12/02/15 3:15pm

MAYOR PARKER CLEARS UP RICHMOND AVE SHELL STATION SELF STORAGE TREE REMOVAL MYSTERY Street Oak Tree Stump, 1810 Richmond Ave., Montrose, HoustonStumped by the sudden disappearance of 4 or 5 large oak trees in the city easement fronting a vacant lot adjacent to the recently demolished Shell station at 1810 Richmond Ave, between Hazard and Woodhead? They were chopped down last week, in advance of a new Montrose Big Tex Self Storage facility soon to begin construction on the site. Mayor Parker is on the case, reassuring concerned street-tree watchers: The trees “were in bad health & posed safety threat,” she tweeted earlier today. “Fully permitted removal granted with plan to plant new trees.” [HAIF] Photo of Richmond Ave stump: Kyle Nielsen

06/29/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ZONING WOULDN’T HAVE KEPT THE SPRAWL AWAY Illustration of Oversized Parking Lot“It’s always frustrating when I hear Houston’s sprawl and prevalence of strip malls blamed on our lack of zoning. You can blame these on the setbacks and parking minimums that came along with Chapter 42, which made it illegal to build walkable neighborhoods.” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Kind of Zoning Houston Does Have] Illustration: Lulu

06/02/15 1:30pm

Sinkhole, Hyde Park Blvd. at Mason St., Montrose, Houston

Sinkhole, Hyde Park Blvd. at Mason St., Montrose, Houston

Here are views of a couple of holes that appeared at the eastern edge of East Montrose after last week’s flood. The sizable tire-grabber at the corner of Hyde Park Blvd. and Mason St. shown here was decorated by nearby residents who repurposed the cones and barricade from a nearby construction site, explains reader Brittanie Shey.


What Lies Beneath
05/14/15 4:30pm

Tree Cutting on Yale St. Between 5th and 6th Streets, Houston Heights

Landscape crews last week chopped down 16 live oak trees lining the west side of Yale St. just south of White Oak, along the eastern border of the second of Trammell Crow Residential’s Alexan Heights apartment complexes. A similar scene took place last year in front of the Alexan Heights north of White Oak and 6th St. (at right in the above photo).

A reader sent in pics of the recent street-tree sawfest:


Chop ’n Plant
05/05/15 12:00pm

Replacement Oak Tree in Front of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The sixth and last of the replacement street trees was planted in the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. over the weekend. “It is a big specimen tree, taller than what was removed,” writes the reader who sent in these photos of the installation paid for by a special city fund for Houston parks — so we can all see for ourselves. The previous weekend, 5 replacement oaks were put in along the side street, North Blvd. Crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had chopped down 6 trees on adjacent city property last October. You can compare the current scene in these photos and in our story last week with how it all looked before the chainsaws were fired up.


04/30/15 1:00pm

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA row of 5 already-growed-up oak trees took up their new home along the North Blvd. flank of the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. last weekend, to replace the same number along the public right-of-way that went missing after dark last Halloween on account of they were chopped into pieces by order of the franchise owner. “The new trees at Wendy’s are so big they had to close the road to install them,” writes the reader who sent in these photos. “. . . almost as big as the ones cut down.

One more tree is still to come — for this spot on Kirby Dr., right in front:


Fast Landscaping
04/24/15 1:00pm

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, Texas

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, TexasFor Arbor Day, the Uptown Houston District is showing off the 800 live oaks earmarked for Post Oak Blvd. now being trained in Tomball for a life on the streets. The tree reboxers and transplanters at Environmental Design are breeding the trees on the company’s Tomball campus at 23544 Coons Rd.


Live Oaks Training for New Post
04/13/15 3:15pm

NEW INSTALLATION MARKS LOCATIONS OF KIRBY DR. WENDY’S OAKS WITH THICK YELLOW RIBBONS Protection for New Trees, Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonSpotted at the corner of North Blvd. and Kirby Dr., just north of Rice Village: 6 holes, 6 staked-off areas, and 6 fabric wraps around the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby. Is this another art installation in memory of the removed oaks? Naaah. Probably just the work of city crews, getting ready to plant their replacements. Expenditure of up to $300K for new live oaks — matching the amount paid by the franchise owner as part of a legal settlement for last year’s nighttime tree-hacking incident — was approved by city council back in February. Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/06/15 1:45pm

Driveway and Utility Pole, 2115 Taft St., Montrose, Houston

A couple of readers have sent in pics of the curious driveway installation at 2115 Taft St. just south of Welch St. just over the eastern border from Montrose, on the former site of the Taft St. Coffee House and Ecclesia Church. The utility pole dates from the lot’s former inhabitants; the courteous flatwork has been built around it for later patching. “In case you are wondering,” writes one of our tipsters, “the space on either side is not wide enough for a car to pass, nor does the driveway go all the way through to the next street.”


