A Sunset Heights Lot Size Turf War

Former Post Office at 2601 Baylor St., Sunset Heights, Houston

Here’s just one paragraph from a nine-page variance request application submitted for consideration at today’s Planning Commission hearing:

So what message does this whole process send to people like me who are willing to go out and spend their time and their hard earned money and take risks in order to improve the city and improve our neighborhoods? The message is: Only the guys with deep pockets and deep connections—the Perry Homes, the Tricons, the Fingers, the Olmsteads, the Levits, the Weingartens—only those guys get to win at this game. Those guys can build what they want when they want. Everybody else loses. Everybody else gets bad advice and the run around. Everybody else should just stay home and sit quietly on their couches and watch TV.

There’s more to like in Jared Meadors’s request to subdivide the 49-by-120-ft. property he owns at 2601 Baylor St. in Sunset Heights into three separate lots — including an accounting of his annual net adjusted income over the last three years, two HAR.com screen shots, and some occasional heavy leaning on the CAPS LOCK key. But it’s nothing, really, compared to his more wide-ranging complaints about his difficulties with his neighbors and the Prevailing Lot Size ordinance that he has posted on the website of his company, Medusa Properties. It begins:


More name-calling, after the jump!


Meadors’s website continues:

Looks like I�m famous: http://www.chron.com/ . . . 5589475.html

What a predictable bunch of saps these Sunset Heights “neighbors” of mine are! They are too funny. I set �em up and they go right for the bait! :) (I spoke with one of them after the last hearing and he told me “oh, yeah, we�re familiar with your website”, so I went home and wrote a bunch of crazy stuff on here that I knew would get their goat!

I just feel sorry for that sad excuse for a “journalist”, Betty Martin, who just sullied herself by letting Ms. Davids write such a completely one-sided article about the whole situation–without bothering to contact me for my side of the story–and then putting her name on it! Wow. Only in the Chronicle! :) I�m going to try and remember to send Betty a personal invitation to the house razing party in a few weeks. We�re gonna get a keg and a bunch of sledgehammers and let everyone take a few whacks at it. (Hey, Vicki–you�re definitely invited!)

I forwarded this article to everyone I know–they got a huge kick out of it… especially the 26 tenants in my vintage apartments all over town… Jared–“The Evil Developer”! What a riot.

Meadors is a serial restorer of older rental properties in Houston and Salt Lake City, and he provides detailed descriptions and photographs of his projects on the Medusa Properties website. He claims representatives of the Planning Dept. told him no minimum-lot-size application existed for his property when he bought it, and that he only learned from the department that one did exist after he had applied for the replat. The Chronicle story by Betty Martin he refers to quotes from an earlier version of his website, and ends with:

“Obviously there are a lot worse things I could build on this lot (than) what I originally intended, which the neighbors may soon find out if this drags on too long,” he warns on the Web site. “Can anyone say ‘methadone clinic?’ “

It’s not an exact quotation, though — Meadors apparently had placed a smiley at the end of his comments. And Meadors has since posted a response:

I do have to say that I have reconsidered the methadone clinic, however. I’m now leaning more toward a halfway house for recently released pedophiles at this location… that’s really what the neighbors really deserve… that or a strip bar. Sunset Heights really doesn’t HAVE a really good strip bar…
(And you can “quote” me on that, Betty!)

Photo of the former post office at 2601 Baylor St.: Jared Meadors

25 Comment

  • Hi Betty Martin,

    I’d like to meet you because if you are as pretty as you are good at misjudging people you must be a beauty.

    I have rented from Jared Meadors and he has taught me a lot about renovation, real-estate, architecture, and the history of Houston. Most important he has taught me fiscal responsibility and choosing quality over quantity.

    I would agree with you that most developers build cheap and fast with little concern for the neighborhood. I lived in Rice Military on Crooms St. where there physically is not enough room for the Fire Engines to turn the corner and put out fires if need be – not to mention no parking. Did you cover that story? My neighbors and I fought the developer and lost. I guarantee that Jared is not in that class of developers. He is in an entirely different league. If you had rented from Jared and lived in one of his remodels you’d know what I mean.

    I am disappointed to read your statement that Jared was not reachable. According to my sources he wanted to meet with the Heights association. They did not want to meet with him. Is that true? If you need his phone number, I will give it to you. Just post a comment asking me.

    Heck, I’ll meet with you to give my side of the story. Will you contact me and quote me in your future articles? I will meet you, take you out to dinner and then go introduce you to Jared. You’ll enjoy meeting him – he is very nice, intelligent and fun to hang out with.

