Houston Planners Change Rules To Draw Residential Density And Growth

Neighborhoods within Houston city limits will soon have new rules on density and housing development. The City of Houston wants to attract more residential density in areas outside the 610 loop.

Chapter 42 of the code of ordinances deals with the rules for subdividing land and developing properties within the city.

Houston Planning Department Spokesperson Suzy Hartgrove says the city wants to amend the rules to allow for more density in residential neighborhoods.

"We'd like to see that growth and development, we know we have people moving to Houston. And we'd like to see more housing available inside the city for all of those residents."

The proposed amendments have been under negotiation for six years and will reduce the standard lot size for residential development outside the loop.

The changes will allow developers to build townhomes and patio homes in neighborhoods as long as deed restrictions don't limit such developments.

Ivory Mayhorn, who is president of his Super Neighborhood group, says residents in his area are concerned new development will gentrify their neighborhood and raise property taxes.

"We're looking at Chapter 42 creating a trigger to Harris County Appraisal District that will cause the neighborhood properties to go up in taxes. And that could affect all of the seniors and low-income, those types of people in those neighborhoods."

Neighborhoods can opt out by getting 60 percent of homeowners to agree on setting their own minimum lot size to maintain the character of the neighborhood.

But critics say trying to get that much consensus among homeowners will be extremely difficult.  

Mayor Annise Parker says with some minor adjustments, the new rules should go into effect in a couple of weeks.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...