The Townhomes Are Coming
03/31/15 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW THOSE NEW FIFTH WARD DRIVEWAYS CAME TO REACH ALL THE WAY INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston“Here’s how you get to this point. (i) Neighborhood gets built with gravel streets, ditch drainage. (ii) City goes in and widens most of the streets in the neighborhood in the 1960s. 40′ asphalt, curb and gutter. Baron St. misses out on the neighborhood-wide repave because it has a railroad track in the middle. (iii) Railroad track gets abandoned, trackbed gets paved over, no one ever improves Baron. (iv) Townhome developer comes in and wants to put in a driveway. Houston Infrastructure Design Manual says any culvert in City right-of-way has to be 24″ minimum. Developer’s engineer knows if he touches that old 60s curb inlet he’ll have to replace it to current spec, better to match the flowline and save eight or ten large. Culverts go in and look huge because 24″ on top of the existing flowline is above the crown of the road. (v) Swamplot readers are confused because the 60s-era curb and gutter doesn’t match the existing right-of-way.” [Purple CIty, commenting on Here’s One Way To Get Extra Long Driveways for Your Fifth Ward Townhome] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/31/15 3:15pm

Scene of Auto Accident at Baron St. and Bayou St., Fifth Ward, Houston

Townhomes Under Construction, 400 Bayou St., Fifth Ward, HoustonAs a cautionary demonstration of the hazards of the kind of wacky old-roadway-meets-new-driveway construction found in front of a set of under-construction townhomes at the corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward, the accident pictured here doesn’t quite hold up to extended scrutiny. Sure, it might be tough for a vehicle to stay on the asphalt when a stretch of roadway suddenly disappears and new concrete driveways stretch across it (as illustrated in the second photo above). But here the damaged Escalade appears to have crashed into a stationary hazard on the opposite side of the street.


Dude, Where’s My Road?
03/19/15 1:15pm

Dallas St. Streetscape Improvements, Downtown Houston

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown HoustonIf you’ve been waiting to see what changes are coming to Dallas St. after the street-tree-chopping event earlier this month, here’s your scoop: the Downtown Redevelopment Authority is redoing the streetscape from Milam St. to Discovery Green with hopes of identifying Dallas St. as an actual shopping district. The plan was hatched back when one of the buildings facing Dallas was Downtown’s lone remaining department store, but it’s still going forward with the Macy’s out of the picture (actually, its former site is just behind and to the left of the view in the rendering above).

Instead, the repaving and re-treeing plan is intended to allow a bit more pedestrian activity and street parking for the remaining retail — including the entire northern flank of GreenStreet, the Houston Pavilions redo — and encouraging more to move in.

The changes will shrink the number of car lanes on the one-way street from 4 to 3, but add a parking lane to its north side.


Tree Chopping for Street Shopping
03/05/15 12:00pm

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown Houston

A Downtown reader sends in pics of a row of street trees on 6 blocks of Dallas St. that were chopped down over the weekend. The trees are distinctive because most of them were planted in the actual street, not on the adjacent sidewalk. They were planted in the street between parking spaces about 6 years ago, around the same time a single-lane-wide section of sidewalk that now serves a bus stop was installed in front of the HPD headquarters building at the corner of Travis and Dallas.

Here’s a view from above of a row of stumps that sits in front of the McDonald’s at 808 Dallas St.:


Right of Way
02/25/15 11:45am

TREE-CUTTING SETTLEMENT BUYS NEW LANDSCAPING AROUND KIRBY DR. WENDY’S Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonCity council approved a measure last week to spend $300,000 from a special fund for Houston parks on the installation of 6 new live-oak trees on the right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr. That’s the now-mostly treeless corner of North Blvd. pictured here, where crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, removed 6 old live-oak trees at night last October. The budget for the replacement includes removing what remains of the 6 stumps, installation of irrigation and subdrainage systems, and a 2-year warranty for the new trees, which will measure between 14 and 16 inches in diameter. The allotted budget matches the amount Dhanani paid in a settlement to the city for the incident last year. Any amount left over will be used for “additional improvements within City rights-of-way or park lands” approved by the Houston Parks Board director. [City of Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox