Here’s a nugget from the latest draft of Sugar Land’s 2018 land use plan: the map above, showing the 7% of acreage that still hasn’t been developed within the 32.2-sq.-mi. town and its roughly 20 sq.-mi. of extraterritorial jurisdiction. The thickest road running diagonally through the gray matter is the Southwest Fwy.; it’s intersected and then paralleled by Hwy. 90 to the north. Conspicuously blackened: the area on the top left edge indicating a tract west of Sugar Land Regional Airport and adjacent to the Chelsea Harbour subdivision off 90. There’s another vacancy along the Brazos River, way far south near FM 2759. And a few gaps show up between the hodgepodge of industrial buildings in the northeast corner of town.
A more detailed map below color codes what all that land — built and unbuilt — was used for as of 2016:
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Now that a second, $51 million round of FEMA funding for home buyouts has come through, here’s the map of where the latest government snatch-ups are planned, 294 total. As indicated by the red dots above, they’re all outside the Loop — with a good portion grouped in 3 distinct clusters along Cypress Creek (which drowned out previous flooding records along nearly its entire length during Harvey). Other hotspots include several along White Oak Bayou, as well as a Greens-Bayou-adjacent bunch off Beltway 8 just north of Aldine and a San Jacinto River-side group south of Hwy. 90, near Highlands.
The money Harris County Flood Control District expects to receive for these purchases supplements an earlier $25.6 million FEMA committed to it on June 4. That previous check (along with an $8.6 million match the Harris County Commissioners okayed in order to get it) will be spent on about 169 buyouts, mapped out below:
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Along the Bayous
The results are in from the Kinder Institute’s recent survey of Gulfton sidewalks: where they exist, they’re in bad shape. The map above uses a stoplight-style color scheme to rank the condition of each segment: red means no sidewalks, yellow means they exist but with gaps, hazards, and other obstructions — and green means they’re good to go. (Black areas weren’t assessed by the 16 participant-observers who set out on foot to compile the study last month.)
Out of all charted segments, the worst is a 9-block corridor along Atwell St. that starts a block west of Burnett Bayland Park; it’s completely sidewalk-less between Elm St. and Bissonnet. In total, nearly 43 percent of the examined street segments lacked any kind of pedestrian walkway. Other side-ways where you might want to tread lightly include those along Chimney Rock — which is laced with trip hazards all the way from 59 down to Evergreen St. at the southern end of the neighborhood. Nearly three-quarters of the sidewalks in study fell into this category of disrepair.
Even the areas with smooth pavement were beset with other problems: 70 percent had almost no shade, and 98 percent had no pedestrian-level lighting. The consequences: between 2010 and 2017, 149 people were either killed or injured while walking through Gulfton, according to TxDOT data.
Map: Kinder Institute
The final page of the Harris County Flood Control District’s final report on Hurricane Harvey includes the map above, with orange indicating where bayous, rivers, creeks, and gullies set new high water marks between August 25 and 29. Aside from Sims Bayou and a handful of smaller waterways, every other liquid landmark in the county outdid itself along some portion during the storm. Several — such as Cypress Creek and Carpenters Bayou (shown in detail above) — set new flood records along their entire lengths.
Less distinguished are White Oak and Little White Oak bayous, which broke records along only tiny stretches near Buffalo Bayou:
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Watery Award Tour
The map above — taken from this week’s city planning agenda — provides a candy-colored indication of how Midway plans to divvy up the 136-acre former KBR site along Buffalo Bayou, east of downtown, that it’s redeveloping into an office, retail, and residential neighborhood dubbed East River. Among the more colorful land uses revealed for the site: a park-fronting hotel slated for the semi-circular red parcel to the east, as well as a nameless museum — shown in grape — that’s planned along Buffalo Bayou near the neighborhood’s western edge.
Sprinkled along the water is an extension of the existing trail that runs along Buffalo Bayou’s north bank. It would traverse the entire development, from its western edge to the boat dock planned at its eastern boundary. Along the way, “Pedestrian bridges are being discussed with Buffalo Bayou Partnership to connect the two sides of the bayou,” according to the plans Midway submitted to the city.
Those 7 consecutive yellow blocks at the north end of the site along Clinton St. represent the citadel of townhomes that’ll look out onto the surrounding Fifth Ward. It’s bookended by 3 blocks of retail to the east along Hirsch Rd. and one to the west on Jensen Dr.
