Jump to content

Historic Districts in Houston


Recommended Posts

Reminder from the GHPA:

The City of Houston Planning & Development Department is hosting the fourth in its series of public meetings to discuss proposed changes to the historic preservation ordinance tonight (Thursday, August 5) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Glenbrook United Methodist Church, 8635 Glen Valley Drive.

Although anyone may attend, tonight’s meeting will primarily address property owners in the proposed Glenbrook Valley historic district. The complete schedule of meetings and a summary of the proposed amendments are on the Planning & Development Department website.

There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about the proposed amendments. GHPA’s website addresses these misrepresentations. Click here to view the information in pdf format, which can be e-mailed or printed to share with your neighbors.

GHPA will continue to provide its members with updates on this issue.

That PDF from the GHPA - is propoganda. I am not faulting you or saying anything at all about your posting it, you are doing a service by posting it here for discussion....I'm just stating, and I am stating it as fact, that what is written on that PDF is 100% not supported by what is written in the ordinance. Does anyone else not think that it is very odd, and extremely untruthful, that the GHPA is taking the time to create a web site, and have meetings to dispel the myth of all these untruths, while 100% refusing to do the much faster, much better, more legitimate process of just modifying the ordinance to actually say what they want you to believe it says?

They wont modify the ordinance to actually conform to the propaganda they are putting out because the truth remains, that they do in fact want to control all exterior aspects of your home. If they did not, they would just modify the ordinance to state explicitly what it is that is covered and put to rest the items that are not.

The only truthful statement is that the ordinance does not currently control any interior modifications.

Edited by Marksmu
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 1.5k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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

Posted Images

That's because the defining "character" of the Heights is a hodge podge of building styles, and even types over about 100 years. The closest person to me who sticks anti-new construction, and "Say Yes" and whatever other new sign is out in their front yard lives in a grocery store (although I dont believe neither they, nor I, actually live in one of the affected historic districts. The neighborhood has changed a lot since I was a kid, mainly due to the influx of money into the neighborhood. Thats the only change I see, the neighborhood is richer, not better, nor worse. Its still a hodgepodge of commercial, even industrial, mixed with old houses, even apartment complexes in the middle of neighbiorhood blocks, only now theres new homes and townhomes added to the mix. I live across the street from a large commercial building that has been transformed into lofts, its been there since I was a kid. The family business is two houses don and has been there for 30 years. The house next door to me is a big new home (2 on what was once one lot), where previously there was a 950 SF shack that appeared ready to fall at any moment. There's an apartment complex 2 blocks away, theres the people that live in the grocery store. There's new buildings sure, but most of the places are 20-30-50-80 years old. Anybody that moved into the Heights in the past 80 years moved into a hodge podge that has been constantly evolving and been added onto with very little directed development or thought to an overarching character. The "historic district" types want to change the nature of my hood, IMO, not preserve it.

Your points are well thought out and presented very articulately. Well Done.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That PDF from the GHPA - is propoganda. I am not faulting you or saying anything at all about your posting it, you are doing a service by posting it here for discussion....I'm just stating, and I am stating it as fact, that what is written on that PDF is 100% not supported by what is written in the ordinance. Does anyone else not think that it is very odd, and extremely untruthful, that the GHPA is taking the time to create a web site, and have meetings to dispel the myth of all these untruths, while 100% refusing to do the much faster, much better, more legitimate process of just modifying the ordinance to actually say what they want you to believe it says?

I'm 99% sure that you're not 100% correct.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm 99% sure that you're not 100% correct.

Welcome to the 1% of the time that you are wrong then.

I have not made even one comment that cannot be supported by the wording of the ordinance. While Sue Lovell, and the GHPA can attempt to dispel myths by talking about all the inaccuracies that are allegedly being spread around, the fact remains that the ordinance is what is controlling, not what they say in a meeting. When it is all said and done and the HAHC has all the control, it will not help your cause any that Sue Lovell said they would not do exactly what it is they are doing to you.

The fact remains that it is the black and white wording of the ordinance that will dictate what can and cannot be done. All the fluff you hear in these meetings is nothing more than a campaign promise, and everyone knows how worthless campaigns promises are.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the 1% of the time that you are wrong then.

I have not made even one comment that cannot be supported by the wording of the ordinance. While Sue Lovell, and the GHPA can attempt to dispel myths by talking about all the inaccuracies that are allegedly being spread around, the fact remains that the ordinance is what is controlling, not what they say in a meeting. When it is all said and done and the HAHC has all the control, it will not help your cause any that Sue Lovell said they would not do exactly what it is they are doing to you.

The fact remains that it is the black and white wording of the ordinance that will dictate what can and cannot be done. All the fluff you hear in these meetings is nothing more than a campaign promise, and everyone knows how worthless campaigns promises are.

It is not the plain language that supports your arguments. It is your own personal opinion that if the ordinance can be interpreted in an unreasonable manner, it will be interpreted in an unreasonable manner because you believe that government is by its very nature unreasonable. Here are a few examples of your arguments that are completely misleading and wrong:

The ordinance also requires your addition to use materials that are historic.

Hardi Plank is expressly forbidden by the ordinance.

Whats next? The ordinance has no limit whatsoever. They could potentially prohibit political yard signs that dont support their particular party! There is no perceivable end to the control.

You have claimed to be an attorney. But if you were an attorney, you would know that the last argument is a violation of the First Amendment. As for hardi plank, there is nothing in the ordinance that says hardi plank is forbidden. You just make that representation because the ordinance gives the HAHC the power to require homeowners to use siding materials that are consistent with the historic siding. So, someone with 117 siding would probably not be able to replace it with hardi plank. That is a far cry from claiming that hardi plank is expressly forbidden. And the first comment makes it sound like people will have to go combing through historic salvage yards in order to put siding on an addition. That is false. If your building has 117 siding, HAHC can require your addition to also have 117 siding. That means that you will have to go all the way to Grogan's on Yale to find this rare and exotic historic material. HAHC cannot require you to go to a historic salvage yard and find vintage 117 siding.

There are many other examples. And there are less egregious examples in the literature being sent around by the realtor/builder funded opposition. The funny thing is that I would strongly support an effort to draft a better historic preservation ordinance, as would many of my neighbors. But, it is clear from the arguments from opponents that this isn't about perfecting the historic district ordinances. It is about undoing what many fought for years to do. Thus, it is "no means no" v. "big government is gonna tell you what TV channel you can watch", and a good opportunity to come together and create historic preservation that works well for every is lost.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

That's because the defining "character" of the Heights is a hodge podge of building styles, and even types over about 100 years. The closest person to me who sticks anti-new construction, and "Say Yes" and whatever other new sign is out in their front yard lives in a grocery store (although I dont believe neither they, nor I, actually live in one of the affected historic districts. The neighborhood has changed a lot since I was a kid, mainly due to the influx of money into the neighborhood. Thats the only change I see, the neighborhood is richer, not better, nor worse. Its still a hodgepodge of commercial, even industrial, mixed with old houses, even apartment complexes in the middle of neighbiorhood blocks, only now theres new homes and townhomes added to the mix. I live across the street from a large commercial building that has been transformed into lofts, its been there since I was a kid. The family business is two houses don and has been there for 30 years. The house next door to me is a big new home (2 on what was once one lot), where previously there was a 950 SF shack that appeared ready to fall at any moment. There's an apartment complex 2 blocks away, theres the people that live in the grocery store. There's new buildings sure, but most of the places are 20-30-50-80 years old. Anybody that moved into the Heights in the past 80 years moved into a hodge podge that has been constantly evolving and been added onto with very little directed development or thought to an overarching character. The "historic district" types want to change the nature of my hood, IMO, not preserve it.

