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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION
VOLUME 4, ISSUE 12 APRIL 11MAY 5, 2023
St. Luke’s Health to open new medical tower
A conservation district ordinance under consideration in Houston could be applied to six specic communities in the city. The draft language was tailored to those six communities after some residents, including in Riverside Terrace, expressed concerns. CONSIDERING CONSERVATION
7 events, activities to attend in the area
SHAWN ARRAJJCOMMUNITY IMPACT
LOCAL VOTER GUIDE 2023
Houston City Council discusses new protections for historic neighborhoods
BY LEAH FOREMAN
change—such as gentrication through commercial and residential development as well due to extreme weather events, like Hurricane Harvey—which cause a loss of character, said Mayor Sylvester Turner at a Feb. 22 public hearing regarding the draft ordinance. CONTINUED ON 16
Houston ocials aim to protect historic city neighbor- hoods, many of which are Black communities, through a new conservation district ordinance. These neighborhoods, such as Independence Heights and Freedmen’s Town are the sites of recent
Meyerland community center finishes $50M renovations BY MELISSA ENAJE
The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center completed its multiyear, $50 million expansion and renovation project in January. The new Meyerland campus, a central xture among Houston’s Jewish community since 1936 and commonly referred to as “the J,” was largely funded by more than 700 individuals, families and foundation donors. “A project like this really shows the resiliency of Houston,” ERJCC Board Chair-elect Debbie Diamond said at the formal dedication and rib- bon-cutting ceremony Feb. 26. The ERJCC ooded three times before its renovation—10 feet of water CONTINUED ON 19
Shop owner uses art, design to curate blooms
Pull the newest teaser from CC Libraries
The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center’s renovated building boasts new pools, a patio, locker rooms and meeting spaces. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact)
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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
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ABOUT US Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched Community Impact in 2005, and the company is still locally owned today. We have expanded to include hundreds of team members and have created our own software platform and printing facility. CI delivers 35+ localized editions across Texas to more than 2.5 million residential mailboxes. MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Jay McMahon SENIOR EDITOR Shawn Arrajj REPORTER Melissa Enaje GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jatziri Garcia ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Holly Nunez METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Kelly Schafler COPY EDITOR Adrian Gandara SENIOR ART PRODUCTION MANAGER Kaitlin Schmidt CONTACT US 16300 Northwest Freeway Jersey Village, TX 77040 • 281-469-6181 CI CAREERS communityimpact.com/careers PRESS RELEASES firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com Learn more at communityimpact.com/advertising EMAIL NEWSLETTERS communityimpact.com/newsletter SUPPORT US Join your neighbors by giving to the CI Patron program. Funds support our journalistic mission to provide trusted, local news in your community. Learn more at communityimpact.com/cipatron
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS MONTH
FROM JAY: Since 1936, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center—commonly referred to as “the J”—has been, and will continue to be, a central fixture in the Houston Jewish community. Following the events of Hurricane Harvey as well as two other floods prior to that, a decision was made to invest $50 million in renovations at the campus as a commitment to the revitalization of Meyerland, west Houston and for the entire community overall. Based on the contributions of over 700 individuals, families and foundation donors, “the J” has undergone a complete overhaul and expansion. Learn more in this month’s front-page story. Happy April everybody! Jay McMahon, GENERAL MANAGER
FROM SHAWN: Our other front-page story this month takes a look at the city of Houston’s conservation district ordinance, which is being pitched for six specific Houston communities as a way to preserve historical character without financially burdening residents who live there. After weeks of debate, members of the Houston City Council appear poised to approve the measure. Residents in the city of West University Place can also find our Local Election Guide on Page 9, including Q&As with the mayoral and council candidates. Shawn Arrajj, SENIOR EDITOR
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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding
L A B A M A S T .
W E S T H E I M E R R D .
R I C H
O'Quinn Medical Tower
COURTESY ST. LUKE’S HEALTH
7 Utah-based company Dirty Dough Cookies is making its Greater Houston- area debut with four franchise locations slated to open this summer and eight additional stores coming soon after, fran- chisee John Gilleland said March 9. The location opening in the West University area is at 4001 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. G, Houston. The stores will offer layered and filled 4-ounce cookies that can be shared or enjoyed solo, Gilleland said. The menu boasts four classic flavors and four flavors that change weekly. Gluten-free 8 The O’Quinn Medical Tower will fully open April 14 at Baylor St. Luke’s McNair Medical Campus, 1919 Old Spanish Trail, Houston. The 12-story tower will be a 400,000-square-foot outpatient care fa- cility and the new clinical home for their comprehensive cancer center, hospital officials said. The tower will expand the ambulatory surgery center with 12 new operating rooms and 10 new endoscopy suites. It will also include more than 70 exam rooms. 832-598-7721. www.stlukeshealth.org/omt ANNIVERSARIES 9 Owners Sara and Rob Cromie opened The Raven Grill at 1916 Bissonnet St., Houston, in March 1998. As of March 24, the restaurant has offered regional food options to guests cooked over a wood-fire grill and served in a casual atmosphere for more than 25 years. New and longtime guests can choose from a number of appe- tizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos and pasta dishes. 713-521-2027. www.theravengrill.com flavors will also be available. www.dirtydoughcookies.com
