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announcements

Public meetings for Texas Central draft EIS

You got something you want to say about the proposed high speed rail line and its possible routes, here’s your chance.

Houston residents are being asked to weigh in on a plan to build a $12 billion high-speed train between the city and Dallas.

The meeting is set for Feb. 5 and will be coordinated by the Federal Railroad Administration, which must approve plans for the Texas Bullet Train.

[…]

Texas Central, which has support from Houston and Dallas city officials, said the line would stop south of downtown Dallas and then in Houston, near Loop 610 and U.S. 290, the Houston Chronicle’s Dug Begley reported.

Relevant info about the meetings is here. The schedule for meetings near us in Houston is as follows:

Madison County – Monday, February 5, 2018, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Truman Kimbro Convention Center, 111 W Trinity St, Madisonville, TX 77864

Harris County – Monday, February 5, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Woodard Elementary School, 17501 Cypress North Houston Rd, Cypress, TX 77433

Grimes County – Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Navasota Junior High, 9038 Highway 90 South, Navasota, TX 77868

Waller County – Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Waller High School, 20950 Fields Store Rd, Waller, TX 77484

You can also provide feedback or sign up to receive updates on the project from the Federal Railroad Administration here. As a reminder, there are three possible locations for the Houston terminal, and one of the goals of the DEIS project is to pick a winner from those three. So speak now or forever hold your peace.

Lone Star Veterans Association benefit event

From the inbox:

To celebrate the upcoming football season, and to benefit the Lone Star Veterans Association (LSVA), the Houston Texans Grille at CITY CENTRE will host a “Pay What You Want” Day on Monday, July 20th. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Lone Star Veterans Association.

During this all day event, patrons may select one food item from the full menu, and pay any amount they are able to as a donation. And 100% of the proceeds raised from food sales will benefit the Lone Star Veterans Association!

Event is free and open to the public.

The Lone Star Veterans Association is a Houston-based non-profit organization dedicated to making Houston and Texas the best place for Post 9/11 veterans and their families by providing free career transitions, peer support and family services. LSVA’s office is open Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm, at 170 Heights Blvd. Houston, TX

To learn more about the Lone Star Veterans Association please visit lonestarveterans.org. To view Houston Texans Grille menu visit texansgrille.g3restaurants.com.

Who: Houston Texans Grille at CITY CENTRE
What: Pay What You Want pricing on one item from full menu
When: Monday, July 20th from 11:00am – 10:00pm
Where: Houston Texans Grille at CITY CENTRE, (I-10 W & Beltway 8), 12848 Queensbury Way, Houston, TX. 77024. (713) 461-2002

• Limited to Dine-In orders only (no Take-Out or To-Go orders)
• Maximum of one (1) entrée per guest under “Pay What You Want” pricing
• Guests may only dine-in one (1) time during the day to ensure all customers are served
• Any appetizer, entrée, or dessert on the menu will count as one (1) “entrée”
• “Pay What You Want” pricing offer excludes all alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

See here for more. It’s a good cause and there’s food involved, so check it out if you can.

Where I will be on Election Night

For those of you that may wonder what I look and sound like when I say all this stuff that I write about, tonight is your chance to find out. I will be in studio at KTRK, Channel 13 in Houston, from 7 to 10. I don’t know how much they’ll have me on camera, but I do know they’ll be streaming all night – go to http://abc13.co/abc13CK+ for the stream, which is called “Your Voice, Your Vote Live”. I don’t know how many other folks like me will be involved in this, but I do know that one of them is Murray Newman of the Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center blog, whom I look forward to meeting. Tune in and wonder no more why my face is ideal for blogging.

My normal blogging style is to draft a bunch of stuff as I see it and can get to it, then schedule daily posts from what I have drafted. Needless to say, that approach fails on Election Day. I’ll be posting here tonight, possibly into tomorrow, or I may defer some stuff till tomorrow morning. It will be a disruption of my usual routine, is what I’m saying.

Which leads me to this: As some of you know, I fractured my right wrist eleven days ago. It was a stupid accident involving some heavy boards that got the best of me. It could have been much worse – they could have landed on my feet – but I am in a cast for at least the next four or five weeks. I have some use of my right fingers and thumb, so I’m only modestly inconvenienced, but typing and using a mouse are harder than usual. Given all this, I may take it easy for a couple of days, with posts mostly being an emptying of my remaining queue or something I just couldn’t resist. I doubt I’ll take too much downtime – I expect I’ll get precinct data shortly, and you know I can’t resist that. But if things are slow here for the rest of this week or so, now you know why. Thanks.

