December 30, 2020

Serving You Differently This Most Unusual Year

We’ve had our share of challenges, typically in the form of hurricanes and other severe weather events, but the pandemic is quite unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.  Still, we’re approaching this new challenge just the same, as a community, and together we’re getting through it.  What has defined 2020 hasn’t defined us.

The entire city organization really stepped up this year, finding different and creative ways to maintain the services we sometimes take for granted, but on which we’ve come to rely even more.  As neighbors we’ve been doing our part to help control the spread of the virus, while supporting one another, including our local businesses, in ways big and small.  These are very trying times indeed, but Bellaire is going to be just fine.

December 8, 2020

Celebrating the Holidays, 2020 Style

The holiday spirit is alive and well in Bellaire, but our celebrations will be quite a bit different this year.  The City’s special events team, along with our community partners, have been working hard to continue our annual traditions, albeit modified, and invite you to join in the festivities.  See below for some great holiday happenings around town.  From our family to yours, we wish each of you a happy, healthy and blessed holiday season, and remind you to please be safe if you’re planning your own small gatherings.

November 17, 2020

A Matter of Due Process

The erroneously permitted parking lot at 4300 Bellaire Boulevard, in the CenterPoint utility easement by the railroad tracks, will soon be removed.  The City Council, after public hearing and on the unanimous recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission, has itself unanimously rejected proposed zoning code amendments that would have retroactively allowed the parking lot to remain.  It took several months to get to this point, but that’s as it should be—the applicant, like any property owner, was legally entitled to due process, which included a stay of enforcement while its applications were pending.

November 10, 2020

Specific Use Permit Amendment for BHS Ballfields a Balancing Act

Of the 40 schools being replaced or repaired across the Houston Independent School District as part of its $1.89 billion 2012 bond program, Bellaire High School will be the last one completed.  That’s because the typical campus flip—building a new school on the adjacent athletic fields and then replacing them after the old school is torn down—which HISD has done often throughout unzoned Houston, was simply not an option.  The project stalled for several years, until finally in 2017 HISD presented a plan to relocate the baseball field to the site of the former Gordon Elementary/Mandarin Chinese school to make more room on the crowded BHS campus.  Following the public process, including a great deal of input from the surrounding neighbors and other stakeholders, the City Council granted a specific use permit to HISD to construct and operate a baseball facility at that location.

For the girls’ softball team, while a potential shared-use arrangement with the City at Feld Park was contemplated back at that time (but ultimately did not come to pass due to programming conflicts), HISD’s plans called for, and the specific use permit included, an overlapping softball diamond out in right field.  Since then, however, concerns have been raised whether this combined, single-field solution truly provided equal opportunity for the softball team as required by Title IX (and as the right thing to do).  HISD thus filed a new application last year, for its specific use permit to be amended to allow for the construction and operation of a separate softball facility in addition to the baseball facility previously approved.

November 4, 2020

Healing Our Divided Community

The sidewalks charter election was never really about sidewalks per se, but about the process by which sidewalk decisions are made.  More fundamentally, it was about the relationship between a self-governing people and its duly elected City Council (the 2018 City Council, to be precise), and, by implication, among the people themselves.  Whether you voted For or Against (or as some have reported you found it so confusing you’re not actually sure which way you voted), did anyone really win?  At what cost?

October 28, 2020

Have Fun This Halloween, and Be Safe

The City of Bellaire encourages you to have fun this Halloween!  While also keeping your family safe and doing your part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  As cases are again on the rise in Harris County and across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published guidelines for safe trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities.

If you do decide to pass out candy this year, consider placing a pumpkin at the end of your driveway and turn your lights on to welcome trick-or-treaters.  Please observe all the usual precautions including social distancing, masks, frequent handwashing and avoiding direct contact with others.  Those choosing not to participate might want to post a sign to that effect.  The Governor has ordered that all outdoor gatherings in excess of 10 people must be approved in advance (submit a request through the City Manager’s Office) and comply with applicable public health guidelines.

Bellaire’s annual Great Pumpkin Hunt is traditionally held in The Great Lawn at Bellaire Town Square, with hundreds of kids dashing and scrambling for candy and toys in a fun and safe environment.  Sadly we won’t be able to do that this year, but instead we’re proud to host the Boo Drive-Thru, tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 in the Rec Center parking lot, featuring decorative themed stations and goodie bags while supplies last, all from the comfort of your own back seat!  So put on your costumes and come join us for this family- and COVID-friendly special event.

Happy Halloween!

