe the HD pushed her total from 85% (like it was in Montrose) to 70%, but that's it.

 

My takeaway is that no one really cares about this issue except the four of you that post on this thread attacking each other (or ganging up on the one pro preservation person)

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So people treating the Heights as an investment tool want more say than people who actually live there. Fabulous concept. How's that shadow commission coming along? You guys just aren't doing a good enough job getting your very important message out.

 

When I became active over the historic ordinance, I both lived in the Heights, and owned a rental property there.  I bought the rental b/c I fully intended to build a new house there once my kids got a little bit older.  The historic ordinance came along after I bought my rental...I moved for schools...as my kids got older, it was clear to me that the schools in the Heights are still completely unacceptable...Could they get an education there?  Sure, but its far from what I deem acceptable, I will even say substantially below acceptable - outright bad.   I sold the house I was living in and moved for better schools.  Rather than sell the rental, which has been a very good rental, I changed my plans to keep it and hopefully tear it to the ground 15-18 years from now once my kids are gone again and I don't need as much house as I do now.

 

To say that I, an owner vested in the prosperity of the neighborhood, with friends peppered all throughout the heights, am an "investor" is absurd.  I care about the neighborhood and what is best for it.  The ordinance is terrible and needs to be repealed.  I fight the ordinance b/c it is terrible....It does not have a huge effect on my rental, I have a non-contributing structure so I will get the right to tear it down....I am not worried about that...I fight it b/c its a terrible abuse of the governments power, its not good for the neighborhood's prosperity and growth, its downright bad for young families, and its the perfect example of why power should never be ceded to others who will abuse it.

 

I make  no qualms or apologies for my disdain for the ordinance, I do not pretend I want to fix it or improve it.  My only goal is outright repeal and the return of property rights to the owners. 

 

Also, Mr. Morrison, you may want to read up on the definition of Libel - I have not read, or written any statements about a single individual that are not true.  Truth is an absolute defense to libel....When a person interjects themselves into the public sphere they open themselves up for critique. 

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http://blog.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2013/11/interactive-maps-who-doomed-the-dome-and-pushed-parker/

 

This is a very interesting map regarding the recent Mayoral election. I would assume the historic district drama would've affected Parker more negatively, but she still received between 70-90% of the vote in the Heights.

 

Maybe the HD pushed her total from 85% (like it was in Montrose) to 70%, but that's it.

 

My takeaway is that no one really cares about this issue except the four of you that post on this thread attacking each other (or ganging up on the one pro preservation person)

 

The Heights as a whole tends to be very liberal.  Do you really think that a liberal is going to vote against Parker, an openly gay woman mayor of Houston?  The ordinance had absolutely zero effect on the mayorial election - heck it was not even an issue for her opponents...it impacts such a negligble number of people in this city that to devote time to it would be

 

Your takeaway is reading way too much into something that is not there. 

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I have my qualms with Mayor Parker, but I also really support some of her ideas too.  Since this is her final term and no real suitable opponent... I was actually considering voting for her even as against the HDs as I am.  (I came down with the flu on election day unfortunately)

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That the four anti-preservation people voted or intended to vote for Parker is all I need to know.

 

Woah - I did not vote for Parker.  I am politically very conservative, more libertarian than conservative....I merely stated that the Heights as a whole is very liberal, and a single issue like the Historic Ordinance that effects so few people in a city of our size, did not carry any political weight at all. 

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That the four anti-preservation people voted or intended to vote for Parker is all I need to know.

 

 

Who's anti-preservation?  I've saved 2 bungalows (one here and one in Louisiana) from the bulldozers and I'm about to restore a late 40s or early 50s car that has likely been rusting in a field somewhere.  I'm all about preservation.   I am however anti ordinance.

 

 

I would have liked to vote for someone else, but Parker was the only candidate that I think will be able to do anything positive  (she has momentum already and I fully support all of her push for bicycle friendliness and parks).  If there was a suitable opponent I would gladly have thrown my support their way, but there wasn't.

