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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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Is a list of all of the supporting homeowners that signed the list for Heights South available for public record? I would be interested in viewing that approval list but haven't seen such a list online. Is anyone knowledgeable of its location or how I can have access to the list?

If you would like the list of signers in the Heights South district or any other district contact Suzy Hartgrove in the Planning Department. You can send her a written request. I did it, the list, the application, and all signed petitions cost about $70.00. It is an interesting analysis, and they did not have 51% of the vote. The petitions were very stale, many were invalid. They included the City owned esplanades along Heights Blvd, etc. In the end it did not matter, when challenged they simply re-drew the boundaries of the district to make the numbers work, they also knocked on the doors of some of the invalid petitions the night before the hearing to correct properties that had new owners.

It is also interesting to note that about 22% of those who signed in favor of the historic heights south district live in new homes, not just non-contributing but NEW HOMES. Almost 50% if the vote! Those in favor of the new ordinance that want to disallow new home owners a vote are severely misinformed of the facts. What a surprise.

You can also try contacting the opposition website online, I sent the data to them as well, and I am sure they would pass it along. responsiblehistoricpreservation. org.

Edited by chester77008
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City owned Esplanades counted towards this percentage they needed?

Really?

Really?

Your joking right.

Not joking...sad to say.

In all fairness to the HAHC, they did remove the city owned property prior to the vote, but only when challenged. The planning department is comfortable with their legal departments opinion that they have precedence to allow them to redraw districts to make the numbers work. To me this affirms the fact that property owners should be given the right to opt in or opt out.

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Not joking...sad to say.

In all fairness to the HAHC, they did remove the city owned property prior to the vote, but only when challenged. The planning department is comfortable with their legal departments opinion that they have precedence to allow them to redraw districts to make the numbers work. To me this affirms the fact that property owners should be given the right to opt in or opt out.

Do you know how the two Boulevard properties owned by the Heights Association were listed ??-

712 Heights Blvd.

1800 Heights Blvd.

Per their website, "At its June 21 meeting, the Board of the Houston Heights Association voted to take no position at this time on the temporary discontinuance or any of the changes that have been informally proposed"

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Do you know how the two Boulevard properties owned by the Heights Association were listed ??-

712 Heights Blvd.

1800 Heights Blvd.

Per their website, "At its June 21 meeting, the Board of the Houston Heights Association voted to take no position at this time on the temporary discontinuance or any of the changes that have been informally proposed"

They were counted as "yes" votes by prior HHA staff. Once again, it is irrelevant, planning can slice those yes votes off if contested, and simply redraw the district. We can play this game for months.

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They were counted as "yes" votes by prior HHA staff. Once again, it is irrelevant, planning can slice those yes votes off if contested, and simply redraw the district. We can play this game for months.

It makes me a little curious, when viewing the odd perimeter outlines that they have sliced and diced, how the street signs that announce the historic district will be applied. For example, the corner of 11th and Arlington where C&D hardware is located? Its boxed out of the district, but I bet they consider putting a sign on that corner.

This whole process of redrawing the districts to fit their agenda is utterly disgusting, ludicrous and seemingly unethical at best.

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If you would like the list of signers in the Heights South district or any other district contact Suzy Hartgrove in the Planning Department. You can send her a written request. I did it, the list, the application, and all signed petitions cost about $70.00. It is an interesting analysis, and they did not have 51% of the vote. The petitions were very stale, many were invalid. They included the City owned esplanades along Heights Blvd, etc. In the end it did not matter, when challenged they simply re-drew the boundaries of the district to make the numbers work, they also knocked on the doors of some of the invalid petitions the night before the hearing to correct properties that had new owners.

It is also interesting to note that about 22% of those who signed in favor of the historic heights south district live in new homes, not just non-contributing but NEW HOMES. Almost 50% if the vote! Those in favor of the new ordinance that want to disallow new home owners a vote are severely misinformed of the facts. What a surprise.

You can also try contacting the opposition website online, I sent the data to them as well, and I am sure they would pass it along. responsiblehistoricpreservation. org.

Despite accusations to the contrary from the supporters I am fairly certain that most people are dreadfully misinformed about this ordinance. While I fully intend to fight it, I am becoming disenchanted with many of the people in the Heights...I see signs supporting the ordinance in the yards of new construction and several homes that have additions that would never pass the ordinance standards. I see signs supporting the ordinance in homes that in all likeliness really need to be torn down, and I see signs supporting it in the "eclectic" artistic homes that definitely do not pass the ordinance standards. I cannot understand how someone can support something that by the very wording of the ordinance prevents them from doing exactly what they are currently doing. Its so hypocritical, and nonsensical that the only real answer to the question why, is that they are either dreadfully misinformed about the repercussions and the wording of the ordinance, or they are just hypocritical snobs.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the homes with the tacky little yellow YES signs also have the anti-Walmart sign. It seems to me that the supporters of the ordinance, and the anti-Walmart groups are really more concerned about getting their way, regardless of what the majority of the people want or say. They are hell bent on imposing their beliefs on everyone else, regardless of what those beliefs do to the area. I actually think that they will oppose almost anything that gets built anywhere near the heights that does not fit their narrow minded utopia. They are against Walmart, because they want mom/pop and a walkable neighborhood, yet they oppose the dense construction that is necessary to support a walkable neighborhood. Essentially they oppose everything that does not fit their dream building, whether or not it is a nice home next door, or the building of a store that they dont like.