W. HOLCOMBE BLVD.
MEYERLAND PLAZA MALL
S. POST OAK RD.
TM; © 2023 COMMUNITY IMPACT CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MAP NOT TO SCALE N
COMING SOON 5 The second location of American and Tex-Mex diner Lankford’s will open soon at 5208 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, within the Bissonnet Center. Lankford’s has served American burgers and other food items since 1937. Diners can expect breakfast menu items, such as breakfast tacos, oatmeal and Lonestar tostadas, or lunch. Lankford’s serves American burgers and vegetarian-friendly options, such as black bean or Impossible meat patties. The diner also serves daily specials. 713-281-3549. www.lankfordsburgers.com 6 Amazing Spaces will add another location in the late spring or early sum- mer to the Inner Loop at 3120 Southwest Freeway, Houston, according to a cor- porate representative. This location will offer climate-controlled self storage and amenities such as delivery acceptance and wine storage. Another Amazing Spac- es location can be found near the Texas Medical Center. 713-230-8180. www.amazingspaces.com
alter metabolism by combining sci- ence, coaching and technology to guide members through five different heart rate zones, according to its website. 281-404-9294. www.orangetheory.com 3 Specialty fitness retailer Johnson Fitness & Wellness has expanded its presence in Texas with 17 new stores that opened in February, according to the company’s publicist. The location at 3618 S. Shepherd Drive, Houston, offers a deep assortment of fitness and wellness equipment, including Matrix Fitness, Vision Fitness, Horizon Fitness and other brands, per a March 10 press release. 713-520-6159. www.johnsonfitness.com 4 Snooze, an A.M. Eatery , located at 3191 W. Holcombe Blvd., West University Place, held its grand opening March 22, according to their public relations repre- sentative. Snooze West University serves breakfast and brunch food items as well as a full bar. The West U location is man- aged by Lance Shelton and Head Chef Diana Chew, according to its website. 832-856-6950. www.snoozeeatery.com
COMPILED BY MELISSA ENAJE & LEAH FOREMAN
NOW OPEN 1 Eau Tour opened March 21 at 5117 Kelvin Drive, Houston, in the former Thai Spice restaurant space. Guests at Eau Tour can expect contemporary French cuisine with a lighter fare with a menu centered around seafood and wood-burning ovens. The restaurant also offers wine selections and cocktails with influences from France’s classic region as well as U.S. wine. Eau Tour is open for dinner service Tuesday-Sunday from 4-10 p.m. 713-492-2490. www.eautourrestaurant.com 2 A new Orangetheory Fitness studio opened March 3 near the grounds of the Texas Medical Center. The 3,425-square- foot facility is the fitness franchise’s 24th studio in Houston, located at 7205 Fannin St. Orangetheory Fitness is a one-hour class that focuses on heart rate-based interval training designed to
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ENJOY HOUSTON CUISINE, SEE ZOO ANIMALS HOUSTON ZOO
LEARN ABOUT THE HUMAN BODY THE MCGOVERN THEATER
More than 30 Houston restaurants are participating in Feast with the Beasts, an evening of live music, a variety of dierent cuisines and interactions with animals at the Houston Zoo. 6-10 p.m. $149. Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. 713-533-6500. www.houstonzoo.org
The Health Museum hosts a live organ dissection event. Guests can get their neurons stimulated in an afternoon lled with family trivia and entertainment. 3-3:30 p.m. $5. McGovern Theater at The Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston. 713-521-1515. www.thehealthmuseum.org
COURTESY THE HEALTH MUSEUM
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15 ADD TO YOUR BOOK COLLECTION Community members can shop for books donated by the local Bellaire community at a used book sale hosted by Friends of the Bellaire Library. Proceeds support the library’s summer reading program. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Bellaire Fire Department, 5101 Jessamine, Bellaire. 713-662-8160. www.bellairetx.gov 18 HEAR FROM LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS The Houston Museum of Natural Science will host a lecture with local conservation
APRIL 14 LISTEN TO A MUSIC ENSEMBLE AT THE PARK The city of West University Place is bringing back its outdoor event series with an ensemble performance by the Houston Brass Quintet. The Houston Brass Quintet will perform at Colonial Park Pavilion with songs attendees can sing along and dance to. 7-8 p.m. Free. Colonial Park Pavilion, 4130 Byron St., West University Place. 713-662-7420. www.westutx.gov
among others. 8 p.m. $59-$125. NRG Arena, 1 NRG Parkway, Houston. 832-667-1400. www.nrgpark.com 29 CHECK OUT A SPRING ARTS AND CRAFTS FESTIVAL A Bellaire tradition continues with the city’s spring arts and crafts festival at Paseo Park, hosted by the Bellaire Culture and Arts Board. The festival is known for its quirky artwork, eclectic items and food attendees can purchase from local restaurants. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Paseo Park, 5000 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire. 713-662-8222. www.bellairetx.gov
