On Oct. 13, Mayor Annise Parker succeeded in her efforts to eliminate the 90-day waiting period for demolitions and inappropriate alterations to properties in Houston’s 16 designated historic districts. The amendments extend protections that already exist in the Old Sixth Ward to the city’s other historic districts and create a mechanism for other historic neighborhoods to request protected district designation.
City Council approved the amendments, with some last minute changes, by a vote of 12 to 3. A breakdown of the roll call vote is at the end of this message.
The most significant change added to the ordinance at the council meeting makes it more difficult to create new historic districts. The amended ordinance requires the approval of a supermajority of 67% of property owners in a proposed district. The ordinance previously required the support of 51% of property owners to create a district.
Earlier in the session, Council unanimously passed the transitional provisions that allow for the repeal of existing historic districts, except for the current Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District. Council also approved changes to the provisions that will make it easier to eliminate individual historic districts.
To initiate the repeal process, preservation opponents must gather signatures from the owners of 10% of the tracts in an existing historic district and submit them to the City within 30 days of the amended preservation ordinance going into effect. The Planning and Development Department will then mail postcards to property owners in the district in question. The owners of 51% of the tracts in the district must return postcards requesting repeal for the historic district designation to be removed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the coming weeks, property owners in existing City of Houston historic districts may be asked to sign petitions to repeal their neighborhoods’ historical designations. Please do not sign these petitions. If you do, you could remove all preservation protections in your neighborhood.
GHPA will e-mail a copy of the repeal petition as soon as it is available so that property owners will recognize it. If you have any questions regarding the petition process, please e-mail GHPA or call us at 713-216-5000.
The tape of the Oct. 13 City Council debate and vote can be viewed online later today on the Houston Television (formerly The Municipal Channel) website. [Click here] to access Houston Television’s online tape library.
Council members voting for the amendments: Adams, Clutterbuck, Costello, Gonzalez, Hoang, Jones, Lovell, Noreiga, Parker, Pennington, Rodriguez, Stardig
Council members voting against the amendments: Bradford, Johnson, Sullivan