My block in the west historic district is all 1920s bungalows except for one 1970 shack and one new construction. All of the bungalows with additions have added on in the back and have preserved the front 1/2 of the building. I am next to a small bungalow that has been left to decay. Without historic preservation ordinances, a builder could buy the lot and put in a 2 story monster that goes from the sidewalk to the alley (everyone else has retained the original setback). If that happened, my bungalow would then be next on the chopping block (even more so as I have a full sized lot). There would be no point in making improvements to my house as I would only see lot value in a sale.

The real threat to the Height's hodge podge is not the historic preservation ordinance; it is the builders and real estate agents that want to make a quick buck off of the high demand for decent inner loop housing. They want to wipe the Height clean of single story bungalows and fill in every block with two story houses that have as many sq ft as can be crammed into a 6600 lot. Just look at the new construction on the south end of Nicholson and the planned high density condos where the Ashland Tea House and old Assembly of God church on Ashland. The historic homes in the Heights deserve protection. If that means that builders won't make as much money as they want to, then fine. If that means that someone has to compromise on the design for their addition, then fine. This city has no shortage of land. But, without real protection, this city will lose its scant few historic neighborhoods.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would ask why that small bungalow next to you was left to decay. Was it because the owners could not afford to make repairs that would satisfy the HAHC?

No. The owner abadonned the house for personal reasons (it is not a pleasant story and not a story to be shared on a public message board), but apparently still pays the taxes and has someone mow the grass from time to time. As far as I know, there has never been an attempt to rehabilitate the house.

Looking at the condition it is in, the difference between HAHC compliant rehabilitation and non-HAHC compliant rehabilitation would hardly be a factor, assuming that there would even be such an additional cost. If the HAHC imposed conditions that raised the cost of rehabilitation, the cost would more than be offset by the tax abatement that could be earned restoring the building.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not the plain language that supports your arguments. It is your own personal opinion that if the ordinance can be interpreted in an unreasonable manner, it will be interpreted in an unreasonable manner because you believe that government is by its very nature unreasonable. Here are a few examples of your arguments that are completely misleading and wrong:

The ordinance also requires your addition to use materials that are historic.

Hardi Plank is expressly forbidden by the ordinance.

Whats next? The ordinance has no limit whatsoever. They could potentially prohibit political yard signs that dont support their particular party! There is no perceivable end to the control.

It is my opinion that when you give power to a few and take it away from the many - the few will abuse it. History shows us that power corrupts. But my logic in determining what materials can/cant be used is not such an opinion. I will address the reasons why 2/3 of the above statements are not misleading or wrong.

The ordinance does require that you use certain materials. This is found in the following paragraphs of the ordinance that when read together paint a fairly clear and limited picture. I will even underline the pertinent portions for you.

Section 33-241 - Alteration, rehabilitation, restoration, and construction

1) The proposed activity must retain and preserve the historical character of the property.

3) The proposed activity must recognize the building, structure, object or site as a product of its own time and avoid alterations that seek to create an earlier or later appearance.

6) New materials to be used for any exterior feature must be compatible with the materials being replaced in composition, design, texture and other visual qualities.

9) Proposed design for alterations or construction must not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material and must be compatible with the size, scale, material and character of the property...

If the material must preserve the historic nature, not appear newer, be compatible in composition, design, and texture, while all at the same time being of the same size, scale, and material - I am pretty sure that means it needs to be either a salvaged old materials, or a new piece of material that is an exact replica of the old.

As to the hardi plank - It was not around in 1920, it appears newer, it is not the same composition, design, texture, or material. The ordinance does not say " No Hardy Plank" but you don't have to spell out the letters " H A R D Y P L A N K" to write something that expressly forbids its use.

You have claimed to be an attorney. But if you were an attorney, you would know that the last argument is a violation of the First Amendment.

I know its a violation of the 1st Amendment - but that does not stop them from using this ordinance to write you a misdemeanor citation and then force you to appear and defend yourself. I will admit that I was stretching the argument to go with the political speech, but the ordinance is so broad, I was merely trying to make a point, that it controls everything, even the yard by defining site so broadly.

The ordinance controls the site - and the site is defined so broadly as to include everything all the way down to landscaping if they want to apply it that way.

Site is defined as : "property upon which a significant event occurred, including, but not limited to, any land, building, or natural resource....whether ruined, demolished or relocated"

This is so broad, it essentially allows them to control everything. Land allows them to control the dirt itself, building is well covered, and it appears even the minerals are contemplated......If one wants to apply an equally broad reading of this very broad statute, and compile it with the rest of what is written they can require a person to rebuild a structure that was destroyed or removed before they ever owned the property. The ordinance is THAT broad. They can even write you a citation for every day that you dont do what they tell you to do. Its awful!

There are many other examples. And there are less egregious examples in the literature being sent around by the realtor/builder funded opposition.

There you again - trying to make the argument that only realtors/builders are against this. Its not true. I am neither and I am firmly against it. I have been given no money by either a Realtor or a builder either. Its a scare tactic you keep trying to use. The big guys against the little guys. Everyone hates builders and realtors - we better make them the face of this. Why not just say George Bush is the one who is secretly supporting the opposition??? Its just as honest and you can probably get alot more people to sign the anti-George Bush Historic Preservation Ordinance petition.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My block in the west historic district is all 1920s bungalows except for one 1970 shack and one new construction. All of the bungalows with additions have added on in the back and have preserved the front 1/2 of the building. I am next to a small bungalow that has been left to decay. Without historic preservation ordinances, a builder could buy the lot and put in a 2 story monster that goes from the sidewalk to the alley (everyone else has retained the original setback). If that happened, my bungalow would then be next on the chopping block (even more so as I have a full sized lot). There would be no point in making improvements to my house as I would only see lot value in a sale.

You made my argument for me. Thanks! - I have argued that the restrictions are a regulatory taking, inverse condemnation - that by imposing them you reduce the value of the lot. You have confirmed it, by imposing the ordinance you reduce the value of the lot to everyone except yourself...the ordinance is hurting one person at the expense of another, and the person who is benefited does not believe they need to pay for that benefit, even though they have in fact harmed their neighbor.

The new house would not devalue your house at all. If historical is as desirable as you say, it should be easier NOT harder to sell your home after you have rehabbed it.

The real threat to the Height's hodge podge is not the historic preservation ordinance; it is the builders and real estate agents that want to make a quick buck off of the high demand for decent inner loop housing. They want to wipe the Height clean of single story bungalows and fill in every block with two story houses that have as many sq ft as can be crammed into a 6600 lot. Just look at the new construction on the south end of Nicholson and the planned high density condos where the Ashland Tea House and old Assembly of God church on Ashland. The historic homes in the Heights deserve protection. If that means that builders won't make as much money as they want to, then fine. If that means that someone has to compromise on the design for their addition, then fine. This city has no shortage of land. But, without real protection, this city will lose its scant few historic neighborhoods.