leaders in the Burke Baker Planetarium. After, there will be a panel and audience discussion about the challenges and opportunities to save and restore more nature in the region. 6:30 p.m. $18. Burke Baker Planetarium, 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. 713-639-4629. www.hmns.org 21 ATTEND A BLUES FESTIVAL An evening dedicated to music by blues artists will take place at NRG Arena during the 15th annual H-Town Blues Festival. Artists include Tucka, Calvin Richardson, Pokey Bear and Roi Anthony,
Find more or submit Bellaire, Meyerland and West University events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & MELISSA ENAJE
Bellaire residents show concern for potential sale of Mapleridge Street The future of a Bellaire street located within one of the rst
spaces, landscaping and pedestrian access between the two adjoining properties, according to the March 6 agenda documents. “Our desire is to create a sense of place where Bellaire citizens can nd a unique shopping and dining expe- rience, enjoy outdoor patio landscap- ing and amenity space, nd a truly walkable environment over the entire development, and spend their money in their community,” said Dan Meyer, MC Management’s leasing director, at the March 6 meeting. An analysis about the potential eects the closure could bring to trac found the street closure would not signicantly impact trac in the area, according to Bellaire Develop- ment Services Director Travis Tanner. During the March 6 meeting, two residents spoke in opposition of the sale, and at least 14 residents submit- ted their opposition in writing. Con- cerns included the eects on trac and the belief that the city should not sell the land at a discounted price.
Bellaire ocials are considering selling a segment of Mapleridge Street for $1 to developers who want to convert it into parking and a pedestrian pathway through the Bellaire Triangle development. PEDESTRIAN PATHWAY
shopping centers in the city could be on the chopping block for a potential new purpose: a pedestrian walkway with additional parking lot space. The portion of Mapleridge Street up for consideration is approximately 0.3804 acres of land and valued at nearly $1.5 million, according to city documents. It is situated within the Bellaire Triangle commercial center between Bellaire Boulevard and Bis- sonnet Street. At a March 6 meeting, City of Bellaire ocials considered selling the land for $1 to developers with MC Management, which owns the Bellaire Triangle. The three entities involved with the purchase are Luel Partnership Ltd., EKG Partners LLC and FKM Partnership Ltd. Luel and EKG ocials wrote in their petition to the city that their goal if they acquire the land is to change it from a public street into a private parking area that would contain at least 20 parking
N. BRAESWOOD BLVD.
ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 3. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT BMWNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. bolster transportation connections in areas that have seen connections sev- ered by past infrastructure decisions. The grant will fund a study in Gulfton that will look at how to form better connections along Hillcroft Avenue so residents can more easily access schools, parks, commercial centers and transportation hubs. Timeline: early 2023-early 2024 Cost: $690,200 Funding sources: city of Houston, federal grant Reconnecting Communities: Gulfton and Beyond study The city of Houston received a $552,160 grant Feb. 28 from the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of a new federal pilot program to
SOURCE: CITY OF BELLAIRECOMMUNITY IMPACT
If the street closure and sale do not occur, Meyer said the exterior of the shopping center will still be updated. As of press time April 3, no decision had been made on the sale, and the Bellaire City Council is expected to consider the item at a future meeting.
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LOCAL VOTER GUIDE GUIDE Candidates and information for local elections LOCAL VOTER GUIDE
COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
DATES TO KNOW
WHERE TO VOTE
May 6 Election day May 6 Last day to receive ballot by mail (or May 8 if carrier envelope is postmarked by 7 p.m. at location of election)
April 24 First day of early voting April 25 Last day to apply for ballot by mail (received, not postmarked) May 2 Last day of early voting
West University Place residents can vote at any polling center in Harris County, including West University Place City Hall, 3800 University Blvd., West University Place, for both early voting and election day voting. Find a full list of polling locations at www.harrisvotes.com.
