Heights - River Oaks - Montrose Edition | September 2021

HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 6  SEPT. 4OCT. 1, 2021

ONLINE AT

IMPACTS

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TODO LIST

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Parking changes proposed in Midtown

Transit leaders: Pandemicwill not derail plans As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, public transpor- tation leaders in Houston have continued work to advance a long-term vision for the city they said is more important than ever. The Wheeler Transit Center in Midtown sits at the heart of where several modes of transportation intersect. A future University bus rapid transit route will link in riders from Bellaire, Uptown and Montrose areas. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper) BY SHAWN ARRAJJ essential the agency’s services are for people who rely on them, METRO CEO Tom Lambert said. “We’ve been carrying about 140,000 riders a day,” Lam- bert said. “That just really demonstrated the essential ser- vice that transit provides to the broader community. That’s something that I think we always knew but has now clearly been demonstrated.”

TRANSPORTATION

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Ridership numbers and revenues are down for the Met- ropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, but the real story that emerged from the pandemic was one of how

CONTINUED ON 16

GOVERNMENT

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Politics of power Organizers of two recent charter amendment petitions were disappointed their proposals will likely not go before voters this November. City ocials preferred to wait until 2023 for better turnout. Delayed petitions cause controversy

"The ability topetition your government is a sacredprocess." MARTY LANCTON, HOUSTON PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT & PETITION ORGANIZER

“The cost of this electionwill be $1.3million for a very, very lowturnout.” SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON MAYOR

Learnmore about the charter amendment process inside

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HISTORY

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Let’s ELDER ABUSE END

With more than half a million people over the age of 65 in Harris County, the District Attorney’s Office urges you to report those who hurt our elders.

Report abuse or suspected abuse to the Houston Police Department at 311 and Harris County Sheriff’s Office at 832-927-2975

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HEIGHTS - RIVER OAKS - MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

4

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

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FROMSHAWN: With questions swirling as to what the future holds for commuters, public transit leaders in Houston remain committed to new projects that will connect the city. Our front- page story takes a closer look at how the pandemic has aected ridership as well as what projects are planned that will provide connections for local riders. Following the surprise omission of a charter amendment ballot proposition on November ballots, we also explore the rules and reasons behind the decision. Shawn Arrajj, SENIOR EDITOR

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or renovating

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3 The Mind Spot opened Aug. 23 at 3000 Weslayan St., Ste. 140, Houston. The counseling center oers services re- lated to mental health and will specical- ly cater to the preteen and young adult populations. The Mind Spot also oers group sessions and virtual counseling. 713-804-9560. www.themindspothouston.com 4 A new location of Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream opened Aug. 21 at 115 Uptown Park Blvd., Ste. 8, Houston. The business sells a variety of ice cream avors and bars, including vegan options made with cashew milk or oat milk. A new site-specic avor, Horchata Dulce de Leche Swirl, was revealed during a grand opening celebration. 346-204-4140. www.vanleeuwenicecream.com COMING SOON 5 Scott Read Pharmacy will open in October at 536 Waugh Drive, Houston, oering prescriptions, rells and immu- nizations, among other services. Owner Scott Read said he will oer services in an environmentally friendly way, including through the use of biodegradable vials and by avoiding the use of plastic bags. 832-649-3142. www.scottreadrx.com 6 A two-story miniature golf and enter- tainment venue called Puttery is slated to come to Houston’s Old Sixth Ward at 1818 Washington Ave., Houston. The venue will feature four nine-hole putting courses, multiple bars and rotating DJs. Food and craft cocktails will also be of- fered. An opening timeline was still being determined as of mid-August, a company spokesperson said. https://puttery.com

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WHITE OAK PARK

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MAP NOT TO SCALE N TM; © 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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NOWOPEN 1 Texas-based exible oce solutions company Common Desk opened Aug. 16, aiming to serve a range of professionals from remote workers to small business- es and established enterprises. The 58,400-square-foot workspace takes up the entire second oor of The Ion, the multiuse anchor of a future innovation district in Houston’s Midtown neighbor-

limited-footprint model and can accept individual and catering orders placed directly through the website, by phone and in store. The new restaurant also delivers direct orders during peak lunch and dinner hours with its own drivers. The eatery oers scratch-made appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos, burg- ers, pasta and desserts. 281-201-4253. www.bellagreen.com

hood, at 4201 Main St., Houston. Common Desk is oering exible oor plans for up to 30 people. Amenities include bottom- less craft coee, unlimited conference room bookings, private chat booths, full kitchens and break areas. 214-466-7657. www.thecommondesk.com 2 Bellagreen opened its sixth Houston- area location in the Galleria area Aug. 2 at 5018 San Felipe St., Houston. The new carryout and delivery prototype uses a