You dont need an ordinance to do everything you are proposing. You can simply enact the restrictions that SCDesign has repeatedly pointed out - that any single block can get together and set prevailing lot sizes, setbacks both front and side, and even single family/multi family requirements. The reason this is not done, is that 66% have to agree to do it. When you give people the opportunity to preserve value or destroy it, most choose preservation. So now we need the government telling us what is good for us. That is what this ordinance is!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is your own personal opinion that if the ordinance can be interpreted in an unreasonable manner, it will be interpreted in an unreasonable manner because you believe that government is by its very nature unreasonable.

I can count the number of times Marksmu and I have agreed on something on one hand, but I totally agree with him on this. Without clearer language, the ordinance is ready to be abused by those in power. Dismissing Marksmu's concerns as irrelevant and as little more than a conspiracy theory won't do anything to win you friends, especially with people who feel the same as him. Demanding a better, more secure product from lawmakers shouldn't be considered unreasonable or ridiculous, and imposing this on people who bought land prior to this ordinance taking effect just seems wrong as well.

Everyone hates builders and realtors - we better make them the face of this. Why not just say George Bush is the one who is secretly supporting the opposition??? Its just as honest and you can probably get alot more people to sign the anti-George Bush Historic Preservation Ordinance petition.

Maybe if the W in George W Bush stands for Walmart.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My block in the west historic district is all 1920s bungalows except for one 1970 shack and one new construction. All of the bungalows with additions have added on in the back and have preserved the front 1/2 of the building. I am next to a small bungalow that has been left to decay. Without historic preservation ordinances, a builder could buy the lot and put in a 2 story monster that goes from the sidewalk to the alley (everyone else has retained the original setback). If that happened, my bungalow would then be next on the chopping block (even more so as I have a full sized lot). There would be no point in making improvements to my house as I would only see lot value in a sale.

You could address this situation by applying for minimum lot size and minimum building line restrictions for your block. This doesn't require a new ordinance, and doesn't require that your neighbors be subject to the caprice of the HAHC any time they want to alter their property.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
The real threat to the Height's hodge podge is not the historic preservation ordinance; it is the builders and real estate agents that want to make a quick buck off of the high demand for decent inner loop housing. They want to wipe the Height clean of single story bungalows and fill in every block with two story houses that have as many sq ft as can be crammed into a 6600 lot. Just look at the new construction on the south end of Nicholson

The fact is that there are a very large numbers of structures dotting the heights that shouldn't and probably can't be saved, even in the historic districts, and I would consider your example of the south end of Nicholson to be one of the prime locations where an argument could be made that maybe somebody SHOULD have cleared off every block and built something new. In any case, I don't feel extremely strongly one way or another, especially not living in (but just outside) the West district. I just wanted to make my feelings clear that I personally don't think the character of the neighborhood is being affected by new development much at all except to say that its gotten much better. In fact I believe the quality of many, many of the older homes has gone way up since I was growing up with the influx of new development. To me the neighborhood is enhanced and vibrant with restored old structures mixed with new structures, but thats just my opinion, as I'm sure others have theirs and I don't oppose the oldest and most uniform blocks having some kind of protection just to keep some of the old flavor around.

The only time I really bristle (and this hasn't happened in a while) is when someone who bought and renovated a nice old bungalow within the last year or two tries to convince me that the neighborhood needs to be preserved and kept historic, and have uniform building codes instituted, and I'm thinking "I've lived and or worked right around here off and on for 25 years or so and this neighborhood has NEVER been uniform so what are you telling me is supposed to be preserved?"

Edited by JJxvi
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

S3mh,

Your comment that the additions on your block are mostly bungalows where they saved the front half of the house is to the point.

The new ordinance does not allow this to happen anymore. This is why I personally oppose the changes. You will be required to add on to the rear of the bungalow only. I have applied and been denied on an addition like this. I asked how many feet of the original bungalow I would be required to keep before adding the new addition, the answer was all of it. The new ordinance requires one to keep the original structure intact, and all additions must be at the rear of the home so that they can be removed at a later date and return the bungalow to its original size and shape.

This is nuts in my opinion, there are plenty of ways to demolish 1/2 of a bungalow and have a great looking finished product.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a realtor/builder, i'm just a half of a young DINK family living in a 1925 bungalow because I love old houses. I am completely against the ordinance. Go to the suburbs if you want everyones house to look the same. The nonconformity and eclecticism of the heights is what makes the neighborhood so great.

How do these new rules impact small businesses that are within the historic district?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, maybe they'll force half the bars and restaurants on White Oak to shut down and become gas stations and auto shops again.

I have seen signs opposed to the ordinance at Onion Creek, Dry Creek, Cedar Creek, and the soon to open desert place on White Oak, so I can only assume all of those folks have had past experiences with the HAHC. I can guarantee you that the Glass Wall and the place across the street from it are opposed to the new ordinance, they had to demo older homes to build those places. There is also a sign opposed to the issue at the local hardware store.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminder from the GHPA:

The City of Houston Planning & Development Department is hosting the fourth in its series of public meetings to discuss proposed changes to the historic preservation ordinance tonight (Thursday, August 5) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Glenbrook United Methodist Church, 8635 Glen Valley Drive.

Although anyone may attend, tonight’s meeting will primarily address property owners in the proposed Glenbrook Valley historic district. The complete schedule of meetings and a summary of the proposed amendments are on the Planning & Development Department website.

There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about the proposed amendments. GHPA’s website addresses these misrepresentations. Click here to view the information in pdf format, which can be e-mailed or printed to share with your neighbors.

GHPA will continue to provide its members with updates on this issue.

Sev, thank you for posting this. Annise Parker listed the same bullets in The Leader. (and they reprinted these bullets point-for-point). However, the ordinance, as written, is open to draconian interpretation. At the very minimum, there needs to be a press from the preservationists to make the City define "conforming". This one issue, I think, would address many fears. If this issue is not addressed, the objective, as I infer it, will fail.

Here we are...a City without zoning, This ordinance has all the good feel of a toddler attempting to walk in Daddy's Birkenstock's. I and others view that with its inherent awkwardness. The Mayor needs to get clear about what is enforced under this ordinance.

To simplify..

  • 67% of a neighborhood can agree to be part of a district
  • They will agree to certain restrictions

What are those restrictions....by ordinance, not by HAHC's discretion? Can anybody answer that, specifically? As an example of where this proposed law stands, why does this ordinance need digest in hearings in multiple neighborhoods? Is the neighborhood concept of Hawthorne the same as West Heights? Who gets to decide that?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got home last night, and I had a flyer on my door talking about the ordinance. I read it over, and while it had some decent information, I personally did not think it was harsh enough towards the ordinance. It contained an old 2004 chronicle article that was written by someone Sullivan, I think, that talked about the ordinance....I doubt the chronicle would ever print something like this now.

It was a good start, and I am glad someone actually took the time to get out and put the word out. Hopefully those who actually care about the area enough can band together and put a stop to this awful ordinance before it passes and becomes law of the land. I'd like to know who is organizing and working to stop this so that I could get in touch with them and offer some assistance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Newly created - means I lost rights, I lost value. The restrictions will reduce the value of the property as people like me (the silent majority) no longer want to move there. Builders will be much less interested in building there because of the probable delays, increased costs, and increased construction time to get materials and approvals. Its a negative for every single person except that small vocal minority of people who want everything to be the way it was in 1920. Unfortunately the small minority is just louder. I am free to move, but I am not leaving till I get paid for the lost value in my home because of the restrictions.