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That the four anti-preservation people voted or intended to vote for Parker is all I need to know.

Two logical fallacies (the same logical fallacy though, so no extra points for you) in one post, and no real content. Kudos.

I live in a house as old as those as are in the heights. I do not live in a historic district. I will fight to preserve my house as long as I own it. I will fight against the historic ordinance if it comes to my neighborhood.

I'm sure you can figure out the logical fallacy regarding mayor Parker.

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The Heights as a whole tends to be very liberal.  Do you really think that a liberal is going to vote against Parker, an openly gay woman mayor of Houston?  The ordinance had absolutely zero effect on the mayorial election - heck it was not even an issue for her opponents...it impacts such a negligble number of people in this city that to devote time to it would be

 

Your takeaway is reading way too much into something that is not there. 

 

I agree that in the city as a whole it had little effect, the surprising thing to me is that it had little to no effect in Heights specific precincts that are almost entirely contained within a historic district (with the Woodland Heights, entirely contained), she received between 70 and 90% of the vote in Heights precincts that are affected by the historic district.

 

My takeaway is that even Heights residents don't care, and the ordinance does not bother them one bit. It's just the people on this thread and maybe a few others that actually care about the ordinance. No one else gives a damn, and y'all are wasting your time on this message board fighting among yourselves and having the same tired hashed out discussions over and over again.

 

That takeaway seems correct.

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I agree that in the city as a whole it had little effect, the surprising thing to me is that it had little to no effect in Heights specific precincts that are almost entirely contained within a historic district (with the Woodland Heights, entirely contained), she received between 70 and 90% of the vote in Heights precincts that are affected by the historic district.

 

My takeaway is that even Heights residents don't care, and the ordinance does not bother them one bit. It's just the people on this thread and maybe a few others that actually care about the ordinance. No one else gives a damn, and y'all are wasting your time on this message board fighting among yourselves and having the same tired hashed out discussions over and over again.

 

That takeaway seems correct.

 

 

It is completely foolish to think because of the mayoral voting people don't care.  It isn't a one or the other issue.

 

 

A lot of your people that aren't speaking against are ones that it hasn't impacted.  If you just live in HD and are happy living there and don't plan on any renovations why would you care?  It is people who are renovating or planning to rennovate that are the ones coming out against the ordinance.  I live outside of the district... so my personal dwelling isn't impacted.  I speak against the HD because I don't want it coming to block.   No one gives a damn until it impacts them...  (as you can see from several people coming to this site to gain support in regards to their renovations being denied). 

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  • 2 weeks later...

 You all know that no one in the Heights wants to go back to the days when 200+ bungalows a year were being demolished and have to instead make it seem like everyone who supports the ordinance is a bad person with an improper motive. 

 

Show me 200 addresses that bungalows were demolished in 1 year in The Heights.

I'm tired of reading this untrue statement.

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Show me 200 addresses that bungalows were demolished in 1 year in The Heights.

I'm tired of reading this untrue statement.

http://www.houstonheights.org/newsletter/2006-08/hha200608.pdf

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20061222203514/http://www.houstonheights.org/newsletter/2006-12/hha200612.pdf

http://web.archive.org/web/20080419030300/http://www.houstonheights.org/newsletter/index.htm

Back in 2006, the Houston Heights Association documented 170 demolitions in a year and a half in the Heights and a rate of 2.4 homes a week being demolished.  By March of 2008, the count was 324 since June of 2005, but the rate began to slow late in 2007 into 2008 as the first historic districts came together.  This was just in the traditional boundaries of the Heights and did not include Woodland Heights, Norhill or other areas considered to be part of the "Greater Heights" (Brookesmith, E. Sunset Heights, etc.).  Add in those areas and you easily have a period during the housing bubble where 200+ were going down in a year.   