I have also given quite a bit of thought to the argument that the building of a new home reduces the value of a bungalow to only the lot value. While I don't believe this argument to be true because I believe there will always be a strong market for a small home in a nice area, the real questions is, so what if it does? So long as the value of the property continues to increase, which as long as new construction is allowed it will, who cares where the number falls? If you bought a nice little bungalow for $200,000 to live in because you like nice little bungalows, who cares if the value of the lot when you sell it is $350,000 and the value of the home is $25,000? You still have a property that is worth $375,000. I always thought that people bought a house they like to live in, and that appreciation is a nice secondary bonus.

If you bought the house because you like it, and you intend to live in it, you should not care where the value on the home falls. If you bought the home as investment, and you dont really care whether the home fits your needs, again...who cares where the value falls? If you bought the home as an investment the banning of new construction around you does nothing more than to destroy your investment.

People need to see that they cant have everything their way. If you want to have a walkable neighborhood, you need a more dense population, which means new construction. If you want to have increasing property values, new construction and rehabilitating old construction to modern standards is the way to achieve this. If you want stagnation, and eventually decline, freeze everything as it is now, prevent anything new from happening, dig your heels in deep and oppose everything. Everytime I see a vote yes sign, or a stop the Wal Mart sign, all I see is a stubborn starving donkey with his heels dug in deep refusing to take the last step to the food trough. That donkey because of its stubborn tiny brain, will die 2 steps from food because of its tiny brain and stubborn nature.

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I just talked to someone at the City to see when they were going to send out the re-vote ballots and they told me that they are going to do in in October, after the Ordinance is adopted by City Council. Sue Lovell has been saying that if they do the re-vote before the Ordinance is passed they will only have to meet the 51% number, but if they do it after the Ordinace is passed it will be 67%. She kept saying this as though it would benefit the people against the ordinace to let it pass as it would make the preservationists meet a highter burden.

What if the re-vote ballot says "Do you oppose the new Ordinance?" and they interpret the rule to mean that the OPPOSITION would need to meet the 67% burden to oppose the Historic District changes? I'm thinking that's the game they are going to play. Does anyone think that either side can get 67%? I don't think so.

I do not have any knowledge of how this is going to work, but going by how it has been conducted so far I think there is going to be something sneaky happening.

Edited by SCDesign
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I just talked to someone at the City to see when they were going to send out the re-vote ballots and they told me that they are going to do in in October, after the Ordinance is adopted by City Council. Sue Lovell has been saying that if they do the re-vote before the Ordinance is passed they will only have to meet the 51% number, but if they do it after the Ordinace is passed it will be 67%. She kept saying this as though it would benefit the people against the ordinace to let it pass as it would make the preservationists meet a highter burden.

What if the re-vote ballot says "Do you oppose the new Ordinance?" and they interpret the rule to mean that the OPPOSITION would need to meet the 67% burden to oppose the Historic District changes? I'm thinking that's the game they are going to play. Does anyone think that either side can get 67%? I don't think so.

I do not have any knowledge of how this is going to work, but going by how it has been conducted so far I think there is going to be something sneaky happening.

You have every reason to be afraid that whatever back room slimy way they can use to achieve their goal of socializing the heights will be utilized. The way this has been conducted to date is some of the ugliest politics I have ever seen. Its exactly why people stop voting...because slimy politicians can slime their way into giving vocal extreme minorities whatever they want as long as they remain in power.

I dont think you can get 67% of anything to even return a ballot. Those who feel strongly one way or the other will vote, all the others will toss it in the garbage. If the ballot goes out, the opposition needs to be MUCH more organized. We will need to hold public meetings, and distribute many many more signs to let our voice be heard. I really dont think many people have any idea of how negative this can potentially be.

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I just talked to someone at the City to see when they were going to send out the re-vote ballots and they told me that they are going to do in in October, after the Ordinance is adopted by City Council. Sue Lovell has been saying that if they do the re-vote before the Ordinance is passed they will only have to meet the 51% number, but if they do it after the Ordinace is passed it will be 67%. She kept saying this as though it would benefit the people against the ordinace to let it pass as it would make the preservationists meet a highter burden.

What if the re-vote ballot says "Do you oppose the new Ordinance?" and they interpret the rule to mean that the OPPOSITION would need to meet the 67% burden to oppose the Historic District changes? I'm thinking that's the game they are going to play. Does anyone think that either side can get 67%? I don't think so.

