Trying to Kill the Montrose Management District

Opponents of the 8-month-old Montrose Management District are now claiming they have collected enough signatures to dissolve the entity. Created in February from the combination of the East Montrose Management District and the recently established Harris Country Improvement District No. 11, the new district is one of several such organizations given taxing authority by the state legislature; its assessments and security, business development, transportation, and visual improvement projects are aimed at the approximately 1,400 commercial and multifamily properties in the area bounded roughly by Shepherd, West Dallas, Taft St. and Spur 527, and the Southwest Fwy. (also included: a small portion of the Museum District east of Boulevard Oaks). Stop the District organizers say creation of the district required the signatures of only 25 property owners, but that their dissolution petition has been signed by property owners representing more than 75 percent of the property value in the area.

Map: Montrose Management District

47 Comment

  • KILL the MMD. Another tax sucking entity not approved by the voters,foisted on property owners.Fascism rearing its ugly head,yet again. The self appointed do gooders want to impose more onerous rules & regulations on private property owners. If the MMD gets its way, it will eventually impose its agenda on ALL property owners.

  • It would be interesting to know what percentage of the number of property owners own 75% of the property value value in the area. I don’t know enough about the issue to be for or against but it is a little difficult to take a group seriously who complain about a lack of democratic representation whilst simultaneously saying that their opinion should be the favored one because their property is worth more than the other guy’s.

  • KILL IT!

    Enough with the busy-body do-gooders…

  • hmmm, confusing upon first glance. so does this district only levy taxes on multi-family and commercial properties and are these the sole property types that make up that 1400 out of 10,000 properties?

    what’s this theory behind commercial and multi-family properties as having common goals and requirements?

  • Glad to see the news Swamplot!

  • This management district was the brainchild of outgoing City Council member Sue Lovell. Since she is term-limited, I guess higher taxes will be her legacy to the Montrose.

  • Im sure Montrose apartment tenants are wondering why their rents have been going way up recently. Let’s see…
    * Property taxes keep going up in this area. And in a way that makes it hard to protest.
    * Rules regarding habitability registration are ridiculous, time consuming and expensive
    * Certification of Occupancy rules are being blasted in large proportion to innerloop properties. They are not only unnecessary, but very expensive and time consuming to get.
    * New taxes, like this management district, keep piling on.
    * Water bills, for multifamily owners, recentenly about doubled.
    Who do you think ultimately ends up paying all this? TENANTS. Most people cheer “get those commercial guys”, while shortly after asking “why does my rent keep going up?”

  • What is weird is that the City only seems to hit the multi-families. For water bills, commercial properties went up 50% while residential went up 10%. For code enforcement, it was only buildings with 3 or more units, all the single families and duplexes have no risk of red tags. For the Montrose Management Ditrict, it was only 5 units or more buildings, when what the Management District is doing, is affecting all properties in the area. For historical designation, and new historic holds and fines, it really only affects the large land plays and multi-family or commercial guys again. As one of the Council Members put it recently, multi-family owners have been the “soup du jour” for raising taxes and fines in the recent administration. My only question is, since everyone runs on a platform of increasing employment and small business hiring, where do they think that comes from? Wrong time, wrong place… attacking Montrose’s commercial properties…

  • So, then, does the duplex where I live, which happens to have a garage apartment out back, constitute a multifamily dwelling?

    Six or eight weeks ago we got swarmed by a bunch of CoH workers(4 vehicles worth) who snooped all around the premises, and my neighbor on the other side actually let them inside her place, where they snooped through all her stuff doing some sort of an “inspection”.

    Don’t know if they got in the garage apt, but I didn’t open the door for any of them. Come back with a warrant and a cop if you want to “inspect” my place. Or call the landlord and he can let you in after he gives me notice and makes an appointment.

    What a load of crap… seen other apartments(4plexes mostly) around the ‘hood red tagged on the front doors/windows. It’s too bad if the CoH can’t balance its checkbook – screw City Hall busybodies the likes of Sue Lovell and her neighborhood cronies.

