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.

October 5, 2017

For Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force, All Options Are on the Table

The City Engineer’s post-Harvey analysis largely confirms collective expectations based on our experience and observations during the storm:  the singular importance of Project Brays, the continuing validity of our approach to local drainage improvements, the obstacles impeding overland flow, and the success of our current building code elevation regulations.  It stops short, however, of actually making any specific recommendations.  That’s because at this point all options are on the table for thorough review and consideration.

Following and in conjunction with the City Engineer’s presentation, the City Council adopted an amending resolution to expand the charge of our Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force.  By sheer coincidence Council had previously adopted the first resolution less than a week before Harvey.  It established the Task Force as a more or less routine planning activity required for our continued participation in the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program, to be composed of appointed citizens including some with certain subject matter expertise.

Post-Harvey, our thorough reexamination of every aspect of flood control is anything but routine.  The amending resolution, therefore, additionally charges the Task Force “to develop actionable local, regulatory and regional policy recommendations for the prevention of future flooding.”  It will do so in close consultation with the City Engineer, building upon his findings from this and prior work to come up with solutions for implementation.

October 3, 2017

The FY 2018 Budget Story, Epilogue:  Restoring Balance

The fiscal year 2018 budget went into effect on Sunday.  The story began with a proposed budget that was forced to cut back on non-recurring expenses to avoid breaching our 60-day minimum fund balance requirement.  It concludes with an adopted budget that goes even further than that, with deeper non-recurring expense cuts that will allow us to begin replenishing the ending fund balance instead of finishing the year right on the number.  Responsive to public input concerning the tax rate, Council proactively took this step to get things back on track for this and coming years.  The budget also sets aside some unallocated funds in anticipation of unreimbursed hurricane recovery expenses.

Hurricane Harvey’s unwelcome arrival in the middle of the FY 2018 budget story ultimately did not change the plot all that much.  That’s not to suggest the City’s priorities have not been affected; they most certainly have as nearly everything else is taking a back seat to disaster recovery and future flood prevention efforts.  But those less essential items, such as branding, Comprehensive Plan updates and new parks projects, weren’t in this year’s budget to begin with.

September 25, 2017

Debris Removal:  The Work is Picking Up

In many neighborhoods throughout the Houston area, officials don’t yet even have an idea of a start date for debris removal.  Obviously this isn’t a competition, but in Bellaire we’re fortunate to be well on our way.  It’s not going nearly as fast as we’d hoped, but the pace of our collection has only been increasing each day.  Through our active management of the process we’ve been able to bring in more crews and equipment and have secured additional staging site capacity.

Our debris removal operations are noticeably improving as increased staging site capacity has allowed the contractor to bring in more and larger equipment, like this tandem, self-contained loader.

September 20, 2017

Specific Use Permits for New Bellaire High School, Offsite Baseball Approved With Conditions

With our daily attention devoted to Hurricane Harvey recovery, much of our usual city business has been deferred or postponed indefinitely.  One major item that has been pending on our docket since before the storm, and has now been brought to a successful resolution, is the specific use permit for the rebuilding of Bellaire High School.  This week the City Council granted that permit, along with a second one to allow for the relocation of the baseball field to the former Gordon Elementary/Mandarin Chinese school property to free up some extra space on the BHS campus to make the site plan work.

September 15, 2017

City Engineer to Present Hurricane Harvey Report Oct. 2

At the City Council meeting this past Monday night—our first post-Harvey—the City Manager’s report was devoted to the hurricane and the City’s ongoing response.  His detailed presentation covered several topics, starting with a walk-through of the City’s preparation for and then daily activities during the storm, followed by the transition to recovery.  He spent a great deal of time focused on the questions people are asking right now, concerning the process for flood repair permits including market value and substantial damage determinations, and about our progress to date on debris removal.

What the City Manager’s report did not get into was any engineering review.  That will be for the City Engineer, who is currently preparing a comprehensive analysis of the root causes and extent of the devastating flooding we experienced, and where to go from here in our infrastructure planning.  He will present his report to Council and the public at our meeting on October 2.

