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Next Victim: Elitists Target Norhill Addition for "Preservation"


fwki

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Hysterical preservationists have named their next victim with a petition on Change.oorg to encumber Norhill Addition property owners with the perpetually morphing Historic Ordinance.  The petition pleads: "We must act to ensure that the last 1/3 of the Norhill neighborhood's history is preserved."

 

The petition leaves out the crippling impact on property rights, the irresponsible antics of the HAHC zoning board and the continual reinterpretation of the Historic Ordinance by City Planning to increase the level of government takings imposed by this law. I am asking fellow Norhill Addition property owners educate themselves on this regulatory movement's dirty tricks, watch the videos of the HAHC in action against owners and see the reinterpretation efforts at the Planning Commission appeals videos.  Also not mentioned is the fact that there is no upside to HD designation since we have ample protection with existing Deed Restrictions, now up for renewal.

 

Red's cryptic prediction about Norhill which scared me into action years ago has come true as this monster turns its head.  Take action now and we can stop it: Affirm our existing Deed Restrictions with a Yes vote this fall on the upcoming Deed Restriction petition for Norhill Addition to allow City legal department enforcement, educate yourself on the facts and track record of the HAHC, talk to your neighbors and write CM Gonzalez.  My opinion is well-documented here, form your own and act on it.

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Where's the Norhill Addition? Norhill itself is already a district. I couldn't find the petition on Change.

 

edit: Found it: https://www.change.org/petitions/residents-of-south-norhill-section-of-the-woodland-heights-establish-the-south-norhill-historic-district

 

I'd still be curious to see a map of what all this would include.

Edited by Texasota
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There are three Norhill developments: Norhill (the oldest, platted as the "Norhill Addition", meaning addition to the CoH), North Norhill and East Norhill.  North Norhill and East Norhill voted themselves as historic district.  The Norhill Addition is bounded by 11th St on the north, Michaux on the east, Usener on the south and Studewood on the west. Deed Restrictions are up for renewal and will be voted on this fall.  By choice Norhill threw in with WHCA as their civic association years ago but retained the right to form a Norhill-only association.  The confusion comes from the geniuses down at City Planning who allowed North Norhill take the name "Norhill" for their Historic District, so now we have two called simply "Norhill".

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Hysterical preservationists have named their next victim with a petition on Change.oorg to encumber Norhill Addition property owners with the perpetually morphing Historic Ordinance.  The petition pleads: "We must act to ensure that the last 1/3 of the Norhill neighborhood's history is preserved."

 

The petition leaves out the crippling impact on property rights, the irresponsible antics of the HAHC zoning board and the continual reinterpretation of the Historic Ordinance by City Planning to increase the level of government takings imposed by this law. I am asking fellow Norhill Addition property owners educate themselves on this regulatory movement's dirty tricks, watch the videos of the HAHC in action against owners and see the reinterpretation efforts at the Planning Commission appeals videos.  Also not mentioned is the fact that there is no upside to HD designation since we have ample protection with existing Deed Restrictions, now up for renewal.

 

Red's cryptic prediction about Norhill which scared me into action years ago has come true as this monster turns its head.  Take action now and we can stop it: Affirm our existing Deed Restrictions with a Yes vote this fall on the upcoming Deed Restriction petition for Norhill Addition to allow City legal department enforcement, educate yourself on the facts and track record of the HAHC, talk to your neighbors and write CM Gonzalez.  My opinion is well-documented here, form your own and act on it.

 

fwki,

 

Shame on you (I'm guessing this is you juding by the acronym of the screenname), I think it is very disingenuous of you to post on nextdoor.com with me about civil and mature conversation about the pro's and con's of a historic district and then to post on this forum and call me an "elitist" and a "hysterical preservationist". 

 

To be clear, I am a current resident of the Norhill Addition and also happen to be the person who created the aforementioned petition on change.org. I have no prior "preservationist" history and the picture he painted above is exaggerated propaganda to say the least. 

 

I have no hidden agenda whatsoever; I want a historic district because in my opinion what sets the Heights apart from other neighborhoods inside the loop is the intactness of the original Craftsman Bungalow homes. With the rising property values, I've seen increased demolitions to build giant homes to maximize price/sq ft profits. I don't want to see my neighborhood turn into one with faux-craftsman mansions that are 4 feet apart from each other lining the streets. Deed restrictions just aren't strict enough to prevent demolitions from happening.

 

We are all entitled to our own opinion and for all I know there are more people in our subdivision who would rather see the giant mansions lining the street. THAT was the whole reason I posted the petition. I am just trying to get a feel for who is in and who isn't to determine if a historic district is in the interest of the majority (67% to be exact according to the city).

 

What we really don't need, is someone running around spewing propaganda without listening to how the other side feels.

 

One thing is for sure, this is no way to treat one of your own neighbors.

Edited by Subdude
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Welcome to the board Laill.

 

Please sit down and watch the recordings of the commission meetings and the appeal meetings at planning.  I think you'll see why some people are not too happy with the ordinance.

Cheers

James

 

Thanks for the welcome James.

 

Fwki already linked me to one HAHC video involving Brie and her home on Harvard. Although it was a lot of heartache she was able to get approved: http://www.change.org/petitions/houston-archaeological-and-historical-commission-hahc-approve-application-to-restore-my-1920-home-that-has-been-neglected-for-yrs

 

I understand that the Historic Ordinance is not perfect, but what are the provisions to amend it to find a happy medium between preserving the architecture while not stepping on property owners' rights.

