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March 2021
A Bright Spot in My Day: From the Planning Director
A year ago, like many of your organizations, the operations of the Planning & Development Department changed. Work from home, virtual meetings and telephone conference calls became the standard almost overnight. I am unapologetically proud of how we managed the transition. Unlike far too many businesses in Houston, we did not suffer the crushing blow of the sudden disappearance of customers and sales. Our workload has continued, unabated. Read more from Director Margaret Wallace Brown.
More Space: Main Street Program Launches at the Little Dipper
The first establishment participating in the More Space: Main Street economic revitalization initiative opened its street patio earlier this month. The Little Dipper, a historic district bar, served the first guests on its expanded roadway patio the weekend of March 12. Initiated by the Planning & Development Department, More Space: Main Street allows restaurants and bars to create expanded patios on Main Street between Commerce and Rusk. The program aims to make it safer and more comfortable for visitors to return to Downtown establishments, helping Houston’s food and beverage industry recover from the pandemic-related economic downturn. Read the More Space: Main Street press release. 
Staff Spotlight: Abraham Zorrilla Unites Communities One Step at a Time
Some people have a special gift that brings people together, whether through their words or actions. Abraham Zorrilla has the gift of action, and he has the moves to prove it. For several years he’s been performing a variety of Latin dance forms. Through dance, Zorrilla was able to connect to others, and learn about their cultures. This ability to observe and respond is key to working with diverse groups of people. Dancing is a collaborative process after all. Zorrilla brings this collaborative spirit to working with community residents, building trust and taking the steps necessary to help guide the projects that improve their neighborhoods. Read Abraham Zorrilla's Staff Spotlight.
Livable Places Committee Talks Trash, Dumpster Screening
Businesses and homes produce waste, so trash receptacles like dumpsters are a part of modern life, but the Livable Places Action Committee is discussing ways to make living with dumpsters, well, more livable. Do you immediately notice the dumpster in the photo at left? No? That's the goal. The March 23 Livable Places Action Committee meeting established consensus on requiring screening for all dumpsters to address the issues related to visibility and unhygienic conditions. The committee also discussed amendments related to physical separation distance, the buffer distance between high-rise structures and residential developments. During the April 20 meeting, the committee will discuss the work on Conservation Districts. Learn more and view meeting details at The Houston Planning Commission is accepting comments on proposed amendments to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, the City’s standards for subdivision platting. The public hearing and comment period closes April 18, 2021. Use this online form to make comments.
PD Partners with District C for Montrose-Midtown Street Improvements
District C Council Member Abbie Kamin and the Planning and Development Department initiated the Montrose/Midtown Safety and Connectivity Study to address street safety, barriers to connectivity, and identify low-cost, short-term safety improvements in these two neighborhoods. The study identified 11 locations for improvement and designed six quick action projects. The first project will improve safety for all travelers at the Bagby/Elgin/Westheimer intersection. Construction plans are being finalized to eliminate an unnecessary vehicle lane and shorten the pedestrian crossing, making it safer on both sides of the intersection and easier to access the bus stop. Read the Montrose-Midtown intersection project press release.
PD Receives Grant to Create Freedmen's Town Preservation Incentive Plan
The Houston Office of Preservation has been awarded a $20,000 Certified Local Government Grant from the Texas Historical Commission to assist with the creation of a historic preservation incentive plan for Freedmen’s Town. The plan will be applicable to many Houston neighborhoods and will be created with input from stakeholders from residents, individual homeowners, as well as the business community. Freedmen’s Town was established in 1865 by newly emancipated African Americans who purchased land and created a vibrant community in Houston’s Fourth Ward, often referred to as the “Harlem of the South." Watch this Freedmen's Town Conservancy video to learn more about the community's history.
Dive into Demographics with Updated Council District Profiles
PD recently published the 2019 Council District Profiles on the department’s Demographics webpage (click the Data by Council District tab). These profiles provide insight on the demographic trends and changes that are occurring within our communities. They are updated annually and compiled using the most recent Census data available, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey block group data. Each council district profile consists of a one-page demographic data comparison (population, race/ethnicity, age, education, language, housing, and household income) between 2000 and 2019, as well as other district information. The profiles also include maps for race/ethnicity distribution, density, median household income, median housing value and more.