Council received public comment from several speakers concerning flooding and related topics.  Given that this was our first regular meeting post-Harvey, it’s unfortunate that it happened to be the same night as the long-awaited public hearing on the specific use permit applications for the reconstruction of Bellaire High School.  The hearing was legally noticed weeks before Harvey had even formed in the Gulf and demanded our attention despite everything else going on in the aftermath of the storm.  This resulted in a late evening, and understandably not all of our speakers could stay for public comment.

We welcome your input, as always, and there will be multiple opportunities to address Council at our upcoming meetings as we continue to discuss these issues of paramount importance to our community moving forward.  I hope you will make plans to join us for the City Engineer’s presentation on October 2.

September 8, 2017

Things Are Looking Up as the Debris Comes Down

I never thought I’d be so excited to see a bunch of heavy trucks rolling through Bellaire.  What a beautiful sight, indeed!  Debris removal is a major milestone on the road to recovery and will have a huge impact in restoring a sense of normalcy to our streets and neighborhoods.  Getting rid of all the piles at the curb allows us to begin moving forward in rebuilding our community, and none too soon.

September 6, 2017

“After All This, Will I Even Be Allowed to Rebuild?” – What You Need to Know About the 50% Rule

Yesterday the Permit Office began accepting applications for flood repairs.  Over the course of the day they received 27 applications.  After sorting them according to their complexity to allow for the most expedited review, the Building Official was able to approve and issue 11 permits same-day.  But while things are moving quickly at the Permit Office, owners of older Bellaire homes that flooded are faced with an additional concern:  Will they even be allowed to rebuild?

Below I give you my overview of this issue, but if you take away nothing else what’s important for you to know is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  It’ll depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each house, and the City has no way of making a determination until a permit application with supporting documentation is reviewed.  Please don’t jump to any conclusions or make hasty decisions, and be assured the staff will explore all available options with you.

September 5, 2017

FEMA Here to Assist Bellaire Residents Through Disaster Recovery Process

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived this morning and came to City Hall to brief us on their Hurricane Harvey response in Bellaire.  They gave us an overview of the federal disaster recovery programs available to residents, as well as to the City itself, and what to expect in the coming days.  We then took them on a driving tour through several of our neighborhoods so they could see for themselves the extent of the damage we sustained and get a handle on the sheer number of impacted homeowners in need of assistance.  They will allocate resources accordingly.

The first step for those seeking federal disaster assistance is to register with FEMA, online at or by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362).  Our own City of Bellaire Library reopened today, and has public computers and librarians available to help with filling out the forms.  Also visit our Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources page for other helpful links and information.

September 3, 2017

Debris Piles and Traffic Bring About New Concerns

As if our messy situation weren’t bad enough, it’s now becoming even worse with a steady influx of scavengers and onlookers, and the additional traffic they create, particularly in hardest-hit Southdale.  We’ve been getting lots of questions, so I take this opportunity to share and address these concerns with a broader audience.

Some amount of scavenging is to be expected.  It’s not illegal per se, but we’re concerned about it because many residents are reporting that scavengers are rummaging through their belongings at the curb and leaving an even bigger mess behind.  In some cases they’re opening and dumping bags out in yards and in the streets to pick through their contents, and not bothering to clean up again after themselves.  If you observe this kind of activity, don’t hesitate to call the Bellaire Police at (713) 668-0487.  We’ve got officers on patrol who will respond.  See also Chief Holloway’s suggestions, which he sent out this morning.

September 1, 2017

Bellaire Rising to the Challenge

Several of us on City Council have gotten together and ventured out into the neighborhoods to check in on people cleaning up after the flood, to show our support and share information.  To a person, those we’ve visited with are in remarkably good spirits, buoyed no doubt by the kindness of both neighbors and (now former) strangers.  Volunteers have just been showing up and getting right to work.