 

Also, is there a link you can provide for all the HAHC meetings? I tried youtube but was only able to dig up two videos (one of which is the aforementioned one).

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There is no middle ground.  The moment that you take the ability for someone to remodel, demo, or repair their own property in a way that they see fit, WITHOUT paying them for the loss of that right, you have stolen from them.  You have deprived them of their legal right to do with their own property what they please for the sole reason of aesthetics.  Deed restrictions offer legitimate protections to which every owner was fully aware of at the time of purchase.  By instituting a historic district, the neighbors who agree are  by necessity stealing from those who do not.  The people who disagree if they are outnumbered lose their private property.

 

It is EXACTLY the same as is if a bank by vote if its depositors sent out a survey and asked if they wanted to institute average account balances by reallocating deposits evenly amongst everyone instead of allowing each person to keep their own money.  Those with low balances, most likely the majority, would agree, and those with high balances, would cry foul.  If the low balances get 67%  WALA, everyone has the same balance...but its fair right?  I mean we voted on it, so it must be fair.

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Laiall,

Before you start thowing around accusations, take a look at my posts on this subject and you will see that you are late to the party by about two years and during those two years my posts on this subject have been very consistent.  Don't think I am talking about you when you just showed up here.  The whole process to HD designation starts with a petition, you started a petition not to see "who is in and who isn't"....read your own words: "Residents of South Norhill section of the Woodland Heights: Establish the South Norhill Historic District".  That to me is step one in the process and I will fight from step one forward.

 

On the otherhand, your posts on NextDoor are for up for discussion and I accepted that challenge and will continue there in an appropriate manner as long as people are interested.

 

In this forum I have used (within forum rules and Subdude's pleadings) and will use tools of debate, biting political satire, AND propaganda to battle propaganda such as your characterization of the petition as just trying to see what people think.   These are two different worlds and your posts will not be treated with deference first here as they would on Next Door.  Sorry to be blunt, but there are some smart people on this board both pro and con HD, you will learn a lot here assuming you have the sufficient skin thinckness.

 

That said, I didn't know you from Adam but your petition speaks for itself and it is not at all inquisitory, ergo my first post stands unedited.  This preservation ordinance is really, really bad.  Don't take Step One in bringing me under that monster without doing your homeowork and then claim innocence or worse, ignorance.  Welcome to HAIF.

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I think the aim of slowing down or limiting tear-downs is good - but the way it was (and is) implemented is really bad.
 

Example: It's starting to get nice out.  You want to open your windows to enjoy the weather and stop using your A/C (good for the environment and all) but they are painted shut! 

 

If you want to hire someone to work on your windows - well you're going to need a permit for that.  But you can't get that permit anymore without having a COA.  And the meetings are only held once a month.  And you can't go because you have to work - or you can just pay an architect to go for $100 per hr...

Oh, and you want to get the work done right away, but the HAHC meeting was just two days ago.  So now you get to wait another 29 days...

 

Are you beginning to get the pictures?  Most people don't want to become "experts" in how the process works, and know how all the timing works, etc.  They just want to repair their house to enjoy the nice weather.

HTH
James

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I think the aim of slowing down or limiting tear-downs is good - but the way it was (and is) implemented is really bad.

 

Example: It's starting to get nice out.  You want to open your windows to enjoy the weather and stop using your A/C (good for the environment and all) but they are painted shut! 

 

If you want to hire someone to work on your windows - well you're going to need a permit for that.  But you can't get that permit anymore without having a COA.  And the meetings are only held once a month.  And you can't go because you have to work - or you can just pay an architect to go for $100 per hr...

Oh, and you want to get the work done right away, but the HAHC meeting was just two days ago.  So now you get to wait another 29 days...

 

Are you beginning to get the pictures?  Most people don't want to become "experts" in how the process works, and know how all the timing works, etc.  They just want to repair their house to enjoy the nice weather.

HTH

James

Or the poor sucker that tried to boot strap a repair of his sagging roof line on his porch by adding a third column on the middle existing pedestal.....red tagged him, forced him in front of the board and told him they didn't "think" there was a third column originally so he must straighten the roof line with alternate methods, methods that first must be approved....cha-ching.  Or the lady that wanted energy efficient glass pane in her windows.....no, no, no...must keep old wavy glass...she had to appeal to the Planning Commission to overturn that idiotic ruling, but the HAHC continues to make the same ruling....cha-ching.

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The Historic Districts are like using a full body cast when you only need a bandaid.

 

Yeah, I had a paper cut and needed something to stop the bleeding but now I can't move...

 

 

I do beleive if you modified your petition to get everyone in the "norhill addition" to support Minimum Lot size/Minimum set back you would get more support.  (does Norhill Addition already have these?).  Norhill was the perfect example of how things should have worked... the Historic Districts didn't really change anything for Norhill residents (they had good deed restrictions already), other than add extra steps to the process.

 

BTW, there are a few new to the neighborhood people already pushing to expand the Woodland Heights lines outward as well.

 

 

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Laiall,

Before you start thowing around accusations, take a look at my posts on this subject and you will see that you are late to the party by about two years and during those two years my posts on this subject have been very consistent.  Don't think I am talking about you when you just showed up here.  The whole process to HD designation starts with a petition, you started a petition not to see "who is in and who isn't"....read your own words: "Residents of South Norhill section of the Woodland Heights: Establish the South Norhill Historic District".  That to me is step one in the process and I will fight from step one forward.