October 13, 2020

Estimating the Anticipated Fiscal Impacts of the Sidewalks Charter Propositions

Pursuant to state law, today the City has published the official Notice of Election on three resident-petitioned sidewalks charter propositions, including estimates of the anticipated fiscal impacts of each of the proposed amendments if approved by the voters.  Because it’s really not that simple—“standalone” sidewalks must be distinguished from those coupled with new street and drainage infrastructure, and there are a number of possible scenarios to consider for individual projects and locations—the Notice gives a range of anticipated fiscal impacts.  The City has therefore additionally published an accompanying Fiscal Impacts supplement discussing them in greater detail and attempting to address some of the unknowns.

October 5, 2020

Fact Check:  The Role of the City Engineer

With the Great Bellaire Sidewalks Debate raging once again ahead of the upcoming resident-petitioned charter election, a popular misconception previously put to bed has now resurfaced.  I’ve been hearing from a handful of residents expressing concern at what they’ve read on social media, about the role of the City Engineer.  Specifically, that his findings and advice cannot be trusted because of a supposed conflict of interest.  The problem with that claim is that it’s grounded on falsehood.  So let’s clear this up once and for all:

The City Engineer and his firm are not allowed to bid on, and do not provide engineering or other associated services to the City—other than as City Engineer.

September 22, 2020

Weathering Tropical Storm Beta

The Bellaire Emergency Operations Center is currently activated at Level I—Maximum Readiness, and is fully staffed with some personnel on-site and others working remotely due to COVID-19.  This activation will continue for at least the rest of today and into tonight, and for as long as Tropical Storm Beta poses a threat to our area.  The system is expected to clear out by this time tomorrow.

September 17, 2020

Automated License Plate Reader Pilot Project

Criminals beware.  The City of Bellaire will soon be installing automated license plate readers (ALPRs) along major thoroughfares to assist police in apprehending suspects and solving crimes.  Funded by the Bellaire Police and Fire Foundation as a pilot project, the system will be evaluated over an initial one-year period to determine whether it will be continued in future police department budgets.

August 31, 2020

Hurricane Laura Response Debriefing

To say we really dodged a bullet last week is a colossal understatement.  With 150 mph winds at landfall, Laura is tied for the fifth most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. since 1900, and is the strongest storm on record along its particular track in the Gulf of Mexico.  Our relief at having been spared from great devastation and destruction this time around is matched only by our compassion and support for our neighbors to the east, which was on display this past weekend with several local supply drives and other assistance efforts.

Though it ended up being a nonevent for us, the run-up to Laura was hardly much ado about nothing.  It was a very, very close call.  It was also an opportunity to demonstrate and evaluate our overall disaster preparedness.  The Bellaire emergency management team’s post-incident review gives us at least some idea of what’s involved in a response like this, and shows that we were indeed ready for any potential impacts.

August 24, 2020

Preparing for Tropical Storm Laura

Over the past several days the forecast models for Tropical Storm Laura have seemingly been all over the place, made even more unpredictable by the influence of Hurricane Marco (now downgraded back to a tropical storm).  Today the picture is a bit clearer, and while neither Laura’s path nor intensity are yet certain, experts are telling us we need to be prepared.  Based on what we know now we should anticipate at least moderate impacts, and potentially severe should the storm shift more in our direction and strengthen into a major hurricane, both very much still possibilities.

August 20, 2020

Safely Support Bellaire Restaurants by Dining Out, Outside

In time for (hopefully) cooler weather, Bellaire restaurants now have the option to convert some of their currently underutilized parking spaces to provide additional outdoor seating.  Largely modeled after the City of Houston’s More Space pilot program adopted earlier this month, Bellaire City Council has approved issuing temporary use permits to participating restaurants subject to certain minimum standards and safeguards.  Fees for the temporary permits will be waived.

The intent is to give our restaurants some much-needed relief from the prolonged economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, while allowing residents to begin dining out again, safely.  COVID-19 public health guidelines will apply the same in these expanded outdoor dining areas as they do inside.  There will also be specific requirements for the permitted spaces, such as seating layouts for social distancing, traffic plans, and physical barriers at the perimeter to keep cars separate from people.

Though we don’t know for how long restaurant occupancy restrictions will remain in effect, Council provided this temporary authorization until May 1 of next year.  That’s in recognition of the fact that even after the Governor lifts those restrictions many people still won’t feel completely safe in crowded dining rooms.  Plus, it gives restaurant owners added flexibility as they make their plans, including any upfront investments.

Bellaire residents have always valued and supported our local businesses, and this pandemic is no exception.  In fact, it’s now more important than ever that we do so.  We hope this initiative will help our restaurants in their economic recovery and make it easier for residents to Stay Loyal to Local, while also staying safe.

