01/12/17 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE TRANSMISSION LINES ARE ALWAYS DEEPER ON THE OTHER SIDE Transmission Line Tower Installation, Westpark Dr.,  77081“While working with Entergy in New Orleans (12 plus years ago), at every public meeting I went to, citizens always complained about the city’s third world look when we would tell them burying power lines was not a part of the long-term plan (maintenance and upgrades). They would frequently state that no other major city had above ground lines — and that on their most recent business trip to Houston, they did not see any above ground,  and that we should follow Houston’s lead.” [Nend, commenting on Electrical Transmission Lines About To Get Really High by the Dog Park at 59 and 610] Photo of current and replacement electrical transmission towers at Westpark Dr. and 610: Swamplot inbox

01/06/17 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CROSSING A LINE ON FLOOD CONTROL Flooding Coastal Homes“You either pay for the fixes, or let residents continue to be subjected to higher insurance premiums, maintenance, and rebuild costs — slowly depriving the city of tax revenue. At some point, property values will appreciate to the point where making the fixes may have been the smart thing to do. Not saying it’s financially practical of course. What was the property damage total for the past 2 years of flooding, though?” [joel, commenting on Just How Much Flooding Is Too Much Flooding for Houston?] Illustration: Lulu

01/05/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A STEAMY BACKWARD GLANCE TO METEOR’S PRE-SHOWER DAYS Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, Houston“Oh, the memories of 2306 Genesee St., circa the late 1970’s! When the space was Houston’s 3rd bath house . . . All sorts of debauchery took place within those walls. I, of course, will not divulge what happened there.” [Happy Go Lucky, commenting on Meteor Crashes to the Ground in East Montrose] Photo of 2306 Genesee St., prior to demolition: Meteor Lounge

12/27/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY ISN’T LONG AND SKINNY ALWAYS OUT OF STYLE? Train“Maybe it is just me, but I feel like the folks that are for the high speed rail are the same people that are against the Dakota pipeline. The HSR will undoubtedly have large environmental concerns for the state.” [Bocepheus, commenting on High Speed Rail Case Heads to Trial] Illustration: Lulu

12/21/16 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: COMPARING THE INGREDIENTS IN HOUSTON’S NIMBY STANCES White Oak Music Hall Lawsuit Map, Near Northside“Just amazing what our city can do in [terms of] jeopardizing huge sums of taxpayer money to help Southampton fight off developers and laughable amounts of ‘increased traffic’ — and then turn a blind eye to communities having to do garage and bake sales just to fight to keep their children’s sanity and dignity.” [joel, commenting on Ban and Bake Sale for White Oak Music Hall; Hurricane Ike’s Last Blue Tarps] White Oak Music Hall lawsuit map: Harris County District Clerk’s office

12/16/16 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: REALTY CHECKS ON THE HOUSTON HOUSING MARKET Downward Green Arrow“‘The fundamentals of the economy are sound’? OK — so it’s obvious that a housing market is ‘strong’ in the eyes of a Realtor if total sales volume is up while average prices hold steady or gradually increase. It means Realtors have more business and make more commissions. From a homeowner’s point of view, there are some worrying trends: average days on market is increasing, inventory is increasing, condo and townhome prices are falling, rents are falling. Higher home sales numbers just means people are moving. It doesn’t mean the economy is doing great.” [Realtor®, commenting on Sugar Land Arena’s Musical Debut; I-10’s Car Vending Machine Open for Business] Illustration: Lulu

12/08/16 12:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FURTHER READING INTO YOUR HOUSTON FLOOD AND FIRE CHANCES Jan 2017 FEMA Special Flood Hazard Zone classification changes“Every home is susceptible to flooding. There are not ANY non-flood areas. There are only homes that are more likely to flood and homes that are less likely to flood. The likelihood is expressed, on flood maps, by the single-year probability of being flooded (with some other factors). This does not properly describe the likelihood of being flooded during the course of a longer time period — of, say, a 30-year mortgage. Homes eligible for NFIP preferred flood rates can have up to just less than a 1 percent chance of flooding annually. These ‘preferred areas’ are what the public thinks of, euphemistically, as non-flood areas. Assuming a .009 probability (just less than 1 percent), a home has a 20 percent chance of flooding, at least once, over the course of a 30-year mortgage (look up binomial probability). An alternative way to think about it is that 1 in 5 homes, in preferred flood zones, will flood over the course of a 30-year mortgage. [In that case,] you are actually more likely to experience a flood than a house fire in a ‘preferred flood area.'” [Jardinero1, commenting on Where Houston Floods Outside the Flood ZonesImage of recent flood map revisions: FEMA RiskMap6

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