Comment of the Day: A Revote for the Heights Historic Districts?

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A REVOTE FOR THE HEIGHTS HISTORIC DISTRICTS? “As everyone pretty much expected the [Preservation Ordinance] meeting [last night] was different than the others. It looked like about 500 showed up and the opponents of the new ordinance were dominant. At the end Sue Lovell had a hand vote by District “For” and “Against” having a revote on the Historic District application. The vote broke down this way: Heights South: For – 65 / Against – 40 Heights West: For – 38 / Against – 25 Heights East: For – 49 / Against – 31 Because there was a clear majority in favor of a revote Sue said that there would be one (I recorded the meeting). . . .” [SCD, commenting on Proposed Historic District Changes: No Will Mean No, 67 Percent Will Mean Yes]

21 Comment

  • Does that mean they are using 67% instead of 51% for Houston Heights South? The whole chronology of the process is so arcane and confusing. I can’t see how people can vote on historic designation without knowing what the proposed ordinance will be when passed. But I guess that it’s in line with the way things have been conducted so far. The way this has been handled is changing my politics away from government involvement.

  • I just wish Sue Lovell would clean up her own front yard. And that isn’t a metaphor.

  • The hand vote was just to see how many people would want to have the opportunity to reconsider whether they want to be considered an historic district given the proposed new changes to the ordinance. Whilst it carries no actual weight the results of the vote show pretty clearly how much the homeowners trust City Hall to get it right.

  • The ordinance will be reviewed, reworked, revised, and there will be additional opportunities for comments. Current owners of homes in Historic Districts will be sent post cards after the ordinance is finalized, not before. They will vote again.

    I observed many attendees at the meeting who do not live in the historic districts. Attendees voted who should not have voted. The pot is calling the kettle black.

  • There were a lot of people there that do not live in the Historic Districts. I don’t know if any of them voted but I did see a resident of Woodland Heights vote under South Heights. In all fairness though, that person may own a house there too.

    One VERY disingenuous thing about all this is that these meeting are “restricted” to residents of the current Historic Districts. This Ordinance affects ALL POTENTIAL HISTORIC DISTRICTS, which is pretty much everything within the beltway. Since HAHC can name Historic Districts without property owner consent these meetings should be open to the City at large.

  • From SCD:

    One VERY disingenuous thing about all this is that these meeting are “restricted” to residents of the current Historic Districts. This Ordinance affects ALL POTENTIAL HISTORIC DISTRICTS, which is pretty much everything within the beltway. Since HAHC can name Historic Districts without property owner consent these meetings should be open to the City at large.


    That of course one of the more curious things about the proposed ordinance. These existing districts may decide to rescind their previous votes for their districts and in essence rescind the district only to find, if the proposed ordinance passes, that City Hall has simply redeclared them a district.

    Something stinks. Some apparently have lost their sense of smell.

  • Changes to the boundries of the historic districts must follow the procedures set forth in the ordinance (33-225 and 33-227). There is a detailed de-designation procedure. If people want out of the historic disctricts, the procedure is there. Follow it. The City does not have the authority to “poll” districts to see whether they want to remain after the changes to the ordinance are made.

    I was at the meeting. The opposition is being led by a group of three Heights area realtors. They have made outlandish claims about HAHC having control over paint color and other bizarre interpretations of the ordinance. They think that the Heights would be better protected by going back to the status quo (deed restrictions and landmark designation). Yeah, that was really working great.

  • Tulane,
    Outlandish claims aside, there’s still plenty of language that needs to be better defined.

  • Are you suggesting that the City does have the authority though to ask people to vote on whether they want to be in a historic district … and then change the historic district ordinance after the fact without asking the voters whether that is OK with them? The proposed changes are significant, I think people deserve to be able to say whether they approve of them.

  • To Tulane,
    Wouldn’t the city have the authority to change the ordinance to allow the city to poll districts to see if they want to remain after changes are made the same way they have the authority to change the ordinance to begin with?
    I take issue with you implying that the opposition is being led by a small group of people whose success is the result of misinformation. I am a homeowner who has never met any heights realtors or read any of their opinions on the issue. The only information I have comes from the original ordinance and the proposed changes and I am strongly against it.

  • What the ordinance supporters, who accuse the opposition of being nothing but “evil” realtors, fail to mention is that these “evil” realtors are also area residents. They have just as much right as the supporters to state their opinions, push for their rights as homeowners and organize in their communities.

    I am a Woodland Heights-area bungalow homeowner, not a builder or realtor, and I am strongly against the ordinance as it now stands. While not in the district now, I am afraid of being annexed into this Historic District without any say, which this ordinance could allow.

    How about city stops all this cloak and dagger and puts it to a vote in November for ALL voters in districts that are 50+ years old.

  • From Heights Weirdo:

    How about city stops all this cloak and dagger and puts it to a vote in November for ALL voters in districts that are 50+ years old.


    That would happen in a perfect world. This is not a perfect world. And City Hall in particular would not willingly put zoning back on the ballot. Any kind of ballot. And this is, again, zoning by ordinance. And it is likely there will be lawsuits and the courts will rule it as such and throw it out. To great cost to the taxpayers. But that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone at City Hall, does it?

