Montrose District Battle Heads to Court

MONTROSE DISTRICT BATTLE HEADS TO COURT The owner of a 6-unit apartment complex in Montrose has filed suit against the Montrose Management District, hoping a court decision will help shut down the taxing entity. A petition calling for the dissolution of the district was delivered to the organization’s managers last September. It contained 988 signatures — accounting for more than the required 75 percent of the district’s assessed property values, according to district opponents. But the district says the 75 percent threshold hasn’t been met, because its count includes the value of residential properties in the total. The lawsuit says including residences to figure the 75 percent threshold is “perverse,” since the district can only assess taxes on commercial property. [Houston Chronicle; more info; previously on Swamplot] Map: Stop the District

23 Comment

  • This should be interesting…

  • Expose the MMD!

  • Goodness knows the Montrose management district isn’t doing anything to beautify the neighborhood. That said, I think the mgmt dist. structure in general works well in making improvements to Houston locally.

  • Who besides those who expect or already have a seat at the MMD feeding trough support this boondoggle?

  • I think Montrose can be more of a landmark in Houston (both residentially and commercially) than any other part. West U has its branding, signage, and self-sustaining marketability, as does Upper Kirby and River Oaks. Even Southampton has its lighting and “Boulevard Oaks” signs, and esplanades. My wife suggested the MMD should have banners along Westheimer from 300 to 1500 saying “Restaurant Row”, and have marketing on the web for it as well. MMD can do well if the businesses use it rather than sue it.

  • No, a restaurant row is wholly contrived, and designed to bring in clueless outsiders that spend money on things that the neighborhood residents have absolutely no interest in…like a Chili’s restaurant or a Fuddruckers. It’d be one thing if there were a scarcity of jobs nearby and tourism was something that could be drummed up as an economic sector unto itself. But Montrose is doing pretty well in that regard without the help. There’s just no upside to selling one’s soul to suburbanites.

  • I suggest you join the EMCA, Avondale, Westmoreland, and other local civic groups mailing lists. They report crimes occurring almost daily and Montrose is a long way from ok. Those groups have also noted though, as recently as i the last week, that the additional patrols and arrests have made a huge difference that the MMD provided.

  • Sounds to me like the “Uppies” as in the Yuppies and Guppies look at the MMD as simply a means to an end. Taxing the apartment complex owners into oblivion and thereby getting rid of the apartment complexes. And then of course they will manage to do the same to the duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. As I recall the Texas Attorney General’s office called into question the use of TIRZ districts to “revitalize” areas developers simply wanted to “develop” rather than “revitalize” and of course you get into the word “blight.” I suppose some believe apartment complexes are “blight.” So now we have “management districts.” As for who’s behind this, well, again, don’t blame me. I didn’t vote for her.

  • If you need signage to find entertainment in Montrose, you probably aren’t the kind of person who wants to hang out in Montrose.

  • Management Districts are a great way for neighborhoods to empower themselves.

  • Greg, a few questions…
    Do you think it’s fair that this tax is paid for by ONLY commercial property owners? If this is for the good of Montrose, why not setup a special tax paid for by all property owners?
    Do you think it’s fair that only 25 signatures were needed to be able to give them unaccountable taxing power over every commercial building in Montrose — with the ability to foreclose a property if not paid? With the ability to raise the tax later if they want?
    Do you think it’s fair that even when almost 80% of the taxed commercial property owners are against it the district, and signed petitions as such, they still don’t dissolve as required by law? (even though it’s supposed to require only 75%, which, by the way, is still a GIANT hurdle).
    Do you think it’s fair that the district themselves are able to use high priced lawyers ($500+/hr!!) to do the counting and validating of the petitions themselves? Using funds taken from the very people that are trying to get rid of them? How is that not a conflict of interest? Hire lawyers using the money of the people that want to get rid of you, to determine if the signatures are valid in order to get rid of you. Yeah, that sounds legit.
    Do you think it’s fair that after validating almost all signatures, to then claim that you need 75% not just of affected taxed commercial properties (as required in the law) but 75% of EVERY PROPERTY in Montrose (which would be impossible)?
    I’ll tell you my reply: no, no, no, no, no.
    The only people that might be in favor of this are home owners that may feel they’re getting something for nothing (benefits while the tax is paid for by someone else). They don’t realize that tax is being paid for by the business owners they often shop at and passed along by higher prices. It’s also paid for by renters that can afford it the least, and get yet another tax passed along to them in rent (ever wonder why rents in Montrose are going crazy? It’s not just supply/demand).
    This is a terrible deal. There is zero reason for it. If business owners want to organize voluntarily (as many business do via alliances that freely exist) to do good things for themselves, great. But don’t get 25 pinheads with the power to steal millions from all other small business owners. Even if you don’t think it’ll effect you directly, you should be against it on principle of fairness alone.

  • We live in a duplex. How, exactly, does a duplex qualify as a commercial property? Just because my old landlord owns a handful of duplexes they are now “commercial” properties.