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

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13

Cherry Block

She-Space

COURTESY CHERRY BLOCK CRAFT BUTCHER

COURTESY SHESPACE

7 Owners of NettBar in Houston’s historic West End neighborhood are plan- ning to open a second, larger location in Shady Acres at 1717 W. 22nd St., Houston. Layout plans include seating for 250-300 patrons, a covered outdoor space and a fenced-in children’s play area. The venue will include a full kitchen and food menu headed by chef Matt Mui of Muiishi Makirrito’s food truck. Once open around July 2022, events will include trivia, steak nights, dart and bocce ball tournaments, musical bingo, goat yoga and artisan markets. www.nettbarhouston.com 8 Modern wood-burning steakhouse Andiron is coming to Allen Parkway in ear- ly 2022. The concept will include a dining room and bar lounge area that seats 110 as well as a covered patio with an outdoor bar and lounge that seats an additional 75 people. The eatery will be located in a historic building at 3201 Allen Parkway, Ste. E110, Houston. The menu will feature items diners would expect from a tradi- tional steakhouse prepared with live-re techniques while also oering modern, small-plate options. 9 Sekai Hospitality, a Houston-based hospitality company, is eyeing a fall opening for boutique nightclub Wyld Chld at 5922 Washington Ave., Houston. Brooklyn, New York, designer Marc Dizon will provide the design, which will include a main oor, a stage, a patio and a rooftop terrace. www.sekaihospitality.com 10 Ocials with Cherry Block Craft Burger and Texas Kitchen are work- ing on a new location at the Stomping Grounds at Garden Oaks, 1223 W. 34th St., Houston, that could open this winter. The ranch-to-table eatery will oer menu

items that are locally sourced, harvested, butchered and cooked. Other oerings will include prepackaged meals, local delivery, a full bar and retail apparel. Founder Felix Florez runs another Cherry Block location in Katy. www.cherryblockbutcher.com 11 Owners Mike and Dennis Williams are preparing to open the 12th location of Longhorn Liquor around the rst week of October in the Shepherd Row development at 1002 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston. The shop will sell distilled spirits, wine, beer and cigars in a building Williams said will feature a walk-in humi- dor and wine room. Other locations can be found in Katy, Mont Belvieu and across southeast Texas. www.facebook.com/longhorn-liquor ANNIVERSARIES 12 Live music venue White Oak Music Hall celebrated ve years of hosting local, national and international artists with a free fan appreciation party Aug. 21. The venue has hosted close to 1,700 con- certs in its rst ve years for more than 1 million guests. The venue is located at 2915 N. Main St., Houston. 713-237-0370. www.whiteoakmusichall.com EXPANSIONS 13 Female-focused coworking space She-Space announced in August plans to add 1,500 square feet of space at its Heights location at 2799 Katy Freeway, Houston. The new space will allow for the addition of event areas and 13 single and duo oces. The location currently

A soft opening for the new Railway Heights food hall took place in early August.

SHAWN ARRAJJCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN The food hall Railway Heights celebrated its soft opening in early August at 8200 Washington Ave., Houston. The two-story building houses a number of dining options and local vendors. A 13,000-square-foot beer garden is also being planned at the site, along with a dog park, stage and outdoor seating. As of mid-August, the following stalls were in operation: • Peaky Grinders: freshly ground burgers • Ms. Moss Potter: rare plants, terrariums and moss art • Samosa Haus: hand-rolled halal samosas • Drunken Pho: Vietnamese noodle soup oers 12 private oces, two event spac- es, conference rooms, a tness area and a podcast studio. The new space will be available Nov. 1. 713-684-8091. www.shespacehtx.com IN THE NEWS 14 Skanska , the company planning to develop the space at the intersection of Westheimer Road and Montrose Boule-

• Puncheon: wine bar • Churrazon: aguas frescas and drinks • Mac & Twist: mac and cheese and fresh pasta • The Greedy Chicken: chicken wings and sides • Heads & Tails: seafood • Sandos: Japanese sandwiches

