Comment of the Day: Comparing the Ingredients in Houston’s NIMBY Stances

COMMENT OF THE DAY: COMPARING THE INGREDIENTS IN HOUSTON’S NIMBY STANCES White Oak Music Hall Lawsuit Map, Near Northside“Just amazing what our city can do in [terms of] jeopardizing huge sums of taxpayer money to help Southampton fight off developers and laughable amounts of ‘increased traffic’ — and then turn a blind eye to communities having to do garage and bake sales just to fight to keep their children’s sanity and dignity.” [joel, commenting on Ban and Bake Sale for White Oak Music Hall; Hurricane Ike’s Last Blue Tarps] White Oak Music Hall lawsuit map: Harris County District Clerk’s office

8 Comment

  • I live two blocks away from this venue, and it the noise/traffic is not a problem for this venue. As soon as something nice (but unusual) is built, people forgot the blight that was there previously. Go look at 306 North Street; Houston, TX 77009 on Google Streetview from a few years ago and see which one you would prefer as a neighbor.

    Interestingly, though, the plaintiffs in the White Oak Music venue did what the Ashby high-rise plaintiffs never actually did — they asked for and received temporary injunctive relief with a 2 week restraining order secured by a $7500 bond. The Ashby high-rise plaintiffs did not want to post a potentially six- or seven-figure bond to get an injunction, and relied on the chilling effect that the lawsuit would have on the developer’s financing, so they basically dragged the developer through years of expenses and lost profit in court battles (heads, we win, tails you lose).

    I don’t agree with the plaintiff’s goals in this case (or Ashby) but I do appreciate that they have at least put up some money, so, if the plaintiffs lose, the business will get something back toward their lost revenue from not being able to operate.

  • I agree but I would challenge the use of the word NIMBY in this instance. The music hall might be a great place for the people that come visit and then go off to their homes in other parts of the city, but this neighborhood is simply fighting for it’s right to be heard among city council members who are made uncomfortable, that on one hand, they’re saying they’re listening to the voters of this area while on the other hand giving away million of dollars in improvements because they simply see long term increased tax revenue for their budgets. I think this story about this neighborhood plays so well because it’s one of those battles between wealthy River Oaks developers against working class folks who are able to come together and try to build a better life for themselves and their children. Although not all of them share the same opinion, it would seem that the vast majority of them are not NIMBYs. They realize this place most likely won’t be shut down. I am a big believer in compromise and hopefully, there’s a way they can manage to funnel the noise or find a way to reduce the sound levels emanating from this spot. I think the neighborhood would much prefer that over an abandoned complex. If the neighborhood were truly NIMBY’s about development coming their way, they would be protesting the future Holiday Inn down the block at the former Casa Grande and they’re simply not.

  • “to communities having to do garage and bake sales just to fight to keep their children’s sanity and dignity.”

    Drama queen alert…hold on, let me cue up some sad violin music.

  • Thanks for the compliment SMH. I’m working on my drama queen skills so I can be the next president. Someone get me a twitter, I hear it’s yuge these days.
    I was just making cheap shots at Southampton. Will never forgive them for those god awful yellow signs and stickers I was subjected to over countless years, never forget.

  • Joel, agreed but there are still a few signs there. I’m a little torn. On one hand the place really needs help and I would never wish the town home crap west of Shepherd on them. On the other hand I would start getting tired of the noise. Is there an in between?

  • “they basically dragged the developer through years of expenses and lost profit in court battles (heads, we win, tails you lose).”

    What big named act do you think is going to book at the WOMH, when concerts keep getting shut down?

  • I could be wrong but I don’t think the goal of the lawsuit is to shut the place down completely. The goal is to shut down the outdoor concert venue, which is a nuisance to the neighborhood. Hardly anyone would truly want to live within a couple blocks of this place, including the owners. And to those that say they’d love to have free concerts from their back porch (and that WOMH neighbors should shut up and be grateful that this is here to help property values and blah blah blah), I can guarantee that the novelty would wear off after about a month. I don’t live in the area but I really feel for these folks. The Ashby folks, on the other hand, I had no sympathy for whatsoever.

  • This is really a pigs get fat hogs get slaughtered story. I get that Houston has no zoning and residents really have little rights when a new development causes problems with traffic and parking. But an outdoor live music venue creates problems that are unprecedented compared to the usual quality of life issues that are at the center of most Houston land use issues. This outdoor live music venue is going to host national touring acts. The sound systems they will use at this venue is basically the same as what is typically found at music festivals like ACL, FPSF and Buzzfest. They stack up speakers on a temp stage and blast music out far and wide. But unlike these one off music festivals that burden the neighboring communities for a day or two, Live Oak wants to have outdoor concerts week in and week out.
    But here is where the hog may get slaughtered. This is not the first live music venue to be placed closed to a residential neighborhood. Chastain Park in Atlanta, the Mann Center in Philly and the Starlight Theater in KC are all examples of outdoor live music venues that are in very close proximity to residential areas. But these venues are specifically designed to significantly limit noise intrusion on their neighbors. The seating area is built up into a shell to help capture sound and to limit the amount of sound that escapes the venue. Some of these venues have covered seating areas with a general admission lawn. The covered seating areas help limit sound escape and the lawn areas have separate sound systems from the covered seating area instead of just blasting the music as loud as possible to make sure that people at the rear of the venue can hear the music.
    White Oak Music Hall has basically offered nothing in the way of mitigation for the kind of volume they want to produce. So, in court, the evidence will be that they could do tons to help mitigate the nuisance, but have chosen not to do so. That may be where the hog gets slaughtered.