New Galleria-Area H-E-B Will Feature an In-House Restaurant; Behind the Movement for a Swimming Hole in Houston


Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool


31 Comment

  • RE: Fish & the Knife parking: yes, it sucks, but it’s not illegal. Homeowners who call a towing company to get cars towed away from the house are assholes. The comments on that article are insane (letting air out of tires, damaging vehicles, etc.). You do not own the street in front of your house. And the fact that these homeowners are wasting HPD’s time is ridiculous.

  • Agree. I’m sick of COH caving in to resident demands for permit-controlled parking. The streets are a public good, paid for by everyone’s tax dollars, and the idea that private owners can claim the street as their own is ridiculous, especially considering that nearly all homes in Houston have garages/driveways. Wish the city would scrap all permit-controlled parking and just stick to metered parking in a few areas where it is actually needed (CBD).

  • While the streets are public, the parking prevents emergency vehicles from accessing the neighborhood easily. If you were a homeowner and know that an ambulance or fire truck will not make it to your home because of parked cars, you’d go crazy too. Of course fire trucks are no liable for vehicle or property damage when accessing fires…beware of your vehicle, they will sideswipe or ram it if necessary.

    Ultimately, this is a city issue. The city either needs to make these areas no parking zones for safety reasons or widen the streets by going to curb and gutter designs. Homeowners should have known they were moving next to a commercial area. You don’t need zoning to know that Washington Ave would have commercial establishments.

  • @coconutbutter – couldn’t agree more. This is part of living in a city. This is not the suburban area it was even 20 years ago anymore.

  • People who choose to live in a central, densifying, active urban part of the metro like Briarmeadow – even if it used to be outer suburbia, just like the Heights and Montrose etc. etc. – have to accept the fact that they cannot make parking and the preservation of on-street public street public parking purely for the adjacent homeowners and the exclusion of “strangers” from walking through their residential areas on public streets part of their definition of “quality of life” anymore. You live in the middle of the big big city – you have to evolve. Trying to get the City to gin up penalties or raise the already high on-site parking standards would be horrendously bad public policy and impose ridiculous costs on the City and businesses that hurt everyone.

    That said, residents should be free to call HPD or other law enforcement to deal with truly bad behavior such as littering, public urination in their yards etc.

  • Actually, coconutbutter, the parking might be illegal. If they are operating Fish & Knife with less than the required parking per the Houston Parking Ordinance, and without some sort of legal variance to it, then they are in violation of the law. It won’t really matter until they try to sell the place or for some reason have to get a renewed Certificate of Occupancy, because of how these Higgs are enforced – but it is illegal.
    Also worth noting that most parking ordinances set a higher number for restaurants and clubs, because those can be parking intensive if they’re popular. On the other hand, it’s fashionable these days to provide less parking of you can get away with it….

  • I own some property on a street that has permit parking. I think it is wonderful. No more criminally oriented creeps prowling the neighborhood. No more uncouth hicks from the suburbs throwing trash in the yards and peeing in the bushes. The people who live in the neighborhood around Fish & Knife need to document the trash, blocked driveways and other thoughtless actions caused by people who do not live in the area and take it to the city. Once the permit parking signs go up and they start towing cars then the problem will go away.

  • I am against zoning, but in this limited instance, I would agree that zoning would help with this problem. I will also note that Chicago–which is generally put on a pedestal on this site–has residential parking permits.

  • I can see both sides if this parking issue, but I tend to end up on the side of the homeowner. You have to look at the trash and noise issue as well as walking on your lawn and the fact that you have no idea who these people are who are parked in front of your home. As far as keying, letting out tire air or towing, that’s insane and the people doing that should be arrested.
    I love the people against zoning until they’re for it. No Zoning is fantastic, until it effects them. Typical.

  • This is not just a big city issue. I grew up in BFE East Texas and this was a problem there also. I remember getting into an argument with a guy that didn’t want anyone parking in front of his house in the town I grew up in. This was a town with about 1000 people in the 1970s. People just don’t understand where their property lines are.

  • Prediction: The artificial swimming hole becomes the next proposal to replace the Wortham Golf Course.

  • Fish & the Knife goers aren’t the Sunday bible study crowd. Who in their right mind would want “club” parking on their front doorstep?

  • ZAW wrote: “Actually, coconutbutter, the parking might be illegal. If they are operating Fish & Knife with less than the required parking per the Houston Parking Ordinance.”