SOURCES: CITY OF WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE, HARRIS COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT
City Council Clay Brett Shannon Carroll* Buckley Morlot Matt Hart John Montgomery*
Who to contact Voters with questions about the May 6 election can contact the city of West University Place. 3800 University Blvd., West University Place 713-662-5812. www.westutx.gov/160/elections
WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE Mayor
Susan Sample* John P. Barnes
Only candidates in contested elections are included. Go to county election websites for information on uncontested races.
For more election coverage, go to www.communityimpact.com/voter-guide.
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
Get to know the candidates running in the election
Candidates were asked to keep responses under 75 words, answer the questions provided and avoid attacking opponents. Answers may have been edited or cut to adhere to those guidelines, or for style and clarity.
West University Place Mayor
Why are you running for West University Place mayor?
What do you think are the biggest issues facing residents?
How would you build consensus with other council members?
Occupation: attorney Experience: elected in 2011 to West University Place City Council, may- or pro tem (2011-15), served as mayor (2015- 19, 2021-present) www.facebook.com/ susansampleformayor SUSAN SAMPLE
West U has experienced a renaissance in the last two years, completing major initiatives I spearheaded—Virtual Gate opened in June 2022; Bualo Speedway reopened February 2023; sale of Runo Hills landll to Houston for $10.5 million. Our 2022 Citizen Survey shows 90% of residents nd us moving in the right direction. I am running to ensure we move forward on other milestone projects while maintaining the qualities that make West U home. As a 20-year, third-generation resident, I love West U, the people, the parks and public green spaces, and the sense of living in a small town in the middle of one of the largest, most diverse urban centers in the U.S. Every two years, residents make a choice to entrust candidates with their tax dollars, their quality of life, and their safety and security. I am running to give them that choice.
Public safety: keeping residents safe from crime in and around our community. Drain- age: the need to improve, upgrade and rebuild our ood control and infrastructure. Maintaining and enhancing quality of life elements for our residents, for instance: water quality, superior parks and sidewalks, and safe streets.
I believe being available, listening with an open mind, and being trustworthy are essential for members of a group to work well together.
Occupation: attorney Experience: West JOHN P. BARNES
The biggest single issue, bar none, is ood control—specically Poor Farm Ditch, which serves as the main stormwater drainage system for over 1,000 homes in West U. The ditch has been degrading for decades and is now in an atrocious state of disrepair, threatening failure and potentially cata- strophic ooding. It urgently needs to be xed, but in a manner that is both scally responsible and respects the concerns of the neighboring residents.
In any well-constituted council, there should be a diversity of viewpoints and per- spectives, so consensus begins with trust. I would make sure that there is a free and equal ow of information to all members, to foster trust and discourage factionalism. I would further promote discussion and de- bate, so that potential points of agreement can be teased out and explored, rather than merely relying on the “might makes right” approach of simply calling a vote.
University Place City Council 2019-present; real estate, nance, and corporate and nonprot governance law 713-553-9357 www.johnbarnesforwestu.com
2023 LOCAL VOTER GUIDE
COMPILED BY MELISSA ENAJE
Residents in the city of West University Place can vote on no more than one candidate for mayor and no more than four candidates for West University Place City Council. For City Council, the top four vote-getters will be elected as Council members.
West University Place City Council
Occupation: attorney Experience: corporate attorney at Simpson Thacher; ad-
Occupation: development Experience: 2022 West U Citizens Acad- emy graduate; co-chair of auction committee, 2022 Friends of West U Parks Gala; career in business develop- ment 720-308-3053 www.buckleyforwestu.com I am running for City Council to bring more transparency to local government, work with law en- forcement to take the necessary steps to keep our neighborhood safe, and to maintain the city we all love.
Occupation: energy investment professional Experience: Zoning Board of Adjust-
Occupation: senior com- mercial insur- ance litigation adjuster Experience: City Council,
Occupation: vice president, commercial risk and devel- opment at Alta Resources Experience:
ment; organized neighbors in support of the Edloe Street Pathway 713-452-1661 www.claybrettforwestu.com
junct professor, University of Houston Law School; former federal law clerk on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston www.matt-hart-for-west-u.com
Senior Services Board council liaison, West U Good Neighbor Team, Sunday school teacher 346-802-7471 www.facebook.com/ carroll4westu
mayor pro tem; City Council liaison to West U Parks and Recreation Board; 27 years of business experience with lead- ership positions www.tinyurl.com/s3v93ave
Why are you running for West University Place City Council?
As in incumbent, I’m running to continue the work and accomplish- ments of my rst term. A recent survey found 90% of residents believe West U is moving in the right direction. Improvements to drainage, safety and sustainability include the on-time, under budget Bualo Speedway completion, in- creased rst responder pay, Edloe Street Pathway construction, and citywide composting implementa- tion. As senior board Council liaison and a mother of young children, I’m working for all West U residents.