 

On the otherhand, your posts on NextDoor are for up for discussion and I accepted that challenge and will continue there in an appropriate manner as long as people are interested.

 

In this forum I have used (within forum rules and Subdude's pleadings) and will use tools of debate, biting political satire, AND propaganda to battle propaganda such as your characterization of the petition as just trying to see what people think.   These are two different worlds and your posts will not be treated with deference first here as they would on Next Door.  Sorry to be blunt, but there are some smart people on this board both pro and con HD, you will learn a lot here assuming you have the sufficient skin thinckness.

 

That said, I didn't know you from Adam but your petition speaks for itself and it is not at all inquisitory, ergo my first post stands unedited.  This preservation ordinance is really, really bad.  Don't take Step One in bringing me under that monster without doing your homeowork and then claim innocence or worse, ignorance.  Welcome to HAIF.

 

Regardless of what I do or do not know about historic districts at this point. Your original post characterized my petition as if there was some machine behind an iron curtain that has a hidden agenda that created it when I know for a fact based on our conversation on Nextdoor that you were fully aware that the petition was created by me, your neighbor who has no hidden agenda. 

 

Judging by what I saw on your Nextdoor profile you are an engineer as am I. We pride ourselves on being detail oriented and using reason and logic to solve problems. Your admitted use of propaganda does nothing but to manipulate those who don't know me into thinking I am some sort of demon preservationist with bad intentions. Propaganda does noone favors and causes people to make decisions based on emotions rather than reason. I'm not trying to troll anyone here and I'd hope, unlike the other thread, things can be kept civil. 

 

I have lightly read the other thread in this forum and have also been on the forum for years albeit a lurker. I will take the time to go back and read every single page of that other thread.

 

In the meantime, i'd appreciate a link to all the HAHC vids. The one you linked me to on Nextdoor about Brie was definitely frustrating, but she did ultimately get to do what she wanted to. 

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The Historic Districts are like using a full body cast when you only need a bandaid.

 

Yeah, I had a paper cut and needed something to stop the bleeding but now I can't move...

 

 

I do beleive if you modified your petition to get everyone in the "norhill addition" to support Minimum Lot size/Minimum set back you would get more support.  (does Norhill Addition already have these?).  Norhill was the perfect example of how things should have worked... the Historic Districts didn't really change anything for Norhill residents (they had good deed restrictions already), other than add extra steps to the process.

 

BTW, there are a few new to the neighborhood people already pushing to expand the Woodland Heights lines outward as well.

 

Would a minimum lot size/minimum set back prevent demolitions though? I don't think so, it would just ensure that the new homes being built would be set back, right?

 

Also, Norhill's historic district came into existence June of 2000 as evidenced here: http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/maps_of_districts/Norhill.pdf

 

Now i've only been in the neighborhood for about 2 years, but from what I have been able to gather much of the Heights was an undesirable place to live as late as the 90s. The increasing frequency of demolitions has been mostly a post 2000 phenomenon and seems to have really accelerated in this hot housing market in the last 1-2 years. How can you make the distinction between if it was the deed restrictions or the historic district designation that helped Norhill to stay intact? It seems like it is a combination of both, no?

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In the meantime, i'd appreciate a link to all the HAHC vids. The one you linked me to on Nextdoor about Brie was definitely frustrating, but she did ultimately get to do what she wanted to.

The fact that she did eventually get to do what she wanted but had to undergo such trauma in the meantime is a pretty good indication of why so many are against the districts.

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In the meantime, i'd appreciate a link to all the HAHC vids. The one you linked me to on Nextdoor about Brie was definitely frustrating, but she did ultimately get to do what she wanted to. 

 

It should not require multiple trips to City Commissions to get what you want when your plans comply with the law. The HAHC is an abomination, populated with self serving, self righteous know it alls trying to impose their aesthetic views on others.

 

I have to ask, though, why you think it's OK to impose your views on property owners who bought their property without the restrictions implied by a historic district. In fact, why do you think that it's reasonable for you to be able to prevent your neighbor from tearing down their house and building a structure more suited to their needs? Would you tell a neighbor that the fact they need more space to accommodate their unexpected twins means they ought to move to the suburbs? How does your neighbor building a modern structure harm you?

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Historic districts can only be instituted with a supermajority vote, so they're pretty much the definition of democracy at the local level

 

Much like 15 wolves and 5 sheep voting on dinner. Without an opt out clause for existing property owners, historic districts violate basic property rights.

 

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It should not require multiple trips to City Commissions to get what you want when your plans comply with the law. The HAHC is an abomination, populated with self serving, self righteous know it alls trying to impose their aesthetic views on others.

 

I have to ask, though, why you think it's OK to impose your views on property owners who bought their property without the restrictions implied by a historic district. In fact, why do you think that it's reasonable for you to be able to prevent your neighbor from tearing down their house and building a structure more suited to their needs? Would you tell a neighbor that the fact they need more space to accommodate their unexpected twins means they ought to move to the suburbs? How does your neighbor building a modern structure harm you?

 

Is there no course of action to improve the HAHC?

 

Is there no course of action to have a clause in the ordinance to exclude those who bought into the neighborhood prior to the creation of a historic district?

 

I am in agreement with you that it is not fair to the people who bought in prior to an HD creation. But I am also in agreement that if there is a supermajority vote to ratify a historic district then it is justified.

