February 6, 2018

New Look?  Same Great City!

I took the opportunity in my State of the City Address last night to unveil and encourage public input on the rebranding proposal currently under consideration by the City Council.  The primary driver of its development, and timing, is our municipal facilities project currently under construction.  We’ve got some design decisions to make in the very near future concerning signage and interior finishes for the new buildings, which is what prompted the inquiry.  So we’re not just talking about rebranding for the sake of rebranding.

That said, we’re now presented with an opportunity that has the potential to mean so much more.  While the search for our brand identity started long before Harvey, in the storm’s aftermath it has come to symbolize the recovery itself.  The exercise evoked a narrative about Bellaire, and by Bellaire in our own words, that it turns out could not be more timely.

The product is a visual representation of how we see ourselves, and how we want to see ourselves, what we aspire to be.  It’s a reflection of all that is good about Bellaire, in celebration of where we’ve been and where we’re going.  A fresh new look is something we can all rally around as we take pride and inspiration in the rebirth and renewal of our city.

January 31, 2018

Honoring Our Harvey Heroes and Helpers at This Year’s State of the City

Bellaire’s first responders and emergency operations personnel were truly heroic in getting us through the worst disaster we’ve ever experienced.  Given the enormity of the situation, and that we were temporarily cut off from external resources until the waters receded, they couldn’t have done it without a little help from the community.  Folks all over town pitched in where they could, in ways big and small, and working together got everyone to safety.  To say that their efforts literally saved lives is not an exaggeration.

January 25, 2018

Task Force Public Hearing on Draft Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan - Jan. 29, 6:30 pm

The Task Force has been hard at work reviewing and updating the City’s Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, both to develop meaningful, actionable solutions to our flooding problem and to satisfy the requirements for our continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.  The Plan starts with a comprehensive risk assessment to identify and define flood hazards—local, regulatory and regional—and then proposes mitigation strategies to address those hazards, all leading to a tangible action plan.  These steps are outlined in the form of a matrix, which is the Task Force’s principal working draft.

January 18, 2018

Kudos to Our Solid Waste Crews

Your city leaders—Council, City Manager, department heads—talk a lot about the high level of services our residents expect, and that we’re committed to providing.  Which is as it should be in a premier enclave community.  The exceptional effort put forth by our solid waste crews during the cold weather event these past few days is just another great example.

December 29, 2017

Looking Back on 2017, Looking Forward as we Rebuild

Looking back on 2017 in Bellaire, it’s impossible to define the year by anything other than Hurricane Harvey.  For many of us, it will linger as the demarcation between our lives as they were and the fresh start it forced upon us.  We will continue to find ourselves referring to nearly everything as “pre-Harvey” and “post-Harvey.”  But as the experiences of other communities following similar disasters have shown, things will get back to normal—albeit a new normal—and sooner than it may seem.  Indeed, they already are.

On the bright side, 2017 also showed us what we’re made of.  The enormity and severity of Harvey’s devastation brought out the best in all of us, and brought us closer together.  We helped our neighbors get through the worst of the storm, and have continued to support each other in the recovery.  Our first responders and city staff from all departments stepped up to the task, without regard to their own Harvey problems at home.  We showed our appreciation for these “Bellaire Brave” with an impressive grassroots effort that raised more than $100,000 in a matter of weeks to help them get back on their feet.  Working together, we’ve overcome immense challenges and it has only made us stronger.

December 11, 2017

Shop Local This Holiday Season

Bellaire Business Association
The Bellaire Business Association supports and promotes area merchants and has recently kicked off its “Shop Local” initiative, urging you to look no further for your holiday shopping needs.  Aside from the convenience of staying nearby and avoiding the hassle and stress of fighting the crowds at the mall, shopping local creates tangible benefits for your very own community.  It’s like giving yourself a gift, and it’s one that keeps on giving.

That we’re often described as a “City of Homes” doesn’t mean our retail sector is unimportant.  Indeed, a healthy commercial property tax base along with the sales taxes local businesses generate directly offset our heavy reliance on residential taxpayers to fund municipal services and projects.  When commerce is lagging, we feel it.  A recent decline in sales tax collections led to an almost 8% decrease in budgeted sales tax revenues for fiscal year 2018, requiring us to make up the difference elsewhere in the General Fund.  Also, many aren’t aware that METRO rebates back to us a portion of the 1% sales tax it collects from Bellaire businesses (the State gets 6.25% and the City the remaining 1%), providing needed funding for city streets and mobility projects.

November 13, 2017

Thank you, Dennis Quaid!

The Bellaire Block Party this weekend was a rockin’ good time as Dennis Quaid and his band, The Sharks, treated us to a much-needed afternoon of fun.  As our community steadily recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Dennis came home to help boost morale and most of all, to honor our local heroes.  He spoke fondly of his all-American childhood growing up in Bellaire, and while his big-screen career took him off to Hollywood, it’s clear his heart never left home.

November 2, 2017

Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force Gets to Work

The Council Chamber was packed Monday night for the first meeting of the Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force, as appointees and interested residents came together for introductions and orientation.  The City Manager provided a detailed overview of the work that lies ahead, but purposely left open the question, for each member of the Task Force to consider individually, what it is we seek to accomplish.  With all options on the table, there are no foregone conclusions as to where the process will lead.

October 11, 2017

Charter Amendment Propositions on November Ballot

When Bellaire voters go to the polls on November 7, in addition to the usual races for Mayor and City Council we’ll have the opportunity to amend our City Charter for the first time in 11 years.  The Charter is what makes us a home-rule municipality and is the foundational instrument of our self-governance, in essence our “constitution.”  As such, it belongs to and can be amended only by the people at an election called for that purpose.

October 6, 2017

Cumulative Flood Repair Costs and the 50% Rule

Fear and uncertainty breed speculation.  Speculation is passed on as hearsay.  Hearsay becomes rumor, and—especially when repeated and amplified in the echo chambers of social media—rumor is commonly accepted as fact.  I simply cannot stress enough the importance of visiting the Permit Office to get information specific to your individual circumstances, and reliable information at that.  The decisions flooded homeowners are having to make are just too important to be based on advice, however well-intentioned, from people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about.