Saturday, October 29, 2011

Houston has a planning department and commission

A couple of Kuna city candidates are now repeating the incorrect notion that the city of Houston, Texas, does not have a planning department or a planning director.
The city of Houston does not have a zoning ordinance, which Houston voters have rejected five times over the past several decades. However, Houston does indeed have a Planning and Development department, which was formed in 1940 as the Department of City Planning, as well as a director of planning and a planning commission, which all regulate building activity in Houston.
The Houston Planning Commission is a 26-member board appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council and includes citizens, elected officials and the Director of Planning and Development. The Commission reviews and approves subdivision and development plats. The Commission also studies and makes recommendations to City Council on development issues in Houston.
While Houston does not have a zoning ordinance, Houston does have a number of “development ordinances,” started in 1982, including a tree and shrub ordinance, off-street parking ordinance, historic preservation and a hotel/motel ordinance, among others.
I mention all of this to make sure we have informed voters. I think this year’s city election is an excellent one, with some excellent candidates and a very healthy debate on some very important issues. Many of the candidates are raising legitimate issues. But let’s make sure that we’re debating the facts and not misinformation.

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