  • If I got into some of the things I’ve gotten red tags for, people would think I was joking. If I explained what I have been fined for (and the amount — and the improvement projects delayed because of it) , people would think I was exaggerating.
    The only positive to getting dicked over, is all apartment owners in Montrose and inside the loop are getting beat up equally. Which means I don’t have to worry about passing my costs along since everyone else is doing the same thing.
    I’m not sure how many Montrose teannts out there read this site, but if you’re sick of rents that keep going up, keep an eye out for the issues that have been pointed out.
    When my water bill doubles, yours doubles. Water might be ‘included’ in rent, but that just means it’s added to rent. So when it doubles, your rent goes up.
    When the Prius Patrol red tags a building because they don’t like something, they might as well put the tag on your wallet.
    When the city sends me another stupid fine, they might as well address it to the tenants.
    And for the armchair activists that have the Prius Patrol on speed dial — you’re not doing yourself or your neighborhood any favors. People that buy buildings in this area to fix them up are already starting to give up. Why bother the fight to fix up a bad building if the city is just going to crap on your face? That dumpy vacant or falling down building next to you? Trying buying it and fixing it up and see how much fun it is. I realize that might take getting off the sofa and getting off the phone with 311, but maybe you’ll start to appriciate what it takes to get this stuff done.
    Perhaps one day the city will reach out and see how they can HELP us fix up the city. Regardless of their intentions, policies normally have the opposite effect. I have non anecdotal evidence.

  • For all those folks blaming the City for the high cost and nuisance of of the habitability registration and inspection program, the City didn’t do it – Houston’s own Duane Bohac pushed a bill through the Lege requiring Houston *and only Houston* to enforce a habitability program.

    So, you can thank Bohac and the Lege for supporting small government by forcing excessive regulations on the multi-family market.

  • would love to know what the nature of their inspection was…

  • Mark: Yes. City Overlords require the property be ‘registered’. The owner then get a habitability inspection and permit. Then get a certification of occupancy inspection (~$400) where an HVAC, structural, electrical, and plumbing inspector comb the property for anything out of spec. And god help you if they find any minor thing wrong (water heater works but not to code? Replace. But make sure to hire someone with a master plumbers licences to pay the permit fee to replace).
    The other day I got in trouble for not having my official newspeak document *posted*. I bought a building that had one, but not a physical copy. So I had to go and have them print out a new one for me to post for any inspector to see. No big deal — for them to print a new one (which you must display) is only $95.
    I wish the person that owns your property well.

  • The Management District will improve the Montrose area substantially. If in the process of raising funds to do so, some slum lords are run out of business, I do not think the civic leaders or residential owners would object. Further, with the Mayor trying not to appear to have any favoritism towards Montrose, there really needs to be a more active representative or vehicle to compensate. I think a lot of people on this list are shortsighted.

  • 4 inspectors at one time = occupancy. Pretty standard fare. Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, structural.

  • Huh. I live in the area (and co-own a house with Bank of America) and never heard about the management district or the petition to remove same.

  • There are a lot of shortsighted people on this list (not to mention in this country, but that’s another discussion). Anyone who is interested in Montrose in the long-term would support the District. It is telling that this stop the District effort is being pushed by Barry Klein of the Houston Property Rights Association, who has no interest in Montrose other than promoting his own tea party agenda.

  • Rules regarding habitability: One rule is that you have to have a Certification of Occupancy , posted in the lobby of your apts(3 or more apt under the same roof).
    The certification of occupancy, includes gas tests, that run around $450. Per meter. for a 4-plex, that’s$1,800. I had six cars, with six inspectors show up.. I open the door and they scattered like rats through-out the apt. They checked the water level in the toilet, they even wrote it up. Shower hoses, needed back-flow preventers, and on & on.

  • When they find the bong in the cabinet what form do they fill out???