In the hardest-hit neighborhoods we’ve encountered folks from all over Bellaire and beyond.  Many who were less directly affected have dropped everything to lend a hand.  Informal relief efforts have been popping up, to collect donations and match volunteers with homeowners needing assistance.  This unfathomable catastrophe has brought out the best in all of us, and together we’re pulling through.

August 30, 2017

As We Begin Rebuilding

After two days of telling you we were still in response mode as Harvey stubbornly refused to leave us, I’m happy to report we have officially transitioned to the recovery phase.  The EOC is no longer a 24-hour operation, but of course emergency dispatch is always there and our normal public safety shifts have resumed.  While the Greater Houston area is draining nine trillion gallons of water and will be for weeks to come, the imminent threat of a repeat flooding situation in Bellaire has passed and we are now able to safely begin the process of rebuilding our homes and our lives.

Some things you need to know:

August 29, 2017

Volunteer Relief Effort Getting Underway

At this time the City is still focusing on emergency response and is not yet transitioning to the recovery phase.  Our available resources, including personnel, are operating at full capacity.  However, we know that so many of you are wanting to help your neighbors in need that manpower isn’t going to be a problem.

Volunteers are coming together to organize a coordinated Bellaire relief effort.  It’s being led entirely by them and not by the City, but we are making available a meeting room at the Rec Center, 7008 5th St., to receive donations of items listed below and for volunteer check-in.

Beginning the Transition to Recovery

Finally, some good news.  We’re not quite there yet, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The overnight elevation data from Brays Bayou says it all:

As we saw yesterday, however, the Bayou’s receding can be two steps forward, one step back as further rains fill it up again.  Plus, the unfathomable amount of water upstream of us still to work its way through the system will keep levels above normal for quite some time to come.

August 28, 2017

Your Bellaire Emergency Operations Center

This afternoon I had an opportunity for a quick visit with our EOC personnel.  They’re working nonstop on 12-hour rotations, but in great spirits and clearly taking pride in the job they’re doing for our community.  They told me they know how much we all appreciate them … but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell them again.

It’s a big team involving every city department.  First responders from Police and Fire, along with the Public Works crews, are most visible out in the field.  Back at the EOC they’ve got administrative and logistics support from the City Manager’s office, Parks & Rec, Library, Finance and others.  Everyone is doing their part.

How You Can Help

A quick follow-up to my post from earlier this morning.  Now that flood waters have receded to more manageable levels, I’ve continued receiving a great many offers of help.  Again, thanks to all of you.  When times are at their worst, Bellaire is at its best.

Right now we’re still in response and rescue mode.  With the National Weather Service predicting additional rain through Thursday, we’re not out of the woods just yet.  This event is ongoing, and given the risk that potentially heavy rains will lead to a repeat flooding situation we cannot transition to recovery mode and return to normal operations at this time.

In Southdale and Other Hardest-Hit Areas, Another Long Night

Families all over Bellaire have been stranded in their homes, with the highest number reported in Southdale, which has experienced the most severe flooding.  Many of you in other low-lying areas are stuck as well.  Yesterday we received more than 1,750 calls for rescue.  To those still waiting, we haven’t forgotten about you.  Please hang in there just a bit longer.

The first rescue operations prioritized the elderly and disabled, and those with life-threatening emergencies.  Among them were a paraplegic resident who had water up to the top of his bed, a baby on medical equipment with a depleting battery, an insulin-dependent diabetic stranded without food, and others with serious medical conditions.  We successfully got them all to safety.  The other primary focus yesterday was on single-story homes with dangerously high levels of flooding, in which residents couldn’t simply run upstairs to get out of the rising water.

August 27, 2017

Harvey Flood Response Update

Unfortunately the situation has only gotten worse today, and it’ll be a while before it improves.  If you’ve made it to safety, please hang in there but be prepared for the possibility it’ll be a couple days as we’re expecting more rain tonight.  If you’re in need of rescue, first responders are out in high water vehicles and boats, but conditions are making it very difficult for them to get to everyone quickly.  They’re doing everything they can and then some.  If you’re able to help your neighbors until first responders can get to you, please do.

