12/05/16 3:45pm

COTD: IS A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION WORSE THAN NONE AT ALL? freedmens-town-hist-dist-marker“A little late for that. There are so many new homes and townhomes and vacant lots in the area that there is almost no historic character left. It’s a prime area for redevelopment anyway — might as well let the developers finish the job and do it right so it’s not just a hodgepodge.” [Christian, commenting on City Wants To Create Historic District To Protect What’s Left of Freedmen’s Town Historic DistrictPhoto of Freedmen’s Town Historic District sign: Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition

11/17/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT MADE THE GEOGRAPHY THAT MADE HOUSTON houston-ship-channelAir conditioning had little to do with it. Chicago out-paced Houston because of its location as the geographic nexus of industrial transportation during the industrial revolution. It connected to the east through the Erie Canal and Great Lakes and to the west with the ever-growing railroads. A linchpin city grows. A growing city builds. Houston had no such geographic importance — and had a hurricane not made Galveston nonviable, Houston would probably still be a modest town. We had to build our port to earn any geographic value. It’s impressive that we did so. Houston shouldn’t exist. We made it exist. Now that’s cool.” [Matt, commenting on Comment of the Day: When Houston Chilled Out and Grew UpPhoto of Houston Ship Channel: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

11/16/16 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN HOUSTON CHILLED OUT AND GREW UP AC“I have 3 words that explain why Chicago developed as a ‘modern city’ well before Houston: ‘winter’ and ‘air conditioning.’ Think about it . . . Heating a big tall building to make it comfortable is easy. In contrast, cooling that same building is not so easy — especially in the post Civil War and 1890-1920 time frame. Now, the development of commercially viable air conditioners in the 1920-30’s was an expensive luxury. Then the WW2 years and rationing, and voilá — [only] modest growth of ‘big city’ until the late 1940’s and 1950’s. So when did Houston really start to grow? Yup, you guessed it: post WW2 and the 1950’s, when most middle class people could afford air conditioning in their homes and businesses. So if you want cool ‘old’ pre-war buildings, go north and east towards cooler weather. But if you want a modern or post-modern or even contemporary building, just look at Houston, or Atlanta, or Los Angeles, or Las Vegas. (And thank Mr. Carrier for his invention of air conditioning as we know it.)” [In the Doghouse, commenting on A Brief History of Houston’s Future Historic Preservation CultureIllustration: Lulu

11/10/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE NUMBERS ON HEIGHTS WETTING AND THE PRESIDENCY Map Showing Dry Area of Houston HeightsProp. 1 passed by 2087 votes. There were 654 undervotes (voters who voted but didn’t vote on Prop 1.), of which only 143 were on election day. By the way: 78 percent turnout in the damp Heights, and 72 percent of registered voters voted on Prop 1. — compared to about 60 percent county-wide and 55 percent nationally for the Presidential election.” [Angostura, commenting on Your Heights Dry Zone Ballot Problem Didn’t Affect Yesterday’s Moist Election Outcome] Map of proposed H-E-B in Heights damp zone: Houston Heights Beverage Coalition

11/08/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CHICKEN, THE EGG, AND THE HOUSTON SPRAWLSCAPE Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setback“I do usually avoid stores with no bike parking or unfriendly pedestrian/bike access, so I see the other side of [the parking lot] coin. Stores need to cater to their customers; it’s customer demand that’s ultimately at fault for hideous parking lots and runoff and heat islands and sprawl and all the rest. But one way to drive demand is creating feedback loops, and one way to start that is stores building less parking.” [Sid, commenting on H-E-B’s Plan and Backup Plan for the Double Decker Heights Dry Zone Store] Rendering of preliminary parking garage plans for N. Shepherd H-E-B: Houston Planning Commission

11/01/16 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GREEN SPACE IS JUST A STATE OF MIND Hermann Park golf course“In my mind, green space isn’t something that has to be ‘used’. I enjoy jogging the trails next to the Hermann park golf course as much as I like jogging in or around any other green space — just like I enjoy jogging through a River Oaks neighborhood with immaculate landscaping. It is even nicer to see landscaping when you know someone else is paying (mostly) for it. I don’t have to be able to kick a soccer ball, watch a concert, or have a place for my dog to poop on it to enjoy its beauty. It can be ‘utilized’ without stepping foot on the space. Green space can be enjoyed from adjacent space or blocks away in its sights, smells, and sounds (or lack of).” [Rex, commenting on Grassy Knolls, Children’s Swamp Part of Possible Hermann Park Parking Coverup] Photo of Hermann Park Golf Course: Hermann Park Conservancy

10/31/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW ANOTHER KIDDIE TRAIN COULD PRESERVE HERMANN PARK’S PARKING HERITAGE New Hermann Park Train“Right now is a bad time to be predicting parking lot requirements for the next 20 years. Driverless cars may make them obsolete. If that happens, they can turn the parking lot into a ‘parking lot museum’ — kids of the future can visit it to get a feel for what life in the 20th century was like. They could even ride the Vulture Express, a 2mph trip up and down row after row of filled parking spaces that goes on for hours.” [Memebag, commenting on Grassy Knolls, Children’s Swamp Part of Possible Hermann Park Parking CoverupPhoto of Hermann Park kiddie train: Lou Minatti

