Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Houston City Council’

The small number of competitive legislative races in November

The Trib discusses the lack of legislative action in November. In the House, nine Republican and two Democratic races are still undecided. An early list of competitive November races — this is in a House with 150 seats — comes in under a dozen. Put another way, there are about as many competitive races in […]

Council hears NDO testimony

It went about as you’d expect. Houston is the last of America’s largest cities not to have local anti-discrimination protections, a fact some lauded and others condemned Wednesday during the first opportunity for public comment on Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed equal rights ordinance. Parker is poised to place the ordinance before City Council for a […]

GHP endorses proposed NDO

Good for them. The Greater Houston Partnership came out in support of Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed equal rights ordinance, giving the measure a boost as it heads to a City Council committee hearing on Wednesday. Parker plans to put the measure before the full City Council for a vote next week. The Partnership initially had […]

Costello comes out for Uber and Lyft

An email sent out by CM Stephen Costello: Over the past few months, City Council has been discussing proposed changes to Chapter 46, the city ordinance dealing with vehicles for hire. I’ve listened during committee meetings and public sessions. I’ve studied the presentations and analyzed the data. Most importantly, I’ve spoken to and read emails […]

The city and the downtown post office

Not sure what all the fuss about this is about. Developers eager to purchase the high-profile U.S. Postal Service site downtown – envisioned in recent years as a park, outdoor amphitheater or a development with housing and entertainment venues – are competing for the property with the city of Houston, which is considering putting its […]

More demolitions coming

Good. Houston next week will launch an effort to scoop up dangerous properties left to rot in so many aging neighborhoods, raze them and resell the land. Officials say the program, approved unanimously Wednesday by the City Council, could more than double the number of buildings demolished each year, help the city recover more of […]

Dallas and Seattle redoing vehicle for hire ordinances

I’ve said before that the review of Houston’s vehicle for hire codes will be a process and not a one-time deal, and that we ought to be prepared to review what we do now in another six or twelve months since we don’t really know what the effect of whatever we do here will be. […]

Your daily Uber/Lyft update

From the Tuesday Council committee hearing at which the draft ordinance was reviewed. Despite having a newly-released draft ordinance in hand, City Council members spent a Tuesday committee hearing asking many of the same questions about regulating ride-sharing services as they did months ago. Echoing concerns raised by taxi and limousine companies, council members grilled […]

Draft ordinance on vehicles for hire is out

Mayor Parker puts another item on City Council’s to do list. A proposed Houston ordinance could legalize hundreds of for-hire drivers providing rides through smartphone applications, but would require those drivers meet the same permitting and safety requirements as taxicab and limousine drivers already regulated by the city. Under the proposal by the city’s Department […]

First wage theft complaints filed in Houston

I hope these workers get the justice they seek. For three years Erik Lopez and his three brothers say they each often worked 80-hour weeks, building highway ramps and trash landfills for city projects. Yet they say their employer refused to pay them overtime. Nor did the company provide tax forms, such as a W-2, […]

Mayor Parker releases draft of non-discrimination ordinance

From the inbox: Mayor Annise Parker today released a draft of her proposed Equal Rights Ordinance. The document is the result of more than two months of collaborative discussions with various stakeholders. “As I stated in my State of the City Address earlier this month, the Houston I know does not discriminate, treats everyone equally […]

East Enders want the underpass

We’re talking about the long-debated Harrisburg rail line extension, for which three residents of the East End took to the Chron op-ed pages to make their case for their preferred solution. East End residents worked for years with Metro to work out a solution for the light rail to cross the “east belt” heavy-rail trunk […]

Council approves hoarding ordinance

I think they’re on the right track. The Houston City Council unanimously approved an anti-hoarding ordinance Wednesday without a clear idea of how it will be enforced. The ordinance, which does not apply to single-family homes, clarifies when police can seek a warrant to enter a home and prioritizes mental health treatment before turning to […]

Uber goes rogue

That sound you hear is me shaking my head. At least one ride-sharing company has decided to openly defy city law that bans its unlicensed drivers from charging for rides. While a few free-ride promotions remain ongoing, Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian confirmed Tuesday that the service, which connects interested riders with willing drivers via smartphone […]

Council considers hoarding ordinance

I hadn’t realized Houston didn’t already have an ordinance to deal with hoarding. Apparently, we are not at all unique in this regard. A proposed ordinance would begin to expand the city’s options for resolving hoarding situations even when the hoarder owns the property. The measure, which would not apply to single-family homes, would create […]

Taxi companies file suit against Uber and Lyft

Color me skeptical. Taxi companies in Houston and San Antonio took their turf war with two online companies to federal court Tuesday, saying Uber and Lyft are operating illegally and skimming money from taxi firms that abide by the law. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Houston, asks a federal judge to declare […]

Counting votes on the non-discrimination ordinance

From the Houston GLBT Political Caucus Facebook page: Members have asked for the responses on our questionnaires to the questions below. The President of the Caucus, Maverick Welsh, has asked me to post the information. As the chair of the Screening Committee, I have reviewed the questionnaires from 2013 and below is the result: Mayor–We […]