No one is gaurenteed a profit on their property. Nor have you incurred a loss (nor damages) until you sell it. Any fixed asset investment includes some degree of risk perceived and unperceived. Especially one as illiquid and subject to irrational pricing as real estate. There was always a risk pesent that the rules could be changed thus affecting your value.

I'll assume that you factored in the incurrent risk of unrestricted property in your purchase. Unrestricted property includes specific risk of devaluation by what get built next to it. Construction of apartments, commercial businesses, crack houses, etc. could all devalue your property. The ordinance could potentially reduce some of those risks. You may not consider that a significant benefit, but there are those that would disagree with your analysis.

Your assumption that protected property equates to lower value and smaller potential buyer pool may or may not have merit. The statistics could be bent each way. Personally, I wouldn't consider owning property in an unrestricted area, because of the risk of devaluing by what gets built on adjacent parcels. So... your property would gain atleast one potential buyer :).

Finally, let's assume that this measure would cause economically tragic and wide ranging devaluation of property values in the area. How hard would it be to assemble a repeal of the ordinances?

Unrestricted property is worth more money, that is why it is sought out.

I came from a neighborhood with deed restrictions...very harsh deed restrictions. I hated it. I intentionally moved where I did because there were no deed restrictions. I bought where I bought for a reason. Now your trying to change the rules. There was never any expectation by anyone of anything when I bought. It is all new and its wrong.

May I humbly (and gently as possible) suggest that your choice of a property in the core of the city, in the oldest and most intact neighborhood in Houston, with adjacent historic districts, and an active preservation association, wasn't the wisest choice? If unencumbered property was your goal, perhaps a rural setting would have been more appropriate?

Edited by Gooch
Link to post
Share on other sites

No one is gaurenteed a profit on their property. Nor have you incurred a loss (nor damages) until you sell it. Any fixed asset investment includes some degree of risk perceived and unperceived. Especially one as illiquid and subject to irrational pricing as real estate. There was always a risk pesent that the rules could be changed thus affecting your value.

I'll assume that you factored in the incurrent risk of unrestricted property in your purchase. Unrestricted property includes specific risk of devaluation by what get built next to it. Construction of apartments, commercial businesses, crack houses, etc. could all devalue your property. The ordinance could potentially reduce some of those risks. You may not consider that a significant benefit, but there are those that would disagree with your analysis.

Your assumption that protected property equates to lower value and smaller potential buyer pool may or may not have merit. The statistics could be bent each way. Personally, I wouldn't consider owning property in an unrestricted area, because of the risk of devaluing by what gets built on adjacent parcels. So... your property would gain atleast one potential buyer :).

First as to the damages portion - condemnation law (regulatory taking as I have argued previously in the thread) does recognize a decrease in value without a sale. Damages still have to be proven, but an actual sale showing a loss is not necessary. Lots and older un-repairable homes having to reduce their asking price, or accept less than they previously would have been able to get can be evidence enough as proof of damages. It is more difficult to prove, but you can put up realtors, appraisers, and real-estate investors who can testify to the fact that the area is now less attractive to investors, builders, and the ordinary public as a result of the ordinance. That would likely be enough to show actual damages.

As to worrying about what gets built next door...the lot values have gone up so much to effectively destroy any real chance of anything other than residential from being built anywhere in the area anymore. There are still business sitting on large sections in the middle of the heights, but from the looks of most of them (they make no repairs for aesthetic reasons) they are only still where they are because the land is their largest investment. I would venture a guess that most owners will sell the business, or at least the property the business sits on when they reach retirement age....that is just my guess though.

As to expecting a profit....I did not buy my property expecting to make a profit...but I did not buy it expecting it to go down in value either. There are risks in every investment, but I would be foolish to not fight to protect the investment. You would not sit idly by while some stranger robbed your home...letting them legislate changes that will reduce my value is not much different.

Finally, let's assume that this measure would cause economically tragic and wide ranging devaluation of property values in the area. How hard would it be to assemble a repeal of the ordinances?

I do not think it will be wide spread havoc and mass devaluation of property ....I think it will simply stagnate the area and send progress and all the benefits (better schools, more families, more tax dollars) somewhere else. I think we would see a 70-80% reduction in new builds, I think old homes that should be torn down will be required to be restored at a cost that most owners are not willing to spend on a 1200sq ft home. I think the people who do restore the smaller homes without making additions will seldom be able to recoup the cost of a historic restoration upon trying to sell their home. I do not think it will be devastating, I think it will stagnate, and I think the imposition of the city and HAHC upon the people will be an enormous pain in the rear end....as if remodeling was not bad enough, now you have to deal with a bunch of snobs telling you how they want your home to be.

May I humbly (and gently as possible) suggest that your choice of a property in the core of the city, in the oldest and most intact neighborhood in Houston, with adjacent historic districts, and an active preservation association, wasn't the wisest choice? If unencumbered property was your goal, perhaps a rural setting would have been more appropriate?

I agree with you here. I would love to live in the rural country side...It is my dream. Unfortunately my wife is a city girl, and she works downtown, and I'm not willing to leave her for the country so....I chose the closest thing I could get to the country and still be within 10 minutes of her office (unrestricted property) Also, when I chose my house the Heights Association, and the preservation people were only trying to get people to voluntarily sign deed restrictions....I could easily just tell them no thanks and close the door and be done with it. This is being forced on everyone involuntarily without asking.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from the meeting on the historic district. I must say, the proponents badly overstated their numbers. Whenever they applauded, it never sounded like more than a few dozen, whereas opponents seemed to number in the hundreds. The question indicating opposition vastly outnumbered support as well. It seems to be having an effect, as they are now suggesting that Heights South will get another vote on whether to become historic. Based only on the number of Yes versus No signs, it would be a landslide against the historic district. I count only about 8 Yes signs in my neighborhood, and 60-80 No signs. Considering a vote would require a 67% approval, that can't bode well for passage.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As everyone pretty much expected the meeting tonight was different than the others. It looked like about 500 showed up and the opponents of the new ordinance were dominant. At the end Sue Lovell had a hand vote by District “For” and “Against” having a revote on the Historic District application. The vote broke down this way:

Heights South: For – 65 / Against - 40

Heights West: For – 38 / Against - 25

Heights East: For – 49 / Against - 31

Because there was a clear majority in favor of a revote Sue said that there would be one (I recorded the meeting).

Now we need to make the City, HAHC and Sue Lovell make very clear to us how this vote will be interpreted and we must insist on having access to the ballot preparation as well as the ballot counting. I see three ways that they could interpret the vote and the most likely one leaves the possibility of a majority “no” vote still resulting in the Historic District being adopted:

Possibility 1, and in my opinion the least likely, is a democratic "for" or "against" vote for the whole District. They have already said that they will adjust the boundary to fit the support so I think this would be unlikely, though it makes the most sense and ould be the easiest.

