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Newsletter | September 2020
Census 2020 Deadline: Countdown to September 30

Time is ticking. It’s the final push to get a complete and accurate count for Census 2020 and Houston is lagging behind the city's 70% response rate from 2010, as well as the current national response rate of 65.5%. The self-response deadline has changed from October 31 to September 30, cutting short our opportunities to count each and every Houstonian.

Take a look at your next water bill. Planning and Houston Public Works teamed up to print 400,000 Census-themed water bill inserts. Drive safely, but take a glance at the digital signs on the freeways. These are just a couple of the many ways the Yes! to Census 2020 campaign is reaching out to Houstonians in every community.

Read more about the Census.
A Bright Spot in My Day:
From the Planning Director

Round of Applause: “Let’s be the best trained Planning Department in the country.” This is the clarion call for my team. I am passionate about equipping our staff, and our department's professional training and development goals are to serve you, our customers, better than ever. Thanks to Chief of Staff Misty Staunton, professional development doesn't feel like another task on our to-do list. She organizes popular and creative webinars, Learn Over Lunch and Think Tank events. These sessions make professional development enjoyable, interesting and easy while presenting best practices, trending industry updates and historical perspectives on current challenges such as affordable housing and growing communities. 

Employee Spotlight:
Sasha Marshall Smith

In the office, online and out in the community, it’s not hard to spot Planner Sasha Marshall Smith. These days, she is sporting a signature color – the sunshine yellow of the Yes! to Census 2020 campaign. Whether she’s wearing or distributing Census t-shirts, promoting the Census at community events and virtual meetings or giving media interviews, Marshall Smith is infusing passion and creativity into the campaign. She's setting a trend and urging everyone to get on board and be counted in Census 2020.

Read more about our employee spotlight.
AARP Grant: Transportation Tools

The Planning and Development Department’s efforts to educate the public about traffic management solutions are getting a boost thanks to a 2020 Community Challenge grant from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. The $2,120 grant will support the creation of a Temporary Transportation Demonstration Tool Kit.

Read more about the AARP grant.
GIS Team:
On Hand for Laura

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team set up shop in the Houston Emergency Center to prepare for the expected landfall of Hurricane Laura. During emergencies, the mapping capabilities of this team are relied upon heavily by local government officials, public safety agencies and first responders to formulate and coordinate emergency action plans and rescues throughout the Houston-Galveston area. 

Read more about the GIS team's emergency preparation efforts.

Late Gerald D. Hines shaped Houston skyline
Builder, urbanist, and engineer Gerald D. Hines passed away August 23 leaving a marked legacy on the skyline of Houston. Hines moved to Houston in 1948, and quickly formed an engineering and real estate partnership, initially focusing on small scale commercial and industrial development. 
In 1967, Shell Oil Company commissioned Hines to construct their new downtown Houston headquarters. Hines would be responsible for more than 900 developments throughout Houston, two of which, the Pennzoil Place building and One Shell Place, were constructed in the early and mid-1970s and designed by renowned mid-century modern architect Phillip Johnson.
Read more about Gerald D. Hines.
Bike to Wherever Day:
September 22

The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily interrupted life as we know it. With many still working from home, this year’s Bike to Work Day pivoted to become Bike to Wherever Day on Sept. 22. Join us in promoting a healthy lifestyle and active transportation all day on Sept. 22. Houstonians are encouraged to try biking wherever their day takes them.

To help make your ride to wherever safe and enjoyable, Houston Bikeways shared some safety tips and riding resources on their website. They will also be crowdsourcing some tips and discounts on biking on
Twitter: @HoustonBikePlan
Vision Zero Goal:
6,687 Comments & Pins

The Transportation Planning division held a series of virtual public engagement meetings in August to further the program's goal of gathering 6,687 public comments, map pins and Vision Zero pledges to represent the 6,687 lives lost and seriously injured on Houston streets in the last five years from 2014-2018.

This is your opportunity to speak out. Tell us your concerns or complaints about road safety in Houston. Do you see a need or opportunity to increase street safety for people walking, biking, driving, or using a wheelchair in your neighborhood?

Read more about Vision Zero.
Coming Soon:
Livable Places

A new Planning Department effort is underway to update the City of Houston’s development codes to create more opportunities for walkability, affordability and equity. Be on the lookout if you are interested in an initiative that will focus on encouraging the development and preservation of affordable, quality housing for all and creating more opportunities to build housing on existing vacant lots within neighborhoods that are largely developed.

More information will be available on the Planning Department website later this month.
More Space For Restaurants

The Planning and Development Department created the More Space program to help restaurants accommodate more customers while maintaining social distancing during COVID-19.

Restaurant owners who would like to participate in the program will need only to submit a Notification Form to track program participation. This will also help the City receive feedback on the program to learn from it in the future.

For more information, visit the More Space program page.
Department Calendar and Information

9/22 Bike to Anywhere Day
9/24 Historic Commission
9/30 Census Self-response Deadline

View the full PD Calendar

View development activity reports Sign up for Planning publications 

Read more about Hispanic Heritage month in this Census Bureau article about Hispanic population growth.