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Houston Planning on Walkable Places

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Without parking requirements, they're more likely to get a small coffee shop on a corner

 

With parking requirements, they're more likely to get a starbucks on a pad site surrounded by parking and a drive through

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On 7/17/2019 at 3:02 PM, j_cuevas713 said:

Yeah which makes sense because most of that is residential anyways. Still this is great because originally it was only a small section of EaDo, now its all of the East End. 

 

The original proposal only included a few blocks of EaDo (up to Emancipation I believe), but now covers the entirety of EaDo.

 

The rest of the East End (i.e., everything east of the BNSF tracks/outside of the EaDo “triangle”) is not included, unfortunately. It would have been nice to extend it throughout the East End/Second Ward to at least Sampson St.

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Heres an article about it:

https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2019/07/17/houston-extends-minimum-parking-exemptions-east-end-midtown

Map from article:

RZiErFz.jpg

A few highlighted quotes:

 

Quote

"It seems to make sense," said Councilmember Michael Kubosh, referring to the recent development in East Downtown. The change, he said, will benefit people, "who want to be able to walk to a restaurant or a store. People like me, well, I’m going to have to be dropped off."

 

Quote

But some council members expressed hesitation about the push to lift parking requirements. "I'm glad to see that there appears to be a carve out and a compromise that is focusing these concentrated no parking requirements primarily along the Main Street corridor and to the west," said Councilmember Mike Laster about the exemption's expansion into Midtown. But, he argued, "the market has determined that they can make money as it is," he said. "We have parking requirements to protect neighborhoods," he argued.

 

Quote

"More parking lots in our neighborhoods do not protect our neighborhoods," Councilmember Robert Gallegos, whose district includes East Downtown, responded. He also said he reached out to the planning department to enhance transit-oriented development and was told there would be additional proposals brought to council later this year.

 

Quote

Councilmember Greg Travis, the only council member to vote against the amendment, insisted parking spaces were necessary because people wouldn't walk to destinations. "Today? Walk for two blocks, it's not going to happen." 

 

The interesting part was that only 1 person voted against (Greg Travis). Even those who had hesitations still voted for it anyway (following the ole Houston mantra of "go where the wind is blowing" or simply going with where business is wanting to go to next. If businesses want it than Houston wants it...which is a blessing and a curse). Fantastic news. It also said in an article that new transit oriented proposals are already in the pipeline for later this year. This means that people were waiting for this to take shape and now we could see a whole bunch more development coming along soon.

EDIT: This also might be a shock to y'all, but guess which District Greg Travis represents...District G (River Oaks, Afton Oaks, Post Oak, Memorial, Memorial City, Briar Forest, Areas around HWY 6, and parts of Energy Corridor). I'm shocked he opposed this. Totally shocked.

Edited by Luminare
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Think about the level of density we will reach because of this! I think they should eventually consider Montrose and 3rd Ward

Edited by j_cuevas713
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30 minutes ago, j_cuevas713 said:

Think about the level of density we will reach because of this! I think they should eventually consider Montrose and 3rd Ward

 

Having spent a ton of time in montrose, it almost seems like they already don't have the same parking minimums as the rest of the city. Many nights, every parking spot is full for that expanse of montrose-westheimer down at least 5-6 streets to the west (except for that shake shake, thank god). I guess they do having minimums cause that HEB got a pretty decent parking lot, but generally it doesn't feel like any other part of the inner city (with its mix of people walking, biking, and limited parking spots). Is it already different or am I crazy. 

 

 

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There are a few businesses along Westheimer that were grandfathered in and have limited or no parking, but that's true in other parts of the city as well.

 

I've never had any trouble finding parking in Montrose, but I also have no problem with walking a couple blocks. 

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1 hour ago, j_cuevas713 said:

Think about the level of density we will reach because of this! I think they should eventually consider Montrose and 3rd Ward

 

While I think many of us would like to see that, I think the most pragmatic approach would be to next extend this exemption to anything on a major bus route that has frequent service, and all light rail lines. In both cases the exemption should stretch at least a couple blocks out from those lines (buses or light rail, and now we can add BRT). That is the most logical and has a solid rational and argument to be past.

