Houston officials discuss splitting District E, panhandling during town hall

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin of District E discusses several topics during a Clear Lake town hall Oct. 10.

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin of District E discusses several topics during a Clear Lake town hall Oct. 10.

Houston officials gathered at Space Center Houston to discuss several Clear Lake-specific topics during Houston City Council Member Dave Martin’s town hall meeting Oct. 10.

One popular topic was the possibility of splitting District E, which Martin represents and is the only district that is noncontiguous and made up of two distant and distinct areas: Kingwood to the north and Clear Lake to the south. Martin lives in Kingwood, and while Mayor Sylvester Turner and Bay Area officials believe Martin represents both areas well, some Clear Lake residents have voiced a desire to have their own representation.

Splitting the Kingwood and Clear Lake areas into two districts would require both to have enough residents to constitute their own districts. Because both areas are not as populated, splitting the districts would require redrawing boundaries altogether and “borrowing” some residents from adjacent districts, officials said.

City officials are looking at the possibility and will consider options after the 2020 census. Turner said he hopes for 100% participation in the census; the more participation, the more accurate the population estimates necessary to begin redrawing district boundaries will be, he said.

“It’s something we’re gonna work on and look at,” Martin said.

Officials also discussed the homelessness problem. Before Hurricane Harvey, there were about 3,400 homeless people in Harris and Fort Bend counties. After the storm, the number rose to 3,900, Turner said.

Since then, there have been problems with panhandlers begging for money across the city. Many have mental health or substance abuse problems, but some of these beggars are “entrepreneurs” who are not actually homeless but are looking for ways to make money, Turner said.

The city last year passed two ordinances to address panhandling. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city in federal court to stop the ordinances under the idea that the city would be penalizing people for being homeless. A restraining order was placed on the ordinances so they could not be acted upon, but a federal judge has since removed them, allowing the city to again begin addressing the problem, Turner said.

Martin has been putting District E-allocated dollars into addressing panhandling along the Gulf Freeway and Edgebrook. The city will supplement District E and work with 100 homeless coalition partners to fight the problem, Turner said.

“We do need to get on top on it because we don’t want it to increase beyond where it is,” he said.

Other topics officials discussed included the widening of El Dorado Boulevard, which will begin in February; the Houston Spaceport, which is being developed with a detention pond to mitigate the risk of any flooding; Exploration Green; and area crime statistics.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

<

MOST RECENT

The seven-day rolling average of deaths per day in Harris County has increased from 3.86 on July 8 to 8.29 on July 12. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: After three weeks of surging cases, death toll starts to rise

The seven-day rolling average of deaths per day in Harris County has increased from 3.86 on July 8 to 8.29 on July 12.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

Texas Medical Center reports only 4% uptick in ICU bed use despite continued COVID-19 case increases

Compared to 1,350 total intensive care units in use June 30, Texas Medical Center has seen only a slight uptick in occupancies since then, with 1,394 reported July 9.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
Refinancing a home, police departments address protests: Popular news this week from Greater Houston

Read popular stories from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Firefighters, police officers, solid waste collectors and bus drivers in Houston have all been affected by coronavirus exposure. (Courtesy Pexel)
From solid waste collectors to firefighters, Houston’s public workers facing strain from coronavirus exposures

Houston’s core city services are being strained by coronavirus exposures, city leaders report.

The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Two new lawsuits aim to reverse GOP convention cancellation

The lawsuits come the day after the contract for hosting the event was terminated.

An average of 225 cases a day have been reported so far in July in Galveston County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Galveston County adds 734 new coronavirus cases

There were 3,565 total cases in the county at the start of July. The latest totals on July 9 show a 49% increase in cases over the course of a week.