• Mykuna: Latin cuisine www.railwayheights.com

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vard, has announced a community use for the property before construction begins. The locally run Curb Coalition will host live music and farmers markets on week- ends throughout September and October, starting Sept. 10. Themed nights—in- cluding “wanderlust night,” fashion night and art night—are set for the second, third and fourth Thursday of each month, respectively. The space was formerly oc- cupied by a shopping center anchored by Half Price Books. www.curbcoalition.com

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

TODO LIST

September & October events

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

SEPTEMBER 10 LISTEN TO LIVEMUSIC AMONG THE TREES The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center will host the rst live concert as part of its “Concert in the Courtyard” series. The rst event features the Magnolia-based folk band Folk Family Revival, which will be playing the Arboretum for the rst time. The event will also include food trucks and rae prizes. 6-9 p.m. $55 (members), $65 (nonmembers). Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston. 713-861-8433. www.houstonarboretum.org 17 DANCE THE NIGHT AWAYWITH THE HEIGHTS CHAMBER Guests are invited to join the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce for its Magical Evening Gala. The event will feature a Las Vegas-style casino, music, and live and silent auctions. A ticket includes $500 in casino chips. All proceeds benet the chamber. 7 p.m. $99 (sponsorships available). Sheraton Brookhollow Hotel, 3000 North Loop W., Houston. 713-861-6735. www.heightschamber.org 18 GO FOR A RUNDOWN HEIGHTS BOULEVARD The Houston Heights Association’s fun

SEPT. 30

GET THE LATEST ONMEMORIAL PARK VIRTUAL EVENT

OCT. 2

CELEBRATE CREOLE HERITAGE AND CULTURE MIDTOWN PARK

The Memorial Park Conservancy will host its third annual State of the Park event to provide attendees with updates on the work the group is doing to restore and improve the 1,500-acre park. This year’s theme is “Return to our Roots: Planting the Prairie for Future Generations.” Noon-1 p.m. $25 (sponsorships available). 713-863-8403. www.memorialparkconservancy.org (Courtesy Memorial Park Conservancy)

The contributions of Creole culture to the Houston area will be celebrated with a festival featuring local vendors, Cajun food, children’s activities and live music, including performances by Christina Wells, Ruben Moreno and Dikki Du. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $10 (adults), free (age 11 and under). Midtown Park, 2811 Travis St., Houston. 281-888-4153. www.houstoncreolefest.com (Courtesy Houston Creole Festival)

competition returns to Houston with live music from soul and reggae singers, including Ky-Mani Marley. The event will also include a variety of food and art vendors as well as family-friendly activities. 2-10 p.m. $31.30. The Water Works at Bualo Bayou Park, 105 Sabine St., Houston. www.houstonjerkfestinc.com

run will be both virtual and in person this year as runners are invited to either take a jog down Heights Boulevard or tune in from home. The event will include options for a 10K run, a 5K run or walk, or a children’s 1K. Awards will be given to the top three male and female nishers in each category. 7 a.m. (prerace

stretching), 7:30 a.m. (rst event begins). $15-$35. Marmion Park, 1802 Heights Blvd., Houston. 713-861-4002. www.houstonheights.org 18 SAVOR THE FLAVOR AT THE CARIBBEAN JERK FESTIVAL The Caribbean Jerk Festival and cooking

Find more or submit Heights-River Oaks-Montrose 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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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Parking rules under review in Midtown area

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & EMMA WHALEN

ONGOING PROJECTS

INCREASED PARKING HOURS

MIDTOWN

CHANGES 4

• Extended to midnight • No City Council approval

required • Took eect in late August

PARKING POLICY

Houston ocials are eyeing new parking management strategies in an area of Midtown they have studied since January.