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Wasn't this myth busted back when it was brought up last time?  Those are demolition permits which include garages and other outlying buildings and maybe even partial demolitons.  So your 170 is a bit exaggerated for homes... and of those likely many of them weren't really even demo... more like picking up the pile of former house that sits on a lot.  I remember people making a fuss back in 06 about a house getting a demo permit but it was actually for the old carriage house that had burned down in like the 70s.  It was litterally a pile of rubble with a few walls of framing still standing. 

 

Were a lot of homes that could have easily been saved knocked down, definitely, and many of them bummed me out as back then I was looking to buy a home and a lot of those would have been perfect for me but they never even got listed.  The 90+90 day waiting/holding period for demos slowed them dramatically and a few other small changes could have been made to prevent even more of them.  This is what everyone wanted and was sold when they signed up for the original historic district.   That is a far cry from what the HDs are today.  (the original goal was to stop demolition of livable/saveable bungalows, it was told to everyone a million times).  Current HD ordinance and Saving Bungalows are about as similar as crap and chocalate.

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Back in 2006, the Houston Heights Association documented 170 demolitions in a year and a half in the Heights and a rate of 2.4 homes a week being demolished.  By March of 2008, the count was 324 since June of 2005, but the rate began to slow late in 2007 into 2008 as the first historic districts came together.  This was just in the traditional boundaries of the Heights and did not include Woodland Heights, Norhill or other areas considered to be part of the "Greater Heights" (Brookesmith, E. Sunset Heights, etc.).  Add in those areas and you easily have a period during the housing bubble where 200+ were going down in a year.   

 

Your math doesn't support your claim.  You state The Heights, so lets review The Heights numbers.  I could care less about other neighborhoods as I do not live there and am only concerned with where I have called home for a VERY long time.

 

170 houses in 18 months does not equal 200 per year.  That works out to be 9.44 houses per month.  Over a 24 month period that equals 226.66 homes, or 173.34 homes short of your 200 home per year claim.

 

Going forward, If you take the 324 total as you state in March 2008 and subtrace the 170 in 2006, that equals 154.  146 short of your 200 per year claim.

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Your math doesn't support your claim.  You state The Heights, so lets review The Heights numbers.  I could care less about other neighborhoods as I do not live there and am only concerned with where I have called home for a VERY long time.

 

170 houses in 18 months does not equal 200 per year.  That works out to be 9.44 houses per month.  Over a 24 month period that equals 226.66 homes, or 173.34 homes short of your 200 home per year claim.

 

Going forward, If you take the 324 total as you state in March 2008 and subtrace the 170 in 2006, that equals 154.  146 short of your 200 per year claim.

 

It all depends on whether you want to play semantics over the term "Heights" in my original post.  I never limited that term to any particular boundary.  You cannot prove me wrong by unilaterally imposing a limitation I never used.  You may care less about other neighborhoods, but there are historic districts in those neighborhoods, so they count.  The statistics show that at the peak, @125 homes were getting demoed a year in the traditional borders of the Heights.  Demo activity in areas like Woodland Heights were just as healthy as in the Heights during the same time period.  So, 200+ demos is at best spot on for the Heights as I define it, at worst, conservative.

 

And the Heights Association statistics did show 2.4 demos a week on average.  Even if I am completely and wildly wrong, you have accomplished very little if you are trying to show that there was no reason for preservation.  @125 demos a year is the equivalent to wiping out about five to six full blocks of homes a year.  In ten years at that rate (and the rate would have only accelerated over time without any restrictions), you could completely wipe all the homes between 11th and 16th from Shep to Yale St.  That is staggering and was the main reason behind the movement to form the districts and get rid of the 90 day waiver, not minimum lot size (as is noted in some of the newsletters from the time frame, separate efforts were being made to address minimum lot size and to try to close the condo loop hole).

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This was just in the traditional boundaries of the Heights and did not include Woodland Heights, Norhill or other areas considered to be part of the "Greater Heights" (Brookesmith, E. Sunset Heights, etc.).  Add in those areas and you easily have a period during the housing bubble where 200+ were going down in a year.   

 

You are the one that said it DID NOT include other Greater Heights neighborhoods.

