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Directing density

This looks interesting.

A new draft ordinance prepared by the city’s planning department aims to make it tougher to build tall buildings next to single-family homes. The proposal is called the High Density Ordinance, but many of its restrictions would apply to any structure more than 75 feet tall, no matter how tightly packed or slow-witted the folks are inside. Well, with some exceptions: The restrictions wouldn’t apply to buildings in “major activity centers” of the city. Districts could apply for that designation, but the planning department includes maps of 8 of them right off the bat: Downtown, Greenway Plaza, the Galleria area, the Med Center, Greenspoint, the Energy Corridor, Westchase, and the stretch of I-10 between Memorial City Mall and CityCentre. Also exempted from most of the proposed rules: Any tall building where all the adjacent streets are designated major thoroughfares. (In other words, a new office tower built on property in the middle of a Westheimer block apparently wouldn’t have to meet the new restrictions, but one at the corner of Westheimer and a smaller street like Woodway would.)

You can find the draft ordinance here, and a presentation about it that would be more useful if they explained all their acronyms here. A public hearing will be held by the Planning Commission on July 21 at 2:30 p.m., City Hall Annex. As noted by Swamplot, this would seem to speak directly to the Ashby Highrise situation. As someone who has argued that the problem with the Ashby Highrise is not the potential effect on traffic but with the should-be-obvious-to-everyone fact that it’s just the wrong place for a building like that, I approve of this idea. The devil is in the details: You don’t want to limit density where it makes sense to have density, and from what I can see this does try to take that into account. I look forward to seeing more feedback on this, but my first impression is positive.

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6 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    This is bad policy, driven by people who want to use the police power of the City to get their way because they can’t convince their neighbors to sign off on deed restrictions. Same sort of stupidity as the historic district debacle – take away property rights because “by God I am right, and will make you do what I think is best”.

  2. Mike says:

    I like this ordinance as well – first impressions.

    We should not be building skyscrapers in residential communities. I don’t live in Ashby area or anything, but this just makes sense.

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