BetterHouston will lead a renewed effort, building on the lessons of the other programs, to restore these areas with safe walkable streets, diverse housing choices, convenient transit, shopping, local businesses, well-paying jobs, and easily accessible parks and community services.
Neighborhood Services Programs.
BetterHouston works directly with City and neighborhood leaders to organize grass-roots revitalization efforts as the implementation of our Neighborhood Services Program (NSP). These efforts address land use, circulation and infrastructure, parks, schools and community facilities. Effective plans require basic livability standards, including enforceable deed restrictions (where applicable) and city regulations to prevent blight, traffic hazards, flooding, and negative environmental impacts.
Development of mixed-income neighborhoods should be fundamental public policy, to avoid the further concentrations of deterioration and poverty. NSPs identify core development areas, where a critical mass of new mixed-income, infill and rehabilitation housing, commercial uses, local jobs, and community facilities (the elementary schools is critical) can be concentrated, within a 5-7 minute walk of most residents.
In a city without conventional zoning, but lengthy subdivision and development regulations, the City of Houston has the authority to enact better ordinances to protect our neighborhoods. We already regulate parking, setbacks, lot sizes, utilities, detention, driveways, density, landscaping and green space, building height, signs, and street standards. Yet the regulations do not add up to the kind of protection our neighborhoods need, as the Ashby High-rise and other similar controversies demonstrate.
BetterHouston is working to provide technical assistance and assist the Planning Department and City Council with an innovative Livable Neighborhoods Ordinance, to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.” The ordinance could include basic standards for compatible development in terms of minimizing adverse impacts such as traffic, flooding, pedestrian safety hazards, noise, and visual blight. This could include compatibility guidelines for height, density, and increased vehicular traffic, green space buffers.
HOODS ARE THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF HEALTHY
We need to protect, improve, and, in many cases, revitalize our neighborhoods. Far too many are at risk, suffering from economic, social, and physical decline.