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You are the one that said it DID NOT include other Greater Heights neighborhoods.

 

The Heights Association numbers do not include areas outside what is considered the original boundaries of the Heights (4th-30th, Shep to Studewood, basically).  My 200+ extrapolates their numbers to what most people think of when you say "Heights" (including Woodland Heights, Norhill, etc.).

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The Heights Association numbers do not include areas outside what is considered the original boundaries of the Heights (4th-30th, Shep to Studewood, basically).  My 200+ extrapolates their numbers to what most people think of when you say "Heights" (including Woodland Heights, Norhill, etc.).

 

 

You should be a politician.  You crawfish so well.

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It all depends on whether you want to play semantics over the term "Heights" in my original post. I never limited that term to any particular boundary. You cannot prove me wrong by unilaterally imposing a limitation I never used. You may care less about other neighborhoods, but there are historic districts in those neighborhoods, so they count. The statistics show that at the peak, @125 homes were getting demoed a year in the traditional borders of the Heights. Demo activity in areas like Woodland Heights were just as healthy as in the Heights during the same time period. So, 200+ demos is at best spot on for the Heights as I define it, at worst, conservative.

And the Heights Association statistics did show 2.4 demos a week on average. Even if I am completely and wildly wrong, you have accomplished very little if you are trying to show that there was no reason for preservation. @125 demos a year is the equivalent to wiping out about five to six full blocks of homes a year. In ten years at that rate (and the rate would have only accelerated over time without any restrictions), you could completely wipe all the homes between 11th and 16th from Shep to Yale St. That is staggering and was the main reason behind the movement to form the districts and get rid of the 90 day waiver, not minimum lot size (as is noted in some of the newsletters from the time frame, separate efforts were being made to address minimum lot size and to try to close the condo loop hole).

I am trying, but failing, to come up with a reason why demolishing a bunch of crappy houses in the "Heights" is a bad thing. It is not the end of the world, and leads to a better neighborhood.

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I am trying, but failing, to come up with a reason why demolishing a bunch of crappy houses in the "Heights" is a bad thing. It is not the end of the world, and leads to a better neighborhood.

 

I actually respect that statement for its candor.  Of course, I believe the exact opposite is true (can't think of a reason why demolishing a bunch of great houses and replacing them with a bunch of crappy new builds leads to a better neighborhood).  But at least that identifies the real debate instead of trumpeting the old blue sign slogans of being for preservation but against the ordinance.  But if those who are against the ordinance went around the Heights and told everyone that they hated the original housing stock and wanted to tear it all down, more people would come out in favor of the ordinance.  Thus, the carefully crafted slogans about supposedly loving old houses but being against the only thing that keeps people like you from eliminating them from the Heights.

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I actually respect that statement for its candor.  Of course, I believe the exact opposite is true (can't think of a reason why demolishing a bunch of great houses and replacing them with a bunch of crappy new builds leads to a better neighborhood).  But at least that identifies the real debate instead of trumpeting the old blue sign slogans of being for preservation but against the ordinance.  But if those who are against the ordinance went around the Heights and told everyone that they hated the original housing stock and wanted to tear it all down, more people would come out in favor of the ordinance.  Thus, the carefully crafted slogans about supposedly loving old houses but being against the only thing that keeps people like you from eliminating them from the Heights.

 

I like the old houses - I think they are nice to look at.  I would never want to live in one.  I need more space than the older homes have.  Even after extensive remodels, room sizes can still be significantly too small for my lifestyle.  So while I do like the old houses, I do not want one, and I do not think that anyone should be able to force me to keep one if I owned one.

 

You believe the new builds are crappy.  Some are - most are not.  Most are very nice, and their price tags reflect that.  There are however significantly more crappy old houses than new ones...so I am still ok with demolishing the old ones if a person wants to do so, or keeping it if they want to do that too...I just don't think anyone else should get to tell me what to do to my house.