    This scheme is going to break the old man, not to mention now the rent has to go up. Since when do I need a fat-ass city inspector bureaucrat poking around my place, looking in the cabinets and in the closets to determine if the old place is fit for my habitability? Fucking do-gooders.

  • @Matt Mystery: What was that Tex AG opinion on TIRZ in reference to? I have always wondered why TIRZ show up in very desireable locations while the areas that need a TIRZ in a big way are completely overlooked.

  • Montrose – Man: Fair is one issue. A separate issue might be choosing to sue a group of lawyers that gets paid $500+/hr. A lot of people, rightly, fought for fairness in history (take the Enlightenment period). Then they went broke and still did not get their fairness, and some got guillotined… Fair versus smart… you choose.

  • Montrose Man: Agree 100%. MMD is full of cronies – it’s opaque, lacks oversight and lacks accountability. Montrose is doomed. These services are the responsibility of the city -we pay enough property taxes. Here’s an idea: abolish the MMD. If these people are so good, let them overhaul COH departments that should be providing these services: Business Development, Transportation Planning, Public Safety and Visual Improvements/Cultural Promotion. The city needs help. Pity the small business owner. MMD stacked the deck with the likes of Bracewell & Guiliani who will be wining & dining at Montrose’s finest restaurants (compliments of Montrose’s small business owners). When the trough runs dry they will levy taxes on the residents .. in the name of signage.

  • What have we received in the West MMD for the
    2,500,000.00 we’ve paid in over the last two years…………SFA. The time for these extortionists to fold their tent and creep of silently in the night has come. They are pilfering what’s left on the sinking ship.

  • I hope the lawsuit exposes the underhanded tactics the MMD uses. It is really going to ruin Montrose. And Claude Wynn’s dream of running a trolley down Montrose Blvd. is the height of arrogance. If he wants a trolley run it down Courtlandt Place where he lives. And the MMD legislation was enacted by Ms.Cohen (the then representative in the Texas House) and now the Montrose City Council rep. The whole scam is CROOKED.

  • MMD’s treasurer is Kathy Hubbard (the mayor’s partner) and Wynn is the ringleader. A real sham – like mobsters without guns.

  • This whole scam smells like the Historic Neighborhood designation.

  • From Old School:
    @Matt Mystery: What was that Tex AG opinion on TIRZ in reference to? I have always wondered why TIRZ show up in very desireable locations while the areas that need a TIRZ in a big way are completely overlooked.


    Someone finally asked for an opinion. Not sure who did. But it was in reference to “misuse” of the statute. I believe John Cornyn looked at The Galleria TIRZ, yes, the mall, and at the Memorial City TIRZ, yes, the mall. Both of which were formed to “revitalize” the developer/owners. Which John Cornyn didn’t say in the opinion. But might as well have. He ruled that the word “blight” had been, well, “misused.” As for the “misuse” well he also looked at the gerrymandering in the Fourth Ward TIRZ. When they had to “redo” the petition after the Antone family withdrew support they drew a little imaginary line down the middle of West Dallas and included the Trammel Crow apartment complex on West Dallas. Which sort of “redefined” blighted. Annise Parker was among those at City Hall who shot the bird at everyone. Including John Cornyn. You get what you vote for. Including Ellen Cohen. I didn’t vote for her either. Interesting she was involved in the “switch” to “management districts.” Interesting but I suppose not surprising.

  • The board of this so called management district reminds me of the Harper Valley PTA.
    Businesses in the Montrose were doing just fine for themselves before the MMD came along. Old School is correct, these TIRZ’s only seem to pop up in areas that developers with ties to city hall and the Texas Legislature want to cash in on. It’s interesting there is no TIRZ for the Telephone Rd./OST area, or Denver Harbor, which could truly use some “revitalization”.

  • Thanks, Matt Mystery. I think it is as much a case of well connected developers as it is weak knee-ed City bureaucrats who look for the deals that will succeed instead of taking a risk on a part of town that really needs the help. It is sad too because Houston’s inner city has a ton of potential for development. Houston does not have the impenetrable fortresses of urban decay that cities like Philly (northside), Boston (Dorchester, Roxbury), and Baltimore (entire city) have that are simply “no go” zones for development. If the City really put its nose to the economic grindstone, the Eastside could see more housing starts that the Heights/Washington Corridor. But the City likes to cozy up to the developments that are a sure thing and then take credit for what was a done deal long before the City showed up with a podium, big scissors, ribbon and a shiney shovel for the photo op.

  • My friend told me there is an “emergency” Montrose Management District meeting today at noon to go over this lawsuit. The meetings are open to the public. I went to one a while ago and there are a few swamp lot posters there.
    Address is 401 Branard. 77006. Second floor. Try to go if you can. Doesn’t matter if your for or against. The time I went there were only a few other people which is sad given the importance.
    Everyone should try to go. Perfect lunch break activity. Think of it as a RL Swamplot meet-and-greet. Guss, you should go :)