Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Help a brick out

From Swamplot: AN INDIEGOGO PAGE has just been launched to crowdfund the removal and reuse of an unexpectedly large group of well-preserved 1930s bricks from thenow-under-deconstruction Yale St. bridge over White Oak Bayou. The group calling itself Friends of Houston’s Yale Bridge Bricks says the funds will be used to preserve the bricks for reuse both around the bridge and elsewhere around the city. The […]

Houston’s anti-pollution ordinance killed by Supreme Court

Alas. In passing two ordinances designed to regulate air pollution, the city of Houston overstepped its authority and illegally subverted state law, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday. The ruling is a victory for a coalition of industrial facilities whose emissions were subject to inspection and possible prosecution by the city. The case pit the […]

GetMe waits in the wings

No matter what happens with the rideshare repeal referendum in Austin, there will be at least one vehicle for hire company in the capital city. Early voting is underway in Austin on Proposition 1, where residents will decide which regulations the city should adopt for vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft. Both companies have pledged […]

Don’t let the mosquitoes bite

That’s going to be a challenge. Mosquitoes don’t breed in flood waters. They drown in them, said Dr. Mustapha Debboun, director of the Mosquito Control Division at Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services. But it’s after the flood waters subside that mosquito breeding becomes an issue, he said. And with the Zika virus on […]

More on the Uber ultimatum

Initial reaction is not terribly receptive. Ride-hailing giant Uber threatened Wednesday to stop operating in Houston unless city leaders amend local regulations the company said are making it tough for them to recruit drivers. The ultimatum, the latest skirmish in what has been a contentious relationship between Uber and the city since it started operating […]

Council approves body camera storage funds

Good. City Council voted Wednesday to spend $1 million to buy servers and other equipment to store video collected by city police officers equipped with body cameras. The vote, passed with relatively little fuss following months of sometimes-contentious public debate, marks the next step in the Houston Police Department’s ongoing effort to equip more than […]

Uber says it will leave Houston if it does not change its fingerprinting requirement

I called it. Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies. Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber […]

Dan Patrick supports potty package check legislation

Of course he does. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing into a national controversy over transgender restrooms, said Tuesday he supports keeping men out of women’s restrooms, even if it takes legislation to do so. Since the issue erupted into controversy nationally, some Texas lawmakers have said they will support a state law for single-sex restrooms, […]

Kill that trash subsidy

Works for me. Mayor Sylvester Turner, working to close a $160 million budget deficit, has proposed scrapping payments that scores of Houston neighborhoods served by private trash haulers receive to help offset the cost of their waste contracts. The idea when the program started in the 1970s was that residents should not have to pay […]

“Space City” fight escalates

It’s getting real. The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking a federal judge to stop a rival comic convention from using the phrase “Space City” for its three-day festival scheduled for NRG Center over Memorial Day weekend. The convention bureau filed a request Friday for a temporary restraining order to prevent Space City […]

Endorsement watch: Against Prop 1

The Statesman urges a vote against the divisive referendum to repeal Austin’s ordinance regulating transit network companies like Uber and Lyft. Voting against Prop. 1 is the best way to ensure that Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing service drivers, undergo the most thorough criminal background checks endorsed by law enforcement: fingerprint checks. By contrast, Lyft […]

Don’t expect any flood project funding from Congress, either

Nice thought, but ain’t gonna happen. As the flood threat across much of the Houston region lessened Friday, local leaders began shifting their focus to recovery and two Houston congressmen announced legislation to fund more than $300 million worth of regional flood control projects. U.S. Reps. Al Green and Gene Green said their bill, which […]

Disaster declaration made

From the inbox: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office today confirmed that President Obama has approved the governor’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Fayette, Grimes, Harris and Parker counties. The action paves the way for federal recovery assistance to begin flowing into the Houston area. “I hope this leads to help for all of […]

Early voting for May 7 elections begins today

Hey, remember that special election to fill out Mayor Turner’s unexpired term in HD139? Early voting for it – and for the other elections on the May 7 ballot – begins today. Who knew, right? Here’s the press release from the County Clerk’s office: The Early Voting Period for the May 7, 2016, Special Election […]

Storm debris collection begins in Houston neighborhoods

From the inbox: Beginning Saturday, April 23, 2016 the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department and private contractors working on the City’s behalf will begin storm debris collection in the single-family neighborhoods impacted by Monday’s flooding. This includes the following areas. Acres Homes Alabonson Chateau Forest Kempwood/Bingle, Hollister Larchmont Link Meadow Linkwood Meyerland Spring […]

Want to buy a big piece of land near the Medical Center?