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I actually respect that statement for its candor.  Of course, I believe the exact opposite is true (can't think of a reason why demolishing a bunch of great houses and replacing them with a bunch of crappy new builds leads to a better neighborhood).  But at least that identifies the real debate instead of trumpeting the old blue sign slogans of being for preservation but against the ordinance.  But if those who are against the ordinance went around the Heights and told everyone that they hated the original housing stock and wanted to tear it all down, more people would come out in favor of the ordinance.  Thus, the carefully crafted slogans about supposedly loving old houses but being against the only thing that keeps people like you from eliminating them from the Heights.

 

Shouldn't I be in charge of deciding whether or not my house, which I bought free of restrictions, should be demolished, renovated, or left alone? Why should my neighbor get a say in how I spend my money, or be able to force me to spend more than I planned? I would not be as opposed to the HD ordinance if it gave owners at the time of passage the ability to opt out.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I don't ever look at haif unless I get an email saying that someone has updated this specific thread. I heard that the recent Leader articles on the topic had been posted on another thread. Therefore, in case others are like me and only check this specific thread, I thought I'd post here too since the subject matter is pertinent to this topic.

 

http://www.theleadernews.com/?p=15142
(Note: there are 7 different articles in this series. You will see a blue box on the middle right section that has links to all 7 different articles)

 

Separately and similarly, yesterday on the cover of the Sunday City and State Section of the Chronicle, there was another article on the topic:

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/She-fought-for-historic-preservation-ordinance-5156481.php

 

 

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in case the link for the Chronicle didn't work....here is the article:

 

By Mike Morris


January 19, 2014

 

In October 2010, an emotional Sue Lovell, then a city council­woman, lauded the passage of a strengthened historic preservation ordinance for Houston after a long, complex and divisive battle she and Mayor Annise Parker had led.

In recent months, however, Lovell has appeared before the commissions tasked with implementing the ordinance to lobby on behalf of builders and homeowners seeking to remodel historic homes.

 

What changed?

Not her support for preservation or for the ordinance, Lovell said. What has shifted, she and others said, is the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission's interpretation of the rules.

"I fought for this ordinance," the former councilwoman said, "and I'm going to continue to fight to improve this ordinance."

The rules passed in 2010 prevent property owners from demolishing or altering the exterior of historic buildings in 20 designated districts without the approval of the historical commission. Previously, owners simply had to wait 90 days - even if the commission denied their request.

The topic is divisive, in part, because the restrictions are some of the only land use controls in Houston, the nation's largest unzoned city.

Initially, Lovell and others said, homeowners were told to preserve a historic home's façade by not adding rooms onto the front half of the structure, only to watch the starting point for building restrictions creep toward the back of the house; the historical commission now prefers additions affect only the rear wall.

"Then they come to the commission and the commission says, 'Well I don't want it set all the way back; it's taking up the whole back yard,' " Lovell said. "It's like trying to nail down Jell-O."

Heights resident Brie Kelman said more predictability is needed. Kelman applied last year to renovate a dilapidated bungalow by adding on to the back half of the house to fit her growing family. She has kept the home's original siding, windows, porch and many furnishings, and has repurposed materials removed during the renovations.

The commission voted no, saying Kelman did not follow its staff's suggestion to push the addition farther toward the back of the house and that the design dwarfed the home.

Pushing the addition back would only increase the square footage, take away her yard and increase the cost, Kelman said. She thought her design had satisfied the only clear numbers she could find in the ordinance.

 

Kelman showed the city's Planning Commission a chart comparing her design to a similar but much larger addition that was approved the same day hers was denied; the denial was overturned.

Sam Gianukos, a builder who had 14 of his clients' applications denied or deferred on the first try last year, said "the commission, basically, is changing the ordinance at the commission."

 

Mayor not content

Both sides use data to make their point.

Of the 361 projects presented to the historical commission last year, Parker said 84 percent won approval outright; another 8 percent were approved after revisions.

Critics, however, say appeals to the planning commission highlight the problem. Last year, 15 historical commission denials were appealed to the planning commission, which ended up reversing decisions in 11 of those.