    Pretty much impossible to get a building permit without having parking in compliance with requirements. Perhaps they are just extremely popular? Or the ‘complimentary valet’ parking is taking up too many spaces.

  • From the article comments:
    “Organize your neighbors to park all their own cars on their street… Nowhere left for the club crowd to park, they’ll move on. Also, report illegally parked vehicles such as:

    -parking on the wrong side of the street (i.e., facing against traffic)
    -parked blocking a driveway
    -parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant (expensive ticket)
    -parked within 15 feet of the street corner
    -parking over 24 hours
    -large vehicles (commercial trucks) parked between 2am and 6am”

    The trouble is that HPD is understaffed. Try getting an officer out to ticket someone parked in front of afire hydrant, or blocking your driveway. Good luck.

  • @ZAW – My comment was under the assumption that the parking was in compliance since the restaurant was able to proceed and operate. I will admit that I do not know the nuances of parking ordinances, but I do know that many restaurants, including Coltivare, were unable to proceed until the parking was squared away. If it needs to be legally reassessed because something has changed, then by all means… But to call for a tow because you’re mad someone is parked in front of your house is bullshit. (And to me, that seems to be the main problem. People in these houses have garages and driveways, but they just don’t want people parking in front of their houses.)
    As for emergency vehicles, I truly think that that is a legitimate concern, but somehow, I can’t help but feel from the news article that this is being used as an argument just to get people to avoid parking in front of their houses. The only example that comes to mind where I see that as a legitimate argument is if the infrastructure resembles Rice Military/Washington Corridor @Detering, et al.
    As for HPD, if a crime is being committed, sure, call HPD. But again, I’m cynical. I’m sure if a piece of paper flew out of someone’s car, homeowners would have HPD on speed dial saying someone was dumping out a ream of paper. This restaurant closes at 10pm on the weekday or 11pm on the weekends, not 2am.
    I have nothing vested in Fish & the Knife, but I do welcome local businesses in the neighborhood. I myself live close to a bar, and the streets overflow with parking. Do I 100% love this arrangement? Not really but I’d really rather have this business within walking distance of my house. The cars are only there for a few hours in the evenings. My life is not ruined; nor do I have to ruin another person’s evening by having their car towed to the middle of nowhere.

  • This isn’t SA or Austin, you dig a hole and fill it with water in Houston it just becomes a rank muddy cesspool. These people are clueless. How stupid can you get.

  • I was recently told that popular restaurant/bar combinations actually use more than 20 space/1,000 sq.ft. on weekend nights, far above the code. That said, it’s still not a reason to raise the requirements. Then you just end up with more land devoted to impervious surface that doesn’t generate much revenue (for the business or property tax).

  • I generally have no sympathy for people living inside the loop who get the benefit of being walking distance, if not a stone’s throw, from great restaurants and shops but get all bent out of shape when they cannot park their cars right in front of their house. But those are mostly in old neighborhoods with scant space for commercial development. The Fish and the Knife is on Westheimer and amidst a veritable ocean of parking. They should pony up to lease some after hours spaces from the giant strip center next door.

  • @Daniel Williams: The artificial swimming hole will be Judge Emmett’s next suggestion for re-purposing the Astrodome.

  • If it were true, as kjb434 opines, that street parking “prevents emergency vehicles” from accessing a neighborhood, then every citizen of New York, Boston, D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, and on and on would be dead by now. I don’t know whether this theory is balderdash, or poppycock.

    In cities, there are cars parked along streets. Life somehow continues anyhow.

  • Phil: yes and no. They could have permitted the shell building and site as retail (typically lower parking requirements than a restaurant) and then gotten a permit for a restaurant build-out. If the City wasn’t totally on the ball, it could have slipped by.

  • “…an enormous natural pool that filters the water with plant material…”

    Perhaps we could put it right next to our upcoming natural mountains with our natural ski trails? The developers may not know this, but Houston is, er, um, flat. The only time you see whitewater on Buffalo Bayou is when something bad — really really bad — has been discharged upstream. To make “natural” filtration work, you need more than just plants. You need water movement. In fact, with enough water movement, you can do away with a lot of the plants. If you have plants, but no water movement, you end up with something that scientists call a “swamp”, and I am sure that all of Houston wants to get behind the “Bring a Swamp back to Houston” movement.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

  • Ummm…if a fire truck can’t get by when two cars are parked on opposite sides of the street, then that is not an issue caused by any particular business. That happens in my neighborhood all the time. Dinner party, family over after church, garage apartment tenants, etc. If it truly is a safety issue, then parking should only be allowed on one side of the street. If not, quit bitching and toughen up.