Possibility 2, and also unlikely, is a block by block determination. If they did this than there would likely be blocks scattered around and it would be very difficult to know what block was Historic and which wasn’t. This also would defeat the idea of what they are trying to accomplish.

Possibility 3, and this is the one I think most likely because it would result in the largest amount of Historic District land, is the "electoral college" method.

Example:

Take a 3 block area as an example, each block having 20 houses and each house using their vote:

Block 1 has 11 for the Historic District and 9 against, so it will count as FOR

Block 2 has 20 houses against, so it will count as AGAINST

Block 3 also have 11 for and 9 against, so it will count as FOR

In this scenario the actual vote will be 38 AGAINST and 22 FOR, but it could be interpreted as 2 blocks FOR and 1 AGAINST so all three will be considered Historic because more than 51% of the BLOCKS are for it.

I'm sure there are other permutations but you can be sure that whichever way yields the most land in Historic Districts is the method that will be used. We need to make sure this is an open and fair process and the on;y way to do that is have representation in every aspect of the process from this point onward.

There is a very real possibility that this will be the way this vote is interpreted unless we make the City define EVERYTHING before they do this ballot.

RedScare: They are going ot use the 51% number, not the 67%. Sue did make that clear.

Edited by SCDesign
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only speak for the South district, as it is the one I live in, and the one I drive and walk around in. It appears that what little support the district has comes from streets closer to Heights Boulevard. There appears to be almost no support for the ordinance on Oxford and Columbia streets, but a little more support on Arlington, Courtlandt and Harvard (though I would not call it majority support, much less 67%). I could see the western 3 streets gaining district status, and the 2 eastern streets carved out. That would be fine with me if those streets voted for it. At least everyone gets a vote. If a vote is allowed, I promise not to ignore it like I did last time.

And, if Lovell pushes 51%, then she just made a block walker outta me. I've got two more on my block who were at the meeting who said the same. A concentrated block of 'No's will be hard to ignore.

Edited by RedScare
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only speak for the South district, as it is the one I live in, and the one I drive and walk around in. It appears that what little support the district has comes from streets closer to Heights Boulevard. There appears to be almost no support for the ordinance on Oxford and Columbia streets, but a little more support on Arlington, Courtlandt and Harvard (though I would not call it majority support, much less 67%). I could see the western 3 streets gaining district status, and the 2 eastern streets carved out. That would be fine with me if those streets voted for it. At least everyone gets a vote. If a vote is allowed, I promise not to ignore it like I did last time.

And, if Lovell pushes 51%, then she just made a block walker outta me. I've got two more on my block who were at the meeting who said the same. A concentrated block of 'No's will be hard to ignore.

Just arrived home from the meeting. Lovell was presumptuous and condescending as usual. It made a block walker out of me. How do we organize? Through the Responsible Historic Preservation group? I was part of the "winning" vote to get a chance to...vote. Happy to be part of the intelligent dissension.

It is a strange feeling to feel marginalized as a person who doesn't care about the neighborhood or who doesn't appreciate preservation. I do! Must I give away ALL my property rights to be counted among those who "care"? This was my third meeting and I was relieved to see that we've at least let Council know that they can't blast this through without some opposition. Lovell's personal anecdotes in lieu of real data were sad and maddening. I can't base a vote about my property on the fact that she had a friend who bought a house for "X" and sold it for "Y" in the 6th Ward. Data anyone? Statistics? Facts? Argh.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Because of the lack of clarity of the meaning of a "re-vote," after the voting at tonight's meeting I asked Michael Shaeffer of the Planning Department what, exactly, it will mean. He confirmed that it will not eliminate the designation of a historic district, but will in all likelihood result in new boundaries for the district. He also confirmed that the City will not allow a doughnut district, i.e., a carve out in the middle of the district, or even within a few blocks, for those opposed. So I think SCDesign is correct -- we will need to stay on top of this issue to see what, exactly, the re-vote will mean. As for the South District, Shaeffer confirmed that for now the properties are subject to the restrictions. When I asked what would happen if those voting for the re-vote tonight [a clear majority] appeared at City Council to oppose the designation, he agreed that it would probably not be approved. That's no guarantee, but if those in the proposed Heights South District really don't want the district designation, they should appear en masse before City Council. Otherwise, once designated a district it will be subject to the same re-vote, and the vagaries associated with it, as the rest of us in designated districts.

As everyone pretty much expected the meeting tonight was different than the others. It looked like about 500 showed up and the opponents of the new ordinance were dominant. At the end Sue Lovell had a hand vote by District “For” and “Against” having a revote on the Historic District application. The vote broke down this way:

Heights South: For – 65 / Against - 40

Heights West: For – 38 / Against - 25

Heights East: For – 49 / Against - 31

Because there was a clear majority in favor of a revote Sue said that there would be one (I recorded the meeting).

Now we need to make the City, HAHC and Sue Lovell make very clear to us how this vote will be interpreted and we must insist on having access to the ballot preparation as well as the ballot counting. I see three ways that they could interpret the vote and the most likely one leaves the possibility of a majority “no” vote still resulting in the Historic District being adopted:

Possibility 1, and in my opinion the least likely, is a democratic "for" or "against" vote for the whole District. They have already said that they will adjust the boundary to fit the support so I think this would be unlikely, though it makes the most sense and ould be the easiest.

Possibility 2, and also unlikely, is a block by block determination. If they did this than there would likely be blocks scattered around and it would be very difficult to know what block was Historic and which wasn’t. This also would defeat the idea of what they are trying to accomplish.

Possibility 3, and this is the one I think most likely because it would result in the largest amount of Historic District land, is the "electoral college" method.

Example:

Take a 3 block area as an example, each block having 20 houses and each house using their vote:

Block 1 has 11 for the Historic District and 9 against, so it will count as FOR

Block 2 has 20 houses against, so it will count as AGAINST

Block 3 also have 11 for and 9 against, so it will count as FOR

In this scenario the actual vote will be 38 AGAINST and 22 FOR, but it could be interpreted as 2 blocks FOR and 1 AGAINST so all three will be considered Historic because more than 51% of the BLOCKS are for it.

I'm sure there are other permutations but you can be sure that whichever way yields the most land in Historic Districts is the method that will be used. We need to make sure this is an open and fair process and the on;y way to do that is have representation in every aspect of the process from this point onward.

There is a very real possibility that this will be the way this vote is interpreted unless we make the City define EVERYTHING before they do this ballot.

RedScare: They are going ot use the 51% number, not the 67%. Sue did make that clear.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, the residents of the other Historic Districts, established and proposed, should know that they will NOT be included in the re-vote process. The support at the other public meetings was such that Sue Lovell does not believe that the is any meaningful opposition within those Districts so they will stand as they are. If you live in one of those Districts and oppose this new Ordinance it would be in your interest to make sure that they know about you.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SC/Red, etc -

So who is doing any organizing to stop this? I have not seen a coherent centralized response to the city or any centralized organizing to stop it! If we are to be successful in preventing new districts, and stopping the ordinance we need a central website, or voice. We need something legitimate where people can really see what is so bad about this and to get the word out. HAIF is great, but only so many people see this. It needs to be more legitimate than Facebook as well.