I was born and raised in Louisi- ana; received my engineering, economics and law degrees on the East Coast; and built my career in New York and London. I moved to West U because it’s a great place to raise a family. Now, I’m running for West U City Council because I want West U to be a great place for families for decades to come. I’m running for you, for West U.
I am running again for the oppor- tunity to continue the positive momentum we have built in key ar- eas, including our balanced budget, long-term infrastructure, ensuring public safety and sustaining best- in-class resident services. I believe West U should be a family-friendly city that creates opportunities for our children to learn, grow and play in a safe environment. West U should remain a city that helps secure the future for seniors, as well as welcoming newcomers. Execution of the East Side Street & Drainage project starting in 2023; urgent advancement of design plans for the West Side Street & Drainage project; execution of the joint [Harris County Flood Control District]/West U/[Southside Place] agreement to repair the Poor Farm Ditch, south of University Boule- vard; initiate plans for repair and replacement of the [Poor Farm Ditch], north of University Bou- levard; acquisition of mandatory HCFCD acre/foot of detention.
West U is such an exceptional place that it invokes a sense of duty. I saw a need for a new voice on behalf of West U’s families and all pedestrians during my experience successfully advocat- ing for the Edloe Street Pathway, which will better connect our side of Albans [Street] (3700 block) with the rest of the neighborhood. I feel passionately about keeping West U a safe and prosperous city for all generations.
If elected, what would your top priorities be with ood mitigation control?
Continued collaboration with Southside Place and [HCFCD] to address repairs to Poor Farm Ditch south of University [Boulevard], completion of the feasibility study for Poor Farm Ditch north of University, and ensuring completion of the East and West Side drainage projects. In addition, I will prioritize seeking continued resident feedback and input on the projects and identifying and obtaining detention land in and around West U.
My main focus as an oceholder will be to hear what my constit- uents think on any given issue, especially a vital one like ood mitigation. I will meet with the city manager, engineers, urban planners, and other experts to nd a solution that will address the ooding issues West U residents face. Our city streets should not ood several times a year. It’s unacceptable and should be a top priority of the next City Council.
We should accelerate plans to complete the West Side and East Side drainage improvement projects. There are important decisions to be made to imple- ment these projects economically, eectively and inclusively, but they must be done. Planning for the continued future of Poor Farm Ditch is also of critical importance. The ditch and its surrounding features can be a community amenity, but its primary purpose is drainage.
I support the East and West ood control projects and expedited repair of the Poor Farm Ditch. We still have many, many homes and roads in the 100-year oodplain, and we all know that Houston receives a “100-year rain” more often than every 100 years. My vision for West U is a city support- ed by modern infrastructure that removes home ooding risk for all residents.
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
CITY & COUNTY
News from Bellaire, West University Place & Harris County
Harris County Commissioners Court will meet for its regular meeting at 10 a.m. April 25 at 1001 Preston St., Ste. 934, Houston. Meetings are streamed live at www.harriscountytx.gov. Bellaire City Council will meet at 7 p.m. April 17 at 7008 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire. Meetings are streamed at www.bellairetx.gov. West University Place City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. April 24 at 3800 University Blvd., West University Place. Meetings are available via teleconference. Find details at www.westutx.gov. Houston City Council will meet for public comment at 2 p.m. April 18 and regular business at 9 a.m. April 19 at City Hall, 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. MEETINGS WE COVER HIGHLIGHTS HOUSTON On March 22 Houston City Council members approved permanently extending an ordinance that closes a portion of Main Street between Rusk Street and Commerce Street to vehicle traffic. This allows restaurants and bars to serve patrons outdoors.
Bellaire considers potential lighting, noise policies BELLAIRE When it comes to configuring the best practices for both commercial and residential lighting and noise policies in the city of Bellaire, Mayor Andrew Friedberg posed this question at a March 20 City Council meeting: “What are we trying to solve?” BY MELISSA ENAJE TARGET AREAS As Bellaire City Council considers changes to the city’s noise and lighting ordinances, city staff have provided preliminary thoughts. Noise : Current ordinance only covers
Harris County supports bill creating 6 new district courts HARRIS COUNTY The creation of six new district courts was supported by Harris County commissioners March 14, after a Texas legislator proposed the additional courts as a solution for the county’s court case backlog. BY EMILY LINCKE BACKLOG BREAKDOWN Harris County’s court case backlog continues to be a challenge. According to Judge Latosha Lewis Payne, who presides over Harris County’s 55th Civil District Court: 122,000
City to receive $35K in opioid settlements
BY MELISSA ENAJE
WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE The city of West University Place has been allocated more than $34,600 in settlement funds with Allergan, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart as a part of a nationwide investigation and litigation between the pharmaceutical industry and its role in the opioid crisis. West University Place City Council leaders stated in the March 13 consent agenda they will join in the settle- ments. That brings a total of three set- tlements West U will opt into after the city chose to participate in a November 2021 agreement with Johnson & Johnson, as well as a February 2022 agreement with global pharmaceutical companies Endo and Teva. Funds will not go into the general fund, City Manager Dave Beach said, but ideally could replenish costs from an organizational standpoint. The payments could start during the second half of 2023.