I do not have any knowledge of how this is going to work, but going by how it has been conducted so far I think there is going to be something sneaky happening.

There is actually some pretty significant concern by a majority of City Council to the way this thing has been carried out. Several councilmembers want a re-vote, and I doubt their concerns would be alleviated if it was stacked in a way to favor either side. Despite Sue Lovell's protests, Houston City Council is still a majority 'no-zoning' group, and the uproar created by opponents of this ordinance have been heard. The question is what result is achieved? What happens to existing districts, what happens to South Heights?

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There is actually some pretty significant concern by a majority of City Council to the way this thing has been carried out. Several councilmembers want a re-vote, and I doubt their concerns would be alleviated if it was stacked in a way to favor either side. Despite Sue Lovell's protests, Houston City Council is still a majority 'no-zoning' group, and the uproar created by opponents of this ordinance have been heard. The question is what result is achieved? What happens to existing districts, what happens to South Heights?

Yeah, I know there is concern but looking at the probabley vote it's still going to be 9 for and 6 against, which is a pass. Most of the Council doesn't think this will have any effect on their Districts so they will probably be unwilling to stand up to the Mayor. Unfortunantely, unless people outside of the existing Historic Districts get more vocal, it's probably too late to stop this being adopted.

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There is actually some pretty significant concern by a majority of City Council to the way this thing has been carried out. Several councilmembers want a re-vote, and I doubt their concerns would be alleviated if it was stacked in a way to favor either side. Despite Sue Lovell's protests, Houston City Council is still a majority 'no-zoning' group, and the uproar created by opponents of this ordinance have been heard. The question is what result is achieved? What happens to existing districts, what happens to South Heights?

I wrote to every single council member and received only one response, which was a canned response in favor of the ordinance. I did get several automated, thanks for writing emails....but I got only one real response, and that one response did not attempt to address the issues I raised, it only said that the issue was being studied.

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Yeah, I know there is concern but looking at the probabley vote it's still going to be 9 for and 6 against, which is a pass. Most of the Council doesn't think this will have any effect on their Districts so they will probably be unwilling to stand up to the Mayor. Unfortunantely, unless people outside of the existing Historic Districts get more vocal, it's probably too late to stop this being adopted.

True, but 9-6 on what ordinance? It could include a re-vote on Heights East and West. It could include a re-vote on every single existing historic district. It could vote down South Heights and make them start over. Who knows?

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I wrote to every single council member and received only one response, which was a canned response in favor of the ordinance. I did get several automated, thanks for writing emails....but I got only one real response, and that one response did not attempt to address the issues I raised, it only said that the issue was being studied.

I wrote to mine, no answer. Waited 2 weeks and sent a follow up. That was over a week ago. Still no answer. I will be calling his office next.

I didn't even get a thanks for writing response.

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I wrote to every single council member and received only one response, which was a canned response in favor of the ordinance. I did get several automated, thanks for writing emails....but I got only one real response, and that one response did not attempt to address the issues I raised, it only said that the issue was being studied.

I wrote to mine, no answer. Waited 2 weeks and sent a follow up. That was over a week ago. Still no answer. I will be calling his office next.

I didn't even get a thanks for writing response.

Regardless of a person's views on this matter, how shameful that an elected official should show such disregard for his (or her) constituents.

Names, please?

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I read the ordinance but I don't understand the distinction between contributing structures and non-contributing, and how the rules would be applied.

Since my house (built by Gomberg 1997) is non contributing, I could tear it down without a CA? What about exterior modifications? To make it even more confusing, I have a garage/guesthouse that is an original structure and I think it IS considered contributing. BUT it has hardi-plank siding, etc. Very confused.

Cheers

James

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I wrote to every single council member and received only one response, which was a canned response in favor of the ordinance. I did get several automated, thanks for writing emails....but I got only one real response, and that one response did not attempt to address the issues I raised, it only said that the issue was being studied.

The only response I got was this:

Thank you for your comments regarding the proposed changes to the Historic Preservation Ordinance. I do not take lightly your concerns about how these changes will impact your property and your neighborhood.

I have thoroughly reviewed the ordinance and the proposed amendments and have met with several citizens both for and against the changes. Further, my office has received literally hundreds of emails and letters on the subject. Suffice it to say, the debate on this issue is in full force.

As you know, the City has recently conducted a series of public meetings on the draft proposed ordinance in affected neighborhoods. Also, this Thursday, August 19th, the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission will hold a public hearing at 6:30 pm at the George R. Brown Convention Center , 1001 Avenida de las Americas , General Assembly Hall B, 3rd Level. I encourage you to attend this meeting if possible – speakers will be able to sign up for public comment to address the committee for one minute.