Give Metro your feedback on the new bus routes

A public service announcement from Metro:

METRO is excited to share the Draft Reimagined Network Plan with everyone, so if you would like a speaker to present the plan to your organization or community group, or have a question about the plan, please email Reimagining@RideMETRO.org.

We will also be conducting a series of public meetings to share more information and receive feedback on the Draft Reimagined Network Plan. Scheduled meeting locations and dates are shown on the map with orange pins and listed below. You can also keep an eye out for METRO staff at certain Transit Centers (blue pins on the map) sharing details of the project with riders and the public.

# Location Address Date Time
1 Magnolia Multi-Service Center 7037 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77011 Wednesday, May 28 6pm-8pm
2 Metropolitan Multi-Service Center 1475 W. Gray Street, Houston, TX 77019 Thursday, May 29 6pm-8pm
3 Ellis Memorial Church of Christ 412 Massachusetts St., Houston, TX 77029 Tuesday, June 3 6pm-8pm
4 Trini Menenhall Sosa Community Center 1414 Wirt Road Houston, TX 77055 Thursday, June 12 6pm-8pm
5 HCC – Northwest College (Spring Branch Campus) 1010 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. N., Houston, TX 77043 Monday, June 16 6pm-8pm
6 HCC – Southwest College (Alief Hayes Campus) 2811 Hayes Rd., Houston, TX 77082 Thursday, June 19 6pm-8pm
7 Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center 6500 Rookin St., Houston, TX 77074 Thursday, June 26 6pm-8pm
8 White Oak Conference Center 7603 Antoine Dr., Houston, TX 77088 Wednesday, July 9 6pm-8pm
9 Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center 3810 W. Fuqua Street, Houston, TX 77045 Thursday, July 10 6pm-8pm
10 Westbury Baptist Church 10425 Hillcroft Street, Houston, TX 77096 Tuesday, July 15 6pm-8pm
11 Third Ward Multi-Service Center 3611 Ennis St., Houston, TX 77004 Thursday, July 20 6pm-8pm
12 Sunnyside Multi-Service Center 9314 Cullen Blvd. Houston, TX 77051 Monday, July 21 6pm-8pm
13 Mangum-Howell Center 2500 Frick Road, Houston, Texas 77038 Thursday, July 22 6pm-8pm
14 Northeast Multi-Service Center 9720 Spaulding St., Houston, TX 77016 Thursday, July 24 6pm-8pm
15 Acres Homes Multi-Service Center 6719 W. Montgomery Road, Houston, TX 77091 Monday, July 28 6pm- 8pm
16 Kashmere Multi-Service Center 4802 Lockwood Dr., Houston, TX 77026 Thursday, July 31 6pm-8pm

See here and here for the background. Now go forth and tell them what you think. Texas Leftist has more.

Bishop Gene Robinson coming to Houston

From the Inbox:

Bishop Gene Robinson

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2013

Contact:
Houston Americans United
Toni Medellin
832.868.4586

FIRST OPENLY GAY EPISCOPAL BISHOP TO ADDRESS HOUSTON CHAPTER OF AMERICANS UNITED 

Bishop Gene Robinson Will Weigh In On Religious Liberty, Tolerance At Meeting of Church-State Watchdog Group

Retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop consecrated by the Episcopal Church in the United States, will speak next month at a meeting of the Houston Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The event, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee: Religious Liberty in a Religiously Zealous Society,” will be held at 7:30pm on Oct. 3 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

Robinson, a vocal supporter of church-state separation, will discuss the idea of religious freedom in America and explain how the Religious Right misconstrues that concept.

Tickets for the main event are $10 for students, $20 for Americans United members, $35 for non-members and $40 for a special package that includes a ticket and a one-year AU membership.

Robinson will also be available for a special ticketed reception at 6:15pm.

To purchase tickets, please visit: http://robinson.eventzilla.net/. For more information, contact Toni Medellin.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

See here for more, and here for an interview in the current issue of OutSmart that includes a brief preview of what to expect from his talk.

Your feedback requested on Chapter 9

From the Inbox, from CM Noriega:

Council Member Melissa Noriega announces a Special Called Transportation, Technology & Infrastructure Committee meeting Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. TTI committee members will review the changes to Chapter 9, Stormwater Design Requirements, Chapter 13, Stormwater Quality Design Requirements and receive public comments.