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19 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

While I think many of us would like to see that, I think the most pragmatic approach would be to next extend this exemption to anything on a major bus route that has frequent service, and all light rail lines. In both cases the exemption should stretch at least a couple blocks out from those lines (buses or light rail, and now we can add BRT). That is the most logical and has a solid rational and argument to be past.

 

That's also the plan (as I understand it) for the transit corridor ordinance, which has been finalized and will have a few more public meetings on the final ordinance before being voted on (hopefully? maybe?) at the end of the year.

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Was reading through the Downtown District's board meeting report from August, and it mentioned that the city is still planning on passing a walkable place ordinance this fall. 

 

This came up because Downtown District/Midtown Redevelopment Authority did a "Major Thoroughfare & Freeway Plan" in 2014, and MRA didn't like the plan because it would have put restrictions on setbacks (min 25') on "thoroughfare and major collector streets". Downtown is exempted from those setbacks via city ordinance already. 

 

They are now revisiting this because they were looking at designating new MTFP amendments, but they're going to wait because Midtown would get frozen out on setback restrictions. 

 

If you want to read the full comments, it's on page 85 here: http://www.downtowndistrict.org/static/media/uploads/Board Books/8-8-19_hdmd_board_book.pdf

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1 hour ago, wilcal said:

Was reading through the Downtown District's board meeting report from August, and it mentioned that the city is still planning on passing a walkable place ordinance this fall. 

 

This came up because Downtown District/Midtown Redevelopment Authority did a "Major Thoroughfare & Freeway Plan" in 2014, and MRA didn't like the plan because it would have put restrictions on setbacks (min 25') on "thoroughfare and major collector streets". Downtown is exempted from those setbacks via city ordinance already. 

 

They are now revisiting this because they were looking at designating new MTFP amendments, but they're going to wait because Midtown would get frozen out on setback restrictions. 

 

If you want to read the full comments, it's on page 85 here: http://www.downtowndistrict.org/static/media/uploads/Board Books/8-8-19_hdmd_board_book.pdf

So does this mean there are still minimum parking requirements for Midtown and East End or is this not related?

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3 minutes ago, j_cuevas713 said:

So does this mean there are still minimum parking requirements for Midtown and East End or is this not related?

 

That has already been passed as a separate ordinance. 

 

It took affect in July. 

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Committee is presenting their two ordinance recommendations to the Planning Commission on 12/19

 

Just got an email:

 

Quote
Dear Residents,
 
A few weeks ago, the City of Houston Planning & Development Department held six Walkable Places and Transit-Oriented Development community meetings to introduce two proposed programs and collect public feedback. Based on the feedback we received at the meetings, we are finalizing ordinance language and a Users’ Guide for both programs. 
 
We presented a preliminary project timeline at the community meetings and announced that a project presentation would be made to the Planning Commission on December 5, 2019. However, drafting the ordinance language is taking longer than expected, therefore, we are moving the December 5th presentation to the December 19 Planning Commission meeting. 
 
Here is the updated project timeline:
 
Presentation to Planning Commission
Thursday, December 19, 2019, 2:30PM
City Hall Annex Council Chamber
900 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002
 
 
Public Hearing
Thursday, January 23, 2020, 2:30PM
City Hall Annex Council Chamber
900 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002
 
 
You are welcome to attend the Planning Commission meeting(s) to hear the project discussion and share your thoughts with the Planning Commissioners. For project details, please click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to call 832-393-6600.

 

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On 12/4/2019 at 6:56 PM, wilcal said:

Committee is presenting their two ordinance recommendations to the Planning Commission on 12/19

 

Just got an email:

 

 

So what are the changes? 

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16 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

So what are the changes? 

 

I wish I knew!

 

Also, they bumped back the presentation :(

 

Quote
We presented a preliminary project timeline at the community meetings and announced that a project presentation would be made to the Planning Commission on December 5, 2019. However, drafting the ordinance language is taking longer than expected, therefore, we are moving the December 5th Planning Commission presentation to Thursday, January 9, 2020. 
 