It is my understanding additional changes are being incorporated into the proposed ordinance to reflect the considerable public input received. I look forward to reviewing these new changes as they are formalized. A new draft will be brought before the Planning Commission and council’s Development and Regulatory Affairs Committee for further review, discussion, public comment and recommendation. I will reserve making a final decision regarding the proposed ordinance until this process runs its course and I have carefully considered all modifications and public comment.

I encourage you to visit http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/hist_pres_amend.html for updates on the progress of this legislation. Again, thank you for weighing in on the future of historic preservation in Houston . I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind as city council moves forward in considering this matter.

Sincerely,

Stephen C. Costello

Houston City Council At-Large Position 1

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I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind as city council moves forward in considering this matter.

This'll surely bleed over into every old suburb in town. Perhaps the councilman should be reminded that not only should he keep your thoughts in mind, but he should also keep your future votes in mind.

That was such a condescending email. If I had the ability, I'd vote the bum out on principle alone. I think I may still be registered in the city...

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This'll surely bleed over into every old suburb in town. Perhaps the councilman should be reminded that not only should he keep your thoughts in mind, but he should also keep your future votes in mind.

That was such a condescending email. If I had the ability, I'd vote the bum out on principle alone. I think I may still be registered in the city...

I did not find it condescending really as much as it was just predictable political talk. The email was long, but said nothing. Essentially he tried to placate me with a response, without taking any stand on the issue one way or the other. That way if he is in favor of the ordinance he can maintain the status quo without becoming the target of the opposition, or vice versa.

Still I find this response much much better than the other responses I got.....crickets chirping......

I sent the same exact email to every single council member, as well as the mayor, the HAHC, and the preservation group. I spent literally hours writing it at home including sources page numbers, and precise objections to the ordinance itself.

It may get no response from many of them because it was likely way over most of their heads.

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I read the ordinance but I don't understand the distinction between contributing structures and non-contributing, and how the rules would be applied.

Since my house (built by Gomberg 1997) is non contributing, I could tear it down without a CA? What about exterior modifications? To make it even more confusing, I have a garage/guesthouse that is an original structure and I think it IS considered contributing. BUT it has hardi-plank siding, etc. Very confused.

Cheers

James

If your 1997 home is in a historic district then it is not eligible for a non-contributing status(33-228(B(4). If you are in a historic district you must go through the HAHC for all modifications. What does that mean to you? Who knows? The ordinance is written broadly enough for them to require you to make modifications to the exterior of your home to make it more in line with their subjective expectations. There are no grandfathering clauses in the ordinance at all. Ive said it before - it is incredibly unlikely, but the ordinance is written broadly enough for them to require you to restore the property to its historic nature. Restore is worded broadly enough to require you to remove your current home and replace it with what was there before 1997.

I dont actually think they will do that, but its not forbidden. That is one of many of the problems with the ordinance.

As to your garage - the fact that it is hard plank but may be a contributing structure does not necessarily mean you would have to restore it, but again, it would be up to the HAHC to decide what you get to (or have to) do to it if you apply for a permit to do work on it...it will no longer be up to you the owner what you do with your own dang garage. There is not a black and white rule that will apply equally to all people. There is lots of room for subjective abuse. with that said many people in the Heights dont mess with their old historic garages because many of the old garages are inside of current setbacks, and to modify them requires you bring them back up to code, which often requires you to move the garage 12-18 inches to be outside of the current setbacks....that is part of the reason you see so many run down old garages. The city has made it too expensive to repair what is there...unless you do it quickly and completely on a Sunday.

Edited by Marksmu
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Yes! Absolutely. I was one of those buyers. Of course we wanted a little, charming, beautifully fixed up bungalow with a clawfoot tub and a big front porch. And we got it.

But here's a dirty little secret - that big front porch isn't original to the house. A developer re-did a plan-jane boring flat-fronted bungalow and built out a lovely, "craftsmanesque" porch. Which the neighbors across the street somewhat copied when they did their new front porch.

And the stone fireplace in the living room? Not even "actual" stone. It's a concrete substitute.

Judging from the oohs and ahhs we get from visitors, no one is the wiser.

The renovation probably wouldn't have passed muster with the committee, and that would have been a shame. It's a perfect example of a neighborhood-appropriate (though not "historically accurate") fix that improved the aesthetics on the block.

The HCAC has approved 2 (that I know of, possibly more) front porch additions in my Historic District. They also do not control anything regarding the interior. Sounds like you could have bought your exact same home in Norhill, with the blessing of the HCAC.

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The HCAC has approved 2 (that I know of, possibly more) front porch additions in my Historic District. They also do not control anything regarding the interior. Sounds like you could have bought your exact same home in Norhill, with the blessing of the HCAC.