I am willing to help but I do not know where to direct my efforts at this point.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

SC/Red, etc -

So who is doing any organizing to stop this? I have not seen a coherent centralized response to the city or any centralized organizing to stop it! If we are to be successful in preventing new districts, and stopping the ordinance we need a central website, or voice. We need something legitimate where people can really see what is so bad about this and to get the word out. HAIF is great, but only so many people see this. It needs to be more legitimate than Facebook as well.

I am willing to help but I do not know where to direct my efforts at this point.

Marksmu,

The only organized resistance to this right now is what the Historic Districters (I don't want to say "preservationists" because we are all in favor of preserving worthy structures, so I'll refer to them from now on as HDers)are terming "the vampire builder/architects/realtors group" who only care about, gasp, evilmoney. They, we (like I said I'm a designer/builder), can only do so much BECAUSE we have a percieved profit motive, regardless of how many of us live, work and invest in these areas. As we have been saying the property owners need to organize and be heard just like the HDers. The politicians can ignore us to an extent, but it's much harder to resist an organized constituancy when they shout with a united voice. HAR came out last week against this and the politicians will hear that, but it's not enough.

You have to realize that a major part of the strategy of HDers, Sue Lovell and the Mayor, is to push this through before resistance can be organized and people can be informed. That is why they blindsided everyone with the suspension of the 90 day waiver over Memorial Day weekend, and why the schedule to get this to a City Council vote is so fast. When has the City EVER gotten an Ordinance through committee and to a Council vote in 3 months? Why do they need to have this passed by the end of September when the suspension of the 90 waiver is in affect until December 31, 2010? The HDers have been organized for years while the rest of the property owners sat back and let them have their way, and they are taking advantage of that now.

I'm sure that if a group of property owners would like some guidance, and the beginnings of a structure, in starting their own group to fight this the existing "evil" group would be happy to lend a hand, but I/WE think it is important that the porperty owners take the lead on this. It will be too easy for the HDers to paint this as an evil money grab otherwise.

For more information on the "evil" group in questions please go to the website: http://www.responsiblehistoricpreservation.org/

I'm not a major player in this yet, I'm just helping out online, but I'm going to be more involved from this point on. Feel free to contact me, or send an email through the website, and we can get you in touch with the pople that are organized now. If there is enough interest we could organize an open meeting for the public to discuss strategy and organization.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For anyone interested: I recorded last nights meeting and have it as an mp3. If you would like to copy it I put it on my website but you'll need to email me for the link so you can download it. It's about 40 Mb so it's not very big but I don't have unlimited bandwidth so I don't want to just put the page out there. I don't care if you are for or against the Ordinance, if you want it just ask. you can email me at steven-at-scdesignllc.com

Edited by SCDesign
Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe someone can help me answer this question. I live between Heights and Oxford and between 14th and 20th streets. My lot is deed restricted only for Minimum Setback and Minimum Lot Size. I am not subject to the Houston Heights Association Deed Restrictions as listed on the HHA web site:

http://www.houstonhe...dproperties.htm

As I recall, I intentionally didn't sign up for the HHA deed restrictions, though most of my neighbors did.

My understanding is that I am part of one of the Heights Historic Districts and as such I was subject to the now-suspended 90-day rule and would be subject to Lovell & Co's more draconian restrictions if they pass. What purpose do the HHA deed restrictions serve in light of the Historic District stuff?

Thanks.

Edited by heights
Link to post
Share on other sites

The HHA deed restrictions are not enforceable against your lot, unless you (or a previous owner) sign onto them. You are subject to your own deed restriction and whatever historic district rules that are in place. If both the deed restriction and the historic district rules apply to a particular situation, then the more restrictive restriction controls. For instance, if your deed restriction required a 15 foot setback, but the historic district required 20 feet, you would be subject to the 20 foot setback requirement.

Link to post
Share on other sites

More misinformation and strawman tactics by the preservationists I see. As I noted in the comment section, this underhanded attempt by the GHPA, Sue Lovell and others has so soured me (and others I am sure) on the entire concept of preservation that it has probably done more to hurt historic preservation than help it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

More misinformation and strawman tactics by the preservationists I see. As I noted in the comment section, this underhanded attempt by the GHPA, Sue Lovell and others has so soured me (and others I am sure) on the entire concept of preservation that it has probably done more to hurt historic preservation than help it.

I attended the meeting last week and have seen the flyers and website set up by the self-appointed opposition. The op-ed is a pretty tame treatment of the opposition.

http://www.responsiblehistoricpreservation.org/ is a website set up by a "group" (it isn't a non-profit) led by three prominent Heights area realtors. The op-ed was very kind not to point out the glaring conflict of interest. What is most telling about this "group" is that they actually claim that self-imposed deed restrictions and landmarking are better than even the existing historic district ordinance. Thus, this group doesn't just oppose the changes, they oppose any government initiated historic district ordinance.

The "scare tactics" are needed because many legitimate complaints with the ordinance could be easily remedied by better language. The ordinance needs to be more specific on the perameters for expansion, restoration and demolition. Too much discretion is placed in the hands of HAHC. But the realtors do not ask for this. Instead, they argue based on a 2002 op-ed addressing a different version of the ordinance and a single statement by a HAHC official that the ordinance is just the tip of the iceberg, and HAHC will dictate whether you can hang your toilet paper in the overhand or underhand fashion. If the extent of the authority of HAHC is a concern, work to better define and limit it. Do not tell tales about the HAHC governing paint color and AC placement in a dark post-apocalyptic future where HAHC robots monitor our every move.

Many other arguments are plainly deficient, but the "group" trumpets them knowing full well the invalidity. The "bait and switch" argument is fundamentally flawed. People voted to create a historic district to be governed by ordinances. There was never anything in the ordinances that stated that they could not be revised. That is because they are ORDINANCES. The 90 day waiver could have been revised to become 14 days or have been revised to be eliminated altogether. If people did not understand that an ordinance is an ordinance when they voted to form a historic district, that is their own fault for not paying attention in civics class. It is not the City's fault or the preservationist's fault. It is time for a little candor and a little personal responsibility on the part of those making this claim. Furthermore, it is completely disingenuous to say that you wanted to be in a historic district but now do not want to be in one because they are going to change the law to actually make the ordinance more effective. I am all about hearing how to craft a better ordinance, but don't tell me you were for historic preservation before you were against it.

While it is admittedly an anecdote, an anti-ordinance letter on the realtor-backed website is very instructive. A concerned resident (who just happens to be a realtor) complains about how the revised ordinance will ruin property values and drive away all investment in the Heights (paraphrasing, but not far off). That same person owns a house in one of the historic districts. The house is 4500 sq ft and was built in 2008. There used to be a historic 1920 bungalow on the property that was in need of complete updating, but otherwise a doable restoration project on a large lot with plenty of room for an addition. First, this person, and many others with new construction, has no reason to complain about the ordinance. Are they planning on doing an addition? Are they planning on changing anything? The answer is no; it is new construction. The revised ordinance will have virtually no effect on them, unless their house burned down to the ground. But if that is the only concern, address it in the revisions. Don't kill of historic preservation for everyone else because you want to be able to rebuild your block busting mansion in case of a fire.

