March 24, 2017

“Why Do We Have to Keep Coming Down Here?” – Public Hearings in the Planning and Zoning Process

Monday night’s public hearing on proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan was well attended and the participants and Council were actively engaged.  That’s a good thing.  Not so good, however, was a rather unhealthy dynamic that revealed itself in some of the comments we heard.  As Mayor, I feel I have a responsibility to speak up and address that dynamic, in hopes of facilitating a constructive community dialog and encouraging respect for all viewpoints.  Additionally, I take this opportunity to clarify the public hearing process and why we do things the way we do.  Note that I’m purposely not addressing the merits of the Comprehensive Plan proposal itself in this blog post, as Council has not yet deliberated or voted on it.

March 6, 2017

Police Department Staffing Trending in the Right Direction

At his Winter Community Meeting last week, Chief Holloway announced that for the first time in years the Police Department is down to just one sworn officer vacancy.  (Over the past few years we’ve averaged around four.)  And the signs are encouraging that the one remaining position may soon be filled.  To be clear, even with vacancies the Department is always fully staffed for every shift, and there is never a gap in coverage or reduction in service.  But obviously filling vacancies is a good thing and helps the Department do what it does best more efficiently.

February 21, 2017

Bond Program Project Selection and Schedule

Your city leaders have been diligently preparing for the next round of major projects, both in planning for the recent bond election and in the months since the voters overwhelmingly approved the Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016 (BBB16) bond program.  I previously recapped the next steps and what to expect.

At last night’s City Council meeting, the City Manager presented to Council and the public the projects that have been identified for BBB16 and a master project schedule for the next three years.  For a copy of the report, click here.  At our upcoming Town Hall Meeting on March 6, the City Engineer will give a more detailed presentation concerning bond program implementation and our ongoing drainage work.  As I announced in my State of the City Address a few weeks ago, our scheduling this Town Hall is no doubt motivated by our desire to keep you informed following the heavy rain event last month, and the timing is also right as we get underway with the bond program.

January 19, 2017

Flooding: Are We Doing Enough, Fast Enough?

We didn't need any reminders, but we got one.  Yesterday's flooding event has again brought the problem—a major problem—to the fore.  It affects all parts of the City, and indeed neighborhoods all throughout our region.  We've been steadily working at it, systematically prioritizing and addressing the areas of greatest need at a fairly consistent pace.  We've made some progress, but yesterday morning's deluge reminds us once again just how much work we have left to do.  Streets were impassable all over town and in some cases, thankfully few, flood-prone homes were hit for the second or even third time in less than two years.  According to the Harris County Flood Control District, Bellaire got more rain in a two hour period yesterday than we got in the Memorial Day flood of 2015, and our area was among the hardest hit anywhere in the County.

We know it's unacceptable for an entire city to shut down just because it rains, hurricanes and tropical storms excepted (by “city” I mean greater Houston; obviously it’s not just us).  But we also know the solution takes time.  And money.  It's reasonable to pose the question to ourselves as a community:  Are we doing enough, fast enough?  I take this opportunity to recap where we are with our drainage work, as we consider that pressing question.

December 29, 2016

2016 City Council Year in Review

As the year draws to a close we pause for a moment to reflect on all we have accomplished, and what it means looking ahead to the coming year and beyond.  Throughout 2016 your City Council has been hard at work, confronting challenges head-on and planning for many important, long-term improvements.  Here are some of the highlights.

December 9, 2016

A Plan for Beautification, Now and in the Future

For the past several years we’ve made it a priority.  But all the while we’ve struggled to identify exactly what “it” is.

The Beautification initiative began with a concern voiced by many of our residents that the City was starting to look a little shabby and rough around the edges, especially in public rights of way and along our commercial corridors.  The examples they cited included worn and faded street markings and signage, busted curbs, tired and lifeless landscaping, neglected utility boxes and trees in need of trimming.  City Councils (past and present) agreed it was time to spruce things up, and formally adopted Beautification as a priority, even going so far as to budget a line item for it.  Yet, that particular allocation has largely gone unspent because a precise definition remained elusive.  City Managers (past and present) were ready, willing and able to get it done, but still needed clarification on the “it” they were being asked to implement.

December 6, 2016

Celebrating the Inaugural Class of the Bellaire Citizens Academy


Last night we held a special reception and presentation to conclude the inaugural class of the Bellaire Citizens Academy.  By any measure it has been a great success, as part of our broader effort to better engage with the citizens we serve.  In particular, the Academy provides an opportunity for residents to interact with staff members representing several departments, to form relationships with the professionals who provide our city services and to learn more about what they do to make Bellaire such a great place to live.

November 9, 2016

Next Steps Following the Bond Election

With an impressive 74% turnout, Bellaire voters have overwhelmingly approved the Better Bellaire 2016 bond package.  Now what?  Your city leaders have been hard at work, even in advance of the election, to make sure we'd have our plans ready to go once the votes were counted.  Here's what to expect, starting with the official canvass of the election results at City Council's next meeting on November 21:

November 1, 2016

A Year of Infrastructure: What the Bonds are For, and What They're Not

I've come to describe 2016 as a Year of Infrastructure in Bellaire.  Stewardship of our physical assets has been front and center, as we are confronted with a number of major projects and issues all needing our attention at the same time.  This has prompted a lot of good discussion in the community, and I've heard from many of you, which I very much appreciate.  With so much going on, it's sometimes hard to keep it all straight.  Based on some questions I've received, I thought I'd try to clear a few things up.

Streets and Drainage Bonds vs. Pavement Management

One of the more common areas of confusion is in distinguishing between our successive bond programs for streets and drainage improvements, and our ongoing Pavement Management program.

October 18, 2016

Visioning Future Land Use in the TRP District: A Two-Step Process


Chevron's recent announcement that it plans to sell its Bellaire property at 4800 Fournace has prompted vigorous discussion in the community.  The neighbors nearby are understandably concerned about the changes that are likely coming their way as the property is redeveloped.  And residents in other parts of town are equally interested in the possibilities and what the turnover may mean for the future of our City.  As we engage in this community conversation, it's important to clear up any misconceptions and misinformation to ensure we're all on the same page as we move forward in the process.

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