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Posts Tagged ‘Houston City Council’

Valero’s special deal

I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind this. Companies routinely relocate to the city or state that lures them with the best tax break, but Valero wants Houston City Council to give its eastside refinery the same treatment without having to pack its bags. Valero wants most of its Manchester facility, the only refinery inside […]

Repair or replace?

Consider this an object lesson in the cost of deferring maintenance. A new Houston police headquarters and courthouse complex, discussed for decades, could reach a key turning point this week as Mayor Annise Parker seeks to force City Council members to choose between repairing the city’s existing facilities or tackling an enormous project to construct […]

City deficit not as big as feared

This is a nice surprise. A huge budget deficit looming at City Hall – which has spurred talk of layoffs, service cuts, new fees and higher taxes – has been cut in half, relieving some pressure to scramble together a budget patch but doing little for Houston’s long-term financial health. The unexpected boost of good […]

Dallas City Council approves vehicles for hire revisions

It was smooth sailing, relatively speaking. Starting in late April, ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft will be able to operate legally in the city of Dallas. The City Council on Wednesday voted 13-2 to overhaul the city’s ordinance for taxicabs, limos and those app-based companies. In doing so, they introduced more competition and brought […]

There will be charter referenda next year

Details are pending, but one way or another we’ll get to vote on some charter changes next November. City Council members on Thursday agreed that any city charter reforms, including changes to term limits, should go to voters in November rather than May next year, but they kicked most substantive discussion of those issues to […]

Mayor Parker wants body cameras for HPD

Good. Houston won’t wait for federal funding before buying body cameras for all of the city’s uniformed police officers, Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday, as activists launched a petition drive for an ordinance essentially mandating the mayor’s plans. Both the mayor and police chief have announced their commitment to body cameras designed to record all […]

Charter review gets set

From Campos: This Thursday, December 4 the City Council’s Ad Hoc Charter Review committee will meet and several members of Council want the following in BOLD discussed. I have added a few devil’s advocate observations. BTW: All members of City Council are on the committee. Here are proposed changes: 1. Authorize any item(s) acknowledged and […]

Uber to be available at Houston airports now

This was part of the original vehicle for hire ordinance overhaul, to be implemented later. “Later” has now arrived. Uber and other app-based ride service companies won coveted access to Houston’s airports Wednesday when the City Council quietly passed new regulations, a move likely to increase competition in a market that has long been a […]

Lyft to leave November 20

So long. Lyft plans to suspend its Houston operations on Nov. 20, according to a letter sent to Houston Lyft users. The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service is upset over the new regulations approved by the Houston City Council in August. Those regulations include requiring drivers to have background checks and required medical exams, and installing […]

Lawsuit filed over Houston campaign blackout rules

From the inbox: Late Tuesday afternoon, Houston City Council candidate Trebor Gordon filed a First Amendment lawsuit challenging a discriminatory Houston ordinance that prevents city candidates from fundraising until February. Gordon is a conservative candidate for Houston City Council at large. “Houston is a great city because of the entrepreneurial culture of its citizens, among […]

Red light cameras: The final insult

Awesome. In settling the lawsuit with camera vendor American Traffic Solutions, whose contract was supposed to run through 2014, the city agreed to pay the Arizona-based company $4.8 million. The city had $2.3 million in red-light ticket revenue on hand at the time of the settlement, and officials said they expected to be able to […]

Re-revisiting red light cameras

This horse is dead. Please stop beating it. Four years after Houston voters rejected red-light cameras, the divisive issue unexpectedly resurfaced Tuesday when police officials presented figures indicating that removing the cameras made 51 busy intersections more dangerous. Auto crashes have more than doubled at those intersections since voters banned use of the cameras in […]

Lyft leaving?

Sorry it’s not working out for you. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Less than a week before new city regulations take effect, one of two app-based, paid-ride companies is preparing to end its local business rather than use a city-required procedure to conduct background checks. “We’ve made the very difficult decision that if […]

McClelland wants more money for more cops

And I want some answers before we go along with this request. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland asked city leaders Tuesday for an additional $105 million over five years to hire hundreds of new officers as part of a plan to shore up divisions where thousands of crimes are never investigated and bolster traffic enforcement […]

Council approves meaningless tax cut

Such awful policy. The Houston City Council unanimously passed a nominal property tax cut Tuesday afternoon, the first rate reduction in five years, as the city for the first time runs into a revenue cap imposed by voters a decade ago. The modest rollback equates to $12.27 a year for the owner of a $200,000 […]

More lot protections

Good luck. A stretch of Riverside Terrace, a rebound neighborhood known for its “large lots, mature trees and a view of the downtown skyline,” will be the first residential pocket in Houston where homeowners can use a new city code provision to fend off unwanted townhome, condo or residential tower developments. The City Council [recently] […]

Mayoral fundraising 2015

Yeah, I know, another post about the 2015 election. I sure am doing a lousy job of not thinking about that just yet, but this raises an interesting point. Likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its interpretation of an ordinance that would give Sylvester Turner a major fundraising […]