  • Why is a lot of this not public? I see the red tags everywhere, but do not read anything about it. The candidates running for Council in District C seem to be more focused ontalking about red light cameras or some candidate’s political signs being illegally posted. Given the dollar amounts being discussed, there should be more attention to red tags and Management Distric taxes, or I am just Cleveland Steamin’.

  • During college and most of my 20’s I lived in enough Montrose area rentals to know that far too many owners are nothing more than slumlords who have gotten away with collecting rent for substandard, and even dangerous apartments for decades. I got burned twice before I learned what to look out for with these scumbags. Anyone renting apartments who objects to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, which is the most basic form of regulation/safety protection, used by every major city is likely a slumlord. If the COH actually had any guts, many of these creeps would be in jail.

  • Cody – I’m feeling for my old landlord, he’s in his mid 80s, and owns several properties scattered around Montrose. Our duplex was built in 1926, and most of his properties are similar.

    He does a great job keeping the place up, when something needs fixing he’s literally “Johnny on the spot”, and he uses real plumbers and electricians and carpenters for the fixes. But curb appeal would have you thinking it’s a slumlord rental, which isn’t the case at all, just needs a little paint here n there.

    I’m sure the inspectors will have a field day with his old properties, and it’s going to eat the old man’s lunch. Not to mention our much under-market rents.

  • As a home owner in Montrose I love the idea of the management district and have asked my neighbors to support it after ready about it and who pays.
    The back room dealings might be shady but we get a lot of funds and patrol to use in the district. And the best part is homeowners don’t have to pay for it. I can see why business and renters wouldn’t like it but tough luck.
    I’m sick of crappy apartment buildings littering Montrose anyway. I’m also sick of all the hip and artsy “businesses” that make our neighborhood ghetto. If they have to pay more then good. The rift raft the apartments and most Montrose business attract bring the crime, so let them pay more to fight it! And to the guy that said it will cause rents to go up, good! Maybe when some of these older places go away so will the tenants that they bring over! I’m sorry but if you can’t afford $1k a month (thats not a lot!) for an apartment or cant afford a home at todays price then go to the east side of town and leave the Montrose area to those that can afford it (and don’t commit crime!)
    Yes to the management district and no to ugly apartments and most of these ghetto businesses!!

  • @MontroseWife: This is not the easiest economy to be raising rents and trying to gentrify such a beautifully diverse area as Montrose. You sound like all the slumlords who only care about money and more funds. Without some of the low-rent paying tenants, half the restaurants and Montrose’s businesses would be gone. You can’t have your D Sanchez and eat it too.

  • MontroseWife,

    You are precisely what ruined the vibrant urban culture that made this area so popular with the gentrifiers. Thanks for chasing me out of my home.


  • @MontroseWife, the area has been an eclectic area of multifamily and single family homes for a long time (I lived there 20 years ago). If you think it’s “ghetto” now, with all the hip, artsy businesses and affordable housing for students and young professionals just starting out, you would have thought it a war-zone then. There are lots of places to live in Houston that have HOAs and deed restrictions that keep out the renters and businesses, if that is what you really object to.

  • The worst part of gentrification – shitty new neighbors…

  • You all have been successfully trolled. Wasn’t even a good one.

  • class warfare!

  • No one ever cries for the landlord.
    And the District’s tax won’t be passed on to tenants. Landlords already charge their tenants as much as they think the tenants can afford to pay. It’s not like the generous landlord was extending some kind of break to his tenants, which he will now have to rescind because of the District’s tax.
    All the District’s tax will do is cut into the landlord’s profit margin in the short-run. Boo hoo! Call Rush Limbaugh! Call Glenn Beck! Stomp your feet and call someone who cares, because the 99% of us who aren’t so fortunate as you don’t give a damn. One less BMW for you.
    The crazy thing is that the District’s tax will be funneled directly back into the District to improve security, transportation, and the general marketability of the area, which will help the landlord in the long-run. But thinking about the future just isn’t in vogue right now in this country.