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• Higher-rate areas where

parking hours • No City Council

Houston ocials are mulling a series of parking policy changes in Midtown, some of which may reduce congestion in the popular nightlife and dining destination. The city has been studying the area’s parking demand and pricing since January, according to Maria Irshad, assistant director in the Hous- ton Administrative and Regulatory Aairs Department. “We have limited curb space. We can’t build any more, so we need to manage it eectively,” she said at a June 24 City Council transportation committee meeting. Nearly half of the area’s parking spots are lled for 85% to 100% of peak hours. This encourages drivers to circle the area in search of street parking, she said. Drivers searching for parking spots make up most of the area’s trac during the peak hours, an issue Irshad said could be mitigated by encouraging visitors to carpool as well as use rideshares, public transit or other forms of transportation. Council members will be presented with two potential policy changes by the end of fall, Irshad said. ParkHous- ton also extended parking hours from 6 p.m.-midnight at the end of August. The department may also increase parking rates on any parking meter occupied for 85% or more of daily parking hours. That change, however, is one that is still under

West Alabama Street reconstruction The Upper Kirby Management District hosted a public meeting Aug. 17 to present several options being considered for the reconstruction of West Alabama Street between Bualo Speedway and Shepherd Drive. Corridor improvements will include the reconstruction of the roadway, improved pedestrian and bicycle fa- cilities, and drainage and public utility upgrades. The pedestrian improve- ments will include new sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian lighting and ramps that meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project is part of a broader eort to improve West Alabama between Weslayan Street in River Oaks to Chenevert Street in Midtown, portions of which are being tackled by the city of Houston and the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. A public comment period will run through Sept. 30. More information on how to submit comments can be found at www.westkirbyalabama.com. The rst phase of construction, cover- ing Bualo Speedway to Kirby Drive, could start in 2023 and run for 18-24 months. Construction from Kirby to Shepherd is to be determined. Timeline: 2023-TBD Cost: $22 million Funding source: Upper Kirby Management District

parking spots are occupied for 85% or more of daily

approval required • Still under

Proposed increased parking rates

CITY STUDY AREA

consideration

PARKING BENEFITS DISTRICT

• Allows Midtown Management District to collect a portion of parking fee revenue

• City Council approval required • City Council

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consideration in fall 2021

COMMUNITY PARKING PROGRAM

• Gives residents parking passes and limits

• City Council approval required • City Council

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nonresident parking to 3 hours or less

consideration in fall 2021

SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

consideration, Irshad said. The rst potential change going before council is the establishment of a parking benets district. The designation gives a portion of parking fee revenue to the Midtown Manage- ment District. The management district is made up of area business owners who col- lect a fee on commercial properties to use on infrastructure improvements with its boundaries. “It’s just not worth it for a parking lot owner to try and charge for the supply that they have available since people would rather circle for

a free space or go park in a neigh- borhood,” said James Llamas, the urban planning chair of the Midtown Management District’s board. “I think the city [is] taking a good rst step in smarter management.” City Council will also consider the establishment of a community parking program in the outlying areas of the neighborhood, outside of the parking benets district. Within the program’s boundaries, which are not yet drawn, residents would get parking passes, and nonresidents can be limited to no more than three hours of parking.

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF SEPT. 1. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT HRMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

GOVERNMENT ProposedBrunner-Harmonium Historic Districtmoves forward

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

for approving a district when not all owners consent to be in it. The property in question is owned by Huw and Jennifer Pierce. In a phone interview, Huw Pierce said they purchased the property with the intention of using it for an expansion of the nearby Kipling School, of which Jennifer Pierce is the founder. “We are not against the Harmonium District,” he said. “Our only request was that we not be included in it.” A law that went into eect Sept. 1 requires proposed historical districts where owner consent is not unanimous to receive 75% approval from the local city council. That law prompted an attorney with Houston to recommend commissioners rethink the inclusion of the Pierces’ property. The historical commission went on to approve the adjusted, smaller Brunner-Harmonium district in a 7-3 vote with several commissioners

A proposed new historical district is moving forward along Blossom Street in Houston, but the removal of a key property has left some residents and city ocials frustrated. The district, which is being called the Brunner-HarmoniumHistoric District, covers six properties in an area that was founded as the small, independent community of Brunner in the late 1800s. “This district we feel represents one of the best remaining clusters of original structures as well as old- growth trees and other fauna,” said Roman McAllen, Houston’s historic preservation ocer. An initial proposal to include seven houses in the district was altered at a July 29 historical commission meeting prompted by calls from the property’s owner to be removed and a change in state law that raises the standards