 

Based on what fwki has said in the other forum, is there not a current plan between the planning committee and the HAHC due to the fact that the HAHC has not been consistent with their rulings? This would seem to me like a recognition by the city that there is a problem and they are taking action to try and improve it. 

 

Would you support a historic district if it had provisions for existing owners to be exempt from the HAHC and the neighborhood had a supermajority vote in support of it? 

 

I want to stress yet again because every reply I am getting is hostile, I'm not here to pick a fight. There has got to be a way to compromise here. There is no need to demonize the opposition.

Edited by laiall
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Regardless of what I do or do not know about historic districts at this point. Your original post characterized my petition as if there was some machine behind an iron curtain that has a hidden agenda that created it when I know for a fact based on our conversation on Nextdoor that you were fully aware that the petition was created by me, your neighbor who has no hidden agenda. 

 

Judging by what I saw on your Nextdoor profile you are an engineer as am I. We pride ourselves on being detail oriented and using reason and logic to solve problems. Your admitted use of propaganda does nothing but to manipulate those who don't know me into thinking I am some sort of demon preservationist with bad intentions. Propaganda does noone favors and causes people to make decisions based on emotions rather than reason. I'm not trying to troll anyone here and I'd hope, unlike the other thread, things can be kept civil. 

 

I have lightly read the other thread in this forum and have also been on the forum for years albeit a lurker. I will take the time to go back and read every single page of that other thread.

 

In the meantime, i'd appreciate a link to all the HAHC vids. The one you linked me to on Nextdoor about Brie was definitely frustrating, but she did ultimately get to do what she wanted to. 

Sheesh laiall, I've been posting about the Hysterical Preservation Faction elitists moving on Norhill Addition for over a year.  I even posted the link to a study funded by Preservation Houston and posted on the UH Hobby Center for Public Policy stating exactly that fact.  Just because you posted a very clear Petition and solicited neighbors to take Step One doesn't change any of that.  You seem not know much at all about the Ordinance, it's cost, history, how it's being manipulated and enforced or all the trickery used to slap it on the Heights folks in 2010.  You missed the bait-n-switch and all the love it fostered.  How can one even have an opinion on the Ordinance with so little information?  Most engineers I know wouldn't make that Petition move without a little homework first.  Yet you are all for it on Change.org.  Very interesting, indeed. 

 

Here's the City video link, go to Committees and Commissions and do a search for "historic": http://houstontx.city.swagit.com/   I have about two years' worth ripped for YouTube fodder.

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Sheesh laiall, I've been posting about the Hysterical Preservation Faction elitists moving on Norhill Addition for over a year. I even posted the link to a study funded by Preservation Houston and posted on the UH Hobby Center for Public Policy stating exactly that fact. Just because you posted a very clear Petition and solicited neighbors to take Step One doesn't change any of that. You seem not know much at all about the Ordinance, it's cost, history, how it's being manipulated and enforced or all the trickery used to slap it on the Heights folks in 2010. You missed the bait-n-switch and all the love it fostered. How can one even have an opinion on the Ordinance with so little information? Most engineers I know wouldn't make that Petition move without a little homework first. Yet you are all for it on Change.org. Very interesting, indeed.

Here's the City video link, go to Committees and Commissions and do a search for "historic": http://houstontx.city.swagit.com/ I have about two years' worth ripped for YouTube fodder.

You can keep on with the insults. I will not combat them with insults back to you because it is not constructive whatsoever. Due to your perceived interpretation of my petition, i have updated in an attempt to listen to what you have to say.

Is there improvement among the ordinance, HAHC, etc at all? Has the city shown an awareness that there is a problem? Surely, there is hypothetically a way for a historic district to be beneficial.

Being an actual resident of Norhill Addition, what are your personal feelings about all the demolitions occurring in our neighborhood? Are you of the opinion that the neighborhood would be better off with no deed restrictions, no HD, etc., and that property owner rights rule supreme?

Edited by laiall
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You can keep on with the insults. I will not combat them with insults back to you because it is not constructive whatsoever. Due to your perceived interpretation of my petition, i have updated in an attempt to listen to what you have to say.

Is there improvement among the ordinance, HAHC, etc at all? Has the city shown an awareness that there is a problem? Surely, there is hypothetically a way for a historic district to be beneficial.

Being an actual resident of Norhill Addition, what are your personal feelings about all the demolitions occurring in our neighborhood? Are you of the opinion that the neighborhood would be better off with no deed restrictions, no HD, etc., and that property owner rights rule supreme?

Please point out the insults in my last post because I missed 'em totally and I promised Subdude no personal attacks.  But my question stands: How can one have a strong enough opinion to post and solicit signatories for a very clear Petition to encumber our properties with seemingly so little information?

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Please point out the insults in my last post because I missed 'em totally and I promised Subdude no personal attacks. But my question stands: How can one have a strong enough opinion to post and solicit signatories for a very clear Petition to encumber our properties with seemingly so little information?

I am not aware of a way that deed restrictions can prevent demolitions. I am not convinced that even if there was a provision in a deed restriction for approval by the civic association prior to demolition it would be enforceable. I've seen the sections of our neighborhood within the Greater Heights contained within the Historic Districts and they are noticeably more intact with original Craftsmans (i.e. - woodland heights, norhill HDs, etc)

Can we stop the demolitions with just deed restrictions?