 

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In Chronicle article, my favorite quote from Mayor Parker herself about the HAHC: "There are a couple activist commissioners over there who are hijacking the process."

 

Message received, finally.  I'm not sure she ever got it with Gafrick around, or at least couldn't acknowledge such publicly.

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"When we crafted the ordinance, there was a great deal of discussion about whether there should be proscriptive design guidelines," said Parker. "And, frankly, a lot of the people who are coming in today asking for those design guidelines were completely and totally opposed to the historic districts, and did not want those guidelines at the time."

Her conclusion: "If some of these individuals had worked with us more in the beginning, we might not be having these problems now." 

 

 

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"When we crafted the ordinance, there was a great deal of discussion about whether there should be proscriptive design guidelines," said Parker. "And, frankly, a lot of the people who are coming in today asking for those design guidelines were completely and totally opposed to the historic districts, and did not want those guidelines at the time."

Her conclusion: "If some of these individuals had worked with us more in the beginning, we might not be having these problems now." 

 

Her conclusion is BS.

 

If there was a great deal of discussion about whether design guidelines should be included or not, then it should have been done, regardless what other people did or did not do.

 

That is not the fault of people who opposed the ordinance.

 

She knew, they all knew it was a problem, or they wouldn't have discussed it, but they passed it anyway, and are now choosing to blame someone else for something that was ultimately their responsibility. Thank you for pointing this out, S3MH.

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Her conclusion is BS.

 

If there was a great deal of discussion about whether design guidelines should be included or not, then it should have been done, regardless what other people did or did not do.

 

That is not the fault of people who opposed the ordinance.

 

She knew, they all knew it was a problem, or they wouldn't have discussed it, but they passed it anyway, and are now choosing to blame someone else for something that was ultimately their responsibility. Thank you for pointing this out, S3MH.

 

So, the people drafting the ordinance should have been able to guess what would make people opposing the ordinance happy.  And the people who opposed the ordinance and did not participate in the process can now cry injustice because they did not get design guidelines that they never asked for when the ordinance was amended.  Or maybe instead of filling mailboxes with flyers claiming that HVAC placement and paint would be controlled by HAHC and that the Heights would turn into a slum when no one would renovate, the builders should have come to the City and participated in the process to ensure that their voices would be heard.  There is definitely a credibility issue when you complain about the ordinance but refused to participate in the process to draft the ordinance.  But this is all more than likely just pretext to try again to get rid of the ordinance. 

 

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Wait a minute.....

 

I thought the Ordinance was pitched as already having design guidelines? Simply click on the youtube video below, listen to Marlene's words, and look at Marlene's Powerpoint. "Already in place for the Old 6th Ward, Houston Heights, etc...." It is pretty clear to me that Design Guidelines were in place.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWf-f9JRh4g

 

This is also why my Preservation Planning staff contact sent me the Design Guidelines linked on the Houston Preservation website. It wasn't until my appeal that they decided to start calling them "educational material."

 

I have copy/pasted my back and forth with my Preservation Planning Staff contact below (removing her name with XXXX for privacy sake). I even asked if these were the latest DG's since they were dated 2008, when the Ordinance was dated 2010. She said very clearly - yes.

 

This is pretty clear to me, and I'm not sure what changed or why these DG's are not used anymore.

 

Date: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Subject: RE: 1207 Harvard
To: Brie Kelman

 

No, for the Heights design guidelines 2008 is the most up to date version. They were put together after Heights West and East historic districts were created.  

 

XXXX, City of Houston Planning & Development Department

 

 

From: Brie Kelman
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:48 AM


To: XXXX
Subject: Re: 1207 Harvard

 

Ok - cool - thanks. This is the document I was using originally. I noticed that it's dated 10/13/2010, where the guidelines are dated December 2008. Since you sent them to me, I assume they are correct, but I just wanted to double check that there isn't anything newer than 2008?

 

Thanks again!

 

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 10:43 AM, XXXX wrote:

No problem. I’ve attached a PDF, the section on Certificates of Appropriateness starts on page 21 and section 33-241 covers additions.