Second, this anecdote shows what is really at stake here. The bungalow listed for 250k. A complete renovation of a bungalow is expensive. Someone wanting to live in the house would have to have cash in hand to get it done as lenders are not rolling construction loans into mortgages anymore. otherwise, an investor would have to purchase the property and flip it after renovating/adding on. There is good money to be made doing that (one down the street for me just sold for mid 400s on a property that sold for low 200s). But, compared with the 250k lot with a 1000+ sq ft bungalow turned into the 4500 sq ft monster mansion (HCAD has property valued at 780k, meaning market value could push 1 mil), it is easy to see why realtors want to knock down every bungalow in the Heights. It is a difference of 15-35k per commission. Over the course of a few years, it could be seven figure difference for realtors alone. Also, the number of true teardown properties in the Heights is quickly diminishing. That means that investors will start looking at properties that are in good condition for demolition and will be looking to build as many sq ft as possible to cover the higher lot price for a bungalow that has been updated. If the Houston economy got rolling again, it could mean the end of most of the historic bungalows in the Heights and the rise of a faux historic River Oaks/Bellaire neighborhood.

And then there are lots of arguments that are just self-serving and silly. People claim that the bungalows must go in order to attract families to the Heights to support the public schools. If you build a 4500 sq ft house on a lot and sell it for 800-1mi, do you really think that family will be sending their kids to Field or Browning? Smaller and more affordable housing will bring in the kind of families who are willing to put the time into bringing the schools up to snuff, not monster mansions.

Finally, the claim that this ordinance works a "constructive [sic] condemnation", as one poorly informed opposition questioner asked at the meeting, is not credible. The government is not the virtual insurer of property values. Anyone purchasing in the Heights over the past decade has been on notice that the neighborhood is full of historic homes and has been actively seeking historic preservation ordinances. The Heights neighborhood is one of the most sought after real estate markets in the entire city. As the City grows and gas prices go back through the roof, property values in the Heights will continue to climb through the roof. In California, bungalows go for 500-700k compared to 300-500k in Houston. There is still plenty of appreciation left and no reasonable investment back expectation has been harmed.

The Heights historic districts are a scant 1.2 square miles. The 90 day waiver did very little to keep builders from demolishing historic buildings and replacing them with monster mansions and overbuilt clusters of townhomes. Deed restrictions and landmarking did nothing to prevent the destruction of historic homes. The realtor group and their builder/architect allies are trying to do one thing: they are trying to get rid of all historic preservation laws to make the Heights their personal atm machines. This city has given away too many historic buildings to the momentary needs of a few well monied interests. A well written historic preservation ordinance is the only thing that will keep the Heights a historic neighborhood and not another Bellaire with faux victorian accents.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This city has given away too many historic buildings to the momentary needs of a few well monied interests.

I'd argue we've lost more great buildings to neglect than special interests. And, if the cost of maintenance becomes more than the property is worth, people will stop maintaining the properties. At a certain point, it becomes cheaper to demolish the structure or simply let it sit idle and rot than to preserve it. If this historic preservation ordinance passes, I can see how many landowners in the Heights would just say screw it and allow the Heights to return to the ghetto it once was. The whole positive intent of the ordinance relies on the property in the Heights retaining some sense of exclusivity and desireability. If you tell those well monied interests they can't do with their property as they please, you'll start to see those folks spend their money elsewhere, where the restrictions aren't as imposing. I don't have a crystal ball to guarantee this outcome, but when I asked my magic eight ball how accurate my predition was, it replied, "Signs point to yes."

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If this historic preservation ordinance passes, I can see how many landowners in the Heights would just say screw it and allow the Heights to return to the ghetto it once was.

Right. The Heights is going to become a ghetto. Thanks for proving my point that the opposition has no interest in historic preservation and only sees dollar signs. The Heights will become a ghetto the same day Manhattan, the Back Bay in Boston, Telegraph Hill in San Fran, and so on, become ghettos. People already fight like hell to buy 1000-1500 sq ft bungalows for 275-300 per sq ft. And these people are going to let their houses decay because they will have to submit plans to HAHC for approval? Right. To the contrary, if the empty lot next door is going to be a giant monster mansion, there is no reason to maintain a historic bungalow because you are just throwing money at a property that won't get anything more than lot value. Just another example of the opposition using scare tactics to try to defeat historic preservation rather than constructively participate in the process to revise the historic ordinances.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

And then there are lots of arguments that are just self-serving and silly. People claim that the bungalows must go in order to attract families to the Heights to support the public schools. If you build a 4500 sq ft house on a lot and sell it for 800-1mi, do you really think that family will be sending their kids to Field or Browning? Smaller and more affordable housing will bring in the kind of families who are willing to put the time into bringing the schools up to snuff, not monster mansions.

What is your basis for calling this "silly"? All of the elementary schools in and around the Heights have shown great improvement over the past few years. Now, it would be wrong for me to draw a correlation between school improvement and the construction of new and big homes in the Heights, but it is equally wrong for you to imply that people that own 4500 sq ft houses have no interest in public schools. My house does not quite fit your description (we are few hundred sq ft too small...), but we plan to send each of our kids to public school as long as we feel they are getting a high quality education in a safe environment. Our oldest child already attends one of the neighborhood elementary schools, and we have nothing but good things to say about it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The 90 day waiver did very little to keep builders from demolishing historic buildings and replacing them with monster mansions and overbuilt clusters of townhomes. Deed restrictions and landmarking did nothing to prevent the destruction of historic homes.

The minimum setback and minimum lot size restrictions could prevent much of this and they are already available -- and they definitely don't tell me how to hang my toilet paper.

Edited by heights
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

The minimum setback and minimum lot size restrictions could prevent much of this and they are already available -- and they definitely don't tell me how to hang my toilet paper.

Just look at 15th and Rutland. Four houses on a lot meant for two. If minimum setback and minimum lot size restrictions were so wonderful, how did this happen? Deed restrictions can be bought out. Historic ordinances cannot.

They don't tell you how to hang your toilet paper now, but it is just a matter of time before they do. Nothing in the ordinance says they can't, and some lady said HAHC was going to get more strict every year. By 2015, they will mandate mowing lawns in a north/south fashion. East/west mowing will be subject to a fine. Nothing in the ordinance says that can't.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your basis for calling this "silly"? All of the elementary schools in and around the Heights have shown great improvement over the past few years. Now, it would be wrong for me to draw a correlation between school improvement and the construction of new and big homes in the Heights, but it is equally wrong for you to imply that people that own 4500 sq ft houses have no interest in public schools. My house does not quite fit your description (we are few hundred sq ft too small...), but we plan to send each of our kids to public school as long as we feel they are getting a high quality education in a safe environment. Our oldest child already attends one of the neighborhood elementary schools, and we have nothing but good things to say about it.

95% of Field and Browning students are in the free/reduced lunch program. At risk is 77%/79%, respectively (Love is 92/76). Harvard and Travis are the chosen schools. The improvement has been made at those schools, and they are now the "safe" schools. The other schools (field, browning and love) have seen some improvement, but not because of an influx of children who live in 3500 sq ft new construction in the Heights.

Link to post
Share on other sites

95% of Field and Browning students are in the free/reduced lunch program. At risk is 77%/79%, respectively (Love is 92/76). Harvard and Travis are the chosen schools. The improvement has been made at those schools, and they are now the "safe" schools. The other schools (field, browning and love) have seen some improvement, but not because of an influx of children who live in 3500 sq ft new construction in the Heights.

