12/02/15 2:30pm

HOUSTON’S NEXT MAYOR CARES ABOUT YOUR MESSED-UP SIDEWALK Broken Sidewalk, Boulevard Oaks, HoustonSylvester Turner likes TxDOT’s plan to reroute I-45 around the east side of Downtown. Bill King has given up on riding his bike in the city because he feels it’s too dangerous. But both runoff candidates for mayor agree: Water quality is Houston’s most pressing environmental issue, and the city should shoulder more responsibility for fixing sidewalks. At least that’s what they wrote in response to a series of questions about the city’s built and natural environment submitted to them by the Rice Design Alliance’s Cite magazine. [OffCite] Photo: Flickr user bpawlik

11/05/13 10:00am

The reader who sends this photo from this morning’s commute — on I-45 North near Canino — says it appears workers were “just putting up” this “Save the Dome” sign from OurAstrodome.org on the billboard this morning. “I drive by there every day and I don’t remember seeing it [before today],” the reader reports. The campaign ad in support of Harris County Proposition 2 on today’s ballot — which will determine the fate of the Astrodome — is visible going northbound on the freeway. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

02/20/13 3:15pm

What’s the state of Houston? It’s right here: Fake is the New Real’s Neil Freeman redrew the 50 states, dividing them into parcels of about 6.2 million people so as to distribute electoral college votes more equally. The Lone Star State, this hypothetical map shows, has to be broken up. You’ve got Big Thicket in the middle, with Trinity, comprising Dallas and Fort Worth, tucked inside. Chinati expands up to El Paso along the Rio Grande. And you knew it had to be true: Houston stands alone.

You can see the new 50 states after the jump:


11/15/12 1:35pm

Extracted from a national map by datavisualization wiz John Nelson, here’s a map of Texas showing where votes for Romney and Obama came from, plotted point by point, by county. Using data from the Politico website, Nelson plotted a red dot for every 100 Romney votes and a light blue dot for every 100 Obama votes. Clumped purple masses fill the counties that envelop the state’s major metropolises.

Nelson tells future-fan website io9 that more typical red-blue political maps accentuate geographically large but population-light areas. “This method avoids the geo-social visual bias of large geographic areas having small populations overwhelming the overall picture. In this way both the relative volume and geographic distribution are apparent, as well as the partisan proportions throughout,” Nelson wrote of his national map, pictured here:


11/06/12 2:18pm

A LITTLE ELECTION DAY MUD-SLINGING IN SPRING A $58 million bond measure to reimburse developer DR Horton for utility and road construction on 400 soon-to-be-developed acres just south of The Woodlands and east of Gosling Rd. is expected to pass in today’s election by a mere 2 votes. The couple expected to account for the winning margin just moved into the area in a trailer they’ve parked in a clearing. And, yeah, they’ll be the only people allowed to vote on the measure. Does this sound like a strange picture in an elective democracy? It’s the normal course of events for establishing municipal utility districts on empty land. 659 MUDs are currently active in the Houston area; since 2009, 88 new ones have been established statewide. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Willow and Spring Creeks: Northampton MUD

10/22/12 4:26pm

Here’s the kind of campaign true fans of demolition can get behind: That’s Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker in the driver’s seat, about to trash a balcony at the Winfield I Condominiums at 10110 Forum West Dr., near the intersection of the Southwest Fwy. and Beltway 8. In taking the ceremonial first whack at a derelict complex, the city’s honorary demolisher-in-chief is campaigning in favor of a city bond issue on the November ballot that would generate $15 million to remove “blighted properties” like the Winfield. Though Proposition E is listed as a measure for housing bonds, the mayor’s office notes, the funds would “all go toward demolishing dangerous and abandoned buildings to make way for future affordable housing.”

Photo: Jessica Michan

08/06/12 12:39pm

Yep, that’s a bike-gear-sporting State Sen. Rodney Ellis, 2 city council members, and both bearded and cleanshaven versions of model Lauren Bush’s brother — Pierce Bush — talking up the idea of building more parks by more Houston bayous in this promotional video for an organization called Parks By You. What are they and their smiling costars so earnestly upbeat about? A $160 million bond initiative on the November ballot that would take a big step toward implementing the Houston Parks Board’s Bayou Greenways Project — a proposal to add green spaces and linear parks with concrete hike-and-bike trails along 100 miles of Houston bayous. The bond issue would help pay for improvements to more than a dozen existing parks and connect trails along 7 bayous in the city.

