An 8th Wonder Distillery; New Bridges for Brays Bayou; How Apartment Buildings Get On Your Nerves

Photo: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


12 Comment

  • Re: How Apartment Buildings Get On Your Nerves

    Smokers are the root cause for my situation. They are completely ignorant. Surely 25 year old cowboys have heard of the word “ashtray”. Why use an ashtray though? If you flick your cigarette away from your personal area it is not your problem. These people do not own the apartment complex, they rent. They don’t respect the grounds. The stereotypical Texan. Trucks, Bud Light, Tobacco, Guns, Conservatism, and Fast Food. Extremely classy people! (I’m being sarcastic )

  • Re: Brays Bayou Bridges

    The attached video shows very little impediment to water flow under the bridge, and if there were larger water retention areas upstream and bayous widened as planned then there probably would have been no impediment at all. Are our civil servants being shortsighted in where is best to spend this $41 million? This planned expenditure appears to be a blatant waste of tax payer money as the bridges have several decades of life left in them, so I guess it represents either incompetence or obvious political graft … take your pick.

  • Re: Jim Blackburn’s prognostications on Urban Edge. Some development projects are too small or spatially constrained due to shape/size to provide any meaningful on-site stormwater detention, and so insisting upon that can create a situation where raw land close-in is made basically worthless whereas land in larger blocks, mostly at the far-flung urban periphery, is more economic to develop. I do not think that that is in the public interest because denser closer-in development can be a part of a broader flood control strategy. There has to be a mechanism for specific developments to get around difficult constraints, and having impact fees is presently that mechanism.
    Now I readily acknowledge that that sort of thing creates an ethical dilemma. The local impact of a development on drainage can be very specific to what lies immediately downstream from it and funds from an impact fee for regional detention may do very little or nothing at all to address what is going on in the vicinity of exempted development. These funds could even be sent to a different watershed, perhaps one that in the grand scheme of things is quite obviously far more deserving of investment, but that that is irrelevant to the persons whose flood risks increased as a consequence of an upstream development that opted to pay the fee.
    Even if the flood control entities were taken all apart and put back together again with watershed-specific missions and watershed-specific funding, this puzzle of geometry remains. If your property ends up upstream from some major regional stormwater detention project that was financed by development upstream of you, then your individual risk profile has worsened without being mitigated.
    I think that if we are going to be realistic about the way that we finance flood control, that the core of such a plan needs to take a page from how flood insurance gets underwritten. Everybody pays a property tax to a watershed-specific flood control entity, but that tax is adjusted based on the elevation of their first-floor living area relative to the Base Flood Elevation. If you’re more than a few feet above it, your tax is very low. If you live more than a few feet below it…you’re probably going to pay so much in taxes that it’ll become immediately economic to raise your structure or demolish it. Right away, the inventory and value of property subject to flood risk is reduced; and what’s left that is tolerably at-risk pays for its own reduced need for risk mitigation. And…if we’re too gun shy to pull the trigger on a plan like this, which would totally wipe out a lot of people’s equity in vast swaths of real estate, okay well that’s where people not at very much risk should be expected to pay more taxes even without receiving very much in the way of benefits. Yeah, I’m basically proposing Obamacare for flood control in Houston, but only as a humane alternative which reveals a startling truth: that the big money for this sort of thing is unlikely to come from up on high, from the feds or the state government (and it shouldn’t IMO). Financing this stuff locally is going to hurt.
    One thing is very very clear: whatever kinds of administrative bodies are created or re-jiggered to deal with this issue have got to address legacy development first and foremost. We need a plan to cope with what is already on the ground. This is not something that we can just build ourselves out of, going forward, with stricter rules for new development, feel the catharsis, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, and call it a day.

  • @ WR: Yeah, they also had irrelevant pictures and linked to a YouTube video that was vaguely relevant but that did not really demonstrate the problem in a visually compelling way. They’re journalists and are uniformly incompetent when it comes to explaining matters of civil engineering.
    My understanding about the bridges is that the spans can be elevated slightly, the pilings can be designed to cause less turbulent flow in the channel, and most importantly that the spans will be longer to accommodate widening and deepening of the channels themselves. For an example, look at the Cambridge Street bridge near the TMC.

  • @WR: You base your claim on a video attached to a news report? You might want to look into which bridges are being replaced and extended first, and their impact on water flow.

  • @WR-I hear you about wasting tax dollars but there are tons more ways to save…but this project should help save future FEMA tax $ as it will help the water flow faster underneath the bridges. The obstructions are the pilings mostly and the width due to channel widening in some cases. The stated idea of the project is to contain the 100 yr flood plain completely within the bayou’s banks and every cubic foot of water that flows faster is needed apparently.
    It’s like trading the VW bus in finally for a Porsche to improve gas mileage I suppose.

  • HEB: Odd that you’d tie smoking with being politically conservative. I’m politically conservative with libertarian leanings. I can’t stand smoking.
    My guess is such a link does not exist.
    But as I’ve seen happen quite often on the political left, everything bad = conservative. Could be that mosquito that is buzzing your ear at night (damn conservative mosquito!) to now smokers.

  • Re: How Apartment Buildings Get on Your Nerves
    After skimming the article, the end result was the article got on my nerves – for being such a bit of fluff with nary any real substance. Littering in general just bothers me from my fellow city residents; I don’t care where you fall on the political or socioeconomic scale – just put your trash in a trash can.

  • HEBisbetterthanKroger; But what Swamplot wants to know is, where does Stereotypical Texan â„¢ buy his groceries.

    Cody, you might try some reading comprehension. HEB did NOT equate smoking with Conservatism. He equated smoking and Conservatism with being a Stereotypical Texan â„¢ . A tad bit of difference between the two. And since only 8% of adults smoke these days, I don’t really think there would be a statistical difference in rates of smoking between Conservatives and Liberals, or any other group

  • XCell: Oh I agree. I don’t think he was suggesting that most people that are conservative smoke (since the country is split politically, obviously that wouldn’t be the case), but I do think the suggestion was that most smokers are conservative — which seems silly.

  • Dana-X,

    The 100-year will NOT be contained within the banks of Brays bayou. Project Brays at best provides about a 25-yr protection. Even though it is only 25-year, the 100-year floodplain along the bayou will be greatly reduced.

    Keep in mind the 25-year storm is about 75% of the 100-year storm in runoff volume, so it is still a significant benefit.

  • @ Cody: this is rich. Your response to a stereotype that offends you is to throw out an offensive stereotype. Good one.