As i mentioned earlier, your points have been duly noted and i updated my petition for clarity: http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-to-gauge-interest-in-a-south-norhill-historic-district

Edited by laiall
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I am not aware of a way that deed restrictions can prevent demolitions. I am not convinced that even if there was a provision in a deed restriction for approval by the civic association prior to demolition it would be enforceable.

Can this be achieved?

As i mentioned earlier, your points have been duly noted and i updated my petition for clarity: http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-to-gauge-interest-in-a-south-norhill-historic-district

Sure you could have Deed Restrictions that prevent demolitions because DR's are covenants among willing parties.  The original DR's had clauses about "Coloreds" living in the front house and all kinds of stuff that is now illegal.  I just looked at your new Petition soliciting input, we may have to draft you onto the Norhill Deed Restrictions Renewal team since we need all the help we can muster and you have made the same mistake: publically expressing interest.  I'm serious, check out the Norhill Addition subsection of NextDoor.

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Sure you could have Deed Restrictions that prevent demolitions because DR's are covenants among willing parties. The original DR's had clauses about "Coloreds" living in the front house and all kinds of stuff that is now illegal. I just looked at your new Petition soliciting input, we may have to draft you onto the Norhill Deed Restrictions Renewal team since we need all the help we can muster and you have made the same mistake: publically expressing interest. I'm serious, check out the Norhill Addition subsection of NextDoor.

Greg just added me to it yesterday. I had NO idea there was another revision for the deed restrictions in process until I was added to the group. Let me know what I can do to help. I am genuinely interested.

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Is there no course of action to improve the HAHC?

 

Is there no course of action to have a clause in the ordinance to exclude those who bought into the neighborhood prior to the creation of a historic district?

 

I am in agreement with you that it is not fair to the people who bought in prior to an HD creation. But I am also in agreement that if there is a supermajority vote to ratify a historic district then it is justified.

 

Based on what fwki has said in the other forum, is there not a current plan between the planning committee and the HAHC due to the fact that the HAHC has not been consistent with their rulings? This would seem to me like a recognition by the city that there is a problem and they are taking action to try and improve it. 

 

Would you support a historic district if it had provisions for existing owners to be exempt from the HAHC and the neighborhood had a supermajority vote in support of it? 

 

I want to stress yet again because every reply I am getting is hostile, I'm not here to pick a fight. There has got to be a way to compromise here. There is no need to demonize the opposition.

 

Improve the HAHC? Abolish it.

 

An exclusion for those who want to opt out would make the ordinance slightly less bad

 

I don't think the HAHC really cares what anyone thinks - they keep sending folks to the Planning Commission, and the PC keeps reversing the HAHC.

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Can we stop the demolitions with just deed restrictions?

 

Why stop the demolitions? Why would you ever care that your neighbor wants a different house? That's a real question, by the way.  As long as the house meets the deed restrictions that were mutually agreed, it shouldn't matter that your neighbor builds a house identical to what you might find in a suburb, or a "Charlestonian".

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Why stop the demolitions? Why would you ever care that your neighbor wants a different house? That's a real question, by the way.  As long as the house meets the deed restrictions that were mutually agreed, it shouldn't matter that your neighbor builds a house identical to what you might find in a suburb, or a "Charlestonian".

 

To be clear about my stance, I'm not opposed to any demolitions ever. I understand that there are some homes that are dilapidated to the point that it doesn't make sense to renovate. 

 

The Arts and Crafts era of architecture is a celebrated period in American architecture. The Norhill Addition also has some Houston specific history being developed by a historical Houston figure in William Hogg who was a champion of the city (donated Camp Logan to the city, etc). The general Houston philosophy of the past is to knock down and rebuild. This makes it all the more impressive how the neighborhood has been able to remain intact despite this (probably due to the fact that up until recently there was not so much pressure from people moving inside the loop). Residents have fought tooth and nail in the past to preserve what we believe is something worth saving.

 

Ross, are you of the opinion that there is nothing redeemable in preserving history ever? 

 

Btw, the deed restrictions do prevent anyone from building a"Charlestonian" in the neighborhood. The problem is two-fold as well; most of the new construction in the neighborhood are homes that are >3000 sq ft being built on 5000 sq ft lots. I've personally witnessed builders coming in, building these behemoths, and effectively permanently blocking any sunlight from ever entering the neighboring houses again. Its either irresponsible development by a builder or a lack of regard by the new homeowner, both of which damage the quality of life of the neighbors. I understand that this specific problem can be solved w/ minimum setback provisions in the deed restrictions.

 

I think this is one of the few examples of a builder doing an excellent job of both honoring that which it replaced while at the same time being appropriately sized (i.e. - not so big as to hinder the neighbors quality of life): http://www.har.com/HomeValue/1136-Peddie-St-Houston-77009-M40838644.htm

Edited by laiall
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Is there no course of action to improve the HAHC?

There is nothing in place, and on the surface, no one is taking any action to do so.

 

Is there no course of action to have a clause in the ordinance to exclude those who bought into the neighborhood prior to the creation of a historic district?

No

 

I am in agreement with you that it is not fair to the people who bought in prior to an HD creation. But I am also in agreement that if there is a supermajority vote to ratify a historic district then it is justified.

There was no supermajority vote to change the historic district from a guideline to an ordinance that fines anyone who doesn't comply with inconsistent rulings, or waste inordinate amounts of time fighting those rulings.

 

Based on what fwki has said in the other forum, is there not a current plan between the planning committee and the HAHC due to the fact that the HAHC has not been consistent with their rulings? This would seem to me like a recognition by the city that there is a problem and they are taking action to try and improve it. 