Of course, you would have had to post a 4x8 foot sign giving notice of a Variance Request, ask your neighbors to sign a petition saying they do not mind, pay for an architect to not only draw plans for the porch, but to build a scale model of what the finished house and porch would look like, attend a hearing, present your case, and wait for an approval, plus the extra time involved if the HAHC denies or make suggestions for changes. This can take months to accomplish, and cost a bundle, since none of these architects and builders work for free. Time is money, and adding the HAHC to your porch project is plenty of time.

Those who think I am making this up need only wander to the corner of 10th and Oxford to see an example of this in action. My neighbor also had to do it (the scale model that he and his wife had to show me while asking for my approval on the petition was utterly ridiculous). Bear in mind South Heights is not even designated historic yet. But, because it is being considered, we already get to experience the joys of scrutiny by others who do not live here. And none of this extra time and money increases property value. It is simply added cost to the construction project that adds nothing more to the house than a porch without all the extra time and money would add.

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Of course, you would have had to post a 4x8 foot sign giving notice of a Variance Request, ask your neighbors to sign a petition saying they do not mind, pay for an architect to not only draw plans for the porch, but to build a scale model of what the finished house and porch would look like, attend a hearing, present your case, and wait for an approval, plus the extra time involved if the HAHC denies or make suggestions for changes. This can take months to accomplish, and cost a bundle, since none of these architects and builders work for free. Time is money, and adding the HAHC to your porch project is plenty of time.

Those who think I am making this up need only wander to the corner of 10th and Oxford to see an example of this in action. My neighbor also had to do it (the scale model that he and his wife had to show me while asking for my approval on the petition was utterly ridiculous). Bear in mind South Heights is not even designated historic yet. But, because it is being considered, we already get to experience the joys of scrutiny by others who do not live here. And none of this extra time and money increases property value. It is simply added cost to the construction project that adds nothing more to the house than a porch without all the extra time and money would add.

I don't know why your neighbor had to go through this process but none of this was required for either of the porch projects in Norhill, especially not a scale model. I have never seen a scale model for any construction project in my HIstoric district. Ever. Also, the projects do NOT have to apply for a variance unless they violate the set back requirements. Only if you need a variance would even possibly have to attend a hearing. Again, a variance is only required if you are crossing a border of some sort on the property. Neither of the porch projects I am aware of required a variance and, therefore, the home owners/renovators were not required to do anything more than submit their plans.

The HCAC meetings are scheduled in advance so it is very easy to time your project around the hearings. I am currently in the process of doing this myself- I am removing a glass block window and replacing it with a wood one-over-one. I didn't even have to submit blue prints or design specs for this project, only a picture of the window and a letter of my (contractor's) intention to fill in the space with blonde, scratch face brick, which is the same as my home's exterior. The lead time on the window I want is 6 weeks, so my project will be approved by the HCAC long before all the materials to complete the bathroom redo are even available. As far as the guts of the bathroom, I do not have to provide the HCAC with any of those details as that is not their concern.

ETA: Variance requests may also vary depending on the project. We have a house in our neighborhood being moved right now and they didn't need to request a variance for that project. Admittedly, I am unsure if that is because their plans didn't pass the Board the 1st time (they were going to violate 2 set back requirements per our deed restrictions) and never made it to the HCAC- or- if the HCAC didn't require it before the plans were rejected by the Board. THat is kind of unclear but basically I am not sure if they submitted to the HCAC 1st and PPNA 2nd or the other way around. There is no set way you have to do it, although the deed restrictions are often tougher than the HCACs requirements, so most ppl submit to the neighborhood 1st.

Edited by heights_yankee
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This is why I oppose historic district status for my neighborhood. Despite heights yankee's long explanation that began with, "I don't know why your neighbor had to go through this process...", the fact is that two of them have. I do not want to have heights yankee or anyone else tell me that they don't know why I had to go through this ridiculous process.

I might point out that Norhill is only designated as an historic district. The new onerous rules make Norhill, all 3 Heights districts, and all other districts the same as Old Sixth Ward's protected district. Those are much more restrictive rules. This is what my neighbors are trying to make permanent. And, while stay at home moms might find it "very easy" to plan around planning commission meetings, the rest of us get to plan an extra couple of days off work to do so, in addition to the two to three trips to permitting to deal with all of the usual rules for building in Houston. In fact, I already had Planning place a hold on my garage last year, simply because I have a Heights address. The contractor had to hold off for nearly a week while we waited on Planning to realize that my house was not in an historic district. I've already gotten a taste of their crap. It is clear to me that heights yankee has not attempted to remodel her house under these new rules (no, replacing one window is hardly a remodel).

BTW, this is what heights yankee calls "very easy".

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Commissions/docs_pdfs/2010_HAHC_Meeting_Dates.pdf

The HAHC only meets once a month. It is at 3 pm on Thursdays. You must submit your plans at least 15 days in advance of the meeting to get on the agenda. Miss it by one day and your project just got extended by one month. That's just for permission to proceed to permitting. Bear in mind that this HAHC approval is needed on ALL permits in historic districts. If you have an interior redo, you still must submit the plans to HAHC in order for them to certify that their approval is not needed. Yeah, sounds easy.

