News from the city of Houston
CITY HIGHLIGHTS DEC. 16 Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled plans to reduce trac fatalities by redesigning the city’s most dangerous streets, running public awareness campaigns and building 50 miles of sidewalk construction per year. Houston formally joined the international network Vision Zero in 2019 with the goal to eliminate all trac fatalities in the city by 2030. DEC. 16 Houston City Council approved a new set of rules regarding storage of hazardous materials. The amendments strengthen the re marshal’s enforcement capabilities and add libraries, churches, public parks and community centers to the list of locations from which businesses that store hazardous materials must stay farther than 1,000 feet away. It also requires new permits for storing hazardous materials outside. DEC. 5 City Council approved a direct assistance program to send $1,200 payments to some Houstonians. BakerRipley oversaw the distribution of as much as $20 million, which prioritized households that already applied for assistance through the Harris County Financial Assistance Program but did not receive aid at that time.
Tax incentives for developers target drainage features and sustainability
Green for green
The city will oset taxes on developments that include
environmentally friendly features that help absorb or control stormwater.
BY EMMA WHALEN
With the new ordinance in place, the city is tied for third with San Antonio and Austin, Farrell-Sherman said. District C Council Member Abbie Kamin introduced the idea as an amendment to the city’s scal year 2020-21 budget, which was approved in June. “This represents a more holistic approach to the issues we’re tackling with climate change, and it includes our private partners,” Kamin said. Total tax relief depends on the proportion of the project spending allocated to green stormwater infrastructure and the quality of the design. The value of the abatement will be calculated based on criteria that consider the design’s environmental impact and the amount invested. For example, a $3 million devel- opment that includes $200,000 of investment in the highest standard of green stormwater infrastructure could have 100% of its green infrastructure
Developers who incorporate cer- tain features, such as green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavement and rainwater harvesting, are eligible for a new city tax abatement approved by Houston City Council on Dec. 16. “Green stormwater infrastructure ... allows water to slow down and soak into the soil. Water that is held underground is cleaned of toxic pol- lutants, recharges our groundwater and can ow over our streets to join a raging ood,” said Anna Farrell-Sher- man, a clean water advocate with Environment Texas, during a public hearing on the ordinance. The ordinance was also supported by the Katy Prairie Conservancy and Bayou City Water Keeper. A report from Environment Texas found that Houston’s previous incentives put it eighth among 10 cities in Texas seeking to mitigate ooding through green stormwater infrastructure.
Developments that are:
valued at $3 million or more
with at least $200,000 toward green infrastructure
up to $20,000 in property tax reductions for 10 years.
SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
investment abated over 10 years, which would save $20,000 per year. City Council also approved adding a 15%, 10-year tax abatement to encourage developers to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environ- mental Design, or LEED, standards. The city has had an LEED process since 2004, but no developers had applied for the program.
HOME IS WHERE THE HOOP IS HE
Doctors and scientists agree, most people should get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available. It’s the best way to protect yourself, your family and our community. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can get this disease under control. Until then, we have to continue to wear our masks, stay six feet apart and wash our hands well and often. It’s smart to ask questions and learn all you can about staying safe and healthy. As your partner in good health, we’re here to help. Visit us online, or call 713-526-4243 for an appointment. the vaccine? Should I get
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