As heralded by the sign — pictured below — now hanging the site’s construction fencing, Houston’s city planning commission will take up the special exemption request that Midway submitted for the development later this week:
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Within 3 miles of the Grand Pkwy.’s completed sections, more than 50,000 acres of development have sprung up in the past 5 years; they’re indicated by the pink patchwork in the map above, put out by Houston’s planning department. In following the highway, construction activity passes through 5 watersheds — Spring Creek, Cypress Creek, Addicks, Barker, and Brays Bayou — that aren’t seeing nearly as much concentrated development in non-roadside areas.
In order to plot out development across all of Harris County between 2013 and 2018, the map takes into account activity concerning “platting and general plans” over those years. That means the highlighted sections include parcels on which developers requested changes (for example, to merge adjacent properties or gain permission to build new types of structures), that often precede building.
Map: Houston Planning Department
Here’s the rundown of all the locations where vehicles injured (purple) or killed (black) cyclists and pedestrians in 2016 and 2017. Transit-focused organization LINK Houston used TxDOT reports to create the map, which plots out 85 percent of all the 641 major walk-and-bike crashes that occurred within city limits during those 2 years. (Locations for 15 percent couldn’t be nailed down.) Of all those collisions, just under a fifth involved bikers; the rest impacted pedestrians. Click on a dot to reveal more about the specific accident that happened at that location.
Even more data shows up here on the full-screen map, which tallies up demographics like the ages, races, and genders of those hit as you move around different neighborhoods. Citywide, one of the brightest constellations is an elbow-shaped one that stretches from Montrose through Midtown and into Downtown — where 22 crashes occurred over the last 2 years. But despite its dimmer glow, Sharpstown had the highest hit rate of any Houston neighborhood: 29. Throughout the entire city, 158 people were killed and 389 were injured.
Map: LINK Houston
THE RIGHT DOORS TO KNOCK ON WHEN PETITIONING FOR LOT SIZE RESTRICTIONS
This new map put out by civic-minded data miner Jeff Reichman shows only one thing: which Houston properties are owner-occupied according to HCAD data — they’re indicated in green. But Reichman is pitching it as a tool residents can use to figure out something more: how likely their neighborhoods would be to qualify for a minimum lot size restriction. Minimum lot size refers to the smallest square footage developers can chop lots into in order to cram more structures onto them — like, say, townhomes — than they could have previously. The Planning Commission requires neighborhood consensus in order to consider applications for size restrictions — in the form of a vote, but first in signatures from the owners of the lots in question. And to gather that ink, it’s helpful to know who’s home. The map at top (taken from a set of bigger ones showing entire neighborhoods) takes a look at several Third Ward blocks south of Blodgett St. that appear well-suited to the Planning Commission’s requirements because they have high rates of home ownership, and because their lots are already of similar size (70 percent of lots in a given area must be the same size for the Planning Commission to consider restrictions, which wouldn’t do much good if the properties’ dimensions were already inconsistent.) And look — the purple rectangle shows 2 block faces where restrictions are already in place, on Southmore Blvd. and on Palm between Sauer and Burkett. [January Advisors; more info] Map: January Advisors
“On almost any map that plots some form of wealth,” writes the Kinder Institute’s Leah Binkovitz, “a familiar arrow takes shape over the Energy Corridor, Memorial and River Oaks, pointing east toward downtown.” Nowhere is that arrow clearer than on this map from fitness brand Strava, which visualizes running and biking activity in Houston from 2009 through last October. Strava updated its map — which includes 200,000 years worth of global exercise time — in November (although it’s been in the news more recently than that). Beginning just east of Hwy. 6, the arm of the indicator travels straight into Downtown, forming a point right around the Elysian St. bridge across Buffalo Bayou.
A little more zoom shows where the arrow’s edges run to the northwest and southwest of the city center:
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Citywide Fitness Tracking
Yes, there are spots where Harris County public health officials have determined it’s still not safe to drink the water. And here they are: Areas still under drinking-water advisories are marked in red in the above interactive map; areas where advisories issued after flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey have already been lifted are marked in green. Click on each area and a popup or panel will provide details. The county promises to update the map every 24 hours. A full-browser-width version of the map is available here.
Map: Harris County Public Health
The Galveston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made public a set of interactive maps — normally used by emergency personnel — that show which areas along the length of Buffalo Bayou are predicted to remain under water or emerge from it as officials continue to release water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs upstream. Individual interactive map panels cover each day from September 5th through the 16th, but as of this date all rely on data developed on Tuesday, when the maps were created.