Edited by RedScare
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This is why I oppose historic district status for my neighborhood. Despite heights yankee's long explanation that began with, "I don't know why your neighbor had to go through this process...", the fact is that two of them have. I do not want to have heights yankee or anyone else tell me that they don't know why I had to go through this ridiculous process.

I might point out that Norhill is only designated as an historic district. The new onerous rules make Norhill, all 3 Heights districts, and all other districts the same as Old Sixth Ward's protected district. Those are much more restrictive rules. This is what my neighbors are trying to make permanent. And, while stay at home moms might find it "very easy" to plan around planning commission meetings, the rest of us get to plan an extra couple of days off work to do so, in addition to the two to three trips to permitting to deal with all of the usual rules for building in Houston. In fact, I already had Planning place a hold on my garage last year, simply because I have a Heights address. The contractor had to hold off for nearly a week while we waited on Planning to realize that my house was not in an historic district. I've already gotten a taste of their crap. It is clear to me that heights yankee has not attempted to remodel her house under these new rules (no, replacing one window is hardly a remodel).

BTW, this is what heights yankee calls "very easy".

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Commissions/docs_pdfs/2010_HAHC_Meeting_Dates.pdf

The HAHC only meets once a month. It is at 3 pm on Thursdays. You must submit your plans at least 15 days in advance of the meeting to get on the agenda. Miss it by one day and your project just got extended by one month. That's just for permission to proceed to permitting. Bear in mind that this HAHC approval is needed on ALL permits in historic districts. If you have an interior redo, you still must submit the plans to HAHC in order for them to certify that their approval is not needed. Yeah, sounds easy.

Having been a working adult for much longer than I have been a mother, I can tell you that being a SAHM is certainly not easier from a planning stand point. In fact, it's much, much easier for my husband to make weekday meetings/appointments than it is for me. But I digress...

So with a set monthly date that a homeowner can know months before they even decide to do a project, having an open ended window of time until 15 days before the meeting is a hardship? Sure, if you plan something one night with the intention of starting the next day. I mean really, who doesn't know at least 2 weeks in advance that they are going to make major changes to their home?

I did not have to submit any plans for interior renovations to the HCAC. I do have to get proper construction permits from CoH, which is standard no matter where I live. Where are you getting that information?

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Having been a working adult for much longer than I have been a mother, I can tell you that being a SAHM is certainly not easier from a planning stand point. In fact, it's much, much easier for my husband to make weekday meetings/appointments than it is for me. But I digress...

Wow, someone needs to work at their organizational skills and/or stop hovering.

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So with a set monthly date that a homeowner can know months before they even decide to do a project, having an open ended window of time until 15 days before the meeting is a hardship? Sure, if you plan something one night with the intention of starting the next day. I mean really, who doesn't know at least 2 weeks in advance that they are going to make major changes to their home?

I did not have to submit any plans for interior renovations to the HCAC. I do have to get proper construction permits from CoH, which is standard no matter where I live. Where are you getting that information?

Oh, I don't know, personal experience? I don't expect a person on the board of Norhill's review committee to find plan submittals to be a burden. But, to the rest of us, it is another layer of bureaucracy...and a time consuming one at that. At least permitting is open every day. And, the fact that you do not understand the delays that a once a month committee causes is proof to me that you've never been involved in a major renovation...or, apparently, any type of work that runs on deadlines. And, no, a bathroom redo is not major.

Note to historic district supporters: This is the thoughtfulness that awaits you. Review boards and city commissions who believe that you have nothing better to do than make delightful presentations for their amusement.

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Wow, someone needs to work at their organizational skills and/or stop hovering.

This is exactly what I keep telling my kids. You'd think at 3.5 years and 16 months they would get it but they just don't. Lazy, hovering slackers who depend on me to take care of them.

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Bear in mind that this HAHC approval is needed on ALL permits in historic districts. If you have an interior redo, you still must submit the plans to HAHC in order for them to certify that their approval is not needed.

So, I sent the above quote to an architect I know who is intimately aware of the process for a major renovation in a Historic District. He said this is patently false. He had also never heard of the scale model issue.

Red, I thought your house was all still the original foot print and that the only addition is the garage with gameroom?

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So, I sent the above quote to an architect I know who is intimately aware of the process for a major renovation in a Historic District. He said this is patently false. He had also never heard of the scale model issue.

Red, I thought your house was all still the original foot print and that the only addition is the garage with gameroom?

EXACTLY!!!

See what I am talking about? Planning flags everything in the Heights just so that they can see if they have control over it. I had to wait days for them to release their hold. At the time of the permit, my house was not in any proposed or existing district.