July 30, 2020

Working Smarter, Not Just Harder

Though we were unable to have our pre-budget planning retreat this year as we normally would, from the outset of the process the City Council expressed its expectations and defined some parameters for the development of a proposed budget.  That direction to staff was what you’d expect, particularly given current economic conditions:  No new taxes from existing properties, no reduction in services, and make that happen by continuing to find efficiencies and cost savings.  What staff have come back with not only meets but exceeds those criteria, by cutting taxes rather than simply keeping them flat.

July 24, 2020

Severe Weather During COVID-19

The City of Bellaire is actively monitoring Tropical Storm Hanna, which brings the potential for heavy rainfall and high winds starting later today and continuing through the weekend.  While the forecast track does appear to be shifting further to our south, we’re still expecting plenty of rain as we’ll be on the “dirty” side of the storm.  Street flooding is considered the most likely threat here in our area.

City crews have been busy making our usual severe weather preparations, such as inspecting and clearing out storm sewer inlets, and staging equipment and vehicles at strategic locations for ready deployment.  Emergency operations personnel have been participating in daily briefings and are on standby to activate the Emergency Operations Center if needed.

Importantly, we know we won’t get a free pass on COVID-19 should this turn out to be a significant weather event.  First responders will continue to take all appropriate precautions and will have on hand additional personal protective equipment for anyone who needs it.  Residents are encouraged to help each other out and to check in on their more vulnerable neighbors, while still practicing social distancing and observing the public health guidelines we’ve all by now gotten used to.

Please begin making your own preparations to protect your family and property if you haven’t already.  Solid waste and recycling are being picked up today as usual, but all other loose items should be secured so they don’t end up in the storm drains.  Visit our hurricane preparedness resource page for helpful information, sign up for the City’s Notify Me and PrepareBellaire e-mail and mass notification systems, and stay tuned to local media for the latest updates.

June 29, 2020

Upgraded Threat Level a Step Back for Non-Essential City Services

In response to an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases throughout our area, Judge Hidalgo and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have upgraded the current public threat level to Severe (Level 1).  Hospitals have been reported to be at full ICU base capacity, and the numbers of daily cases and hospitalizations are at their highest since the beginning of the pandemic.  Level 1 signifies a “severe and uncontrolled” outbreak, prompting the County to reurge its Stay Home, Work Safe guidelines in an effort to flatten the curve once again.  For his part Governor Abbott has announced a temporary pause in his strategic plan to reopen Texas, and has rolled back some of the activities he’d previously allowed to resume.  Because of this change in circumstances and in keeping with now more restrictive guidance, the City is reverting back to the suspension of certain non-essential services.

June 24, 2020

Transition at the Top as City Manager Accepts New Opportunity

Last night, the Bastrop City Council publicly announced their newly hired City Manager, Paul Hofmann.  By all accounts Bastrop is poised to take their city to the next level, with a clearly defined and well-supported vision for its continued growth and future direction.  They specifically sought out, and found in Paul, an experienced and capable administrator to help them implement their vision and make it a reality.  He’ll do great there, and we wish him and the City of Bastrop all the best.

June 8, 2020

Continuous Improvement and Best Practices in Police Use of Force

It’s not often I find myself at a loss for words.  Like so many of our fellow Americans, and people all around the world, as I’ve read the accounts and watched the footage of George Floyd’s final moments I’ve struggled to make sense of it.  How could the excessive and dangerous neck restraint have been allowed to go on for nearly nine minutes, and long past the point Floyd was even capable of resisting?  Knowing how the story ends, it’s particularly painful hearing Floyd’s voice as he begs for his life, handcuffed and motionless, pinned facedown on the ground.

What happened to George Floyd while in the custody of those entrusted and sworn to protect him—and all of us—must not be tolerated anywhere.  At the same time, the repugnant actions of the very few must not be allowed to diminish our respect and gratitude for law enforcement generally.  It behooves officers everywhere to learn from this and other incidents of excessive force, to embrace all efforts for continuous improvement, and to commit to open dialogue and to working together toward regaining the public’s trust.

June 5, 2020

In-Person Public Meetings to Resume, With Precautions

Our local approach from the outset of the COVID-19 crisis has been to follow as closely as possible state and federal public health guidelines, with a bias toward maintaining services where safe and responsible to do so.  As the situation has progressed, we have increasingly relied upon the executive orders of the Governor as he implements his strategic plan to reopen Texas.  On Wednesday he announced the start of Phase III, and his accompanying order is much different from previous orders and significantly expands permissible activity, though still subject to health protocols like social distancing.

We’ve been looking forward to returning to in-person City Council meetings, and following this latest order are now preparing do so beginning with our next Regular Session on June 15.  City boards and commissions may soon start meeting in person again as well.  Specific arrangements are still being worked out, but will include capacity limitations to ensure appropriate distancing, plexiglass separators at the dais, and perhaps the use of alternative venues such as the Civic Center for more space.  Everyone present will be asked to wear face coverings in common areas and to avoid close contact with others.