The overall vision (not all of which, apparently, is included in the bond measure) would transform Houston’s park map from this:


09/07/11 9:03am

ACCOUNTING FOR ALL THOSE OVERZEALOUS DICK SIGN POSTERS Political consultant and bandit-sign monitor Greg Wythe digs into campaign filings to assess a recent claim by at-large city council candidate Eric Dick — that many of the ubiquitous and often illegally posted signs advertising his candidacy throughout Houston are the work of “overzealous volunteers.” Wythe’s findings: At a sign distribution meeting held at the Captain Benny’s at 10896 Northwest Fwy. just south of 34th St. in mid-May, Dick’s campaign shelled out a whopping $22.36 to feed the overzealous crowd. But payments to a company hired to distribute the campaign’s signs amount to more than $5,000. [Greg’s Opinion; background; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Empty Lot Primary

06/17/11 1:06pm

YOU’RE STILL ON CORNER CAMERA Red-light cameras “continue to monitor intersections,” says Mayor Parker — even though no traffic tickets from the machines are currently being issued. Her comments came in response to a ruling this morning by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes that declared last November’s referendum ending the red-light-camera program invalid. The city charter limits the time during which a city ordinance may be repealed; according to Judge Hughes’s ruling, the referendum simply came too late. “Enforcing traffic signals by cameras may be good policy, or it may be bad policy. . . . The court simply must enforce the rules for making policy choices by charter amendment or referendum,” the Judge writes. “Those who favor repeal will react that this distinction is a legal technicality. In some sense, all law is a technicality.” [Office of the Mayor; ruling (PDF); more info; previously on Swamplot]

11/15/10 12:11pm

RED LIGHT CAMERAS NO LONGER RECORDING As of 10 this morning, all 70 traffic-intersection cameras have been turned off. Proposition 3, which would have allowed the cameras to continue to snap photos of red-light runners, was defeated by Houston voters 2 weeks ago. “City officials said they have $25 million in uncollected fines from citations that were issued. [Mayor] Parker said the city plans to aggressively go after those violators. City officials have not said when the cameras will be removed from the intersections.” [Click2Houston]

11/04/10 10:23am

H-E-B has announced the “winner” of the dress-up design contest for its new supermarket on the corner of West Alabama and Dunlavy — the site of the former Wilshire Village apartments. The top vote-getting entry, named “The Pavilion,” is easily distinguished from the other 2 proposals from San Antonio architects Lake Flato: It’s the one where the roof isn’t jaggedy and isn’t curvy. We’ll have more details shortly.

View of Pavilion design from Dunlavy driveway: Lake Flato

11/03/10 11:41am

A COME-FROM-BEHIND VICTORY FOR HOUSTON’S DRAINAGE FUND Surprise! A late flood of support turned the tide for the “Renew Houston” campaign. Proposition 1, the city charter amendment that sets up a separate pool of money for drainage improvements and establishes new taxpayer fees to pay for it, ended up passing by a very narrow margin: a little more than 7,000 votes. The amendment was supported heavily by engineering and construction firms. [Bay Area Citizen]

10/23/09 10:20am

PLANNING, GROWTH, AND THE MAYOR’S RACE Christof Spieler looks for a mayoral candidate’s winning coalition: Pro-Planning and Anti-Growth people don’t want their neighborhood to [change], and they want [the] government to protect it. These are NIMBYs; in local terms, they’re the “Stop Ashby Highrise” crowd. Pro-Planning and Pro-Growth people think the city will grow and change, but want that growth to guided. Locally, this is Blueprint Houston. Pro-Growth but Anti-Planning people think the city should grow, but that private developers should be left on their own to figure out [how] that growth will happen. That’s Houstonians for Responsible Growth. Anti-Planning and Anti-Growth seems like an oxymoron in a city like Houston. But there are people in this group — they see their city is changing and they don’t like that change, but they think that change is being driven by government. Call them the tea partiers. Here’s what makes that split important: none of these four segments are big enough to govern the city alone. Pro-Growth/Anti-Planning ruled the city for decades — but Pro-Planning/Anti-Growth neighborhoods are pushing back. And, as the Ashby Highrise shows, they’re nearly at a stalemate.” [Intermodality]