Because there will be a couple of Heights historic districts regardless what happens in South Heights, I am resigned to the fact that any permit I apply for will get flagged so that they can verify that HAHC does not have jurisdiction. But, I certainly do not wish to make it even worse by actually giving HAHC jurisdiction to run me through their wringer.

As for your architect friend, all that I can say is that he is less intimately aware than he claims. I saw the model. I saw the variance board. I signed the petition. I watched the neighbor go through it. Hope that's not your architect.

Edited by RedScare
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EXACTLY!!!

See what I am talking about? Planning flags everything in the Heights just so that they can see if they have control over it. I had to wait days for them to release their hold. At the time of the permit, my house was not in any proposed or existing district.

Because there will be a couple of Heights historic districts regardless what happens in South Heights, I am resigned to the fact that any permit I apply for will get flagged so that they can verify that HAHC does not have jurisdiction. But, I certainly do not wish to make it even worse by actually giving HAHC jurisdiction to run me through their wringer.

As for your architect friend, all that I can say is that he is less intimately aware than he claims. I saw the model. I saw the variance board. I signed the petition. I watched the neighbor go through it. Hope that's not your architect.

Well, the only conclusion that can be drawn without questioning your claims (and I am not. If you say it happened, I believe you) is that there is some issue specific to where you your block where you experienced these things, which is not a Historic District. I do live in a Historic district and none of these things apply other than variance requests when a project crosses the set back requirements.

Edited by heights_yankee
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Here's another question that I haven't seen discussed yet. What happens to the tax incentives that are in place if you do work on your house in a historic district, and then you are suddenly no longer in a historic district due to the re-vote?

We did work on our house, went through the HAHC/COA process retroactively, and qualified for the City of Houston 15-yr tax break. Then, after about a year of working with the city's finance group to determine the amount spent, prior improvement values, etc, we were able to claim the tax break last year. (We are in Heights West HD). I'm assuming that if the re-vote turns up a big NO, that I would then lose this benefit. I'm still undecided on this and the work on my house is already done, even though I'd lose ~$1,000/yr for the next 14 years. Tough to weigh the pros/cons, but I don't think it is right for me to vote for it simply because my work is already done. Some of the supporters have even said this to me "you're already done, why do you care?"....umm, because I'm a good neighbor maybe.

I didn't want anyone telling me what I could and couldn't do with our addition, so we purposely didn't sign the original petition until we were done with the work. I have a hard time giving the HAHC committee the ability to control my neighbor...doesn't seem right?

Sorry for the soapbox...I really intended to ask about the tax break and what would/could happen...got a bit sidetracked and fired up.

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Here's another question that I haven't seen discussed yet. What happens to the tax incentives that are in place if you do work on your house in a historic district, and then you are suddenly no longer in a historic district due to the re-vote?

We did work on our house, went through the HAHC/COA process retroactively, and qualified for the City of Houston 15-yr tax break. Then, after about a year of working with the city's finance group to determine the amount spent, prior improvement values, etc, we were able to claim the tax break last year. (We are in Heights West HD). I'm assuming that if the re-vote turns up a big NO, that I would then lose this benefit. I'm still undecided on this and the work on my house is already done, even though I'd lose ~$1,000/yr for the next 14 years. Tough to weigh the pros/cons, but I don't think it is right for me to vote for it simply because my work is already done. Some of the supporters have even said this to me "you're already done, why do you care?"....umm, because I'm a good neighbor maybe.

I didn't want anyone telling me what I could and couldn't do with our addition, so we purposely didn't sign the original petition until we were done with the work. I have a hard time giving the HAHC committee the ability to control my neighbor...doesn't seem right?

Sorry for the soapbox...I really intended to ask about the tax break and what would/could happen...got a bit sidetracked and fired up.

Your right to the tax abatement has vested. The City cannot apply laws retroactively. You should be able to safely vote to crush all the bungalows, but might want to have a word with an attorney to be sure the City can't take away your abatement.

And the fact that you are willing to reap the benefits of the historic ordinance but do not want the ordinance to do what it is supposed to do (protect historic buildings) is not very neighborly.

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Your right to the tax abatement has vested. The City cannot apply laws retroactively. You should be able to safely vote to crush all the bungalows, but might want to have a word with an attorney to be sure the City can't take away your abatement.

And the fact that you are willing to reap the benefits of the historic ordinance but do not want the ordinance to do what it is supposed to do (protect historic buildings) is not very neighborly.

I am only trying to reap the benefits of the ordinance that I SIGNED UP FOR....not the one that others are attempting to change after the fact....(not very neighborly). Or the ones who try to put words in my mouth that "the people who signed the original ordinance would have signed up for a "No Means No" if we had it available"....(also, not very neighborly). Or the ones who tell me that yes, under the new ordinance, you would be able to use Hardiplank. But oh, by the way, if Hardy doesn't come in the style of siding that is already on your house, you actually cannot use Hardy, followed up with a "maybe you would need to contact Hardy yourself".