    Anyway, it is a shame that it has come to this because it only creates animosity between neighbors and the end result will be vengeance and name calling. If the heights people had met with Jared they could have worked together and build something cool. Jared is innovative and manages his life so well that he can afford to build something cool, hip and helpful for the community. Now that you have labeled him as an evil developer you may just get what you have manifested in your mind. Careful what you predict.

    I look forward to hearing from you. By the way, I forgive you because I myself have been guilty of misjudging people.

    Christopher Walker 37 and single :)

  • Christopher,

    We’re happy to host your letter to Betty Martin, but until she finds this, you might have better success reaching her if you add your comments to her original article in the Chronicle, or send her a direct email — her address is listed at the bottom of her story.

  • Gus,

    Thanks for hosting my letter and I will send it to her. Thanks for the tip.


  • How can I see the 9 page variance application? I put my eMail address and the item number in at the bottom of the city’s site so it would allegedly be eMailed to me but I haven’t received jack.

  • Starkeshia: Unfortunately, the application was part of the Draft Agenda available on the Planning Commission website, but it’s since been replaced with the Final Agenda, which merely records the commission’s decision. Draft Agendas apparently are available from the website only on Wednesdays and Thursdays on the weeks of Planning Commission meetings. But I’ll email you the proper section of the copy we downloaded and saved before the meeting.

    For future reference, here’s the needlessly complicated way you can download agendas yourself. (If you do this now, you’ll get the Final Agenda, but if you do it two weeks from yesterday, you’ll get the latest Draft version, which will contain all the goodies for the next meeting.) Ready? Here’s what to do:


    First, click on the “Public Meeting Agenda” link at the bottom of the article above. On the DRC System page that comes up, click on “View Planning Commission Meeting Schedule.” On the next page that appears, click on the meeting date you’re interested in. On the Public Meeting Agenda page that appears, scroll down to the section marked “Detailed Public Meeting Agenda” and click on the button marked “Download Agenda Now.” Click “I agree” on the next page that appears. Then wait as a 200-plus-page PDF file downloads . . . slowly. Save it!


    If anyone else wants a copy of the application discussed in this post, just leave a comment below.

  • Gus,

    I appreciate all the coverage you’ve given this story. I would like to respond to Christopher, if I may. I’m sure Mr. Jared is a decent human being and an all around good guy to RENT from. That’s not the issue here. Neighborhood preservation by OWNERS of homes in the area IS the issue.


  • Give me a break, Becky. What houses have you restored or preserved? Give me your list and I’ll give you mine. Let’s see who has chops and who’s just a windbag.

    The reality is that NOT ALL OLD BUILDING ARE WORTH RESTORING. Guess what, bro? The population of the city of Houston is growing by about 20,000 people a year (http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/GeneralPlan/ACSCensusData.pdf). If we can’t redevelop old crappy neighborhoods like East Sunset Heights, where exactly do you think those people are going to live? Are you going to host a family in your 1000 s.f. bungalow? Get real.

    And when did property rights depend on residency? You’re saying that because I don’t LIVE in the house that I want to tear down that I shouldn’t enjoy the same rights and privileges that you do? WFT is that? Property rights are about OWNERSHIP, not proximity. (Unless you live in Costa Rica, where homeless squatters can move on to your property and you can’t legally evict them… maybe you should move to Costa Rica–I’ve been there, it’s nice.)

    Becky, you’re obviously a moron and have no idea what the actual issues are here. You’re kind of like the goofy neighbor, David, who lives across the street from the property on Baylor. We had (a friendly) conversation about “the issues” one day out on the street and I asked, “did you sign the petition for the application for prevailing lot size ordinance?” and he said, “Uh, yeah. Some lady kept coming by the house and pestering me about it so I just finally signed it.” Then I asked, “Don’t you realize that you just wiped 20-30% off the value of your lot by doing that–maybe more? I mean, I was only willing to pay $155,000 for this corner lot because I could legally build one houses on it. Now I can only build one. Can’t you see how that would negatively impact the value of your property?” He stood there for second with that dumbfounded look of realization on his fact that maybe he should have actually read the application that he signed so cavalierly… maybe he had made another in a long series of bad financial decisions that had brought him to that point in life… and he said, “Uh, yeah, well, I guess I never thought of it that way….”