The Standards Review Committee (SRC), Department of Public Works and Engineering (PWE) was established to review, revise, and update PWE’s Standards and Documents. The Public is invited to provide their input and to participate by the submittal of proposals for suggested changes, comments, recommendations and other information. The deadline is Friday, May 24, 2013.

In this year’s review cycle, SRC has reviewed Infrastructure Design Manual Chapter 9, Stormwater Design Requirements and Chapter 13, Stormwater Quality Design Requirements and the associated design specification and details on the basis of comments received from all interested parties.

The SRC’s draft versions of the recommendations are posted at this link.

All the interested parties are asked to please review the recommended changes and provide comments for the final review by no later than Friday, May 24, 2013. After that time the committee will review all the final comments and authorize the City Engineer to publish the 2012-2013 version of the Infrastructure Design Manual by July 1, 2013.

You can provide your comments two ways:

For more information contact Rajiv Arya at 832.394.9131or at email: Rajiv.Arya@houstontx.gov

Also from the inbox, via Ed Browne:

The public comment period for revisions to Chapter 9 of the City of Houston Infrastructure Design Manual closes on May 24, 2013.  Comments must be submitted to standardsreviewcommittee@houstontx.gov no later than that date.  The draft of the revisions for Chapter 9  was released prior to the final City Council vote on Chapter 42 (which deals with urban development) of the municipal Code of Ordinances.  Please note that these two manuals, the municipal Code of Ordinances and the Public Works and Engineering (PW&E) Infrastructure Design Manual (IDM), are distinct but different.  The Code of Ordinances are voted upon by City Council after public hearings, while the IDM is approved by a PW&E Standards Committee not subject to a vote or hearings.
Here’s a link to our comments on proposed revisions to our red-lined copy of Chapter 9.
There are several key points that are particularly important to note:
  • This sentence was removed in the new version of Chapter 9: “Drainage criteria administered by the City of Houston and complemented by Harris County and the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) for newly designed areas provides protection from Structural Flooding from a 100-year storm event.”   We hope that the City doesn’t quit trying to provide protection from a 100-year storm event and that FEMA and commercial insurers don’t abandoned Houston to our floods.  Removing a sentence does not remove the City’s responsibility to protect its citizens from preventable disasters. (see Section 9.01.A.1)
  • Chapter 9 is not harmonized with Chapter 42.  Recent Chapter 42 changes include increasing development density for single family residences  dramatically (from 7 to 27 homes per acre) and designating all of incorporated Houston as urban.  Urban density means more concrete and more concrete means more water runs off of properties.  The stormwater runoff coefficient, C, that percentage of a property that is impermeable, needs to be changed in Chapter 9 to reflect an all urban City.  Any roadways being reconstructed by Rebuild Houston need to assume stormwater runoff of 90% or higher. (see 9.05.B.3.a.1)
  • Chapter 9 allows fees in-lieu-of detention (see Section 9.05.H.2.a.).  Section 9.02.J. says that payments in-lieu-of detention will be allowed only if deficit drainage systems are improved to sufficient capacity to convey new and existing runoff.  If conveyance systems are being asked to carry all the runoff, then they need to have been designed using urban stormwater runoff  (C>90%)  that assumes all the water will be carried by the roadway conveyance and have capacity in excess of this.  If Rebuild Houston intends to install subregional detention ponds, then all conveyance routes must be designed and built to handle more than the 100-year event; i.e., C >100%.   Any fee paid in-lieu-of providing detention needs to go to a Rebuild Houston fund earmarked to build subregional detention in the subregion where the fee was paid.  It should not go towards the General Fund, nor to be used on any road project anywhere within the City.
  • Attempts by the City to deal with “Grandfathering” will cause more confusion than anything.  Inspectors will be unable to discern the small amount of new detention added when redeveloping properties with existing impervious cover (concrete).  Enforcement would be virtually impossible.  Our suggestion is that all development or redevelopment install the same amount of detention.  Inspectors could very easily tell whether detention was installed or not and requiring everyone to install the same detention would reduce, if not eliminate, creative ways to avoid detention.  We also recommend that elevating properties would require mitigating for 100% of runoff due to the elevation. (see Section 9.05.H.3.)
  • Subregional (huge) detention ponds have been touted as the City’s savior by several Houston Mayors, but they are not.  It will be years (if ever) before Rebuild Houston funding begins to accumulate enough funds for these detention ponds.  Back-of-the-napkin math suggests that we would need approximately 600 subregional detention ponds, each of about 640 acre-feet (huge), if we want to do away with requiring local detention.  This would cost tens of billions and land available for purchase may not be optimally placed for detention, and will become scarcer as Chapter 42 is implemented.  Clearly, we’ll need to build some anyway, even if local detention is used, because we’re only mitigating for half the runoff produced.  A more subtle problem is our insistence that our roadways are designed to convey excess water in heavy rains, so the roadways will need to carry the water to the subregional detention ponds.  Trouble is, major thoroughfares that need to carry emergency vehicles, or provide an evacuation route, must not flood even in an extreme event.  Theoretically, all neighborhoods will have access to emergency and evacuation routes, so the question becomes, “How will the need to convey water to subregional detention ponds and the need for safe passage be reconciled?”  The answer is that they cannot unless major thoroughfares are designed with much larger drainage systems than currently used, and that costs even more money.  Chapter 42 densification will not wait for Rebuild Houston money to accumulate, so we strongly advocate for local on-site detention with no in-lieu-of payments. (See section 9.05.H.5)
Please refer to our other pages for more information about the relationships between Chapter 42 and Chapter 9.  Use whatever comments you wish to get your own talking points for the June 12th meeting or to send comments to the City (standardsreviewcommittee@houstontx.gov).