The proposed Brunner-HarmoniumHistoric District covers six properties mainly across nine lots along Blossom Street in an area that was founded as the small, independent community of Brunner in the late 1800s. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)

saying they approved it reluctantly. “It’s such a gem right in the middle of town the way it is, and it’s already so depleted as a resource that it’s just really unfortunate to take one other property out of an already small grouping,” Commissioner Beth Wiedower-Jackson said. Conversations are underway on several ways the building could be preserved, but no agreements had been reached as of press time. Huw Pierce said he has oered to donate the structure. McAllen said

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he has inquired about relocating or dissembling the structure but has not received a response. The next step will be for the district to go before the Houston City Council at a date that is to be determined.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

COMPILED BY EMILY LINCKE, DANICA LLOYD & EMMA WHALEN

News from Harris County & Houston

Vaccine programgets extension

Constable dismissed fromongoing suit HARRIS COUNTY A U.S. District Court judge on Aug. 30 dismissed Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen from a lawsuit alleging superiors in his oce sexually harassed and assaulted young female deputies during undercover anti-human tracking operations. “I thank the court for its continued review of the law as it pertains to the motion to dismiss me from this matter and for granting the dismissal such that my full focus can remain on the needs of the residents of Pre- cinct 1,” Rosen said in a statement. U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt did not, however, dismiss the remaining two defendants, Assistant Chief Chris Gore and Lt. Shane Rigdon. Rosen previously said he directed an internal investigation into the matter and has “a zero-tol- erance stance against sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

QUOTEOFNOTE “WE’VE BEEN IN TOUCHWITH HOSPITALS OVER THE PAST FEWWEEKS. ... BUTWHAT THEY TOLDUS ISWE DON’T NEEDMORE BEDS; WE NEEDMORE NURSES, AND IT’S NOT ENOUGHWHATWE’VE RECEIVED SO FAR.” LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE, AT AN AUG. 24 PRESS CONFERENCE CITY HIGHLIGHTS AUG. 4 Houston began awarding developers with Green Stormwater Infrastructure Awards and Recognitions in an expedited permitting pilot program to incentivize environmentally friendly building practices. AUG. 10 A new website, www. houstontx.gov/arpa, tracks the city of Houston’s use of American Rescue Plan Act funds. AUG. 11 A mobile application launched by the Houston Solid Waste Department, HTXCollects, provides updates on solid waste department schedules and delays by neighborhood. AUG. 23 Houston made its “largest one-time art acquisition,” purchasing 74 works of art from local artists for display at Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. AUG. 25 An eort spearheaded by Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin established the city’s rst women’s commission focusing on health and economic disparities that aect women. AUG. 25 Mayor Sylvester Turner was one of 34 new members named to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee. Members help steer federal environmental policies that aect local governments. Houston City Council will meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 8 for regular business at 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. Harris County Commissioners Court will meet at 10 a.m. Sept. 14 at 1001 Preston St., Ste. 934, Houston. MEETINGSWE COVER

HARRIS COUNTY Harris County leaders will continue to oer $100 to individuals who get their rst dose of the coronavirus vaccine through Sept. 15, extending a program rst set to expire at the end of August by another two weeks. The decision comes after county ocials saw continued success with the program since it was expanded to include all medical providers Aug. 26, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Aug. 31. “If people do it for the $100, that’s ne, whatever gets them to get the vaccine because we need to move past this,” Hidalgo said. Harris County began oering vaccine incentives in mid-August. Harris County Public Health saw a 706% increase in daily vaccinations over the rst fewweeks after the programwas launched. The city of Houston’s vaccine incentive program expired Aug. 31.

ProgramFAQ A vaccine incentive program in Harris County oering $100 was extended through mid-September.

HARRIS COUNTY

Incentive

$100 for rst dose

Provider locations

Any Harris County Public Health vaccination site; residents can also submit a claim through Harris County Public Health for $100 if vaccinated at a private site

Appointment needed?

No

More info available

832-927-8787 www.publichealth. harriscountytx.gov

SOURCES: HARRIS COUNTY, CITY OF HOUSTON COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Nurse procurement plan approvedwith $30Mboost HARRIS COUNTY A $30 million grant-funded initiative approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court Aug. 24 aims to place additional nurses in Houston-area hospitals in light of medical personnel shortages exasper- ated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. After negotiating a contract to work with regional non- prot Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council to nd and hire the needed nurses, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Aug. 31 the county had brought 1,300 new nurses to its hospitals. The SETRAC is a chartered entity of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “The nurses are coming from all around the country ... and they’re here because not enough people have gotten the vaccine,” Hidalgo said at an Aug. 31 press conference. “So, it’s a terrible situation to be in, and it’s even worse because of the fact that it’s completely preventable.” The SETRAC initiative provides nurses to Harris County hospitals in need—whether they are nonprot, for prot or state funded—and the expenses will be covered by Harris County stimulus funds. The county would then apply for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will be received in about 12 months, County Administrator David Berry said. The $30 million in funding that will be provided is a maximum amount, and the entire pool does not have to be used, Hidalgo said. An update will be provided at the next court meeting Sept. 14.