    He never thought about it at all–and neither did the rest of the suckers that bought into what Mary Ellen and Vickie were selling. Only a slim majority–like 51%–of the affected neighbors signed on–which is all they needed–which is one of the worst elements of the ordinance. I small majority of fascists can basically run roughshod over the other property owners–and, in the end, cause them great financial harm. I mean, David was too lazy or too stupid to consider the impact on him–as I’m sure many of the signatories were. He didn’t go out looking for it, he didn’t go to any neighborhood meetings–someone brought it to his door–repeatedly–until he just capitulated. (Kind of like the snake oil salesmen of old, right?)

    And the sad reality is that nothing has changed. The crappy little bungalows keep getting bought up and torn down–but now the houses are just BIGGER and UGLIER–because the passing of the ordinance necessitates it. (Drive up and down 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th… you’ll see what I’m talking about. Because the ordinance doesn’t PREVENT redevelopment–it doesn’t even LIMIT it… it just annoys it.

    The plans I submitted to the Planning Department–after consulting when them for months to find out what I could legally build on that lot) called for three, moderately sized, craftsman style houses–facing Baylor. 2000-2200 s.f. Affordable, reasonable in scale. In keeping with the style of the neighborhood. Was that insensitive of me? Callous?

    So, now that the PLSO has been passed, instead of that, what you’ll end up with is a 3000-4000 s.f. behemoth–because that’s the only thing that works now. Which is why that’s the only thing being built over there now.

    So, did the PLSO preserve anything? You tell me, genius, what EXACTLY was gained by it?

  • Okay, Jared – you want to start this up again I can see. Calling me a moron is rather petty, but I’m willing to share a few more thoughts about you so-called “high minded developers”.

    The couple of comments you made gave me some food for thought. I don’t debate that Houston’s population is on the rise – not rocket science there, but neither does it give the privilege to people with money to come into those so called “crappy” neighborhoods and roost people out. We’re talking about people here, bro. I’m sure the poeple living in East Sunset Heights don’t find their neighborhood crappy. They simply want to protect where they live from developers like yourself who come in and build these multiple skinny townhomes on undersized replatted lots to rent out. They like the look and feel of their so called “crappy” neighborhood. If you feel so inclined to build money making homes, try River Oaks – oh, I forget, they have neighborhood protections in place to save them from your type of structures. And as for the poor “goofy” neighor who didn’t realize that your building would improve his lot value – bummer there, bro. Unless he is selling his home, it’s not relevant. Oops – I forgot, this is the way neighbors are run out – higher taxes.

    One last thought – you build what you choose – not what you’re “forced” into. It’s really about the money. With developers, it always is – money, not people or the neighborhoods they so proudly think they are building “up”.

  • The people of the Heights have worked hard to roost out the drug houses and other criminal elements that plagued this neighborhood for a decade or two. Now that it is considered a nice and safe place to live, and because of our hard work and belief in our neighborhoods, there are some predatory developers that want to come in, build quickly and make a quick buck. It is because of our hard work in keeping up our properties and working with the existing homeowners who were already here, and vigilance that this area is now an attractive area to build. There are many beautiful homes, bungalow style and contemporary, that have been built in the area by developers for responsible growth that help to increase the value (property and living value) of our neighborhoods. What the predatory developers leave behind falls apart fairly rapidly, and the neighborhood quickly deteriorates back to blight and overgrowth. Where are these developers when that happens? Nowhere to be found. Money pocketed and onto the next quick buck.

  • I agree with Mary Ellen and Becky. Im a such home owner that has just had the sun blocked out by these 3 story POS structures that all they do is create more street clutter and water shed for the area. I must admit that we almost considered moving to the country side when we saw that 4 – 3 story home were going up next to our house. We are looking to move into Heights proper, in order to escape the “Row housing”. I will never agree to a developer. I rather be overrun by 51% of the neighborhood.

  • I’ve read every comment and don’t ever see an end to this perpetual debate. I am the ‘developer’ that just completed, sold, and moved in some truly extraordinary people to this wonderful neighborhood I have lived in almost all of my adult life. With that said, I only want to address one comment. The one about it only being about the money. I think it’s pretty apparent this not to be true by simply looking at what we’ve done on the 900 block of E 26th. People don’t like change and perhaps those not in favor should have considered this before they moved into an urban neighborhood of which will almost always become developed sooner or later. I am truly sympathetic for those that oppose, but perhaps you should appreciate having some of the most authentic and beautiful homes in The Heights at your door step…Good luck to all, with all of your agendas….

