City: We Own The Broadacres Esplanades; HOA Prez: Neighborhood Trust Owns the Grass

CITY: WE OWN THE BROADACRES ESPLANADES; HOA PREZ: NEIGHBORHOOD TRUST OWNS THE GRASS The Houston Public Works department confirms in a press release that the esplanades and streets on North, South, and West boulevards in Broadacres are in the public right-of-way. But lookie here what Diane Cowen at the Chronicle reports: “Cece Fowler, president of the Broadacres HOA, said that it’s been determined that while the city owns the streets on North, South and West boulevards as well as the brick sidewalks that run down the middle of the esplanades, the Broadacres Trust owns the grass.” Also, according to Cowen, the park along Parkway Dr. is owned by the trust. The HOA placed NO PHOTO SHOOTS signs along the esplanades and in the park last Thursday, but removed some of them over the weekend. The rest were taken down on Monday, ahead of the city’s statement that “The public ROW is available for anyone in the community to use for legal activities, including personal photography. Signs and blocking the public ROW are not allowed without specific permission from the City of Houston.” The signs — 13 total according to Cowen — cost the HOA $1,300. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

27 Comment

  • If Cece is correct and the HOA truly owns the grass why don’t they put up a “No Trepassing…Private Property” sign on the grass.

    Then no one is allowed on the grass and due to city code no one can block the sidewalk.

    Problem solved.

  • Of course, the real scandal is that they paid $100 per sign.

  • I wish someone would produce a deed, plat, easement, or something similar that we can all look at and play Nancy Drew to find out who really owns what.

  • how in the heck were those signs 100 each!!

  • Cece is wrong … they may have placed the sod down years ago, but they put it on public property making it public … no different that the “Adopt a Street” program. I would have no problem though it they want to dig it up and leave a mud-hole in front of their houses LMAO

  • WR – You mean I can just put sod down around town then claim that land as my own?! Shocked!

  • WR, aren’t you sharp as a tack? You some type of lawyer or something? Somebody important or something?
    Cece’s got 99 problems but you ain’t one!

  • “Also, according to Cowen, the park along Parkway Dr. is owned by the trust.”

    Per HCAD, 125,453 square foot park, appraised at $19,133. I need to use their tax guys!

  • I took it as the $1,300 was a fine they got from the city for putting the signs up in the ROW without permission, not that they paid that to produce the signs.

  • The residents should really be expressing their gratitude to the city for letting them derive so much of their property value off these nice esplanades, free of charge.

  • They OWN THE GRASS? Wait, what? Every time i start to feel a little sympathetic towards the HOA, they blurt out some legal nonsense.

  • bocepus, look at the appraisal history for their park. It has plummeted in recent years.

  • Here is the latest, the Broadacres HOA just trade marked and copyrighted the live oak canopy and will file a complaint in Federal Court if anyone uses images of the live oak canopy without permission.

    UPDATE! Broadacres HOA just announced that they have filed suit against the City of Houston alleging that they have acquired title to the esplanade by adverse possession. A question of first impression for the court is whether laying St. Augustine sod is sufficiently “open and notorious” to put a landowner on notice that someone has occupied the land.

    THIS JUST IN. Broadacres HOA and the City of Houston have reached a settlement. The City and Broadacres HOA will sell their interest, if any, in the esplanade to Frank Liu’s InTown Homes. InTown Homes will remove the live oaks and construct Mediterranean style townhomes all along the esplanade. When asked for a comment, a representative of the Broadacres HOA just yelled, “THERE. I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY NOW.”

    And scene.

  • Stephen Fox, author of The Country Houses of John F. Staub, said that in the 1920s “the entire neighborhood of Broadacres attained a collective identity that emphasized—through the beauty and decorum of individual houses and their systematic integration into a hierarchical landscape order that moved rhythmically measured sequences from the space of each country house, to its garden, to the space of the community, to the space of the planned garden city— the discernment, authority and what [Richard L. Bushman, a cultural historian] called “radiance” of its residents.”[8] Fox said that “[i]t is the extraordinary collective impact that Broadacres’s landscape still exerts that makes it such an instructive example of how elite community was socially constructed in Houston through architecture and landscape architecture during the 1920s.” – Some interesting info from wiki, I never appreciated the history here. They also say the tract started as 32 acres, which makes me thing they at one time owned the streets.