Finally, the Planning Department will hold numerous community meetings to discuss the recent changes to Chapter 42:

Thursday, May 23, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Sunnyside Multi-Service Center
9314 Cullen
Houston, Texas 77051

Thursday, May 23, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Northeast Multi-Service Center
9720 Spaulding
Houston, Texas 77016

Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Briar Grove Elementary School
6145 San Felipe
Houston, Texas 77057

Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Avenue CDC Home Ownership Center
707 Quitman
Houston, Texas77009

Thursday, May 30, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m
Garden Villa Community Center
6720 South Haywood Drive
Houston, Texas770612

Monday, June 3, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m
La Fontaine Reception Hall
7758 West Tidwell
Houston, Texas 77040

Thursday, June 6, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Freed Community Center
6818 Shady Villa Lane
Houston, Texas 77055

Tuesday, June 10, 2013, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Willowridge High School
16301 Chimney Rock Road
Houston, Texas 77053

Thursday, June 10, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Jefferson Davis High School
1101 Quitman
Houston, Texas 77009

Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Memorial Drive United Methodist Church
12955 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77024

To learn more about this program and download applications, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Neighborhood/prevailLotBldg.html.

Public meetings on the General Mobility Program

From the Inbox:

If you haven’t had a chance to share your opinions about METRO’s General Mobility Programand the upcoming referendum, METRO’s Board of Directors is hosting additional public meetings and invite you to attend. The next round of meetings will be held in the community on the following dates:

Thursday, July 12, 2012, 6pm-8pm

The Power Center

12401 S Post Oak Rd, Houston, TX 77045

Monday, July 16, 2012, 6pm-8pm

Ripley House Neighborhood Center

4410 Navigation Houston, Texas 77011

Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 6pm-8pm

HCC – Northwest College – Spring Branch Campus (Eagle Room)

1010 W. Sam Houston Pkwy N. Houston, TX 77043

Sign-in tables will be available at each meeting location so members of the public who wish to speak can register before the hearing begins.  Each public speaker will be limited to three minutes.

If you are unable to attend, you can still submit your comments electronically at the following address: 2012gmpreferendum@ridemetro.org. For more about METRO’s 2012 General Mobility Program (GMP) Referendum, click here. You are also welcome to sign up for email reminders about the upcoming election by submitting this form.

This is your chance to tell metro if you want the GMP payments to be frozen at 2014 levels, kept the same, done away will all together, or something else. Speak up while you can.

Guest posts coming

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be running a series of guest posts that I have solicited from a variety of people. I’m doing this partly to give myself a bit of a breather during the summer lull and my own vacation time, and partly because I’m privileged to know a bunch of smart, interesting people whose opinions I respect. I’ve asked them to write something on a topic of their choosing, and I’m very pleased to be able to bring you what they have produced. I hope you’ll enjoy the results and find them as enlightening as I have.