12/12/17 11:45am

BROADACRES HOA TAKES DOWN ITS ESPLANADE NO-PHOTOSHOOT SIGNS The Broadacres Homeowners Association has removed all signs posted on the esplanades along North, South, and West boulevards welcoming visitors and telling them photoshoots are prohibited. As to whether the esplanades are public or private property — that’s still up in the air: “The homeowners association said the property was deeded to the group in the 1920s, and is looking for the documentation to enforce its ban.” The HOA initially placed the 11 signs on the esplanades last Thursday. [abc13; Previously on SwamplotPhoto: Swamplot inbox

12/11/17 1:30pm

WHO OWNS THE ESPLANADES ON NORTH AND SOUTH BOULEVARDS? The president of the Broadacres Homeowners Association, Cece Fowler, tells the Houston Chronicle’s Diane Cowen last weekend that the neighborhood’s esplanades, as well as the park along Parkway Dr., are owned by the HOA. However, Cowen says that according to the City of Houston, the esplanades are part of the city’s Adopt-An-Esplanade program, making them public right-of-way. The dispute continues: “Fowler said that she and her board are conducting a title search to prove their ownership. She said the neighborhood has maintained and financed the esplanades and green space from the beginning.” That maintenance took a new turn last Thursday when 11 signs prohibiting photoshoots were erected on the esplanades. According to Fowler, the gatherings had become more than a nuisance: “up to 40 to 50” were occurring per week beneath the canopies of oaks that line the boulevards between Mandel St. and Parkway Dr. The 26 homeowners that make up the community discussed mitigation strategies like putting in speed bumps, adding a gate to the neighborhood, or hiring full-time security personnel before settling on the signs as a more cordial means of discouraging shutter-happy visitors. Now that they’re up, residents hope they’ll keep out flashbulbs as well as the props that sometimes come with them: “Fowler said some have brought in sofas and bookcases and one group drove a Jeep onto the esplanade, damaging the grass, brick sidewalk and sprinkler system. They throw confetti onto the ground and release Mylar balloons into the trees. And all bring photography equipment and crews that hang around for hours.”  [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Swamplot inbox

12/07/17 2:00pm

Quick, name your Top 10 quintessential images of Houston. The Water Wall, maybe? Buffalo Bayou Park looking toward downtown? And how about one of those aerial views of flooded neighborhoods? But what about a view more likely to spur real estate sales, like the double rows of coastal live oaks lining North and South boulevards in Broadacres?

A new set of signs erected this week in the boulevards’ iconic esplanades have something to say about that often seen scene: “WELCOME TO BROADACRES,” they read, “NO PHOTO SHOOTS.” The signs go on to describe other local menaces such as unleashed dogs and their residue, and note that the esplanades as well as the park on the east side of Parkway Dr. are privately owned.

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Brides Be Gone
10/20/17 4:45pm

Without providing too much detail on the scope of the accompanying construction (“a remodel the owner wants to do”), KHOU’s Marcelino Benito yesterday interviewed one of the proprietors of Oak Forest coffee house and occasional goat-yoga venue Slowpokes, who along with several customers and neighbors has been protesting landlord Naushad Momin’s apparent plans to chop down 2 large oak trees on site — to add more paving and parking spaces.

The oak trees sit at the southern end of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St., which faces Alba St., and shade a lawn (pictured at top) adjacent to the Slowpokes patio deck. Chopping down trees to add more parking might appear to be a landlord’s prerogative, despite tenant opposition. Except possibly not in this case:

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Oak Deforesting
09/12/17 12:45pm

Sometime over the weekend the row of a dozen-plus street trees lining the west side of Kirby Dr. between W. Main St. and Colquitt got cut down, a Swamplot reader reports. This leaves the eastern front of the Kirby Collection construction site fronted by an alternating pattern of high and low streetlights and stumps. The wooden construction fence that stood for about a year just inside of the sidewalk in front of the mixed-use project is now gone. The photo above shows the view looking south now from the corner of W. Main St.

The removed “highrise” oaks had been installed 9 years ago with the reconstruction of Kirby Dr. — replacing the larger 20-year-old oaks that had been there earlier.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Upper Kirby
08/18/17 4:15pm

RESTRICTIONS ON MUNICIPAL TREE ORDINANCES CUT DOWN, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR The special session of the Texas Legislature ended without passing a law — which Governor Abbott had wantedbanning cities from regulating owners’ rights to cut down trees on their property. But the Lege didn’t exactly leave the issue alone, either: HB7, signed into law earlier this week by Governor Abbott and scheduled to go into effect on December 1, prevents municipalities (that haven’t already done so) from charging homeowners a fee for trees cut down on their property that are smaller than 10 in. — and requires cities that levy any mitigation fee for cutting down larger trees to also allow a credit for planting 2-in.-diameter replacements. The credits would be required to range from 40 percent to 100 percent of the fee itself; if the property is an owner-occupied residence, the credit would have to equal the mitigation fee. [Houston Chronicle ($); bill text; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

07/25/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN IMPORTANT RULE ABOUT LOCAL RULE “What seems weird to me is the idea that one government body is passing a law that says that other government bodies are not allowed to pass laws that do certain specific things. Maybe this is common and I’ve just never noticed it before, but it seems like a brazen attempt by one ideological group to attempt to use their success getting elected into a majority in one jurisdiction to legislate (or block legislation) in another jurisdiction where they were not able to get elected into a majority.” [wcthoms, commenting on The State of Texas and the Right To Cut Down Trees Without Notice] Illustration: Lulu

