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.

September 28, 2016

Bellaire Drainage Study is a Potential Game-Changer

Good decision making and long-term planning start with good information.  Over the past several months the City Engineer has been working on a detailed study, utilizing sophisticated technologies such as 3-D LiDAR surveys, to collect data and develop more accurate storm water modeling.  The dramatic potential of this new information is hard to overstate.  The results of this study may very well reshape the way we think about flooding and drainage, both locally and regionally.

The following is my layman’s summary of the highlights of the study.  For a complete copy of the City Engineer’s report, click here, and for the accompanying presentation slides, here.

September 15, 2016

Revised Water and Sewer Rate Proposal Adopted, New Rates Go Into Effect October 1

Having worked throughout the summer to gather and incorporate public input, City Council has unanimously approved a modified water and sewer rate proposal to avert the looming insolvency of the Enterprise (Utility) Fund.  As detailed previously, for at least the past 22 years rates have not kept up with the rising costs of utility operations and increasingly critical infrastructure needs. Had we done nothing to correct this, we'd be looking at a negative ending fund balance as early as the end of this coming fiscal year.

Responsive to the public input we received, the original proposal (first presented in April and the subject of a Town Hall Meeting in July) was modified in two respects:

August 31, 2016

Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016

We had a great turnout at Monday night's Town Hall Meeting on the upcoming bond election.  The residents who spoke posed some very good questions, and prompted a lively discussion covering a number of important issues.  Thanks to all who participated or perhaps watched at home; if you missed it, the video replay is available, here.

As was presented at the Town Hall Meeting, we're working hard to ensure you have access to all the information you need to make an educated decision when you cast your vote.  Please visit our dedicated Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016 page on the City website for details and supporting documents:  bellairetx.gov/bonds2016.

Additionally, we invite you to submit any questions you may have about the bonds by e-mail to bonds@bellairetx.gov.

Here's a quick overview of the 3 propositions:

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