  • Well said, Justin. I appreciate your thoughtful, knowledgeable perspective.

  • And, to you, Becky, lest you forget, I AM one of the homeowners in this area… I own not only THIS property–with all the rights that you have–but I also own another house on 28th street. So, actually, I’m a double home homeowner. I’ve been buying restoring–and living in–houses in the Heights for the past 10 yrs. So, trying to paint me as an “outsider” is really disingenuous. And unless you or Mary Ellen, or anyone else out there has been doing what I do every single day–buying & rehabbing decrepit properties not just in Heights–but all over town–none of you can claim to have done as much to preserve these neighborhoods as I have. This particular property, in the particular location, in this particular condition–is a tear down.

  • Justin,
    I agree with you regarding the homes built in the 900 block of E. 26th. They are well done and you managed to keep the trees, which adds to the feeling of them having been there awhile. I wouldn’t necessarily want them next to me, or any that are 3 stories, no matter how well done, I would fight them respectfully using restrictions that are in place, but once there, I would welcome the new neighbors as any other.

    Yes, Jared. Your property is a teardown now. And from what I understand was a teardown before you bought it. And I would love to see you build something there, within the restrictions that are in place due to the wishes of the neighboring properties.

  • In my neighborhood there is one empty lot where a developer purchased a really lovely old home, deemed it a “teardown,” and THEN found out that deed restrictions prohibited subdividing the [really] large lot. I’m sure he and Jared would have a lot to talk about regarding the actual value of their holdings, as compared to their planning and investment strategies.

    On the other hand, if the potential buyers of the land in my neighborhood had done their due diligence at the beginning (when the estate was being probated the buyers were lining up, it was nuts), perhaps the old ranch house would have been renovated, or a new single home would have gone up, appropriate for the neighborhood. Now the land is empty save the old citrus trees and tumbled down brick wall at the egdes of the yard. And the owners get to pay property taxes based on their inflated valuation of the land, and keep it mowed, too.

    Maybe the present day lending restraints will prohibit such magical thinking by developers in our old neighborhoods. Meanwhile there are plenty of undeveloped lots laying around because the original plan didn’t quite work out the way the buyer intended.

  • The only person Mr. Meadors needs to be angry at is himself. He overpaid for a property because his due diligence failed to uncover major restrictions on what he could do with the site.

    Get over it. You fucked up. Take your lumps and move on. Cut your losses. Apply these lessons to your next transaction.

  • Once again, Bernard, you’ve proven you’re an idiot by commenting on something you know nothing about. If you paid attention to the back story instead of running your yap you’d know that when I BOUGHT the property there was NO minimum lot size ordinance in this neighborhood… doh! I DID do my due diligence and the friendly neighbors filed a prevailing lot size request many months AFTER I bought this property–without legally contact me–which is a violation of the ordinance. (They knowingly sent the form / notice out to the previous owner–who’s name was still on the tax rolls due to a very slow HCAD.) So, genius, the variance was simply a request for a ruling on the timing. There is a provision in the Ordinance that say that the (city) counsel “shall” (not “may” or “might”–but “shall”) grant a variance if the owner of the property effected by the change in prevailing lot size status had invested a significant amount of money that could not be recovered due to the change in status. I argued that I had. The city ruled that I had not. So, maybe you should know more about the situation before chiming in with your bullshit…?

  • All name-calling must take place outside of Swamplot. Mudslingers are requested to take their arguments to 2520 Robinhood.

  • ha ha Ms Brooke!

  • Call me an idiot if it makes you feel better, but I’m an idiot who’s bought, sold and financed billions of dollars of real estate, so I’ll give you yet another tip from real estate 101: Time is not your friend in the development game. Why on Earth did you wait 14 months after your purchase to file a replat with the City?

    I stand corrected that the restrictions were not actually in place when you closed on your parcel. Still, with PROPER due diligence, which you clearly did not apply, this entire situation would be a non-event. You claim you didn’t know. I get it. But the fact is, you COULD have known and SHOULD have known.

    For the record, I think the PLS ordinance is total BS, for many reasons.

  • I’m with Jared Meadors and I vote for the halfway house for pedophiles. And still believe the developers of 1717 Bissonnet should donate the land to West U for a new sewage treatment plant. After they take the city to the cleaners in court.

    Obviously the city lied. Not the first time. Not the last time. Look at what the city did to Spec’s. And anyone who thinks things will get better with Annise Parker is sadly mistaken. She likes to take credit for writing Chapter 42 and protecting neighborhoods. In reality, she protected the high-roller developers who can afford to buy City Hall and do whatever they want wherever they want.