There is no indication that anyone within the city cares to make it better.

 

Would you support a historic district if it had provisions for existing owners to be exempt from the HAHC and the neighborhood had a supermajority vote in support of it? 

Yes. 

 

I want to stress yet again because every reply I am getting is hostile, I'm not here to pick a fight. There has got to be a way to compromise here. There is no need to demonize the opposition.

 

They've been a part of this unfolding for years now, and while my house is not in a HD, it is well old enough to be, I want no part of what they must endure, and can understand every bit of hostility they ooze. 

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We're supposed to have the judicial branch and the constitution to protect us from people voting in laws that take away rights from the minority. It seems that people always forget about that when there's a law they support though.

 

Isn't that speaking at the federal level though?

 

Initiatives are used at the state and local level to bring issues to a popular vote.

 

Contrarily, couldn't a referendum be used likewise to repeal a Historic District if the popular vote was adequate? 

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Laill all you really have to do to know everything you need to know about the districts is look at how they were "voted" into existence in the first place.

 

They used 1 set of facts to get a bunch of "petitions" signed.  The petitions called for limited restrictions and waiting periods that would allow people to comment and offer help/insight.  They got the needed signatures based on those facts.  Then using those signatures they changed everything.   When it became evident that the majority did not support the changes, they accelerated the process.  They claimed the petitions were votes...when enough people turned out against the ordinance they decided to do a ballot by mail...if you can call it a ballot. 

 

That ballot came over the Christmas holiday, between Dec 21 & Dec 22, and needed to be returned by December 31st (if I recall)...it came in an unmarked city envelope and it stated that you are NOT required to return the ballot.  On the SAME day the ballot was received a half page, glossy color postcard arrived as well.  This postcard was from the official office of Mayor Parker and it asked all homeowners not to return the ballot.....THEN in the absolute most dishonest way possible, not returning a ballot was considered a vote in favor of the districts.  Despite the cards being stacked against the opposition, opposing ballots were returned with (I believe) 47% opposition...which was not sufficient to overcome the original petition.  What that tells me is that when 47% of people in one area vote - then the overwhelming majority are against it...To make matters worse, the city allowed itself to vote.  The esplanades, parks, schools, etc were allowed to be counted in favor of the districts.  In an even more dishonest way, people who owned multiple properties were only allowed to vote once.  I owned 3 properties at the time, 2 in the districts and was only allowed 1 vote.  That is DISHONEST.

 

The way that it was enacted should tell you everything you need to know about the people supporting it. 

 

I am an Engineer, Lawyer, Realtor...I live in the world of facts and this ordinance is terrible.  Only intellectually dishonest people can say that it was enacted with the support of the neighbors, or that the Heights or any other neighborhood actually wanted it.  People were lied to, deceived, cheated, and ultimately stolen from.  The will of a vocal politically well connected minority won in a very dishonest way.  It will take more time, but as more and more households are exposed to the ridiculousness of this ordinance the opposition will grow stronger and stronger.

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fwki,

 

To be clear, I am a current resident of the Norhill Addition and also happen to be the person who created the aforementioned petition on change.org. I have no prior "preservationist" history and the picture he painted above is exaggerated propaganda to say the least. 

 

laiall, in an effort to steer this discussion back from a tangential discussion with little hope of providing any actual benefit to this thread, I will ask you some questions:

 

have you completely read the ordinance?

 

have you reviewed how the HAHC has ruled?

 

have you considered how this would not just impact you, but your neighbors (positive and negative)?

 

have you found people who have gone through the process and spoken with them?

 

have you found people who are in a HD, but not gone through the process and asked them why they haven't?

 

I personally have not done the latter of the two, but logically, based on what the ordinance states and what the HAHC is doing, they're going to be frustrated. every one of them, not just from the added time spent, but the money wasted because the HAHC is making decisions based on fiat rather than following the ordinance.

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Not sure how true this is... but I've heard that a lot of the signatures used for the HD implementation (in Woodland Heights specifically) aren't even the current homeowners.

 

 

I could see something like the HAHC (obviously not in its current configuration) being useful around demolitions.  Mandatory waiting periods for demolition unless approved by the HAHC seems like a task that would be appropriate... but after what I've seen from the HAHC, I will never support anything that doesn't have clear cut guidelines (prior to implementation).

 

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laiall, in an effort to steer this discussion back from a tangential discussion with little hope of providing any actual benefit to this thread, I will ask you some questions:

 

have you completely read the ordinance?

 

I have read through Chapter 33, Article VII, Divisions 4 & 5. Do I have them  memorized? No. Do I know where to go to reference it for information? Yes.

 

I am curious, Division 5 (Design Guidelines), Section 33-268 states:

"After approval, the HAHC shall use the criteria within the design guidelines for granting or denying applications for certificates of appropriateness for applicable activities within the boundaries of the historic district."

 

BUT, Division 4 (COA), Section 33-241 seems to have all the guidelines laid out? If we were to give our own very specific Design Guidelines would they supercede criteria laid out in Division 4?

 

have you reviewed how the HAHC has ruled?

So far, fwki has showed me the youtube video for Brie's hearing for the Harvard home. Working on watching some more based on links provided earlier in this thread.

 

 

have you considered how this would not just impact you, but your neighbors (positive and negative)?

If >67% of the neighborhood was for a historic district, deed restrictions were unable to be adequately enforced AND we could institute some of the changes that have been mentioned thus far (provision to allow owners prior to the HD creation would be exempt from COA, etc) then I would be all for an HD.