  • Mike’s second comment sums it up. That esplanade is a gift from the city to homeowners. Maybe the city should just sell it to a developer of tall thin condos. (I’m sure the developer would appreciate the ludicrously low tax assessment, too.)

  • They never owned those streets. Cortlandt Place owned their street, thus the gate, as does Shadyside, again thus the gates. This is going to get really ugly for Broadacres. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but they don’t own the streets nor the Esplanade, nor the “grass”. They own a the park and that is all and it needs to be re-appraised apparently..

  • bocepus that’s not interesting info, that’s just a bunch of intellectual sounding, meaningless gibberish. what does it even mean to move “rhythmically measured sequences”? and referring to the “radiance” of the homeowners like they’re radiant just because they could afford a house there?

  • Uh, yea well, that intellectual sounding gibberish, is one of the reasons why people want to get their pictures taken there. Which is why there are what, 4 threads on Broadacres here at the moment. Land planning is an art, and Broadacres was done well, in the 20s. I dont think I am the only one that can see that or the interesting history and the vision it took for Broadacres to be developed in the manner that it was.

  • There are four threads because people are responding to it and clicks = revenue, but I have no problem with that. Thanks, Swamplot, for being here.

  • To briefly recap on how land development works (and I’m going to keep this broad because it has changed over time), you start off with raw land, usually on the inexpensive fringes of town, and then a developer acquires it and replats it in order to create individual lots, streets, common areas, etc. The plat includes all of the acreage of the raw land, including all ROW and easements. Infrastructure is built by the developer in accordance with the requirements promulgated by the local jurisdiction(s) which will receive, own, repair, maintain, clean, and use it to deliver public services. It is in fact very common that details such as the number and placement of connections between a subdivision and adjoining development must get hammered out, even in ETJs, even today. It also remains quite common that perfectly ordinary land is allocated toward aesthetic or recreational purposes, rendering it expensive as a matter of course; and expensive or not, developers always seek to minimize the land allocated to projects which are foisted upon them and that are not otherwise economic.
    The comment of the day titualarly describes this as a public private partnership. I don’t think that I’d go that far. It is just public policy, and every landowner must accept it.
    We need to understand that Broadacres is not as special as the width of its streets or the height of its live oaks or the belligerence of its residents seems to imply. It is just prototypical sprawl from a time and place when sprawl occurred at a smaller scale, not because it was better or worse but because that was a scale of development commensurate with the demographic growth rates of cities at that time.

  • With all this publicity/notoriety, it won’t be long before the homeless in Midtown pickup and move here. (Some Midtown/Museum District homeowners) might even assist with the move. With a sitting judge who protects them from eviction, this could get really interesting.

  • Streisand Effect

  • @Mark

    Neither Shadyside nor Cortlandt Place started out as gated communities. They purchased the ROW from the city.

  • @Mark that’s not entirely accurate. Cortlandt Place was originally designed and built as a gated community with a private street – it was in fact Houston’s first Hayes community.

    In 1912 at the urging of JW Link, the developer of the Montrose the City condemned the street to improve traffic flow between the Montrose and Westmoreland Farms.

    In 1980 a copy of the settlement agreement between Cortlandt Place HOA and the City was discovered and as a result of some conditions therein, the HOA repurchased the street and restored the original intent of a private gated community.

  • @ txcon: What is a Hayes community? I’ve never heard that term before.

  • I simply said that they owned their streets, I didn’t say they started out privately owned. At any rate, things have changed and there is zero chance that COH will ever sell those streets to the homeowners. There is no price the city would accept due to the overwhelming negative fallout. Broadacres just elevated their headache to a Migraine. Look for Piñata’s in the trees.