Life-threatening emergencies remain our top priority and should be reported to 911.  Non-emergency phone lines are overwhelmed with calls, so please be patient and try back if you cannot get through right away.  The Bellaire EOC non-emergency hotline is (713) 662-8206.

I know many of you are concerned about Bellaire’s water supply.  Our drinking water is safe.  However, the wastewater treatment plant and lift stations are struggling as the sanitary sewers have been inundated with storm water intrusion.  There’s not much Public Works can do about that until the flood waters begin to recede.  You can help by limiting unnecessary sewer discharge including toilets and showers.  Again, drinking water remains safe.

The EOC command staff is distributing important information as it becomes available, online and through the Notify Me e-mail system.  Please consult the City website,, for announcements.

Neighbors helping neighbors is now more important than ever.  We’re all in this together.

Together We’ll Get Through This; For Now Just Be Safe

I’m sure very few in Bellaire actually slept last night, but those who did have woken up to the devastating reality of Harvey’s unrelenting rains throughout our area, producing unprecedented levels of flooding.  This is worse than Memorial Day and Tax Day, and depending on what happens over the next few days the impact to Bellaire will likely exceed that of Tropical Storm Allison.

I’ve heard from many of you already this morning, either in search of assistance or offering to help.  For now, emergency officials are advising us to stay put.  Your home is the safest place to be, even if you’ve taken on water.  Just remember to turn off your electricity at the panel if flood waters are nearing outlets.  Go upstairs if you have a second story, or to a neighbor’s if you can get there safely.

Do not venture out onto the roadways.  You won’t get very far, and even if you think you can make it down the street you’ll only send a wake into your neighbors’ homes.  Please just stay where you are.  For life-threatening emergencies call 911.  You may contact the Bellaire Emergency Operations Center at (713) 662-8206 for non-emergencies, but be patient as we are receiving a very high volume of calls.

Harvey is proving so significant an event that some houses that have never flooded will.  For others of you, this will be your second or third time in just the past few years.  It’s beyond frustrating and stressful, and we know we have a long road ahead of us.  But please take it one step at a time.  Today, and over the next several days, our priority is keeping you safe.  We’re all in this together, and together we’ll get through it.

August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Declaration

Today I have issued a disaster declaration in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey and its potential damaging effects within the City.  The Bellaire Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is working closely with other area agencies in preparing for landfall and for a coordinated response in its aftermath.

As you know, in Bellaire we are blessed with an experienced, dedicated team of professionals who are well trained for major events like this and stand ready to assist you and your families.  Not only our first responders in Police and Fire, but also in Public Works, the City Manager’s office, and across all city departments.  Essential personnel have made arrangements to remain in Bellaire through the weekend for rapid response when called upon.  Be assured we’re in good hands.

Please take care of yourselves, your family and your property.  Remember not to put out garbage bags (after this morning’s pick up) until further notice, as they can often float away and clog the storm drains.  Be on the lookout for and secure other debris, as well.  You are encouraged not to leave any vehicles parked in the street and to move them to higher ground.

Be safe, be patient, and let’s help one another as neighbors in weathering this storm.

August 9, 2017

2017 Citizen Survey Establishes Benchmark

Earlier this year the City initiated a broad citizen survey, to get a sense of how we’re doing in providing services and an aggregate view of residents’ sentiments about their community.  The survey was overseen by the University of Houston Master of Public Administration program, which analyzed the findings in a detailed statistical report.  While we did learn some things we can put to immediate use, the real value of this inaugural survey is in establishing a benchmark for tracking our performance over time through periodic future surveys.

July 24, 2017

The FY 2018 Budget Story

The City Manager’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 does what it’s supposed to do.  It’s structurally balanced, meets all established parameters, and is guided by the City Council’s adopted Priorities within the constraints suggested by conservative fiscal forecasting.  It’s a good budget that reflects the City’s solid financial position and continued prudent management for the coming fiscal year.  (The proposed budget and accompanying presentation slides are on the City website, here.)