The embedded version above mimics the view from a mobile browser; you can zoom in to view the projected water line on any street. To switch days, click on one side or the other of the panel at the bottom of the frame — or choose the date directly from the menu that appears after you click on the icon in the top left corner.
To view the map in its own browser window, click here.
Map: USACE Galveston District
Inundation Levels, Day by Day
If you or someone you’re helping has been accepted into FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance program — meant to clear out shelters by providing people who can’t return to their homes a hotel or motel room for a limited period of time — you may want to use the map shown here. It marks the locations of every eligible hotel or motel in the Houston area approved by the program. Using the map should make it easier to find an acceptable one nearby. To view the map in its own browser window, click here.
This map is yet another whipped-up-by-volunteers-in-a-jiffy product of Sketch City — this one created by the civic hacking group’s founder, Jeff Reichman. Sketch City volunteer and college sophomore Nile Dixon (who earlier created a similar tool to help people find nearby shelters) has created a simplified text-it-to-me version of it as well: Just text your ZIP Code to 832-981-4926 and a bot will send back contact info for the nearest verified accommodations in the program.
You can find out more about U.S. government Harvey assistance, including the TSA program, from the FEMA Harvey website.
Map: Sketch City
Here’s the latest publicly available high-resolution aerial imagery of Houston-area flooding, in an interactive map you can use to zoom in and examine in detail and by address. The imagery in the map above comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was taken this past Wednesday and Thursday, August 29th and 30th — as floodwaters subsided in many areas of the city but continued to build in a few parts west.
Included in the portions of the city photographed by NOAA: the sections of Memorial south of I-10, west of Gessner Rd., north of Briar Forest Dr. (that’s below Buffalo Bayou), and east of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. That’s the area where Mayor Turner earlier today said residents who already have water in their homes should probably leave their homes now if they haven’t already — because water is likely to remain in them for the next 10 to 15 days as releases from the dams continue.
To zoom in on the latest aerial imagery from that area, you can click on the search box in the map above and type “Memorial, Houston,” then click on the first option that appears below where you’re typing. Then zoom in further to see where the floodwaters are and aren’t. You can identify the date of the imagery and turn on and off various layers if you click on the lower of the 2 icons on the top right of the map. To view the map larger in your browser window, navigate directly to NOAA’s Harvey site.
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Harvey Flooding from Above
Here’s another helpful online tool from the civic hackers at Sketch City, this one for would-be volunteers: a crowdsourced, interactive map showing which shelters near you are in need of what resources — and which ones might need people to come over and help out. Each icon on the map represents a shelter or providing organization that’s helping evacuees who’ve been put out of their homes by Harvey flooding. Click on one and a panel on the left will indicate any supply needs or volunteer needs identified by the site. (A larger, full-browser-width version of the map is here.)
The map was put together by Amanda Shih, Dr. Neeraj Tandon, and Chris Ertel, and is linked to data assembled and continually updated by a group of dozens of local and not-so-local volunteers hooked up to the project by Sketch City, a Houston nonprofit technology group. (The same bank of is behind Sketch City’s other new mapping project — one that simply identifies available Harvey shelters to people seeking them.) The volunteers have been making regular phone calls to update the information in a shared Google Doc. (If that kind of call-and-type-from-home work is your preferred method of volunteering, go ahead — you’ll find a direct link to the underlying spreadsheet in the map.)
How and Where To Volunteer
The map above outlines the actual locations of neighborhoods designated by officials yesterday as being at risk from flooding over the back sides of Houston’s dual Buffalo Bayou reservoirs — in advance of actual spillovers, which began last night and continued this morning. The map was put together by Chronicle data reporter John D. Harden, using information from the Harris County Flood Control District. Zoom in and you can identify specific streets and neighborhoods on the upstream side of Addicks (in red) and Barker (in blue) reservoirs.
Names of the affected neighborhoods are listed on the map’s fly-out panel, available by clicking on the icon at the top left corner of the map. Click on the icon at the top right corner to enlarge the map if you need to.
To lessen the risk of flooding to these areas, officials have been releasing water out the other end, through the Addicks and Barker dams into Buffalo Bayou — possibly (depending on bayou water levels) endangering neighborhoods and structures downstream.
Map: Houston Chronicle