68% of the county’s pending cases are family,
cases were pending in Harris County as of March 14.
permitted events. Council should discuss extending restrictions on nonpermitted events, such as special events on private land. Lighting : Current ordinance provides little guidance. Council should look at ordinances in other cities and determine if more guidance should be given to developers.
“We’re not trying to regulate people’s freedoms, but we are trying to protect neighbors from externalities that is a shared environment,” Friedberg said. March 20 was the first workshop since the city’s plan- ning and zoning committee was tasked by council in May 2022 to research and present recommendations on how Bellaire conducts its noise and lighting policies compared to neighboring cities. What resulted was a 222-page document that consid- ered noise and lighting ordinances from cities such as West University Place, Houston, Katy and Jersey Village. From that document, city staff and council will work to draft an update. Development Services Director Travis Tanner first pre- sented his staff’s combined noise and lighting ordinance draft during a Feb. 9 City Council meeting. On March 20, City Council leaders debated for more than two hours on just how intricate the language on the ordinance must be in order for it to be the finalized. Whether it was how late residents can have their lights on, to how bright lights can be in one’s backyard or how
How we got here: State Rep. Ann Johnson, D-Houston, filed House Bill 130 in November to create six additional district courts for Harris County. The bill will be considered in the ongoing 88th Texas Legislature, which ends May 29. As of March 16, HB 130 had not yet been considered by legislators, according to the Texas Legislature Online. The cost: County officials estimate creating six new district courts will cost: • $16.9 million annually; plus • An additional $30 million or $140 million to create the courts, depending on if the county opts to renovate facilities or build new ones, respectively. Some of this cost would be funded through the county’s interest and sinking tax rate. The details: If approved by legislators, the courts would be created and implemented over two years, according to Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones. All four commissioners approved a resolution supporting
juvenile or civil court cases, while 32% are criminal felony cases.
Johnson’s bill, while Judge Lina Hidalgo abstained from the vote, citing funding concerns. The big picture: On March 14, commissioners approved additional backlog-related measures, such as: • Directing the county’s intergovernmental and global affairs department to work on obtaining state funding for the additional six courts; and • Instructing the county’s Office of Justice and Safety as well as the Office of County Administration to draft a proposal on best courtroom practices for lowering the backlog of cases and reducing costs for the county. 65 new courts — 39 criminal courts, 19 civil courts and seven family courts—would be needed to fully address the county’s need. SOURCES: JUDGE LATOSHA LEWIS PAYNE, HARRIS COUNTY 55TH CIVIL DISTRICT COURT/COMMUNITY IMPACT
SOURCE: CITY OF BELLAIRE/COMMUNITY IMPACT
loud a generator can be, the list on potential scenarios was extensive. More discussions, or workshops, will be planned before any notion of putting the completed ordinance draft on council’s agenda, Friedberg said. A public hearing must take place before that can occur, according to council leaders and staff members. Residents are invited to share public comments on the matter by filling out an electronic form on the city’s website. As of press time April 3, a workshop on the city’s noise policies was slated to take place at an April 3 Council meeting, according to city information.
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BY MELISSA ENAJE
Isidora Flower & Gift Shop Owner uses art, design to curate seasonal blooms W hen walking toward Isidora Flower & Gift Shop in the Rice Village Shopping business traits, such as the importance of connecting with others.
