Houston adopts new development rules to promote walkable, transit-oriented projects

This map shows the corridors that will be subject to new transit-oriented development rules, which are designed to improve access to high-capacity transit options. (Courtesy City of Houston)
This map shows the corridors that will be subject to new transit-oriented development rules, which are designed to improve access to high-capacity transit options. (Courtesy City of Houston)

This map shows the corridors that will be subject to new transit-oriented development rules, which are designed to improve access to high-capacity transit options. (Courtesy City of Houston)

A long-discussed set guidelines touted as a "paradigm shift" toward more transit-friendly and walkable developments was approved by Houston City Council on Aug. 5.

"We are literally changing how people move about in the city of Houston," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The guidelines apply to high-capacity transit corridors—those connected to light rail and existing and future bus-rapid transit lines—and selected pilot areas, including Midtown, the Emancipation Avenue corridor and the Hogan-Lorraine street area. The policies also create a path for property owners or the city of Houston to seek a "Walkable Places" designation for their area.

The policies, which amended existing transit-oriented rules put in place for city's first light rail project down Main Street, were developed by the Walkable Places Committee, which began work in 2017 and formally crafted the recommendations last year.

The guidelines have a range of implications for new development moving forward, from regulating building design, setbacks, the number of required parking spaces and the amount of space for sidewalks and a pedestrian buffer. The transit-oriented development rules, or TOD, will apply to areas within 1,000 feet of a transit station, while properties within a half-mile can opt into the standards but are not required to do so. Walkable Places rules will only apply in the pilot areas or in any area that opts into the designation.


"It is an experiment, but it's a bold one; it's a visionary one," At-Large Council Member David Robinson said.

City Council backed the measure unanimously despite concerns from residents of the Museum Park neighborhood around tree canopies and noise. Turner assured those residents that steps would be taken to address them.

"We have heard you, we appreciate your participation, and it's not one-and-done," Turner said, "We want it to be a win-win, not a win-lose."

The rules will take effect Oct. 1.
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


MOST RECENT

Mayor Turner and the honor guard.
Houston joins nationwide coronavirus memorial, lights landmarks

The memorial was planned as a component of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' inauguration.

Heights Waterworks
Houston Heights Association seeks award nominations for residential, commercial improvements

To be eligible, projects must have been completed between 2018 and 2020.

Ovme opened a new medical spa Jan. 19 at 3021 Kirby Drive, Houston. (Courtesy Ovme)
New in River Oaks: Ovme medical spa, a dance studio, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic

Here is a look at three new businesses that are now open in or are coming soon to the River Oaks area.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

The Heights Hospital
Heights Hospital staff, patients locked out over unpaid rent

Other medical tenants in the building continue to see patients, however.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council ethics committee to review speech policies

The discussion comes after Facebook posts by Council Member Greg Travis led to calls for his resignation or censure.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a warning to bars and nightclubs across Houston and said he plans to go after any establishment seen disregarding capacity guidelines. (Screenshot via Twitter)
Mayor Sylvester Turner calls out concerts, clubs operating over capacity

Turner also reported 1,964 new cases of COVID-19 along with 17 virus-related deaths.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.