Chartering

There will be more than just the Mayor’s race going on in 2015. Houston is guaranteed a frantic 2015 political season with an open mayor’s race on the ballot, but it could get busier still with growing talk of placing the city charter before voters for possible changes to term limits, the city revenue cap […]

Reminder: Uber and Lyft aren’t legal yet in Houston

Drive for ‘em at your own risk for the next month or so. New entrants into Houston’s paid-ride market can’t be licensed to operate for another month, but the transition is proving problematic as the companies and drivers rack up citations and the city impounds vehicles. Since Aug. 6, when the City Council approved changes […]

Smoking ban extended to pedestrian plazas

I’m okay with this. Main Street Square is now a smoke-free zone following the City Council’s decision Wednesday to expand Houston’s smoking ban to pedestrian plazas, marking the latest effort from the Parker administration to curb lighting up in public places. The changes to the smoking ordinance are twofold: it expands the ban to Houston’s […]

More suspects arrested from the rape kit backlog

More good news. Houston’s effort to test a nearly three-decade backlog of sexual assault kits has resulted in new charges filed against 19 people, city officials said Monday, including 10 suspects identified and arrested for the first time. One of the new suspects has been charged in connection with two assaults; another remains at large, […]

Food trucks arrive downtown

Welcome. Houston’s foodie community rejoiced Friday as Mayor Annise Parker welcomed propane-fueled food trucks downtown after a years-long ban, but more plans to loosen the city’s mobile unit rules are not likely to meet the same fanfare at City Council in the coming months. Parker bypassed council to remove the restriction on propane-fueled food trucks […]

Firefighter pension board makes an offer to the city

This was unexpected. The trustees of Houston’s firefighter pension, who for years have fought the mere mention of changes to benefits as Houston’s enormous pension burden has continued to grow, now are shopping a compromise proposal. Fire pension leaders say they simply are trying to save the city money as it approaches several years of […]

Empower Texans to spread its virus to Houston

Try not to get infected. Empower Texans said Sunday it will open a political outpost in Houston, a signal that the conservative political action committee may emerge as a player in upcoming municipal elections. […] On Friday, Empower’s fiscal policy analyst Christopher Paxton criticized Houston’s elected officials for complaining about having to rein in government […]

Interview with Melissa Noriega

We round out the county races this year with the Harris County Department of Education, a seven-member board that handles federal grants and provides various programs for the many independent school districts in Harris County. It’s hard to believe, but six years ago today there wasn’t a single Democrat on the HCDE. That started to […]

The revenue cap has already hit

Lovely. Houstonians will see their first property tax rate cut in five years as the city runs up against a revenue cap imposed by voters a decade ago. The modest rollback works out to $12.27 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house with a standard homestead exemption. […] The city’s current property tax […]

Revising the historic preservation ordinance

Gird your loins. Houston officials are preparing to revise the city’s historic preservation ordinance, a signature issue for Mayor Annise Parker that spurred a prolonged and divisive fight over property rights in her first term. That contentiousness has never fully subsided in some neighborhoods, most notably the Heights, where redevelopment had seen numerous original structures […]

Body cameras for HPD

I’ll be very interested to see how this goes. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is asking City Hall for $8 million to equip 3,500 police officers over three years with small body cameras to record encounters between law enforcement and residents as a way of improving accountability and transparency. Last December, McClelland announced a pilot […]

The limits of lobbying

They do exist, as Houston’s cab companies recently discovered. More than a year of intense lobbying by established cab companies and tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to City Council members were not enough to hold off a pair of upstart tech-taxi firms that now can operate legally in Houston. In the end, […]

Some Republicans really want to make Uber a partisan thing

A little adorable, and a little desperate. Uber hired political strategist David Plouffe this week to run what amounts to a national political campaign against the taxi industry. Ostensibly, this is a fight between large taxi medallion investors and a multi-billion dollar tech startup, between cab companies and everyday Uber drivers, between entrenched power and […]

Parker proposes new firefighter pension plan

We’ll see about this. With the city of Houston facing huge and rising pension costs, Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday unveiled a proposal to put new firefighters in a separate, less generous plan that would do away with expensive automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The move would not affect current firefighters covered by the Houston Firefighters Relief […]

And we (finally) circle back to food trucks

We’ve done HERO, we’ve done vehicles for hire, what other high profile issues are there out there? Oh yeah, food trucks. I’d almost forgotten they were still an agenda item, but they’re back and they should be getting a vote soon. Proposed changes to three major ordinances could provide food trucks with new freedom. While […]

Vape ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

E-cigarettes are not affected by the city of Houston’s smoking ban. For now, anyway. When city officials announced a sweeping ban on smoking in public parks last month, many in Houston’s growing ranks of electronic cigarette users worried the new rules applied to them. They do not, but the concern was well founded. Of the […]

HERO repeal petition lawsuit set for January

There will be no HERO repeal referendum on the ballot this year, but depending on how the trial (and likely appeal) goes, there could be one next year. Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance dropped their request for a temporary injunction Friday that could have triggered a process to set a repeal referendum this November. […]