Here is the updated project timeline:
 
Planning Commission Presentation
Thursday, January 9, 2020, 2:30 PM
City Hall Annex Council Chamber
900 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002
 
 
Planning Commission Public Hearing
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 2:30 PM
City Hall Annex Council Chamber
900 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002

 

 

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22 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

I wish I knew!

 

Also, they bumped back the presentation :(

 

 

 

 

Just read both proposed ordinance frameworks and I think, in general, its a step in the right direction. I think a great balance going forward is keeping our No Zoning spirit, but making sure we actually have necessary minimums and standards.

 

My one grip is the 4' "safety barrier" strip. I wish they would denote what is acceptable to go in that safety zone. Completely outlawing sod would be great, and instead allow that zone to either be for widening the pedestrian realm with stone pavers, and gravel, or for flora that is regional and can help with rain runoff.

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Surprise surprise 

 

look who doesn’t want to play ball...

 

Museum Park Super Neighborhood TOD Letter to Planning    
     The City of Houston Planning Department hosted a November 6 meeting at Covenant Church to introduce the proposed Transit Oriented Development Ordinance and the Walkable Places Ordinance, both of which will impact future development in Museum Park.  Additional details can be found at
 
 https://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Commissions/committee_walkable-places.html
     Based on the goals of the Museum Park Livable Centers Study and the concerns expressed at the meeting, the MPSN Council unanimously approved a letter to the Planning Department requesting that Museum Park not initially be included in the ordinances.
     Museum Park Super Neighborhood Council members from the Museum District Assn., Hermann Park Conservancy, the High Rises, and MPNA followed up at the January 9 Planning Commission meeting (II).  Focusing on the goals of the Livable Centers Study to realize multi-modal, transit oriented development as demonstrated by the Caroline Promenade Design, the speakers referenced several concerns including a reduction of green space, a lack of residential buffering, the impact of reduced parking in a destination district, and the goal of fulfilling the state-designated cultural district that encompasses Museum Park as a design district attracting 9-12 million visitors a year. 

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On 1/17/2020 at 12:30 AM, HNathoo said:

Surprise surprise 

 

look who doesn’t want to play ball...

 

Museum Park Super Neighborhood TOD Letter to Planning    
     The City of Houston Planning Department hosted a November 6 meeting at Covenant Church to introduce the proposed Transit Oriented Development Ordinance and the Walkable Places Ordinance, both of which will impact future development in Museum Park.  Additional details can be found at
 
 https://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Commissions/committee_walkable-places.html
     Based on the goals of the Museum Park Livable Centers Study and the concerns expressed at the meeting, the MPSN Council unanimously approved a letter to the Planning Department requesting that Museum Park not initially be included in the ordinances.
     Museum Park Super Neighborhood Council members from the Museum District Assn., Hermann Park Conservancy, the High Rises, and MPNA followed up at the January 9 Planning Commission meeting (II).  Focusing on the goals of the Livable Centers Study to realize multi-modal, transit oriented development as demonstrated by the Caroline Promenade Design, the speakers referenced several concerns including a reduction of green space, a lack of residential buffering, the impact of reduced parking in a destination district, and the goal of fulfilling the state-designated cultural district that encompasses Museum Park as a design district attracting 9-12 million visitors a year. 

 

-

Edited by DrLan34
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I think saying the Museum District doesn't want to play ball is a bit of a mischaracterization. At the January neighborhood meeting, we were told that the Super Neighborhood was asking the City not to include the Museum District FOR NOW.  Note that the quoted letter says  "requesting that Museum Park not initially  be included in the ordinances." There are a number of concerns they want clarified and addressed before being included.  As the post above mentions, those concerns included residential buffering and some concerns about parking because of the huge numbers of visitors to the Museums and Hermann Park.