And for what it's worth, I already said that I might be willing to give up the tax benefit, just so that my neighbors wouldn't have this additional burden because I don't think it is right.

Seriously though, thank you for the feedback about the tax abatement...wasn't sure about it. And by the way, we live in a 1920 bungalow and we love it. Spent a ton on it initially, and a ton more on the expansion. Easily could have purchased a big 'ol McVic with more square footage, but we happen to love the old homes.

Edited by poyea
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Your right to the tax abatement has vested. The City cannot apply laws retroactively.

And they should not be able to institute restrictions on PRIVATE PROPERTY retroactively either, when there is no effect or danger to the Health, Safety, or Welfare of others.

(EMPHASIS ADDED)

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It seems that there is a lot going on now with the City, which I don't feel at liberty to discuss. If anyone lives, or knows someone who lives, in the Woodland Heights who signed the original petition but would now like to retract that signature, please have them contact me or http://www.responsiblehistoricpreservation.org/ for a retraction form. It's VERY important that we get more signatures for the Woodland Heights ASAP. Also, if anyone would like a blue yard sign please request one. The signs are having an affect.

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And they should not be able to institute restrictions on PRIVATE PROPERTY retroactively either, when there is no effect or danger to the Health, Safety, or Welfare of others.

(EMPHASIS ADDED)

But Marksmu, everyone knows that forcing people to look at non-historic structures in their neighborhood is bad for their health. I mean, can you imagine the damage done by high blood pressure when a McVictorian comes into view.

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*A note about the stinkin' camelbacks. Look at your stupid architectural guide. That BS HAHC actually touts that crap as a way to conform to their restrictions. Don't blame the builders for that sheet. That is YOUR idea of attractive architecture. I have no intention of letting architecturally ignorant slobs obtain control over my house.

Gee, New Orleans abounds with historic camelbacks.

I guess that makes people who admire N.O.'s architecture and ambience 'ignorant slobs'?

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Your right to the tax abatement has vested. The City cannot apply laws retroactively. You should be able to safely vote to crush all the bungalows, but might want to have a word with an attorney to be sure the City can't take away your abatement.

And the fact that you are willing to reap the benefits of the historic ordinance but do not want the ordinance to do what it is supposed to do (protect historic buildings) is not very neighborly.

what the ordinance is supposed to do = what YOU want the ordinancne to do. Putting what you want infront of others... not very neighborly.

I still want to hear the explanation on how the house on watson that just added a second story to their house can support the ordinance. I also saw what looked like a 40s/50s brick home with the sign as well.

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Your right to the tax abatement has vested. The City cannot apply laws retroactively. You should be able to safely vote to crush all the bungalows, but might want to have a word with an attorney to be sure the City can't take away your abatement.

And the fact that you are willing to reap the benefits of the historic ordinance but do not want the ordinance to do what it is supposed to do (protect historic buildings) is not very neighborly.

Which is it? "The City cannot apply laws retroactively" or "you might want to have a word with an attorney to be sure"?

That's the problem with you. You spout whatever "facts" you want to support your cause(s) without ever being able to back them up.

Edited by heights
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post-7583-059082900 1283263920_thumb.jpg

Gee, New Orleans abounds with historic camelbacks.

I guess that makes people who admire N.O.'s architecture and ambience 'ignorant slobs'?

Camelbacks in New Orleans are not much different than they are in the Heights. However, In New Orleans, a camelback is always a shotgun home design, not a craftsman bungalow. They're pretty ugly too, and the only reason they exist is because the home was taxed as only one story. Once the tax code changed, people stopped building them. So, they don't exist because they're beautiful, they aren't. They exist because of stupid government rules, just like what's happening here.

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post-7583-059082900 1283263920_thumb.jpg

Camelbacks in New Orleans are not much different than they are in the Heights. However, In New Orleans, a camelback is always a shotgun home design, not a craftsman bungalow. They're pretty ugly too, and the only reason they exist is because the home was taxed as only one story. Once the tax code changed, people stopped building them. So, they don't exist because they're beautiful, they aren't. They exist because of stupid government rules, just like what's happening here.

Yes, I read the same article.

Regardless, preserving the human scale house in front - be it shotgun or bungalow - makes for a more attractive streetscape, and is certainly preferable to rows of gaping garage doors (cameltoes?).

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Yes, I read the same article.

Regardless, preserving the human scale house in front - be it shotgun or bungalow - makes for a more attractive streetscape, and is certainly preferable to rows of gaping garage doors (cameltoes?).

There are less restrictive ways of keeping the garage doors off the front of the houses, and in fact, it has been done on my street without the historic district.

As for your statement that camelbacks make for attractive streetscapes...or for that matter, using attractive and camelback in the same sentence at all...I now have a concrete reason for ignoring any opinion you have regarding architectural attractiveness. And to think you once posted a reply that you have tried to educate people on the value of architecture. :blink:

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