Here’s your chance. A single tract of land large enough to hold multiple office towers, high-rise residential buildings and a hotel doesn’t often come available inside Loop 610. One near the Texas Medical Center is even more uncommon. After 45 years, Shell Oil Co. is selling 21 acres it owns at the southwest corner of […]

First look at how HISD will balance its budget

Seems to be fairly well-received. The Houston school district’s interim superintendent on Thursday rescinded his proposal to reduce funding for gifted students amid concerns from parents and board members. At the same time, Ken Huewitt proposed bolstering the budgets of schools with significant concentrations of low-income students, using $21 million from federal funds. Schools with […]

An outside view on Uber in Houston

The Statesman looks at how Austin’s fight with Uber and Lyft over fingerprint requirements compares with other cities in Texas, including Houston. Officials in Houston said they decided early on that their city, despite having almost 2,500 licensed taxis, could benefit from the emerging ride-hailing industry. So they approached Uber and Lyft a few years […]

The dry run for the Super Bowl

It went pretty well. In less than a year, the Super Bowl is expected to draw almost twice as many as the 70,000 out-of-towners who flocked here for the Final Four. More than 1 million are expected to come downtown and to NRG Park from the Houston region, presenting even greater logistical and security challenges […]

The Greater Houston Storm Relief Fund

From the inbox: After receiving calls from corporations and others who want to help financially, Mayor Sylvester Turner is establishing The Greater Houston Storm Relief Fund, to accept flood relief donations. “We’ve been hearing from residents who are confused about where they should donate to get assistance directly to the residents of our city who […]

Business as usual with the Texas Enterprise Fund

Raise your hand if this surprises you. In July of 2013, Gov. Rick Perry announced that he had closed another deal. Chevron would build a 50-story tower in downtown Houston next to one of its existing office buildings. The $662 million capital investment was slated to create 1,752 high-paying jobs. “The state is providing $12 […]

On drainage and flooding

Two items of interest from Gray Matters, both on the subject of the week. First, from Cynthia Hand Neely and Ed Browne of Residents Against Flooding: Man-made, preventable flooding has surged dirty, sewage-ridden water through Houston living rooms three times now in seven years, yet city government fails to prevent these recurring emergencies. Really? If […]

How you can help or get help in Houston

Via email from State Rep. Gene Wu: I hope this email finds you safe after yesterday’s flooding. While we are seeing most of the high water receding from our neighborhoods, there is still a good deal of cleanup work to do today. Please stay safe as we anticipate even more rain throughout the day. For […]

Why North Carolina and not Houston?

John Nova Lomax asks why Houston has not suffered the same backlash as North Carolina after the repeal of HERO last November. In the aftermath of the repeal of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance in November, the bill’s proponents predicted dire economic consequences. Then-Mayor Annise Parker predicted a “direct, economic backlash” for the Bayou City. A #boycotthouston campaign […]

Ghosts of Allison

I sure hope everyone made it through yesterday’s ferocious rain all right. The storm that flooded the greater Houston area on Monday – drenching the region with the most rain since Tropical Storm Allison dumped more than 24 inches in June 2001 – packed a mighty punch in mere hours. Some areas saw as much […]

Turner announces his budget

From the inbox: Utilizing a shared sacrifice approach, Mayor Sylvester Turner today unveiled a proposed Fiscal Year 2017 General Fund budget that eliminates a projected $160 million shortfall that was the result of cost increases, voter imposed revenue limitations, a broken appraisal system and the economic downturn. The budget totals $2.3 billion, which is about […]

UberACCESS debuts in Houston

Good to see. A partnership that has helped disabled people connect with a popular ride service launched in Houston at midnight. Uber officials confirmed UberACCESS, which offers wheelchair-accessible rides for the same price as UberX, began service Wednesday. Like all Uber service, it is available via smartphone app, 24 hours a day. “I’m thrilled to […]

I now pronounce you man and machine

Yeah, no. Chris Sevier says he’s being denied his right to marry – his computer. The persistent Tennessee lawyer – who has carried his challenge to same-sex marriage to courthouses across the nation – has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Houston saying he and his 2011 MacBook were rejected for a marriage license […]

HPD rolls out its body cameras

The first wave has been deployed. The Houston Police Department handed out Thursday the first wave of 4,100 body cameras being distributed to all first-line officers over the next 12 to 18 months, initiating a new policy that will require officers to wear the cameras for all law-enforcement related activities. About 200 officers – those […]

Meet the toucan light

The first of its kind in Houston, though maybe not the last. The new traffic signal suspended above Appel at Yale and Seventh is a first for Texas, but also an adjustment for residents – some of whom are unsure of its benefit. Called a toucan, as in “two can go,” the signal gives pedestrians […]

Take transit to the game

If you can, you should. The transformation of downtown from a work place that empties after dark to a true community is finally underway in earnest, with residents, retail shops, and restaurants that remain open long after the lunch rush. The building boom is everywhere, and that includes the area around Minute Maid, which had […]

Fundraising for the next city election cycle has begun

Whether you realized it or not. Last year’s court ruling undoing Houston’s fundraising ban during non-election seasons means that the city’s contribution cycles reset immediately after last year’s general and runoff elections, according to the city, instead of in early spring. As a result, unless a candidate is retiring old campaign debt, money raised post-election […]

Criminal complaint filed over Uptown land acquisition

All righty then. A consultant who represents property owners in the Galleria area has filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, alleging the Uptown Development Authority and related entities broke state open meetings and disclosure laws in relation to acquiring property for a dedicated bus lane project. The complaint, filed last […]

Have I mentioned lately that the revenue cap is stupid public policy?

Because it is. Sales taxes are Houston’s second-largest source of revenue for the general fund, which pays for most core services. Just as concerning for city officials, however, was more news about the city’s largest general fund revenue source: property taxes. Mayor Sylvester Turner, as he did in February, criticized what he said is an […]