Planning director Marlene Gafrick’s recommendation that only one property be excised from just one of the 6 existing historic districts up for reconsideration (a 7th, Heights South, is going through the same process even though it hasn’t officially been approved yet) is just that — only a recommendation. Houston’s city council can still decide to alter the boundaries of any of those districts. And you can bet the maps provided by the planning department that show the repeal-survey responses and where they came from will be a major focus of attention as council members discuss the issue. Plus, hey — isn’t it fun to be able to see how your historic-district neighbors came down on the issue? Here’s the map for Heights East:
The planning department tally indicates that out of a total 780 tracts in the district, 193 repeal surveys were returned. That’s a 24.7 percent rate — if you’re just counting the tracts. But the new historic-district ordinance appears to put more emphasis on the number of owners than the number of tracts. For example, the threshold that would have triggered dissolution of a district is 51 percent of the owners of the tracts. Unfortunately, the planning department reports don’t give the percentage of owners of a district who indicated they wanted a repeal — they indicate the percentage of tracts whose owners wanted repeal, but they label that number incorrectly, as “Percentage Owners for Repeal.” (Department spokesperson Suzy Hartgrove tells Swamplot she doesn’t know why the percentages were labeled that way.)
Without knowing which owners own which multiple tracts in a district, you won’t be able to calculate the percentage of owners that indicated a desire to repeal a district — or determine how close that number came to the 51 percent threshold specified by the ordinance. Ownership information was included in the surveys that were sent to the planning department.