An ordinance originally crafted to extend the time of paid metered parking hours within the city of Houston recently lost the support of the Houston City Council members that brought it forward.

What happened

Houston City Council members Edward Pollard, Fred Flickinger and Tiffany Thomas used the powers given to the council by the passing of Proposition A in November to place an item on the April 3 agenda.

Prop A, which passed with 83% of voter approval, gave council members power to place an item on the council's weekly agenda as long as it had the support of at least two additional council members.

The ordinance to extend metered parking was the second item to be placed on the agenda by a council member since the proposition passed. The first item related to the installation of speed cushions.

Both items were sent to the newly formed Proposition A Committee, which was created by Houston Mayor John Whitmire to review agenda items presented via Prop A.

The 16-member committee met for the first time April 23 to discuss the two agenda items in the queue. However, members postponed voting on the rules and regulations of the committee, resulting in no action being taken. Both agenda items were delayed to the next committee meeting, May 28.

At the ensuing Houston City Council meeting on April 24, Pollard, who was absent from the Prop A Committee meeting, said he was withdrawing his support of the parking meter ordinance.

In their own words

Pollard was the main author of the item. He said he withdrew his support because of the lack of clarity on how the Prop A Committee will function and its role in the agenda process. Flickinger and Thomas also withdrew support for the item, Pollard said.

"There's so many different unknowns," he said. "This process has been, in my opinion, just an added layer of restrictions or a barrier or bureaucracy that stifles the ability for a council member to be able to bring an item to the council agenda to be voted upon, as was the intent of voters. So, when you add all that together, we decided to just withdraw our support in pursuing this any further."

Pollard said he does not support the creation of the Prop A Committee and will likely remain absent from future meetings.

"I have a lot of ideas on how to hopefully improve the city," he said. "This [ordinance] was just one idea ... but, if we have a process that goes through this type of scrutiny for every idea, every item that we bring forth, then it makes you not want to bring forth any items. I have no confidence in putting forth all this hard work to advance items just for them to find themselves in a committee with no real direction."

Thomas said while she still supports the idea of extending metered parking hours, she withdrew her support of the item, expressing similar concerns about deferring council items to a committee.

"Getting items of importance placed on the agenda was not a difficult task my last term, and I do not anticipate any difficulty this term," she said. "However, I voted for Prop A because there may be a time when council members may need to leverage our position for collective action."

Thomas said she believes council members should have multiple ways to advocate for issues and funding for items and ordinances within their districts or citywide without being limited by political relationships.

"I voted for Prop A because I will not always sit in this seat and I want to ensure that my council member has every tool available to represent me and my neighborhood," she said. "I am not willing to concede the intention of Prop A or my authority as a current council member."

Flickinger declined to comment.

What happens next?

Council members said they are unaware of what will happen to the parking meter ordinance now that the support of its original backers has been withdrawn.

Thomas said if the authors choose to move forward, those who would like to work on a similar item should start from scratch within the Prop A Committee.

Pollard said, without support, the item will likely die in committee. However, he said he has reached out to the Whitmire administration to see what mechanism he can put forth to table or kill the item.

As of April 26, he said he has not received a response.