So are you then conceding that the improvements at Harvard are the result of "an influx of children who live in 3500 sq ft new construction in the Heights"? Good, quality, safe public school education in the heart of the fourth largest city in the country, all because of new construction. Seems like something worthy of trading away a proposed preservation ordinance for which no cause/benefit analysis has been done. I doubt you'll say yes - that would be too easy...

You make a fair point, but I also think you are looking at year old (at best) data across an entire school and making a conclusion without considering changes that are or may soon be occurring.

I do not want us to get away from the topic of historic districts, but I do think it is important to avoid generalizations.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just look at 15th and Rutland. Four houses on a lot meant for two. If minimum setback and minimum lot size restrictions were so wonderful, how did this happen? Deed restrictions can be bought out. Historic ordinances cannot.

They don't tell you how to hang your toilet paper now, but it is just a matter of time before they do. Nothing in the ordinance says they can't, and some lady said HAHC was going to get more strict every year. By 2015, they will mandate mowing lawns in a north/south fashion. East/west mowing will be subject to a fine. Nothing in the ordinance says that can't.

The lot at 15th and Rutland did not have minimum lot size, that is why they were able to build the high-density mess on that corner. Minimum lot size restrictions require a majority of the owners of a block to sign and apply for the restriction. Why was this not done on that block? Most people in the Heights support minimum lot size, I have never had anyone knock on my door to sign for it. I would sign for it, I will not sign for the proposed protected district ordinance, I plan on adding on the side and mid section of my bungalow. Stop blaming those you don't like, the Heights is made up of intelligent people, not people who blindly follow the lead of Realtors. Put your money where your mouth is and come up with an ordinance that everyone will sign.

Deed restrictions cannot be "bought out", you can deed restrict your own property, those restrictions remain in force for 20 years, at which time they can be secured again. There is no legal mechanism to make them go away, or buy them out.

The residents on Rutland are very well aware of how to secure minimum lot size restrictions. My guess is that they were unable to convince a majority of the property owners to do so, just as they can't convince a majority of the Heights to approve protected district status. Stop blaming and start writing, create an ordinance that will actually have majority support.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

The lot at 15th and Rutland did not have minimum lot size, that is why they were able to build the high-density mess on that corner. Minimum lot size restrictions require a majority of the owners of a block to sign and apply for the restriction. Why was this not done on that block? Most people in the Heights support minimum lot size, I have never had anyone knock on my door to sign for it. I would sign for it, I will not sign for the proposed protected district ordinance, I plan on adding on the side and mid section of my bungalow. Stop blaming those you don't like, the Heights is made up of intelligent people, not people who blindly follow the lead of Realtors. Put your money where your mouth is and come up with an ordinance that everyone will sign.

Deed restrictions cannot be "bought out", you can deed restrict your own property, those restrictions remain in force for 20 years, at which time they can be secured again. There is no legal mechanism to make them go away, or buy them out.

The residents on Rutland are very well aware of how to secure minimum lot size restrictions. My guess is that they were unable to convince a majority of the property owners to do so, just as they can't convince a majority of the Heights to approve protected district status. Stop blaming and start writing, create an ordinance that will actually have majority support.

You signed up for a historic district that is governed by an ORDINANCE. You don't sign ordinances. You sign up to be in a historic district. That is done. A majority of the east and west districts signed up. City Council creates, revises and repeals ordinances. Once you are in the district, you are subject to whatever City Council does. You should have known that when you signed up for a historict district. No one is asking you to sign an ordinance and no one has to ask you to sign an ordinance because it is an ORDINANCE.

Rutland shows exactly why deed restrictions are a pipe dream. You can never get the investor/builder or owner of the rental or empty lot to sign up. You will never get a majority in the Heights to agree to restrictions. The best you can do is go block by block. And that will never work to prevent the Rutland problem because the bad apple will never agree to the restriction.

And deed restrictions are bought out every day. Deed restrictions can be terminated if you own all the lots (or a majority if the language in termination in the restrictions allow it or under other circumstances). If you go about deed restricting the Heights block by block, all you need is to have one person buy out a block and the restrictions can be terminated. The deed restriction argument is just a red herring thrown out by the realtors to keep everyone from working together to craft a sensible, fair and enforceable ordinance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

s3mh, you still haven't given a valid reason why you have any legitimate interest in what your neighbor does to their property. Why should someone who has no desire to subject their property to the truly onerous provisions of the proposed ordinance be forced to accept those provisions? If I inherit my grandparents bungalow, why shouldn't I be able to tear it down and build a 3,000 sq ft house that suits the needs of my family?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for contacting the Planning Department regarding the proposed historic preservation amendments. Your input is valuable as we move through this process. Please note the following information regarding a public hearing before the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission this week:

Notice of Public Hearing

The City of Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission will conduct a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Historic Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 33), Thursday, August 19; 6:30 p.m. at the George Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, General Assembly Hall B, 3rd Level.

For a map and directions to the George R. Brown, please go to http://www.houstonco...apsParking.aspx.

Some street parking may be available or attendees can park in the Hilton/George R. Brown parking garage located on Polk Street subject to availability. Attendees can submit their parking stub for validation (from that garage only).

Speakers will be allowed one minute to make their comments at the public hearing.

To view the proposed amendments and other information about the process, please to the following web page: http://www.houstontx...pres_amend.html.

If you cannot attend the meetings, but would like to comment please email

historicpreservation@houstontx.gov or mail your comments to Historic Preservation, City of Houston, Planning and Development Department, P.O. Box 1562 , Houston, Texas 77251-1562 by September 1, 2010.

Thank you,

Diana DuCroz, AICP

Senior Planner, Historic Preservation

City of Houston Planning & Development

611 Walker, 6th Floor

(713) 837-7924 phone

(713) 837-7996 fax

www.houstonplanning.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

The 90 day waiver did very little to keep builders from demolishing historic buildings and replacing them with monster mansions and overbuilt clusters of townhomes.

I don't know if you are intentionally lying, or perhaps simply ignorant. I suspect the latter, since you stated much earlier in the thread that you are new to the Heights. I suggest that you investigate this claim. You can check with a fellow HAIF poster and fellow preservationist, heights yankee, who is on the board of Proctor Plaza Historic District. She stated in this very forum that only 3 homes were demolished in the 10 years of historic district staus WITH the 90 day waiting period. That is irrefutable proof that the old ordinance worked. You and the others are over-reaching, and I promise that it will be met with fierce resistance in my neighborhood. As I've stated before, I don't care what you do to your home and neighborhood, but I'll fight to keep your hands off mine.

I plan to print your post to let my South Heights neighbors know what you think of their property rights. Thanks for putting it in such glaring terms.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if you are intentionally lying, or perhaps simply ignorant. I suspect the latter, since you stated much earlier in the thread that you are new to the Heights. I suggest that you investigate this claim. You can check with a fellow HAIF poster and fellow preservationist, heights yankee, who is on the board of Proctor Plaza Historic District. She stated in this very forum that only 3 homes were demolished in the 10 years of historic district staus WITH the 90 day waiting period. That is irrefutable proof that the old ordinance worked. [emphasis added]

Well, don't do anything primitive such as specifying the post in which she made this statement. And much as I like and admire the fellow HAIFer, are her statements 'irrefutable'?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...



×
×
  • Create New...