  • furious, maybe you need an econ lesson. people charge what they can get, thats true. but what they can get is based on what renters have as alternatives. one owner can raise his rents $200 but if no one else does, he will lose tenants. When costs go up across the board, all owners raise rents not only because they have to, but because they can. to think the costs wont get pushed to tenants is naive.
    if the city passed a $200/month tax per unit for apartment owners do you think that money would come out of owners pockets or do you think rents would rise?

  • As a Montrose homeowner and landlord for over 25 years, I welcome the District and and agree with MontroseWife.

  • I can recite section 92.056 et seq of the Texas Property Code by heart because every summer I get asked by a half dozen people living in multi-family and small apartment complexes how long they have to swelter while their landlord scours the city for antique air conditioner replacement parts. The registration requirement didn’t come about because the City was just looking for a new source of revenue. It came about because there are piles of property owners and property management services who are the honey badgers of landlords. The registration and inspections put the city out in front of the problem of slumlording instead of having to come in and shut things down when it is too late to do anything about it.

  • Furious jam: I hope you’re not referring to me. I never stated if I was in favor or opposed to the district on this site and likely wouldn’t do so.
    And for the record, every dollar my property brings in, and then some in many cases, gets plowed back into the building. And if you must know, I lease a tacoma so I can haul supplies from home depot for my guys to use for unit/building upgrades. No BMW driving for me.

  • miss_msry / MontroseWife: Really? I love this neighborhood *because of* the mix of people. If you want to drive out all the ‘poor’ apartment renters by raising their rents, and have taxes go up on ‘ghetto businesses’ (not sure what that means) then why bother to live in Montrose? Why not move to the burbs?
    I’ve decided to keep my own support/opposition of the management district off this site. Though I have to say I admire your open support of anything you feel that might drive out lower income renters and small business.
    Most people would argue against the tax by saying it’ll drive out lower income renters and small business that that can’t afford it… But you two are using that as an argument FOR the tax
    While keeping my feelings on the tax neutural, I disagree with your view that raising rents on lower income renters and small business is a good thing. That said, I suppose I find your openness refreshing.
    miss_msry: I’m curious, you say your a landlord.. are you a landlord that’s effected by this tax? As someone that owns a few non-effected properties, I can see the benefit of extra policing and services provided by the tax. I just happen to also own properties that have to pick up the tab. Since I have properties that benefit that don’t have to pay, and properties that have to pay for everyone else, I keep my own viewpoints off the site.

  • As I understand it, this Mgmt. Dist was created on the sly with a paultry 25 signatures. Then they had the power to tax all 1300 businesses , charge penalties,and actually auction off non payers properties. Who are these carpet bagger/shakedown artists, anyway? Who asked for them to come into our neighborhood. Out of an estimated $1,300,000 annual take, they answer only to themselves.You can’t vote them out , you can’t fire them. This doesn’t sound very democratic to me. Rather sleazy, actually. For their unwanted presence we get to pay them a annual management fee of $200,000.
    Now this is pretty expensive grafitti removal.The only thing I’ve heard to their credit is their having organized a pub crawl, BFD. I personally hope they get run out of town and the sooner the better. Montrose has done very well for a long time without them.

  • Didn’t Ellen Cohen have something to do with this?

  • I ment to say creating it, not dissolving it. Now she is running for City Council, imagine the damage she can do there if elected.

  • Bondi Beach guy: While I admit not being an expert, all that seems pretty damning and I have a hard time believing it could be true. Something tells me if that were the case there would be more outrage. Do you have anything that backs that up?
    And don’t discredit how fun a pub crawl can be :)

  • @Cody – I agree, why are people not more outraged by this? I think if the tax starts at .125%, it is just under the radar enough for small owners to not care too much. When they change it next year to almost double that, then a lot more people will get involved I think.

  • I don’t want to be the one to cause any outrage over the actual tax itself as I see the pros and cons and dont want my own personal feelings of support or opposition known.
    I was just finding some of the facts pointed out by the other poster a bit hard to believe. I assume if he was correct there would be more outrage so i was asking if there was info to back it up.