The proposed budget also tells the macro level story of where things stand right now, both the progress we’ve made in recent years and the challenges that lie ahead.  No, the sky is not falling, but we are paying careful attention to the numbers and how they’re trending.  To understand the FY 2018 budget in context, start with the ending General Fund balance and work backwards from there; as we’ve steadily drawn down that balance over the past several years our policy of maintaining a 60-day minimum has become our primary constraint.  Emphasizing these are conservative projections, the trend is readily apparent:

June 22, 2017

2-to-1 Partnership with TxDOT Adds Drainage to 610/59 Interchange Project, Renews Focus on Long-Term Needs

The IH-610 drainage system is a major component of our storm water infrastructure.  Unfortunately, its woefully insufficient capacity also makes it a major problem contributing to flooding.  During heavy rainfall events the freeway tends to act as a dam to the general flow of runoff, causing water levels to rise on the frontage roads, rendering them impassable.  As rain continues to fall with nowhere else to go, it backs up into the adjacent neighborhoods.  Simply put, even with some improvements made in 2000 the 50-plus-year-old system is outdated and severely undersized.

The City of Bellaire has for years raised the issue with TxDOT, but without any construction projects to tie it to we’ve not made much progress.  The impending 610/59 interchange project presented just such an opportunity, and we’re very pleased that TxDOT has responded to our renewed requests.  This week the City Council approved an agreement to partner with TxDOT in funding a new 10’ x 8’ box culvert adjacent to the interchange project, running 1,850 linear feet from just south of Westpark down to Glenmont.  Of the $3 million estimated cost, the City will contribute $1 million and TxDOT will fund the rest, including any overages.  By any measure this is a terrific deal for Bellaire.

June 20, 2017

Board and Commission Applications at an All-Time High

We’re fortunate in Bellaire to have a great number of citizen volunteers interested in and willing to serve on our several city boards and commissions.  So many, in fact, that this year we’ve set a new record.  Looking at just the past 10 years we’ve averaged around 31 applicants, ranging from a low of 25 to a high of 36.  This year we fielded 42 applications, exceeding the average by more than a third.  The City Clerk observed that for the first time she can recall, a few of the appointment ballots extended onto a second page.

May 11, 2017

In Search of Our Brand Identity (It’s More Than Just a Logo)

Our ongoing emphasis on improving the physical appearance of the City coincides nicely with a whirlwind of exciting projects rife with opportunities.  In just the past few weeks alone we’ve cut the ribbon at Evelyn’s Park, unveiled major renovations at the Nature Discovery Center in Russ Pitman Park, and kicked off the construction of new municipal facilities at Bellaire Town Square.  And that’s just in our public spaces.  We’ve also got a lot of new—and long overdue—redevelopment activity that’s refreshing the appearance of our commercial areas, with even more on the horizon.  Good things are happening, with great potential to transform our cityscape and community image in very positive ways.

Yet, as we seek to build upon these developments through coordinated design standards for other things like streets, utility infrastructure, landscaping, wayfinding signage and gateway entrances, it’s becoming increasingly evident that there’s something missing.  We’ve never really pinned down the “look and feel” we’re going for.  That missing look and feel is not just about visual appeal; it encompasses our very identity as a city.

April 24, 2017

Welcome to Your Evelyn’s Park!

It was a picture-perfect day in our picture-perfect new park.  The Grand Opening was a huge success and it was wonderful to celebrate with so many of you.  After years of anticipation and excitement, Evelyn’s Park did not disappoint!

April 7, 2017

North Bellaire Special Development Area Approved, with Modifications

In my last blog post I used the occasion of the public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment for the Chevron property to comment on the public hearing process generally.  I did not get into the proposal itself, as the City Council had not yet deliberated or made any decisions on it.  Now that we have, I’m pleased to report on the adoption—after several revisions—of the North Bellaire Special Development Area, to replace the former Business Park designation for the property.

Adoption of the final product brings to conclusion what has at times been a contentious process.  Council’s several revisions are responsive to community input, hopefully without giving up too much of the flexibility that the original proposal was intended to achieve.  It’s no doubt a delicate balance.

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.