07/24/17 4:00pm

THE STATE OF TEXAS AND THE RIGHT TO CUT DOWN TREES WITHOUT NOTICE “. . . a municipality, county, or other political subdivision may not enact or enforce any ordinance, rule, or other regulation that restricts the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation on the owner’s property, including a regulation that requires the owner to file an affidavit or notice before removing the tree or vegetation.” That wording — minus only a few dozen lines of accompanying legalese — forms the core of the new HB 70, a state bill introduced this month to enact the ban on local tree regulations Governor Abbott announced he wanted passed during the Texas legislature’s special session. Among the 50 or so Texas cities that would see their restrictions on the removal of trees from private property removed should the bill become law: West University Place. [Legiscan; Texas Tribune; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/26/17 12:00pm

What wonders wait in the secret rooftop garden that appears to be peeking over the edge of the highrise at 801 Saint Joseph Pkwy.? Reader and city sleuth Rachel Dvoretzky spotted a handful of leafy protrusions from the former hotel, Vedic school, and ambiguous combination thereof, most recently converted to a Days Inn prior to its slide into further dilapidation. The ever-changing graffiti veneer presented to passing Pierce Elevated drivers has seen some changes since April, too:

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Between Heaven and Heaven on Earth
06/22/17 11:00am

A congregation of relocated trees — many of which have been plucked out of the way of the bus lane work going on along Post Oak Blvd. in Uptown right now — was spotted this week by a Fifth Ward resident checking out the former KBR site along Clinton Dr. CityCentre developer Midway is gearing up the process of rebranding its new old campus along the industrial stretch of Buffalo Bayou as East River; early marketing materials now floating around say they’ve collected some 300 trees from the Uptown work and are saving them for later redeployment in and around the 136-acre development, as part of parks and streetscaping.

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Save the Trees for Later
06/14/17 1:30pm

TREE RULE REVENGE AND OTHER LOCAL REAL ESTATE TARGETS ON JULY’S STATE SPECIAL SESSION HIT LIST So what all’s on governor Greg Abbott’s to-do list for July’s special legislative session, following the variously dramatic finales to House and Senate business during the normal session last month? Some 19 topics are included in the governor’s shortlist after the maybe-killed-on-purpose sunset legislation (which Abbott has said has to pass before anything else can be done); the extensive extra credit list, he says, is meant to “make [the extra session] count.” Plopped in the middle of property tax reform, caps on local spending, changes to local permitting processes, and changes to how cities deal with construction project rules: a ban on local tree ordinances — at least, the ones that impact tree-decisions on private property. (Why the sudden focus on what the governor calls “socialistic” plant regulations, which is placed even higher up the list than taking another go at a bathroom bill? The leafy beef seems to stem from Abbott’s own run-in with an Austin tree regulation back in 2012, which didn’t ultimately prevent him from getting rid of a couple of large pecans he wanted to remove, but did slow things down.) [Office of the Texas Governor; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/27/17 11:30am

Beheaded Trees at Lyric Center garage site, 440 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002
 
A weekend wanderer sends a few photos of the new sprouts now poking out of some recently beheaded trees alongside the Lyric Centre parking garage construction site on Smith St. It’s unclear exactly when the shortening occurred, though a shot taken of the site back in late October seems to show at least a few of the trees still tall enough to peek over the construction fencing:

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Stumped Downtown
04/13/17 1:30pm

Former Tree at Axelrad Beer Garden, 1517 Alabama St., Midtown, Houston, TX 77004Swapping in for the tubelight-bedecked elm that’s been standing in the middle of Axelrad Beer Garden at the corner of Almeda Rd. and Alabama St.: this way-past-sapling Shumard red oak, carefully trucked, tipped, and dropped into place earlier this week, as captured in the Yakety-Sax-tracked video montage above. The changeover comes at the end of the original tree’s years-long shuffle toward death, per the bar’s telling: the group was advised to evict the tree when they first started setting up the space — as it was already old, and had been hit pretty hard by that tire-revealing 2011 drought — but opted to keep it around for a few years instead.

Following a recent lightning strike from which it would never quite recover, the tree finally lost enough branches that the bar owners opted to put it out of its misery:

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Series of Tubes in Midtown
03/07/17 11:00am

Tree drama at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002Tree drama at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

The ongoing saga of the Allen’s Landing trees coming down recently in bits and pieces — apparently the handiwork of an elusive Buffalo Bayou beaver or 2 — has come to a likely end with the non-rodent-assisted removal of the final stumps, Swamplot’s semi-regular Franklin St. correspondent and wildlife tipster notes. But life around the White Oak-Buffalo confluence goes on! Spring is here, which means the ducks have been out and about, while the cranes are busy pulling fledgling parking garage superstructures up into the air:

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Didn’t Leave It To Beavers
02/15/17 1:30pm

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

Planned Spring Pines Shopping Center, Spring Cypress Rd. at Holzwarth Rd., Spring, TX 77388

The tree evictions appear to have begun on the 14 acres of wooded land near the intersection of Holzworth and Spring Cypress roads marked for that Kroger Marketplace announced last year. A reader snapped some shots of spread gravel and a log stackup on the site (a piece of the larger 50-acre tract outlined in red in Read King’s leasing flier, as shown here). Preliminary plans for the broader Spring Pines Shopping Center include a slew of new retail spots near the Kroger; leasing plans for the soon-to-be-former forest note that the Kroger is almost directly across Spring Cypress from the area’s H-E-B, itself right across FM 2920 from the Aldi grocery store that moved into the area a few years ago:

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Groundwork in Spring