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1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

I think saying the Museum District doesn't want to play ball is a bit of a mischaracterization. At the January neighborhood meeting, we were told that the Super Neighborhood was asking the City not to include the Museum District FOR NOW.  Note that the quoted letter says  "requesting that Museum Park not initially  be included in the ordinances." There are a number of concerns they want clarified and addressed before being included.  As the post above mentions, those concerns included residential buffering and some concerns about parking because of the huge numbers of visitors to the Museums and Hermann Park.


Those are all just excuses for them to limit high density development. Residential buffering is zoning - it’s not going to ever fly in a non deed restricted neighborhood. With that being said, there is already a city-wide ordinance that prevents open garages of a certain height shining lights into residential neighbors. 
 

Market parking has never been an issue in this neighborhood- tons of paid lots that generally remain pretty empty. The issue is free street parking that everyone feels entitled to. 
 

The head of the MPSN is Kathleen O’Reilly. She lives next door to the Southmore high rise. There is plenty of info about her on the web that shows her real character. 

 

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1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

I think saying the Museum District doesn't want to play ball is a bit of a mischaracterization. At the January neighborhood meeting, we were told that the Super Neighborhood was asking the City not to include the Museum District FOR NOW.  Note that the quoted letter says  "requesting that Museum Park not initially  be included in the ordinances." There are a number of concerns they want clarified and addressed before being included.  As the post above mentions, those concerns included residential buffering and some concerns about parking because of the huge numbers of visitors to the Museums and Hermann Park.

 

Yeah I went to the November meeting and do live and own a place in the neighborhood and it is a bit of a mischaracterization . MPNA really, really wants to execute this Caroline Pedestrian-friendly Promenade vision of theirs (basically making Caroline this pedestrian-biking-running friendly street from the park to 59), which I think is a good thing but they are a bit narrow-viewed when it comes to that since I think in their mind this should solve the needs for bike lanes and other things the city wants to do in the area. I do understand why the Museums feel that way about the parking situation, the wait and see, but to be honest, its not like the areas around the train are being utilized now anyway. Everyday I go home and I'm like, can we get rid of the empty parking lots and build a multi-story garage with GFR plsssssss.

 

I don't really understand the residential buffering thing, but I am a lot younger than my neighbors. Its almost like they're scared of something, when they should in fact embrace that this pocket of residential area could become some of the densest in the city if they just let it (its well on its way now with the apartments by the park, Southmore, boone manor, the new condos, and potentially the X if it gets built). And they just got their parking ordinance passed (got the letter in the mail) so I thought that has been solved? I always thought they wanted to be like old heights, but its more and more like they want to be west U. 

Edited by X.R.
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On 1/17/2020 at 11:29 AM, X.R. said:

 

Yeah I went to the November meeting and do live and own a place in the neighborhood and it is a bit of a mischaracterization . MPNA really, really wants to execute this Caroline Pedestrian-friendly Promenade vision of theirs (basically making Caroline this pedestrian-biking-running friendly street from the park to 59), which I think is a good thing but they are a bit narrow-viewed when it comes to that since I think in their mind this should solve the needs for bike lanes and other things the city wants to do in the area. I do understand why the Museums feel that way about the parking situation, the wait and see, but to be honest, its not like the areas around the train are being utilized now anyway. Everyday I go home and I'm like, can we get rid of the empty parking lots and build a multi-story garage with GFR plsssssss.

 

I don't really understand the residential buffering thing, but I am a lot younger than my neighbors. Its almost like they're scared of something, when they should in fact embrace that this pocket of residential area could become some of the densest in the city if they just let it (its well on its way now with the apartments by the park, Southmore, boone manor, the new condos, and potentially the X if it gets built). And they just got their parking ordinance passed (got the letter in the mail) so I thought that has been solved? I always thought they wanted to be like old heights, but its more and more like they want to be west U. 

 

Investors buy in for what it might become.  Normal people typically buy a place they like as it is when they buy it.  So when it starts changing, there is always some unhappiness.  Believe it or not, not everyone prefers density.  Some like single family home neighborhoods and don't see a reason to embrace more people packed into the same area.

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