10/25/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY ITS EASIER TO KICK THEM OUT BEFORE THE LEASE IS EVER SIGNED Reading“Ironically, the stricter the rules are for evicting people (to ‘protect’ tenants), the stricter we have to be on rent qualification and deposit size, which makes it harder for many tenants to rent. It would be easier to take a risk on a marginal tenant (low credit score, less than a full month deposit), if the property code didn’t allow them to bunker down in the apartment for 2 months if they don’t pay rent. A good example of a well-meaning law backfiring.” [Cody, commenting on Palace Lanes Building on Bellaire Locked Up by LandlordIllustration: Lulu

10/19/16 5:24pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOU CAN LOVE THE BAY YOU’RE WITH AND STILL HARBOR SHIP CHANNEL FANTASIES Bayou illustration“I know that Galveston Bay is the economic engine of the Houston area, but it’s fun to ponder what 42 prime bayside acres could be other than a barge staging area, or what the bay woulda/coulda been had oil not been discovered nearby. Coulda been San Francisco, got Can Cerisco.” [JoeDirt, commenting on Kirby To Lease New Ship Channel Barge Parking Area, Pay for Barge Collision Oil Spill] Illustration: Lulu

10/14/16 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE BELLAIRE HIGH CAMPUS SWAP QUESTION Bellaire HS, 5100 Maple St., Bellaire, TX 77401“Currently, Sharpstown High is being rebuilt. Rather than tearing down the old school building when the new one is complete, let that become the temporary home of Bellaire. Stagger hours of the 2 schools, rent parking space at nearby vacant lots, run shuttles, etc. They’re geographically not that far from each other. This would allow Bellaire to be rebuilt on the same footprint and keep the student body together.” [Terri Bamberger, commenting on Hitting the Brakes on the Bellaire High School Chevron Campus Swap Talk] Photo of Bellaire High School campus at 5100 Maple St.: Houston ISD

10/06/16 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT HIGH HORSE WON’T KEEP YOUR FLOORS DRY Flooding Coastal Homes“Wonder how many areas will sue to get out of the high risk zones, only to get flooded years later, have no insurance, and cry foul. Note to those who are able to sue or survey themselves out of a flood zone… buy the insurance anyway! If you are [put] in a high risk zone, right or wrong, you are close enough to warrant the protection.” [Rex, commenting on A Quick Tour of Spots Where FEMA Will Expand Its Flood Hazard Zone In JanuaryIllustration: Lulu

09/30/16 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DOES ‘EAST RIVER’ ERASE BAYOU HISTORY, OR DRAW IN NEW STUDENTS? Bayou illustration“‘East River’ . . . that does sound like a lame sort of urban infant suckling at Mama NYC’s teat. But really, a 2-word name with each word having a strong, apropos and simple meaning is positive. It is the east part of Houston, and it is a river (called a bayou). But not just [any] bayou — the womb of the city. In the 1840s-60s, the west of the Allen’s Landing section was nothing but a well-wooded open sewer and hideout/hangout for the various characters and scoundrels of Vinegar Hill. [But] east of Downtown it was a river, with masted ships and energetic influx. We should be familiar with every bend of it, but [the bayou’s history is] mostly unknown. ‘East River’ can serve as an introductory directional appetizer for those unknowers who are already here, and those yet to appear.” [Dana-X, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Ongoing Rewrite of Houston’s East Side StoryIllustration: Lulu

09/29/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ONGOING REWRITE OF HOUSTON’S EAST SIDE STORY Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, HoustonEast River? Ugh, another name copied from New York City. We’ve got the East Village being developed (or is it ‘east village’, in all lowercase?), we’ve got Downtown, Midtown, and Uptown (none of which make any directional sense like they do in N.Y.C.), and now we have this. Is the area around it going to start to be called the Upper East Side?” [GL, commenting on Midway’s Latest Plans for the KBR Site; Big Turnout for the Public Housing Vouchers Waiting List; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former KBR site at 4100 Clinton Dr.: LoopNet

09/28/16 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SAVE-THE-DOME SAGA’S PARKING GARAGE ENDING LEAVES ROOM FOR A SEQUEL astrodome“I think people are missing the larger view here. Of course there is plenty of current surface parking — but putting parking beneath the Dome begins to open up the possibility of densification on this site and on the old Astroworld site. This is the first, and necessary, step in transforming this entire area. I am betting that in 20 years or so this site will barely resemble the vast wasteland of parking lots and open space that it is today.” [SH, commenting on County Approves First $10.5 Million for Astrodome Basement Parking Garage Plan] Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

09/27/16 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ANY NEW NAMING EPISODES WELCOME AMID THE ENDLESS EAST HOUSTON RERUNS Houston Neighborhoods on TV“The news calls everything between Downtown and Baytown ‘East Houston’ — so when West U is called ‘Southwest Houston’ for one day, I get a pettiness-fueled satisfaction out of it.” [tempeh, commenting on West U Shelter-In-Place Order Just Lifted Following This Morning’s ‘Southwest Houston’ ShootingIllustration: Lulu