 

XXXX, City of Houston Planning & Development Department

 

 

From: Brie Kelman
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:35 AM

To: XXXX
Subject: Re: 1207 Harvard

 

No problem! I can only imagine how hectic it is over there...it's hectic over here getting ready!

 

Thanks for your email and the guidelines. They are good for me to have as well, but if you could forward the ordinance as well, that would be helpful. 

 

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 10:31 AM, XXXX wrote:

 

Sorry, I know I just sent you the design guidelines. Did you mean the guidelines or a copy of the Ordinance? Sorry it’s been a bit of a hectic morning.

 

XXXX, City of Houston Planning & Development Department

 

From: XXXX
Date: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Subject: RE: 1207 Harvard
To: Brie Kelman

 

Hi Brie,

 

At this point I think that it may be best to move forward with the original proposal. Even though staff will be recommending denial, it is just a recommendation the Commission has the final say and they do not always support staff recommendations. I would recommend that you come to the Commission meeting and present all of the reason that you’ve stated below and that we’ve talked about to the Commissioners, by doing this you’ll be providing them with information and the personal reasons behind your proposal. This can make a difference in their decision.

 

If you’re going to send in any other supporting documents they will need to be submitted by Friday morning.

 

Here is a link to the Heights Design Guidelines- http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/houston_heights_design_guide.html

 

Best,

XXXX

 

XXXX, City of Houston Planning & Development Department


 

From: Brie Kelman
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:29 AM


To: XXXX

Subject: Re: 1207 Harvard

 

Hi XXXX,

 

Sorry, I forgot to ask one more thing. Can you please email me a copy of the historic guidelines? I want to make sure we are using the correct document :). Thanks!

 

 

Edited by briekelman
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... did not participate in the process can now cry injustice because they did not get design guidelines that they never asked for when the ordinance was amended.  ... There is definitely a credibility issue when you complain about the ordinance but refused to participate in the process to draft the ordinance.  But this is all more than likely just pretext to try again to get rid of the ordinance.

s3mh

There was a document on the Planning Department's preservation website at least through May 2013 titled "A Design Guide for the Houston Heights Historic District's". ANY logical person would assume these were the guidelines discussed in the ordinance.Design Guidelines cover page.pdf

Edited by BBLLC
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s3mh

There was a document on the Planning Department's preservation website at least through May 2013 titled "A Design Guide for the Houston Heights Historic District's". ANY logical person would assume these were the guidelines discussed in the ordinance.attachicon.gifDesign Guidelines cover page.pdf

 

I do remember that document.  If that is what everyone wants, I am fine with that.  However, those "guidelines" would do little to provide certainty and limit the discretion of the commission.  It had a few examples of additions that were considered to be appropriate, but they were mostly additions that resulted in 2000-2500 sq feet.  None of those additions are anything like the giant 3000-3500 sq ft humper house additions that are the subject of controversy before the commission.  I have also seen the draft design guidelines for Germantown.  Those guidelines do little to provide the allegedly desired predictability.  Even though they are over 50 pages, they have requirements like "infill construction must be similar in size to existing homes . . ."; "additions in any location may not visually dominate the original house . . ."; and "New construction that is incompatible with the neighborhood is not allowed . . . ."  An the guide for Montrose has appropriate addition examples that are significantly more restrictive than what is currently being built in the Heights. 

 

But, if you want design guidelines, go for it.  I am all for it.  Just don't run to the Leader when the guidelines turn out to be more restrictive than what is currently being allowed.  And don't expect that there will no longer be any subjective element to the ordinance.  That is simply unavoidable.

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No. s3mh, it's not unavoidable. Just get rid of the whole ordinance, which wasn't needed, and is utterly stupid and overbearing. At a minimum, allow anyone to opt out of the district now, and get rid of the clause that requires houses be able to return to the original look. That's an utterly ridiculous requirement. Without that, architects would be able to design additions that blend with the prior work, instead of forcing people to build the horrifically ugly humps.