 

I understand the property owners' rights angle, but what about those which already live in a community and bought into it for a certain atmosphere/lifestyle? It goes both ways. I would be happy with an enforcable deed restriction which requires the local community's approval (in this case the WHCA) prior to demolition.  

 

Our current deed restrictions state: "The Community Affairs Committee of the existing local civic association shall monitor exterior remodeling, additions, or improvements, and shall use all legal means, whether public or private, to enforce the deed restrictions herin set out." However, from what I have read on Nextdoor the city refuses to enforce any of our deed restrictions. Hopefully, fwki can chime in here since he is actually on the deed restrictions committee.

 

have you found people who have gone through the process and spoken with them?

Like you, I have not done this nor am I sure how I could go about doing this. I have contemplated on posting to Nextdoor to see if I'd get any feedback, but haven't done so yet.

 

have you found people who are in a HD, but not gone through the process and asked them why they haven't?

Same as above.

 

 

Edited by laiall
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laiall, in an effort to steer this discussion back from a tangential discussion with little hope of providing any actual benefit to this thread, I will ask you some questions:

 

have you completely read the ordinance?

 

have you reviewed how the HAHC has ruled?

 

have you considered how this would not just impact you, but your neighbors (positive and negative)?

 

have you found people who have gone through the process and spoken with them?

 

have you found people who are in a HD, but not gone through the process and asked them why they haven't?

 

I personally have not done the latter of the two, but logically, based on what the ordinance states and what the HAHC is doing, they're going to be frustrated. every one of them, not just from the added time spent, but the money wasted because the HAHC is making decisions based on fiat rather than following the ordinance.

 

In general, I do like the character of most older homes and am in favor of preserving or renovating the salvageable ones rather than demolishing them. And on paper, the ordinance does not look all that bad, although I'm not a fan of some of the criteria, such as the setback requirements that results in unbecoming camelback additions. 

 

What I do have a problem with is the implementation of the restrictions, namely, the fact that some commission members will adjust the criteria when they don't like a particular project. The ordinance was written in a way that gives the commission members quite a bit of leeway in some areas, but some rules, like the setback requirement, are very clearly stated. This ordinance scope creep is evident, considering several denials have had to be overturned by the city.  

 

The only way for the historic district ordinance to be successful (or more tolerable) is if HAHC interprets the ordinance honestly and follows it as it is written. In my opinion, the homeowner should always be given the benefit of the doubt if there is a difficult project or a split decision. They are the ones whose lives are on hold while waiting for a CoA, and they are improving a house and investing in the neighborhood, while also facing increased property taxes.

 

If there is a real need to change the criteria, that should be put to a vote within the affected areas. Of course, I also don't think the original vote-in process was truly sincere, as per one of the previous posts, so I don't know how much good that would do. 

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In general, I do like the character of most older homes and am in favor of preserving or renovating the salvageable ones rather than demolishing them. And on paper, the ordinance does not look all that bad, although I'm not a fan of some of the criteria, such as the setback requirements that results in unbecoming camelback additions. 

 

What I do have a problem with is the implementation of the restrictions, namely, the fact that some commission members will adjust the criteria when they don't like a particular project. The ordinance was written in a way that gives the commission members quite a bit of leeway in some areas, but some rules, like the setback requirement, are very clearly stated. This ordinance scope creep is evident, considering several denials have had to be overturned by the city.  

 

The only way for the historic district ordinance to be successful (or more tolerable) is if HAHC interprets the ordinance honestly and follows it as it is written. In my opinion, the homeowner should always be given the benefit of the doubt if there is a difficult project or a split decision. They are the ones whose lives are on hold while waiting for a CoA, and they are improving a house and investing in the neighborhood, while also facing increased property taxes.

 

If there is a real need to change the criteria, that should be put to a vote within the affected areas. Of course, I also don't think the original vote-in process was truly sincere, as per one of the previous posts, so I don't know how much good that would do. 

 

I agree with you about the 50% setback rule; it results in camelback shaped homes which don't flow with the original shape of the house.

 

I wonder how one would go about creating a referendum to revise the existing ordinance?

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I agree with you about the 50% setback rule; it results in camelback shaped homes which don't flow with the original shape of the house.

 

I wonder how one would go about creating a referendum to revise the existing ordinance?

 

 

And to make camelbacking worse... The HAHC has often recommended starting at 66%  back even though the guideline says 50%.  This makes the camelbacking even worse, as it would require you to use an even bigger footprint to get the same sq. footage.  To block "Lot line filling mcmansions" they have created something that causes the same issue they are trying to block... oh but you keep the same facade.    There is no reason why someone couldn't add a second story tastefully without having any setback or less than 50%, and the house wouldn't look nearly as stupid.  Humper houses have got to be one of the dumbest, ugliest things I've ever seen.

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And to make camelbacking worse... The HAHC has often recommended starting at 66%  back even though the guideline says 50%.  This makes the camelbacking even worse, as it would require you to use an even bigger footprint to get the same sq. footage.  To block "Lot line filling mcmansions" they have created something that causes the same issue they are trying to block... oh but you keep the same facade.    There is no reason why someone couldn't add a second story tastefully without having any setback or less than 50%, and the house wouldn't look nearly as stupid.  Humper houses have got to be one of the dumbest, ugliest things I've ever seen.