  • I’m not certain where Furious Jam gets his info but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Barry Klein has absolutly nothing to do with dissolving the district nor does the tea party. Furious, do you check under your bed for the boogie man every night? Barry, tea party ? What are you smoking? This was a grass roots effort by concerned business owners in the Montrose area to repell this incidious new tax ,perpertrated by Ellen Cohen on businesses. She should take note that for every signd petition (1000) + or – there will be two or three family members and friends who will also vote against her in this next election. I personally will do everything in my power to help defeat her. She thinks we don’t know that she was directly involved in this abamanation. Think again !!!!!!! If anyone cares the management district will be meeting hopefully for the last time next Friday the 14th of October at 5020 Montrose Blve. at 10 a.m. suite 201. See you there.

  • Cody, there is outrage, that is why over 1000 businesses have voted to disolve the Management District. Kroger, Walgreens, Weingartens ,Fingers,Demeris, Pappas,Mandolas and about 1000 other bars, restraunts, tatoo parlours, beauty shops, printers,pet groomers,antique shops and sign makers . Yes there is outrage. It only took twenty five signatures to impose this new tax but it takes 75% of the HCAD appraised value of ALL the businesses to disolve it. It is nearly impossible to do . It takes 75 % of Congress to ratify the Constitution . Give me a break. This thing stinks and it’s time for it to go.

  • @montrose wife: sounds like you need to move to Katy. If you didn’t like Montrose the way it was, why did you move there in the first place?

    And what’s with telling folks to go to the east side and leave montrose to those that can afford it? Please, if all I wanted was a house and plot of land it sits on, OK, but I live on the east side (and several counties away) and probably have more net worth than you and your neighbors.

    Don’t ever think that you are better than folks in any other part of Houston simply because you live in one area or another.

    Montrose was fun and cheap and colorful when I lived there 40 years ago and we did just fine. It’s folks like you who think they are entitled and “better” who give an area a bad name.

    Shame on you.

    miss msry, I have long enjoyed your posts and never once figured you to be so classist. Did you never have a problem paying rent when you were 22 years old and struggling with school and a job?

  • @montrosewife
    Sounds like you’d pbobably be happier in Manhattan or the Hamptons instead of here in Montrose with all us ghetto folk. My guess is you’d hate Schwabbing in Munich, Kings Cross in Sydney and Hillbrow in Jo’berg. I pitty your narrow mind and inability to enjoy the bohemian atmosphere of the Montrose. You stated that you will enjoy all the benefits that the MMD will bestow on you since you will pay for none of it. I understand your mind set perfectly. How is your HOPE and CHANGE going?

  • Beware Montrose business owners! The whole “Management District” looks to be set up for no reason other than to perpetrate a big land grab. The lawyers are there to essentially steal prime property that’s been owned by people for years who have no intention of selling – on the basis that “you didn’t pay the new small management district fee that we never notified you of, therefore your property is forfeit” – then they secretly auction it off to their developer buddies for pennies on the dollar.

    Talk to the folks that own(ed) Chapultapec for a horror story.

  • Bondi Beach Guy post 36. Is entirely correct with the facts. I have a copy of House Bill 4722 which was proposed by Ellen Cohen and passed in 2010. Wish I could post it all here but it is 27 pages long! The reason many people were not informed about the District is that many of the business owners are not the property owners, they rent from them. The only way to find the property owners is through the tax roles.

    If this district indeed is dissolved it may open the floodgates for many of the other business property owners in districts of this type to do the legwork for the dissolution of their districts.

    Many feel this is a money grab and that little to no work is done to actually help businesses in these districts. The Board of Directors of these districts are not voted on by the entities taxed by them and they are also, by law, allowed to exist in perpetuity. Another level of taxation, assessed on small businesses, and apartment owners brought to you by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. Thanks for another backdoor tax!