Enforcing non-discrimination

In her annual State of the City address, Mayor Parker put a long-awaited item on the table. Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday said she would create a human rights commission to review violations of anti-discrimination laws, saying just talking about equality in the nation’s most diverse city is not enough. “We don’t care where you […]

The rideshare battles continue

From Houston: The issue came up at yesterday’s council meeting and Mayor Annise Parker said that undercover Houston police sting operations have resulted in 26 citations for Uber and Lyft drivers. They were likely, misdemeanor violations for operating an illegal taxi. The mayor’s remark was in reply to testimony from Duane Kamins, a partner, along […]

Fearing the fire reform

This ought to be interesting. Rumblings of coming reforms in Houston Fire Department’s operations have union leaders and the department’s command staff wary, despite Mayor Annise Parker’s insistence that these concerns are unwarranted. HFD’s staffing shortage has driven up overtime costs, creating a budget crisis that has, on some days, seen ambulances and fire trucks […]

The Seattle approach to Uber and Lyft

While we wait in Houston for City Council to take action on amending the taxi and limousine codes to deal with the entry of Uber and Lyft, the city of Seattle took a novel approach to the issue. In a major victory for the city’s taxi cab drivers, the Seattle City Council voted Monday to […]

Lyft has some stumbles

Oops. Lyft, known for its pink mustaches, has again been caught red-handed in Houston breaking a basic driving law. A driver for the company, which pairs riders with drivers via smartphone app, picked up a Houston investigator Monday and was cited for operating an illegal taxi service because the passenger was charged for the ride. […]

Firefighters union ratifies no-brownout agreement

Good. Members of the Houston firefighters’ union have signed off on a deal with Mayor Annise Parker that would prevent pulling firetrucks from service to help balance the Fire Department’s budget. “We’re very pleased that the union membership ratified the agreement,” Houston City Attorney David M. Feldman said in a statement released Friday. Now that […]

Good news and bad news on the Washington Avenue parking benefit district

As you may recall, a bit more than a year ago Council approved a plan to create a “parking benefit district” for the Washington Avenue corridor, which is a fancy way of saying they approved the installation of parking meters whose revenue would then be used to help pay for infrastructure improvements in the area, […]

HFD union reaches a deal with the city to avoid “rolling brownouts”

From the Inbox: Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA) President Bryan Sky-Eagle joined Mayor Annise Parker this morning to announce a tentative agreement on an interim contract that will avoid the brown-outs of fire apparatus proposed earlier to solve an $8.5 million overtime shortfall at the Houston Fire Department. “I want to thank the union […]

City to Uber: Enough with the emails already

So this happened. The battle over Houston’s taxi rules moved Thursday from the streets to cyberspace, reflecting ongoing tension between an aggressive newcomer and a city government determined to proceed cautiously. Thousands of email messages urging elected leaders to allow the ridesharing service Uber into Houston slowed city servers and led City Attorney David Feldman […]

Cab companies push back on Uber/Lyft

The first Council action on updating the taxi and limo codes to accommodate Uber and Lyft went about as you’d expect. Houston City Council members struggled Tuesday to strike a balance between ensuring paid rides in Houston are available to everyone and encouraging competition from new firms that say they can provide faster service. Speakers […]

More on the Lyft and Uber entrances

It’s a new day in Houston for people who need a ride. Brian Walts was out until about 3 a.m. Friday hitting the clubs, but he didn’t have a single drink or set foot on a dance floor. Rather, he was driving two gents home from the Washington Avenue area for free, hoping that by […]

HFD’s budget problems

I’m sure you’ve heard of this by now. The safety of Houston’s citizens and its firefighters will be compromised over the next four months as the fire department limits the number of personnel on duty and removes trucks from service in an attempt to cut spending, Fire Chief Terry Garrison said Thursday. “People that are […]

And here comes UberX

I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but UberX, which is Uber’s ride share service, similar in nature to that of Lyft, is now in Houston as well. Free rides suddenly became available in Houston on Thursday night as two online companies clamored for attention before they officially break into the city’s cab market. Uber, which […]

Lyft gets set to lift off in Houston

Another option for getting a ride. Prepare to see see pink-mustachioed cars roaming around the city as San Francisco-based car sharing company Lyft launches in Houston on Friday. Lyft is an app-based service that allows anyone to register as a driver and use their own car to make money by giving other people a ride. […]

More details on the rape kit backlog results

HPD reports to Council about the progress of testing done on the backlogged rape kits. No false arrests by Houston police have been uncovered during an ongoing $4.4 million testing of thousands of old rape kits, but new suspects have been developed with DNA, leading to an undisclosed number of arrests, police commanders told City […]

More on the audit letters

The Chron asks some outside experts to go over those recently released audit letters. Houston leaders appeared to have ignored the significance of recurring accounting and management problems or did not have the resources to fix them, according to accounting experts who reviewed 11 years’ worth of audit letters released by the mayor’s office last […]

January campaign finance reports for Houston officeholders

One more set of finance reports to document, from city of Houston officeholders and candidates. I’m not going to link to the individual reports this time, since the city’s system automatically downloads the PDFs and I don’t feel like uploading these all to my Google drive. Here are the basic summaries, with my comments afterwards […]