 

It's not just about an addition looking "tasteful," (which is somewhat subjective) it's about making the addition look subordinate to and different from the original house. Ideally, it should also be relatively easy to remove the addition if someone in the future wants to restore the house to its original appearance. 

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It's not just about an addition looking "tasteful," (which is somewhat subjective) it's about making the addition look subordinate to and different from the original house. Ideally, it should also be relatively easy to remove the addition if someone in the future wants to restore the house to its original appearance. 

This is where the City and the HAHC is headed with the actual, new guidelines.  The Heights folks were told a bald-faced lie by Marlene Gafrick during her town hall meetings about the guidelines (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWf-f9JRh4g) and what the ordinance allowed.  The current administration intends to take it all the way to 100% preservation ala National Park Standards where you'll just have some nominal attachment to the original to the addition, eliminating backyards if you want to expand.  Once this becomes evident and widely recognized, the ordinance is toast.  We now have enough on the HAHC and this shift to kill by local vote any substantive expansion of HD's, which is the original intent of this thread.

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It's not just about an addition looking "tasteful," (which is somewhat subjective) it's about making the addition look subordinate to and different from the original house. Ideally, it should also be relatively easy to remove the addition if someone in the future wants to restore the house to its original appearance. 

 

Which makes no sense at all.Who cares whether you can return the house to its original appearance?

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Which makes no sense at all.Who cares whether you can return the house to its original appearance?

 

Well, it's an historic district; so being able to accurately represent historic architecture is important. The other side of the issue, of course, is that this isn't a museum; people do actually live here. 

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Well, it's an historic district; so being able to accurately represent historic architecture is important. The other side of the issue, of course, is that this isn't a museum; people do actually live here. 

 

 

That's, I think, part of the problem.

 

Many of those that wanted the 90-day waiver process eliminated were less interested in historic preservation than they were in preventing sub-division of lots and out-of-scale new construction.  What they really wanted was deed restrictions.

 

Here are two houses outside the HD's that were tastefully remodeled, maintaining the original spirit and character, but wouldn't have passed muster with the HAHC because an insufficient amount of the original exterior was maintained:

 

hr3103808-1.jpg

 

(Link here)

 

 

hr3038648-1.jpg

(Link here)

 

 

 

Reasonable deed restrictions that allow this kind of remodel but prevent sub-division of lots, etc., would be preferable to allowing the HAHC to decide (without any clear criteria) what kind of construction will be allowed.

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Exactly... the hysterical preservationist basically try to threaten that the HD is the only way to prevent this... while deed restrictions are what the majortiy of people actually want.  EVEN with new contruction if it stays in the same look and feel of the historic homes... the charm isn't really lost.  I just went through Brooke Smith yesterday and there are brand new builds next to renovations and from the street... its pretty hard to tell which are which.  They seem to be building a lot of 3/2 1600-1800 homes over there and I really like what they are doing.  They are going to have to do something about street parking though... if two trucks part on opposite sides of the street there is barely enough room for one vehicle to pass.

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That's, I think, part of the problem.

 

Many of those that wanted the 90-day waiver process eliminated were less interested in historic preservation than they were in preventing sub-division of lots and out-of-scale new construction.  What they really wanted was deed restrictions.

 

Here are two houses outside the HD's that were tastefully remodeled, maintaining the original spirit and character, but wouldn't have passed muster with the HAHC because an insufficient amount of the original exterior was maintained:

 

hr3103808-1.jpg

 

(Link here)

 

 

hr3038648-1.jpg

(Link here)

 

 

 

Reasonable deed restrictions that allow this kind of remodel but prevent sub-division of lots, etc., would be preferable to allowing the HAHC to decide (without any clear criteria) what kind of construction will be allowed.

 

The first home would definitely be allowed under the ordinance.  A very similar design was permitted on Allston in a renovation/addition by Bungalow Revival in the WHD.  The pictures of the second one look great, but in person the addition does not look good at all.  It looks like someone tried to smash two bungalows together.  The addition dominates the original bungalow and sticks out like a sore thumb against the other houses in the neighborhood. 

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Exactly... the hysterical preservationist basically try to threaten that the HD is the only way to prevent this... while deed restrictions are what the majortiy of people actually want.  EVEN with new contruction if it stays in the same look and feel of the historic homes... the charm isn't really lost.  I just went through Brooke Smith yesterday and there are brand new builds next to renovations and from the street... its pretty hard to tell which are which.  They seem to be building a lot of 3/2 1600-1800 homes over there and I really like what they are doing.  They are going to have to do something about street parking though... if two trucks part on opposite sides of the street there is barely enough room for one vehicle to pass.

 

Actually, you might watch what you wish for.  If you put architectural review in deed restrictions, you get one shot with the appointed review board.  HAHC has two administrative appeals and then allows an appeal to a district court. 

 

And the deed restrictions in Brookesmith are fairly weak.  Some builders have done a good job at blending in with the existing housing, but then there are things like this:  http://search.har.com/engine/806-Northwood-St-Houston-TX-77009_HAR3191677.htm

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Thats the beauty of deed restrictions... nobody is going to support architectural review for one, because it is stupid.

 

I didn't say Brooke Smith had good deed restrictions... simply stating that a lot of the new builds over there look great and don't detract from the vibe at all.  The one you linked is aweful, there is also the epitome of suburb homes directly accross from D&T Drive in... I swear the house has 9 keystones are whatever those dumb things are called.  I think not allowing front facing attached garages would be a good deed restriction.

 

 

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