A New Category for the Swampies This Year: The “No Zoning” Award

On Tuesday we added a couple more categories to this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. That means 4 categories are now open for your nominations: Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Demolition, Best Parking Lot Dining Experience, and Most Notable Recycling Effort. Keep those great entries coming for all of them!

The next category is the “No Zoning” Award. What does it mean that Houston is a “no zoning” city? Most obviously, the opportunity for residential areas to “go commercial,” or vice versa. Also: scenic and otherwise unusual views that might make for terrific postcards, like an office building going up over someone’s backyard fence. But the “no zoning” label also regularly causes outsiders to suppose Houston has far fewer building regulations than it actually does. And it spurs thoughts of Houston as some sort of untamed urban force.

What development, event, or controversy from this year, then, might deserve Swamplot’s “No Zoning” Award? And why? Yes, this is another brand-new award category for the Swampies, and we’ll obviously need your smart nominations to make it work. Tell us who or what deserves this honor — in a comment below or in a private message. Consult the official nominating rules if you like. What’s your choice?

14 Comment

  • Perhaps the recent plan to mandate increased off-street parking provided by bars. In Houston, we don’t just encourage drinking and driving, we mandate it!

  • The Porno shop next to the galleria on the corner of Westheimer @ 610 definitely deserves a SWAMPIE

  • Oh please, can it be the Spec’s on Washington? Pretty please? Nothing better speaks to a lack of proper zoning than making blue laws applicable to all 7 days of the week.

  • Ditto to Benny Cargill. I imagine the managers of the Galleria driving past Zone d’Erotica’s brightly colored building and grimacing in distaste.

  • The Galleria porno shop, for sure.

  • El Corral thumping the nuns over at St. Agnes, for the win! There is something uniquely Houston about nuns being forced to dismiss a lawsuit to prevent a bar from opening shop accross from an all-girls religious school. Amen.

  • Lakes of Tuscan-Lols!

  • Houston has no zoning because Houstonians fought hard to keep the stupidity & corruption that follows out of our town. Zoning only benefits real-estate brokers & developers. It leads to poverty stricken areas & slums like Watts & Queens, at least until the developers decide they game rendered the land worthless enough to buy it and develop it! Zoning has been proven a failure in nearly every city in the USA. BUT, worst of all it raises the cost of buying, building our owning a home, to no benefit of the homeowner, beyond what most folks can afford.
    Zoning is why a two bedroom home in a depressed neighborhood in Denver Co. costs nearly a half million dollars!

  • I’m glad Houston’s lack of zoning has prevented Houston from having “poverty stricken areas & slums like Watts & Queens” (Queens?). People can live in prosperous non-slums like the 5th Ward and Acres Homes (to name two of many). And I’m glad that no developers in Houston never ever decide that land is “worthless enough to buy it and develop it!” And I’m glad that laws that tell you how many parking spots you must have and whether you can subdivide your lot and put in townhouses aren’t “zoning” because zoning is bad!

  • I second the nomination from Jonas. We don’t zone, but we sure do regulate the hell out of land use.

  • When I used to live in Htown, my favorite corner was Richmond and Graustark, in Montrose. On that corner you could find: a large apartment complex, a gay bar, a porno “news” stand, and a hispanic church with a 200 foot cell transmitter in its back yard.

    I know Richmont Square is still there, not sure about the others.

  • At heyzeus. The ATT switch building, Richmont square (and 1301 Richmond), Jackson’s (a new, straight) bar, the Campanile parking lot, and 200 foot transmitter are there. The Talk of the Town III burned, but the building is still there, too.

  • Another glaring example of Houston’s infamous no zoning has to be the St. James office development, particularly the 5555 San Felipe Marathon Oil Tower. It sits directly across the street from four or more bedroom homes and an entire residential neighborhood. A 40 story building to the left, a huge lot home to the right. Pretty much sums up no zoning, Houston style.

  • Obviously the worst in zoning goes to HEB for placing a 70,000 sq. ft. store on a 7.8 acre parcel of land in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood, made of bungalows and low scale buildings. And then HEB claimed that their neighbors were “bad neighbors” for complaining about the noise. — And then they didn’t buffer their homes from the noise; instead they buffered West Alabama.