go toward two programs. programs NEW Gun Violence Interruption

An $11 million investment from Harris County into violence prevention will

Holistic Alternative Responder Team will respond to nonviolent calls related to mental health, social welfare

Program will seek to prevent gun violence through community-based street outreach

Cost: $6 million

Cost: $5 million

SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Harris County puts $11M toward violence prevention HARRIS COUNTY County commissioners approved two new violence prevention plans in a 3-2 vote at an Aug. 10 meeting, investing a total of $11 million. Harris County will invest $5 million to create a Holistic Alternative Responder Team to work with community organizations to respond to nonviolent calls pertaining to issues such as mental health, substance use, home- lessness and social welfare. A new division of Harris County Public Health will house the HART program along with a Gun Violence Interruption Program focused on at-risk areas that could launch by the end of the year. The gun violence program, which will cost about $6 million to implement, will focus on addressing the root causes of violence and preventing it before it occurs through community-based street outreach, ocials said.

Meetings are streamed at www.harriscountytx.gov.

11

HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

HISTORY

BY EMMA WHALEN

Ray Valdez (left) and Jesus Davila are leading the eort to restore the LULAC Council 60 building in Midtown.

EMMA WHALENCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

HISTORIC CONTRIBUTIONS

The League of United Latin American Citizens started in Corpus Christi and expanded to branches throughout the U.S. Council 60, in Houston, was considered one of the most inuential chapters in the U.S. during the civil rights era. 1948 LULAC attorneys le the Delgado vs. Bastrop ISD lawsuit, which helped end the segregation of Mexican American children in Texas. 1957 LULAC Council 60 pilots the “Little

The League of United Latin American Citizens Council 60 building was once considered the organization’s U.S. headquarters.

EMMA WHALENCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

League of United Latin American Citizens Houston arm of national advocacy group fundraises to restore historic Midtown outpost A n unassuming building with a gutted interior at the border of Montrose

School of the 400” program, a bilingual education program for Spanish-speaking students.

as a meeting place not just for LULAC, but also other commu- nity-based organizations, LULAC member Jesus Davila said. “There’s a spirit and core of Montrose and Midtown with a lot of community groups and a lot of politicians and thoughtful leaders,” Davila said. “But there is a need for space. It makes sense to make [the clubhouse] that again because ... it was a think tank for community activation.” After the building was damaged during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, a $140,000 grant from the nancial services company Ameri- can Express funded renovations to keep the structure standing. Davila and LULAC member Ray Valdez said they are working to raise $500,000 to restore the building to historic standards and make it functional for gatherings. In addition to seeking grants, LULAC leaders established a GoFundMe campaign, and with each contribution, no matter the amount, donors will get their name placed on the clubhouse wall, Davila said. “This is a community advocacy hub historically, and we’re trying to be reective of that,” Davila said. “Every dollar counts.”

and Midtown was once a key piece in the U.S. civil rights movement. Known as the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 60, the building is the birthplace of local and federal legislation aimed at leveling the playing eld for Latinos in Houston and beyond. One lawsuit led by the organi- zation led to the end of segregation for Mexican American students in Texas. Members in Houston also launched the “Little School of the 400,” a dual-language prekinder- garten program that would later become a national model for early childhood education. Since 2013, however, the build- ing has stood vacant. “It’s so important that we have a [historic] designation to it just to amplify the importance of the his- tory in this building,” said Robert Gallegos, a Houston City Council member and LULAC member. Current LULAC members, including Gallegos and former Council Member Gracie Saenz, still meet at various locations through- out the city. A fundraising eort launched in March aims to restore the clubhouse so it can serve again

1963

1965 LULAC Council 60 pilots a job placement program that later becomes a federally funded nonprot, SERJobs. President Lyndon B. Johnson works with LULAC Council 60 to turn the Little School of the 400 into the nationwide Project Headstart program. COURTESY LULAC COUNCIL 60 LULAC Council 60 hosts President John F. Kennedy and rst lady Jackie Kennedy at the Rice Hotel. 1964

LULAC Council 60 3004 Bagby St., Houston

832-289-8311 www.lulac.org

BAGBY ST.