  • I have heard someone claim that I am a realtor, which could not be further from the truth. I only made contact with the responsible preservation group after I saw signs in the neighborhood. By then I had been to the Planning Commission hearing and had sent numerous emails in protest of the process. I have totally been involved in this as an owner of what I have always considered to be a “teardown” bungalow with lot value and no house value. I heard about it from a friend of mine who lives down the street. She warned me that I might not be able to sell my house, which is the first I’d heard of it approximately a month ago. After I handed out flyers protesting the “protection,” I received numerous phone calls supporting my position. I got many calls from the elderly who either don’t understand the whole process (as if anyone does) or are housebound and unable to attend hearings and are completely against the historic designation with “protection.” I was appalled that a show of hands at a hearing was determinative of anything. I know a lot of people who could not attend the hearing and so had no chance to raise their hands. I asked a condemnation lawyer to attend the meeting in my stead because of a work commitment and was advised that there was mass chaos in the hearing and that no one seemed able to follow the questions and answers. He also advised me that the City has obviously not thought of the financial implications that attach to the proposed outcome and that will be borne by the entire City, not just the Heights. It has been a very demoralizing experience. I still hold to my position that aesthetic concerns should not trump people’s retirement incomes and financial futures.

  • Tulane St. is absolutley correct. You can only amend a designation of any historict district or change any boundary in any existing district by following the petition procedures in Sec.’s 33-225 and 226. The same is true under the proposed new ordinance. Sec. 33-227 does not change. There is absolutely no basis for having a “re-survey” as proposed by Sue Lovell and Marlene Gafrick.
    If the new ordinance does not pass then everything should stay as it is. If someone wants to change a historic district, read the ordinance, start your petition and see if you can get HAHC, the Planning Commission and the City Council to vote that the Heights is not historic. I will be at every hearing working against you.

  • New-Ordinance Supporters Falsely Bemoan ‘Loss of Their Property-Rights’ to Camouflage Their Ambitious Grab of EVERYBODY’S Property-Rights Without-Reciprocity.


    New-ordinance opponents stand righteously in defense of ALL neighbors’ property rights. New-ordinance opponents do not claim the right to tell ALL neighbors what they can do with their properties.

    I am a new-ordinance opponent and I do not claim the right to stop ALL neighbors from preserving their ‘historic’ structures; I believe supporters have the right to preserve their properties to their heart’s content, but not my property.


    On the other hand, new-ordinance supporters claim the right to restrict ALL neighbors.

    New-ordinance supporters do not believe in their opponent’s property-rights, even though new-ordinance opponents defend the rights of ALL neighbors including new-ordinance supporters. I ask you, who is on the right side of this argument? New-ordinance opponents are of course!


    New-ordinance supporters’ seemingly benign assault on the rights of their opponents is pretentiously well-intended at best, and at worst it conceals one-sided rights-grab ambitions void of reciprocity or compromise.

  • @heightsroadbiker. You are already supporting changing a historic district. You are supporting changing it by changing the wording and intent of the ordinance that was orginally voted on. It would be akin to asking people to vote on a 65mph speed limit and then afer the votes have been counted telling them that you really meant 35.

  • “Common Good”: I heard this phrase being used by the people who want historic protection last night at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Apparently, those of us who do not want the same things are not part of the “common good.” To me, common good is something that benefits everyone–food, health, etc. Not an aesthetic preference not shared by all. I’d also like to say that for 15 years in the Heights I was surrounded by people with very low incomes and their houses were in total disrepair. They were on the whole very kind well-intentioned people. At no time did I call the police, the City, or animal control because of how they lived. Instead, I mowed the grass for the elderly woman behind me who brought in a homeless man and let him live in her garage for years. I fed the pets and got all medical treatments, including shots, of the animals that belonged to the people across the street for years. Luckily I managed to get homes for the animals and convince the people to give them up. I spent $4,000 on 19 cats abandoned by someone in one of the houses (luckily, people at my job took up a collection and paid half). I am still in touch with some of those people. When new construction came in, I was hopeful that there would be fewer animal problems but at no time did I do one thing to get the people around me to leave or to change the way they lived because they couldn’t afford anything else. At no time was my quality of life improved by these rundown houses but I did not presume that their rights were not as important as mine. When they were able to sell their houses for enough money to improve their lives, I was glad for them even though it meant having a huge house practically sitting in my back yard. At no time did I try to either stop or promote new construction. Now suddenly I’m in the midst of people that want to tell me what to do with my house. If they’re worried about the common good, I suggest they concern themselves with the health and nutrition of other people, not insuring that everyone is forced into their aesthetic philosophies. Someone at the hearing said he’d heard a lot of personal problems that weren’t as important as the common good. Since when does the “common good” not include the problems of others?

  • I wonder too, in another 20 years just how many of the folks who are actively pushing for these historic district changes will still be living in these homes that they so fervently want to preserve.

    Not many I’d guess. They’ll leave the home, the neighborhood and maybe the city along with the mess they’ve made. Someone else will have to clean up.

  • Susan Prospere:

    you are the kind of neighbor I admire, God Bless you.

    A bungalow-graveyard is the “common good” they want to impose on ALL of us.


    you’re are right; in 2050 the 10 yr old ‘McMansions’ of today will be ‘historic’ and they will be impossible to tear down if the ‘common good’ doers get their way.

  • I want to echo the sentiments here of the ordinance opponents. Tyranny by the majority and/or the political class is still tyranny. This attempted taking of property rights is unlawful and if implemented will be adjudicated as such eventually at tremendous costs to everyone involved but disproportionately the taxpayers of this city. Changing key elements of an ordinance after the fact is transparently dishonest and reprehensible. This is an odious attempt by our city officials to enact through the back door what they dare not bring through the front.

  • Hts Owners since 79:

    I agree with you and it is not even a majority. It is a few self-appointed ‘preservationist’ who are trampling on everybody’s rights.

    The opposition to the new ordinance was the larger group at all three meeting I attended, but that does not seem to matter. “Preservationists” have this one-term mayor on their side and she feels she has the right to jam her ideals down our throats. It is not us who own our properties, it is mayor Parker and HAHC who are the owners.