  • I do find it humorous, and idiotic, when suburban single family residents gush over “streets that are so wide with nobody parked on them – so beautiful” – somehow finding aesthetic attractiveness in a wide empty street. Then in the next breath they complain about people – who surely can’t be from the neighborhood now, they must be strangers with no “business” there, right? – driving too quickly down the street.

    And yes ZAW, we should absolutely take a libertarian approach to parking and do away with on-site requirements, other than maybe ADA-compliant spaces. The free market can handle, as can the “commons” AKA public streets.

  • Houston Needs a Swimming Hole, meet Ed “Needs a Hole Filled” Emmett; Ed, meet HNSH.

  • kjb: re emegency vehicles.
    If the city deems that a street is too narrow for parking and emergency vehicles to navigate, they put in no parking signs. if this wasn’t done when the street was built, it is a non-issue.
    For those contemplating a parking lot ordinance violation, I doubt it, that location has been a few different restaurants a few different times, and never a parking problem.
    It’s the complimentary valet that’s the problem, cause there’s not been a valet for the previous restaurants that were there. they need to re-portion the valet only spaces, or find another lot off site to accommodate the valet.
    as far as parking in the streets in neighborhoods, welcome to the new outside the loop. this is only going to continue to get worse as more people come to the city, and things get denser and denser. It’s not just going to be an inner loop talking point any longer. Problem is, unless you want to build the streets and maintain them, they’re the property of everyone, and if the city feels it’s safe to operate an emergency vehicle with cars parked on either side of the road, then you have to live with the possibility of cars parked on either side of the road.
    Have a tow truck on speed dial though, in case you can’t get in or out of your driveway, that’s illegal.

  • @Planner: eventually maybe yes, we can get rid of off-street parking requirements. But only after we’ve developed a transit system that works efficiently and serves the whole city. To talk about it before then is to put the cart in front of the horse.
    People aren’t magically going to find their way to transit, if there’s no transit to be found. They’re going to keep driving, and it’s going to get really messy.

  • Shame on you Bill. ‘Swamp’ is such an ugly term. In future, you must use ‘wetland’. In fact I am offended by the word s****p, and demand an apology. Come to think, this blog must be renamed. ‘Wetplot’, or some such.

  • Working from the existing paradigm for parking requirements, it strikes me as that a business should not be held accountable for patrons that choose to park off-site and walk there, for instance if they are especially popular or are having a special event. However they should also not be allowed to reserve their own parking for valet use because that strongly encourages cheapskates (like me) to park off-site.

    That being said, ZAW, I would argue that METRO’s service is already highly scalable to demand and that if parking requirements were done away with outright so as to cause the supply of parking to become less ubiquitous so that its cost begins to rise, that there would be a virtuous cycle of more demand for METRO service, higher vehicle occupancy, greater farebox recovery, less headway, and then more demand yet again. (An unspoken benefit would be that it would start to look more attractive to a higher socioeconomic class, wearing away over time at many peoples’ perceptions of METRO as existing for ‘someone else, someone poorer, and not me’.) Higher parking costs would also create additional depth of the market for taxi/jitney/ridesharing services, which means that response time and possibly quality should improve.

  • oh, and if you want to valet your car for free, ride a motorcycle, most valet services aren’t insured to park motorcycles, and they’ll tell you to park over there (really close, but out of their way). Try to toss them the keys and they won’t accept them.
    So yeah, motorcycle means you can go to places like this that practically force valet, and park right up close. This requires a motorcycle and usually all the accouterments that come along with it though, but I’ve never had someone tell me to go park somewhere else. Basically, if I know it’s valet, I ride, if it’s self park, I’ll usually just drive.

  • Personally, I love valet parking. The last thing I want to do is parallel park in some neighborhood and walk down dark, cracked sidewalks to a restaurant. If you cannot afford the $5 to tip or pay for valet parking, then maybe you should not be eating at the kinds of places that have mandatory valet parking. I love the way all the Houston thousandaires driving their low-end BMWs say they don’t want to pay the $5 on “principal.” Give me a break.