N

13

HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

INSIDE INFORMATION

In Texas’ 86th Legislature in 2019, lawmakers approved House Bill 3, a comprehensive school nance reform that went into eect Sept. 1, 2019. Among HB 3’s changes was a compression on property tax rates: If property values rise statewide or locally, districts must reduce their tax rate to help ease the burden on local property owners. EXPLAINING SCHOOL FINANCES

STATEWIDE PROPERTY TAX CALCULATIONS

Local property taxes are composed of an interest and sinking tax rate, or I&S, and a maintenance and operations rate, or M&O.

The I&S is used for a district’s debt service on voter- approved bonds for facilities.

The M&O includes districts’ basic level of funding and its enrichment fund, which are used for regular school operations, such as teacher salaries.

District’s total property tax rate

+

=

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & SAVANNAH KUCHAR

SOURCES: RAISE YOUR HAND TEXAS, EVERY TEXAN, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COMPONENTS OF HOUSE BILL 3

M&0 property tax rates (per $100 valuation), scal year 2021-22

In its rst two years, HB 3 invested $11.5 billion into public school nance reform.

$1.0671 Statewide maximum for most districts with voter approval $1.0354 Statewide maximum without voter approval

$5 billion went to property tax relief by subsidizing decreases in local revenue following statewide compressions on local districts’ property tax rates.

If statewide property value growth exceeds 2.5% in a year, the tax rate for districts will be compressed. If a district’s growth is higher than the state’s growth, the district’s rate will be furthered compressed. Districts can add a maximum of roughly $0.13 to their compressed rate before seeking voter approval.

$6.5 billion was used to bolster school funding by increasing the basic allotment, in turn raising the majority of districts’ entitlements. A portion of this increase was specically meant for raising teachers’ and other sta’s salaries.

$ 11.5 B total invested

$0.8971 Statewide compressed rate

$0.8074 Statewide minimum

STATE VS. LOCAL SHARE

Texas’ public school system is funded largely by state aid and local property tax revenue. Prior to HB 3, the local share grew as property values increased statewide, but with the legislation, the state now takes on a larger portion year over year.

$60B $50B $40B $30B $20B $10B $0

HOUSTON ISD PROPERTY TAX RATES

Prior to House Bill 3, the maintenance and operations property tax rate for Houston ISD consistently hovered at just over $1 per $100 of valuation. After the passage of HB 3, the district’s M&O tax rate dropped several cents to $0.97 per $100 of valuation in the 2019-20 school year, a rate that remained at the next year.

*2019 IS ESTIMATED, WHILE 2020 AND 2021 IS PROJECTED. State share Local share

M&O rate I&S rate HB 3

“IT’SREALLYNOTPROPERTY TAXRELIEF; IT’STAXRATE COMPRESSION. THESTATE JUSTKEEPSBUYINGDOWN THATTAXRATE, ANDTHE TAXPAYERENDSUPPAYINGON AVERAGEABOUTTHESAME IN TAXESTHATTHEYHAVEBEEN.” BOB POPINSKI, DIRECTOR OF POLICY AT RAISE YOUR HAND TEXAS

$0 $0.20 $0.40 $0.60 $0.80 $1.00 $1.20

COVID19'S EFFECT ON SCHOOL FUNDING

$1.01

$0.97

Most districts were held harmless by the state for any enrollment changes during the pandemic, so funding entitlements were not negatively aected by attendance changes. Federal funding gave three rounds of aid to address pandemic-related disruptions. The packages amounted to $19.2 billion , of which:

$0.17

$0.15

$ 1.91 B will be reserved by the state for statewide programs.

$ 2.15 B was used by the state for the hold-harmless program.

$ 15.14 B will be distributed back out to districts.