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So Parker admits she has a problem on the HAHC, in effect calling out Elliot, Bucek and perhaps mod as hijackers.  Then she points to some mythical DG ghosts as having caused the problems with the ordinance which is complete revisionist history because the DG problem didn't surface until they removed the Heights DG's after we were beating them over the head with them at the appeals.  Even SM3h knew this because he graciously posted a link to the Heights DG's for me on this site years ago.  Brie's email trail proves above all that the city administration is changing the law as they go along to suit an unknown or at least unstated goal.  Furthermore, Gafrick's lame-duck, career-ending move was to completely hijack the appeals process with new draconian rules like Obama and his executive order pen.  And all this is after the illegal HD ballot in a city that outlaws zoning.  The Leader just stated the obvious to the those who weren't paying attention.

 

Now Sue Lovell is trying to "save the ordinance" by simply adding new DG's.  Sure, right, now I am supposed to trust this bunch?  New DG's may save the builders because frankly, they just want clarity, good or bad.  But not the property owner victims, they are hosed either way.  I'm with Ross.  And it will be much easier as Elliot, Bucek and mod continue to wreak havoc along with the new kangaroo court appeals process.  The victims' screams will be too loud for Council to ignore.

Edited by fwki
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So, the people drafting the ordinance should have been able to guess what would make people opposing the ordinance happy.  And the people who opposed the ordinance and did not participate in the process can now cry injustice because they did not get design guidelines that they never asked for when the ordinance was amended.  Or maybe instead of filling mailboxes with flyers claiming that HVAC placement and paint would be controlled by HAHC and that the Heights would turn into a slum when no one would renovate, the builders should have come to the City and participated in the process to ensure that their voices would be heard.  There is definitely a credibility issue when you complain about the ordinance but refused to participate in the process to draft the ordinance.  But this is all more than likely just pretext to try again to get rid of the ordinance. 

 

 

I think the people drafting the ordinance knew precisely what would make the opposition happy, not passing the ordinance in the first place, but since the will of the people was not the main order of business, it wasn't meant to be. Furthermore, it's there in black and white, without the help of any outside influence, the city knew that guidelines were needed, but did nothing, maybe because as you pointed out, the design guidelines already existed and were being recommended by the city!

 

Anyway, the opposition did participate, you can go back and read meeting notes, you can read this thread, you can see exactly what they were complaining about, yes, a good number did just say no, but an even better number provided reasons why they were saying no, such as examples of things that the ordinance was unclear about. And not just paint.

 

If you felt they could have done differently at the time, you should have reached out to them, rather than threatening to rat out your neighbors. (ref: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/23402-historic-districts-in-houston/?p=377604)

 

 

Lastly, don't think that people are going to foregive and forget. We know who was funding the fight against our community. We will remember who you are when it is time to do an addition. We will remember when we sell our homes and buy another. We will remember when we renovate. The Heights is a small town in a big city. We have fought for years to protect our historic neighborhoods and have won. We will remember who was with us and who was against us.

 

 

Edited by samagon
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...  Even though they are over 50 pages, they have requirements like "infill construction must be similar in size to existing homes . . ."; "additions in any location may not visually dominate the original house . . ."; and "New construction that is incompatible with the neighborhood is not allowed . . . ." 

 

But, if you want design guidelines, go for it.  I am all for it.  Just don't run to the Leader when the guidelines turn out to be more restrictive than what is currently being allowed.  And don't expect that there will no longer be any subjective element to the ordinance.  That is simply unavoidable.

1. "Infill construction must be similar in size to existing homes.." WHERE?? on the block or in the district. Who gets to decide?

2. "New construction must be compatible." Where is the definition of compatible outlined? If prevailing setbacks and minimum lot sizes are used why can't a 4000 sqft house be next to a 2000 sqft house? Who gets to decide?

3. Mayor Parker said the same thing. Be careful what you ask.

I however do not accept the premise that objective guidelines couldn't be developed.

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