Comment of the Day: Getting Around in the Midrange Suburbs

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GETTING AROUND IN THE MIDRANGE SUBURBS “. . . To me, the goal is not to make Houston’s car culture better. I want to provide people with alternatives to driving. But we have fallen into a trap, where we concentrate our efforts on a few prewar neighborhoods near downtown — because they look the part — and assume that postwar neighborhoods are beyond hope. This happens all over the country, but in Houston it’s really tragic because most of our City was developed after World War II. I brought up Gulfton because not only is it Houston’s densest neighborhood, it is also one of the most neglected. But Sharpstown is in the same predicament. And Oak Forest. And most of Memorial at the other end of the economic spectrum. Most of Houston, really. These areas are too spread out for walkability and rail. But with a few small improvements (a new bus route here; a bicycle path there, a foot bridge), they could be made far less dependent on the automobile. If only we could get out of the trap we’re in.” [ZAW, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Drive Toward a Denser Houston]

12 Comment

  • To improve Sharpstown it would need to be a one way bus line out of town…..

  • Eh I like the way Sharpstown is at the moment. Let the suburban trash keep their hour commute and let the yuppies live in in their overpriced terribly built townhomes. I live in a beautiful meyerland sized mid century modern home, my neighborhood is safe, property taxes are low, the dining scene is the BEST in the city (Sorry Montrose. Let me know when you get an authentic Persian, Mexican -not texmex-, Indian, Pakistanian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and American restaurant all within a half mile within each other.


  • I have to go to that area from time to time (Sharpstown). Can’t imagine living there. I also can’t see the food situation being better than Montrose. I can walk to about 20 good places in 10-15 minutes. Not sure where else in Houston that would exist.

  • Try bellaire (the street) if you like Asian cuisine, something direly lacking in the Montrose area unless you like trendy overpriced sushi, or utterly americanized Thai food (niddha/kun khay), real Chinese food is something Montrose direly lacks.

  • Don’t get me wrong, the dining scene in Montrose is solid if you’re into the trendy overpriced yuppy scene. However, if you enjoy affordable home cooked ethnic eateries, Sharpstown is the best it’s gonna get. Sorry, but when little bigs is one of the most popular restaurants in your area, you definitely got a problem.

  • Yeah little bigs is hit or miss, but BB’s is the business across the street. But then again in your area Bombay sweets, Busy Boy deli, Chinese Cafe on Bellaire along with Xiong’s cafe/dumplings trump pretty much anything in montrose or even downtown. We also need an Asian market badly.

  • Ummm, Ok, Robert. We will let you know I guess… If it’s a little more than a half-mile, would you be interested in knowing as well or is it a hard-lined 1/2 mile only?
    Sincerely, The Yuppies.

  • while it sounds so picturesque all these fit and beautiful people are riding bikes and walking to work, its very hard to for most people to live near near their office, especially if you are priced out of the location. it’s too hot for 9 months out of the year in Houston to ride a bike or walk to walk to work, walk anywhere. hardly ever notice people on the bike paths, especially at rush hour.

  • Hey, don’t knock little bigs. While I don’t “eat” there, I do stop there for a shake from time to time. Their shakes are awesome. :)

  • The problem with doing improvements to Sharpstown/Oak Forest/etc is that the deed restrictions are still active. Most of the inner loop was built with 25-year deed restrictions that have long since expired, which lets you do projects like Ashby or 2727 Kirby or a brick and stucco midrise of the sort that enrages certain commenters here.

    There is thus a “virtuous cycle” where infrastructure improvements in these areas lead to redevelopment, which leads to higher property tax revenue for the city. You can’t get that in Sharpstown because most of it is still restricted to single family detached.

    If and when those restrictions do expire, it will be easier to convert the curved long blocks of a Sharpstown/Oak Forest to denser development than the “loops and lollipops” that are currently being built on the fringe. So, give it time.

  • KHH: You’re stuck in the trap that I was talking about. You assume that the only way to get people out of their cars is to drastically change the urban landscape – replacing single family homes and yards with midrises and highrises, wide sidewalks, and street level retail.
    In fact what you really need to get people out of their cars are pleasant, direct, quick routes for walking, biking, or transit. In many cases this is much easier to attain than the urban upheaval that you’re talking about. I’ll note that older suburbs like Sharpstown are too spread out for walking, but with a few minor upgrades, they could be paradise for cycling.

  • That’s a lot of stereotyping, Robert. Everyone is either suburban trash or overpriced yuppies? Bullshit. It might shock you, but some of us inside the Loop don’t life in townhomes. There are a lot of lovely older homes here for us.

    I lived in the Gulfton/Sharpstown area for many years. It was awful, mainly because people are very rude. I was constantly harassed on the street and by landlords.

    I agree with ZAW, just making areas more walkable and bikeable makes a difference. I live in Third Ward now and it’s very walkable and bikeable.

    Corey: we used to have several Asian markets in the old Vinatown area (these days it’s Midtown and they are gone.) I agree bringing them back would be great, but most of the population they serve has moved SW.

    Still Drivin has a great point: because Houston is so large, it is very hard to live near your job. That is why we need a good public transportation system!