15

HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

improvements through 2040, includ- ing several new routes that will com- plete connections in the Heights, River Oaks and Montrose areas. Even with the pandemic-spurred ridership decline, local transporta- tion experts said fullling those plans remains critical for the future of Hous- ton’s transportation network. “This is not the time to be question- ing whether or not we move forward with things,” said Andrea French, executive director of the Transporta- tion Advocacy Group Houston. “This is a time to denitely move swiftly and make sure that we’re staying con- nected for our economy and for our quality of life.” Rapidand reliable The METRONext plan hits on vari- ous methods of improving the public transit system in Houston, including light-rail extensions, local bus route

additions, the development of new park and ride infrastructure, and sys- temwide improvements to bring every METRO facility in line with the Ameri- cans with Disabilities Act. About $3.5 billion will be funded through the 2019 bond referendum, Lambert said. Another $500 million will come from METRO’s budget, and the agency is seeking $3 billion in funding from the federal government. Some of the rst large-scale projects to move forward involve connecting existing transit centers with light-rail hubs through the use of bus rapid tran- sit routes, a type of dedicated bus ser- vice ocials have described as “light rail on rubber tires.” The rst of several planned rapid lines began prior to the 2019 bond ref- erendumandwas completed inAugust 2020. Known as the Silver Line, the ser- vice connects the Lower Uptown Tran- sit Center to the Northwest Transit

CONTINUED FROM 1

WE KNOWTHE UNIVERSITY CORRIDOR IS GOING TO TIE INA LOT OF COMMUNITIES. IT’S GOT A LOT OF RIDERSHIP POTENTIAL; IT’S GOT A LOT OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT POTENTIAL. TOM LAMBERT, CEO OF THE METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTY

METRO ridership reports show monthly local bus ridership fell by 40% between June 2019 and June 2021, a loss of roughly 1.9 million rid- ers. Over that same time frame, light- rail ridership was down 47%. Meanwhile, revenue from ridership fell from $61.5 million in scal year 2019 to $23.4 million in FY 2021. How- ever, most of METRO’s revenue comes fromsales taxes—more than 75% in the agency’s scal year 2021-22 budget. Sales tax revenue saw a much smaller drop between 2019 and 2021, while revenue from federal grants rose. The pandemic began soon after vot- ers approved a $3.5 billion bond refer- endum for METRO in November 2019 to support METRONext, the agency’s 20-year vision plan. The bond was designed around a long-term plan to execute more than 500 miles of

Center through the Galleria area. A proposed University Corridor bus rapid transit line will intersect with the Silver Line along a pathway that will also connect with multiple transit cen- ters; park and ride facilities; local bus routes; and METRO’s red, green and purple light-rail lines. Riders will be able to take the line from the Westchase area to the Wheeler Transit Center in Midtown and north to the Tidwell Transit Cen- ter, a route that will include a number of stops around River Oaks and Mon- trose along Richmond Avenue. “The way that it can transform how peoplemake trips in the region is going to be mind boggling,” said project manager Priya Zachariah during a July presentation on the project. The METRO board of directors iden- tied the University Corridor as a proj- ect to accelerate, meaning a lot of the planning and design is being advanced in an eort to prepare the project for the federal grant process, METRO o- cials said. An environmental study could kick o later this year or early next year, and construction could start around 2025. The success of the project will depend heavily on making sure it is pedestrian friendly, said Stephen Longmire, president of the First Mon- trose Commons Civic Association, a neighborhood preservation group. Longmire said he has been advocating for some form of an east-west corridor down Richmond Avenue for years, dating back to when METRO was exploring light rail in the area. Instead of starting construction in Westchase and moving east, he urged METRO to start at the Wheeler Transit Center and go west. At the same time, METRO could make safety and secu- rity improvements, he said. “If METRO wants to have good rid- ership ... they have to make sure the people can get to and from [stations] without getting run over,” he said.

Completing

Several high-priority projects in the 2040 METRONext plan involve connecting existing modes of transportation, such as transit centers and light-rail lines. connections Planned bus rapid transit Light-rail route Future light-rail line extension

290

45

InnerKatyCorridor

1

Northwest Transit Center to Downtown Transit Center

Connections to the theater district, central station and the convention district

59

1

90

10

10

Construction could start in 2023

610

90

2

3

UniversityCorridor 2 Westchase

Light rail extension

3

90

Connections to light rail in Midtown area and University area

area to Tidwell Transit Center

East End to Hobby Airport

45

Environmental study could begin in 2022

Construction could start in 2025

Timeline to be determined

N

288

SOURCE: METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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