But it is the time she spent as a child in Peru tagging along with her mom to buy plants that left an impression on her. “When I was 3 years old, I would walk around the nursery, and it was like heaven for me,” Jaguande said. Isidora oers a variety of options for those interested in purchasing owers, whether in person, online or by deliv- ery. Consultations on custom-made orders or recommendations can be provided by Jaguande or her sta in person, over the phone or through email. Grab-and-go fresh bouquets are made daily when the
Center, a sticker decal with the words “Today Is a Present” is plastered on the store’s front window as a greeting to visitors and passersby alike. That message is the vision behind store owner Thalia Jaguande, as a motto to treat every day as a gift. It is a powerful reminder Jaguande said she hopes anyone who steps into her store feels, even if they are just browsing in the area or curious about the shop’s ower arrangements. After receiving medical treatment 10 years
Isidora Flower & Gift Shop owner Thalia Jaguande said she considers color, tone and favorite ower when creating a gift or bouquet for a specic person. PHOTOS BY MELISSA ENAJECOMMUNITY IMPACT
Gifts in the store come from an array of local and international
ago at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Cen- ter, Jaguande knows the importance of nding beauty in the small things life has to oer, whether it is the moment a ower starts to bloom or just being surrounded by those you love. “I moved from my native country Peru to receive cancer treatment. Those six months taught me that I could get through anything as long as I was surrounded by warm
artisans. A pair of stued llamas were crafted in Peru, native country of owner Thalia Jaguande.
“I FEEL THAT WORKING WITH FLOWERS HAS A LOT OF ENERGY TO IT AND, IF YOU DON’T ALSO SHARE THAT ENERGY WITH YOUR CLIENTS AND SHARE THAT POSITIVITY, REALLY YOU’RE NOT DOING A FULL CIRCLE OF WHAT A FLOWER SHOP SHOULD BE,” THALIA JAGUANDE, OWNER, ISIDORA FLOWER & GIFT SHOP
shop opens and are intended for custom- ers who just want to pick something that day. Those bouquets range from $35-$130 and vary by color palette and what ow- ers are in season. Customers can also bring in their own vase or pick from one of the store’s options. Once the owers
ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE Customers can pick from a variety of bouquets that vary by week, are made fresh daily and are inspired by color palettes. Hand-wrapped bouquets are available in the grab-and-go section, and options range from $35-$130.
Eucalyptus Carnation Peruvian lily alstroemerias Spray rose Rose Wax owers
Mum Snap dragon Daisy pom pom
are no longer in use, the Isidora vases are meant to be used as potting vases for plants at home. Isidora also oers ower subscrip- tions that can be picked up or deliv- ered, Jaguande said. As a customer entered the store with a vase brought in from home, Jaguande’s instincts immediately went into action, and she directed her team on how to curate the owers placed inside. Isidora becomes an extension of the places she calls home, like Peru and Houston; they are lled with inspiration, joy, colorful aesthetics and, most importantly, good vibes, Jaguande said. “I feel that working with owers has a lot of energy to it and, if you don’t also share that energy with your clients and share that positivity, really you’re not doing a full circle of what a ower shop should be,” she said. “It’s a happy place.”
and loving people. Houston has since become my home, where I’ve met my second family,” Jaguande said. That life-changing moment was in 2013. Jaguande’s journey with Houston blossomed since then. In 2019, she graduated with her master’s, built the foundation for her business plan and eventually opened Isidora in September 2021. Exploring the ower shop stim- ulates multiple senses: seeing the arrangements, smelling the daily ower bouquets, and touching the gifts that come from an array of local and international artisans. What Jaguande said she brings to the Houston oral industry is a combi- nation of her Peruvian culture, family inuence and a passion for design. She comes from a family of artists on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, she said she witnessed qualities of good
Carnation Daisy pom pom
Hypericum Spray rose Rose
Isidora Flower & Gift Shop 2509 Rice Blvd., Houston 713-393-7108 www.isidoraowers.com
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m., closed Sun.
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2023
Preserving THE PAST
1 Freedmen’s Town National Historic Register
2 Freedmen’s Town Heritage District and neighborhood boundary
D R .
E N P K W Y .
SAM HOUSTON PARK
Swathes of land in Independence Heights and Freedmen’s Town are on the National Historic Register, but local advocates said these neighborhoods need local protections—which a conservation ordinance would provide. GLOSSARY OF TERMS CONSERVATION DISTRICT: May estab- lish a set of specic design requirements intended to serve the public interest in preserving and protecting neighborhoods with architectural or cultural importance HISTORIC DISTRICT: Helps to preserve the architectural character of buildings and neighborhoods that have a clearly identi- able pattern and periods of development, with little exception HERITAGE DISTRICT: A recognizable section of the city that is distinguished by a unique community identity and history NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES: This is the federal government’s list of districts, sites, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation. Designations on this list do not constitute local protections. GENTRIFICATION: A process of neigh- borhood change that involves economic change in a historically disinvested neigh- borhood by means of real estate develop- ment and an inux of new residents
Y S T .
Two historic shotgun-style homes in Freedmen’s Town sit abandoned behind barbed wire fencing.
The Freedmen’s Town Conservancy is fundraising to buy two lots on Saulnier Street to prevent demolition.
SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT
Debating the draft Conversations around conservation districts began more than a decade ago for Independence Heights, which rst discussed it in 2012 during Houston’s Livable Centers study. A conservation district would be a more attainable form of protection than historic districts, which oer a higher
This ordinance would inherently limit the types of development allowed in a neighborhood. Planning and Devel- opment Department Director Margaret Wallace Brown said deed restrictions will always take precedence over this potential ordinance. The idea for the conservation ordi- nance was inspired by neighborhoods like Independence Heights, Turner said at the Feb. 22 public hearing. “These commu- nities are being gentried; they are being wiped out,” he said. At the March
CONTINUED FROM 1
This ordinance would pave the way for local protections for six neigh- borhoods: Independence Heights, Freedmen’s Town, Manchester/Mag- nolia Park, Plesantville, Piney Point and Acres Homes. It would also allow for future conservation districts, after the initial six. At a March 28 Houston City Council meeting, ahead of a vote, the conser- vation district ordinance was tagged by At-large Council Member Michael Kubosh. Kubosh cited questions over the data that determined the need for these six neighborhoods, which are represented by Council Members Abbie Kamin, Karla Cisneros, Tarsha Jackson, Robert Gallegos and Tiany Thomas. Kamin, who represents Freedmen’s Town, noted at the meeting these neighborhoods are seeing a rapid era- sure of their history. “They’re the ones that are having to react, plot by plot, to these issues and [they] can’t keep up with it and things are falling through,” Kamin said. Independence Heights was settled by Black people in the 1900s and became the rst African American municipality in Texas while Freedmen’s Town was founded by newly freed slaves during the Reconstruction Era, beginning in 1865, said Roman McAllen, ocer with the Houston Oce of Preservation. Both of these Houston neighbor- hoods are on the National Historic Register, added in 1997 and 1984, respectively, but this national recog- nition provides no local protections of the integrity of historic neighborhoods, McAllen said. “If you’re on the national regis- ter, just the way the law is written, it doesn’t require that that building or house be preserved,” McAllen said. “So local laws and local rules and local ordinances are what impact local buildings.”
buy-in, requiring a minimum of 67% approval from res- idents compared to 51% for the six pilot neighbor- hoods of the con- servation district. A conservation district would also provide exible standards neigh- borhoods can pick and choose from—such as roof
WE AIM … TO MAKE SURE THAT THE HERITAGE IS FRONT AND CENTER, AND THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PLACE IS SPECIAL. ZION ESCOBAR, PRESIDENT
28 city council meeting, Turner called the initial six “pilots” in the conservation dis-
OF THE FREEDMEN’S TOWN CONSERVANCY
SOURCES: CITY OF HOUSTON PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT, URBAN DISPLACEMENT PROJECTCOMMUNITY IMPACT 1997 Is the year Independence Heights was added to the National Historic Register. 1984 Is the year Freedmen’s Town was added to the National Historic Register. 46 Homes in Independence Heights that have gone through the General Land Oce homes process since 2017, 18 of which are in the beginning stages. 2 Homes in Freedmen’s Town that have gone through the GLO homes process since 2017. One is completed, and one is an inactive application. 53 Historic structures remaining out of 580 in Freedmen’s Town. Historic neighborhoods in Houston, such as Independence Heights and Freedmen’s Town, are being gentried, losing their character along the way. 290 Entries in the National Register of Historic Places for Houston. Of those, only 13 focus on the history of African American residents. 74,827 New homes were constructed in the Inner Loop from 200518.
pitch and building setback—for how to maintain the character of their neigh- borhoods. It diers from a historic district, which has standards that are more xed A heritage district is the third type of local district for protecting a neigh- borhood with a unique identity and culture. Heritage districts only apply to publicly-owned land. Beginning in 2020, the Planning and Development Department conducted a series of focus groups regarding con- servation districts. Despite this resi- dents—including public speakers at the Feb. 22 public hearing at Houston City Council—expressed concerns over the process feeling rushed. The draft for the ordinance has pro- gressed through the city in a matter of months, since it was published in February. “One of the things we are asking for today is more time to engage with civic sta,” said John Rentz, president of the Houston Real Estate Council.
trict program. Tanya Debose, a fth-generation Independence Heights resident, said the conservation district ordinance would be just another tool for residents in the historic preservation toolbox. “What the conservation district does is it allows us in the community who own the property, to say, ‘Here’s what we know as the identity of our com- munity. These are the elements that we feel like need to be protected,’” she said. “That if anyone drove into this space, they can know that something great happened here, something his- toric happened here.” Neighborhoods to note Independence Heights—which encompasses about 45 blocks, north of Greater Heights, including numbered blocks from 30th Street to 45th Street— is home to many vacant lots and faces a high rate of residential development, Debose said. There are several con- struction projects on 38th Street alone,
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