    As for the Houston Chronicle, would someone please explain to the two “social scribes” that not everyone is stupid and everyone knows Lea Weingarten is Lea Fastow and not everyone believes in “social redemption.” That sums up the credibility of the Houston Chronicle.

    As for this “didn’t do his due diligence” it appears Jared Meadors DID do it. The city just lied. And so maybe Jared Meadors shou;d take the city to the cleaners and then open the halfway house for pedophiles.

  • Let’s be clear, the notice of the pending minimum lot size was sent to the address of the property in question, owned by Mr. Meadors. Jared stated at the hearing that he did not regularly check the mail there.

    Jared wrote, “The city ruled that I had not.” That ruling was made because the work done was unpermitted.

    Jared’s beef really should be with the city. We as his neighbors followed the regulations, we did our work to the letter. We did not single Jared out and try to exclude him from the process. We were unaware of the sale of the property which happened to be to him, it had been vacant for sometime. He should and very well may be addressing the city legally. As property owners in the neighborhood, we do not wish any ill will to Mr. Meadors. We do not wish him not to build on his property, in fact we don’t much think about him. We just don’t want 3-6 townhouses built on a 8,000+ sf lot in the middle of a neighborhood with single family homes on an average of 6000 sf lots.

  • And further, Jared Meadors is not a bad guy. He does do a lot of restoration and renovation to good quality rental properties.

    Unfortunately for him, had he received the notice sent to his property’s address, it may not have made any difference. The neighbors that were petitioning for minimum lot size had the percentage for it to pass. And at the time of the petition, he was planning on it being a private home for himself.

    There was some desire on the part of many of his neighbors for the old post office to be saved. But I know of some really good restoration and renovation savvy people who tried to buy it before him, and after inspection, they too deemed it a teardown, so he is not being callous or anti-restoration on wanting to tear it down. It is not cost effective for anybody to try to restore it.

    So moving forward, I really hope that he will design a great single family home with a garage apartment to fill that space. Or a Methadone Clinic. Whatever fits in the restrictions of the block. These restrictions are our only means of protecting our neighborhood aesthetic. Sorely lacking in substance, but all we’ve got.

  • Again, Bernard, there WAS NO MINIMUM LOT SIZE ORDINANCE OR REQUEST FILED WITH THE CITY AT THE TIME THAT I BOUGHT THIS PROPERTY. :) Hello. Are you with us? Mary Ellen above confirmed this–and I believe she was one of the sage “neighbors” involved with this particular PLSO request. So, again, this was not a due diligence issue. It was simply a timing issue.

    However, Mary Ellen, you are mistaken about the mailing of the notice. I have seen the mailing list–and “they” (the kindly neighbors who devalued everyone’s property by requesting the PLSO) mailed the notice to the former owner–not the property address. The former owner, like me–as “they” knew full well–did not live in the property and he certainly didn’t forward it on to me. So, technically, legally, I was not given proper notice. And, I could have challenged in District Court on those grounds alone–and I could have appealed the variance as well. But, I don’t have the time or the need to do either. It is what it is, I got what I got, fair or not, I’ve moved on to other deals. In the mean time, I’m happy to let that building sit vacant and rot on the foundation. That’s one right that my neighbors and the city can’t take away from me: the right to do nothing.

  • If the “neighbors” (and I use that term loosely) would rather have an abandoned building on that lot for the next five or ten years instead of the three very nice, single family, Craftsman style houses that I spent thousands of dollars and many many hours designing for that location–so be it. The mob has spoken. So let it be written. So let it be done.

    We get the same result from our federal government. Everyone admits there’s a problem. One group tries to improve the situation. The other group doesn’t offer a better solution or a compromise–they just vote “no”. So, nothing changes. And that’s the way the Prevailing Lot Size Ordinance works. A very slim majority can basically control the property of everyone in the neighborhood, usurping rights that came with those properties before the PLSO was requested. There’s no opt out. And–most disconcerting of all-there’s no mechanism in place to reverse the change. So, once 51% of the “neighbors” force the change on the other 49%–it’s there forever.

    Trust me, the prevailing lot size ordinance seems like a good idea until someone foists it on YOU. Until that happens, until you’ve been on my side of the coin, you can’t even imagine how frustrating and costly it can be. And it certainly doesn’t foster any good will at any level.