Preservation Ordinance Passes

PRESERVATION ORDINANCE PASSES Houston’s City Council has just voted to approve a new — amended — historic preservation ordinance. We’ll have more details shortly. “We know there are none of you out there that are absolutely happy,” said council member Sue Lovell after the vote. “That means we have a good ordinance.”

14 Comment

  • Not really awesome. It’s now pretty easy to opt out of being a historic district, and harder than it used to be to become one. But hey, as Lovell noted, if everyone’s pissed off, the government must be doing its job.

  • Zoning by ordinance is still zoning and is contrary to the provisions of the City
    Charter so no doubt once again the tune of the day is “Hi, ho, hi, ho, it’s off to court we go…” With the taxpayers paying for the frivolity of a few.

  • Except that it’s not by ordinance, it’s by vote of the residents of affected area.

    But thank goodness someone is out to save us from better neighborhoods and higher property values.

  • if someone has the money to build or buy a bigger home in the Heights – let it be. For those that don’t like it – don’t ruin it for others. Maybe go back to school to earn more money and be able to do what you wish. It’s too easy to sit around and gripe about what you don’t have – go earn your own!

  • And can we stop repeating the myth that Houston is some big unzoned city of freedom? Houston has a ton of ordinances regarding building forms and how property is used, from parking requirements that are stricter than most cities, to rules about setbacks, weirdly random designations of areas as “suburban” and “urban” with accompanying rules, rules about the sizes of townhouses, and so on. People love to say that we’re some kind of mecca of affordable housing because we have “no zoning.” It’s nonsense.

    We have affordable housing because we have no natural boundaries preventing expansion and therefore have spread out more than most cities, and because we subsidize the building of big roads to make it easier to get to remote places.

    Another great myth: it’s my property so it’s none of your business what I do with it. I know that the people who repeat this know better; I am sure you recognize that what your neighbors do with their land has a very direct impact on both the quality of your life and the value of your property. That’s why we have deed restrictions; that why none of you would buy a home without looking at what’s next to it. Actions speak louder than words.

    Finally, the idea that a HOA deciding what kinds of fences everyone can have and what color their houses can be and what size is appropriate is fine, but a neighborhood deciding that its historic housing stock is worth protecting is some kind of horrible intrusion, is simply so idiotic that I can’t believe people don’t giggle when they hear themselves saying it.

    It’s a good thing that there are historic areas that are protected, and many more areas where there are no such protections, so you can decide which one you want to live in. That’s called choice. It’s what many people claim they want; you just got it.

  • But John,
    I don’t want “them” to be able to impose additional restrictions upon my property. Restrictions that were NOT in place when I bought my historic home over 30 years ago.

    I have deed restrictions already. I don’t need anymore. That’s what “we” object to.

  • Oh John
    Don’t say that this was voted on my the neighborhood, we all know that’s not true.
    The fact that the City Council did not ask for a revote of those in favor, is because they know most of the districts could never even come close to 50% in favor.

  • In total agreement with Pyewacket. If I had known this was coming, I would not have bought my tiny teardown-worthy, registered nuisance property of a bungalow eight years ago.

    This ordinance will increase the costs to do any work on my house with all the new fees, having to get plans to committee, extra time for approvals, denials by people I probably won’t agree with…

    I don’t have a big pocketbook like those who had the Yes signs in their yards. And it was funny how many of those signs were out in front of big new homes. So they got their house built the way they wanted, no questions asked, before pushing for all this, now I’ve got to jump through their hoops. Ugh!

  • Heights Weirdo, which historic district are you in? I’m not sure what new fees and processes you’re talking about.

  • I know there are no set “fees”…yet. “That will be $10 to submit your proposal in writing to help off-set commission costs.”

    I’m talking more about the extra layer of bureaucracy that’s being added and what that usually leads to…things costing more money.

    A bureaucracy that will be deciding what can and can’t be done in the districts, what materials to be used, what plans have to be submitted, how those plans are submitted — with no care as to the income level of the homeowner and whether they have the funding to, for example, use the specially milled siding their house might require, or use a specific method of foundation repair to save their home.

  • So you’re upset by the fees and procedures that don’t exist. OK.

    The reason I asked which heights historic district you live in was because if you live in a deed-restricted district you probably already have some of these procedures you’re worried about.

    Funny you bring up siding, as I believe the ordinance actual loosens some restrictions there (which is a good thing).

  • Actually, I’m a couple of blocks outside Woodland Heights and one block off Norhill and currently have very, very few deed restrictions in my small subdivision of approximately 25 homes.

    Do you know if the section allowing adjoining areas to be taken into the distrit without vote was left intact?

  • So, you wouldn’t have bought your house if you knew this ordinance would happen, even though you’re not in a historic district? That, I really don’t get.

    I believe the law includes a provision under which the city council can alter boundaries, intended to allow correction of technical errors. I suppose one could see that as an invitation to simply expand districts, but I think it’s pretty obvious that would be the quickest way to get districts abolished.

    Hard to get details though, since our local newspaper has barely covered it.