We recognize that some members and attendees may not yet feel comfortable coming to meetings in person, especially those at higher risk who are still strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.  For so long as the Governor's temporary Open Meetings Act suspension remains in effect, which allows us to give them the option, we will accommodate their continuing to participate remotely.  We’re still working out those details, as well, but what you can expect is a hybrid meeting of sorts with some in person and some by phone.

This public health emergency is by no means over, and Phase III is not an immediate return to business as usual.  It’s an initial step in that direction, and as restrictions have been relaxed somewhat we’re pleased to be able to make your local government more accessible again, with appropriate safeguards.  We thank you for your patience, and hope to see you in person soon.

June 3, 2020

2020 Hurricane Season is Upon Us

On top of everything else we have to worry about these days and with life already upended by the pandemic, this week marks the official start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.  Tropical Storm Cristobal, currently in the Bay of Campeche, could pose a threat to our region by the beginning of next week, which only heightens the importance of being ready.  Since we can’t have our annual community preparedness program in person, Bellaire’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Fire Chief Deacon Tittel, brings this year's presentation to you.

In his video message, Chief Tittel provides an overview of hurricane preparedness and what residents should be doing to protect their families and properties before, during and after a storm.  The City offers many resources to assist you and will communicate emergency information to the public in a variety of ways, including through the PrepareBellaire mass notification system.  Chief Tittel also describes the City’s own preparations, from clearing street gutters and drains to securing facilities and construction sites, and our continuous emergency management training.

Other informational videos on the City’s hurricane preparedness resource page include a tour of the Bellaire Emergency Operations Center and an introduction to the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) for individuals who may require special assistance in the event of an emergency.

Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30.  The time to prepare is now.

May 15, 2020

Anticipating the Fiscal Impact of COVID-19

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy, made all the worse locally by a sharp decline in oil prices, there’s no doubt our city finances will take a hit.  How much of a hit we can’t yet say—we don’t know any more than anyone else does how this will all end.  We are, however, paying close attention to our numbers and actively planning for the worst, so we’ll be prepared whatever the eventual outcome.

May 1, 2020

City Begins Cautious Return to (New) Normal

Guided by the Governor’s strategic plan and Report to Open Texas, the City of Bellaire is gradually reopening city facilities and resuming suspended services, starting today.

Tennis courts, athletic fields, batting cages and park restrooms are now open.  Playgrounds, swimming pools, the Rec Center and Officer Lucy Dog Park remain closed, however.  Social distancing should still be observed in all open spaces, and pursuant to the Governor’s order outdoor sports must be non-contact and are limited to no more than four participants at a time.

April 20, 2020

City Sightings Public Safety Parade This Week

To them, it’s about thanking all of us for doing our part, by staying home and practicing social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus and help flatten the curve.  For us, it’s an opportunity to show our support and appreciation for their service and for going above and beyond throughout this challenging time.  And, right about now we could all use a little fun and community spirit.

Inspired by suggestions from some of our residents, this week’s City Sightings public safety parade is modeled after our annual Santa Sightings on the fire truck in December.  City vehicles from Fire, Police and Public Works will visit a different neighborhood each day this week, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Be sure to keep an eye out for them and wave hello when they pass by!

April 8, 2020

COVID-19 Emergency Response Update

In Monday night’s telephonic City Council meeting, the City Manager presented to Council and the public the latest update on our ongoing response to COVID-19.  He highlighted the good work being done by the employees from various departments who fill particular roles in our emergency management structure, which are often different from their usual responsibilities.  Though COVID-19 is unique in a lot of ways, our experience in past emergencies is certainly helping us in this one.  I encourage you to listen to the complete recording of the presentation to learn more.

The City’s priorities in the response are focused on communication, keeping employees and the public safe, staying informed of decisions being made by others that impact us, and being prepared for an uncertain future.

April 2, 2020

Coming Together as a Community (While Staying Apart)

This temporary “new normal,” in which not only the adults are working from home but the kids are, too, is positively surreal.  We never imagined, for example, having to remind our young children of their scheduled videoconferences throughout the workday.  For a bit of exercise and fresh air, and to keep from climbing the walls, we’re getting outside more often as a family for walks around the neighborhood.  We’ve enjoyed running into many of you out on the street (but at a safe distance), reconnecting with friends and making new ones.  It’s obvious from those conversations that we’re all in this together, and also how much we value our togetherness as a community.

March 30, 2020

Sidewalks Charter Election Postponed to Nov. 3

As you’ve probably heard by now, the sidewalks charter election previously called for May 2 has been postponed to the next uniform election date, November 3, on account of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.  In Council’s deliberations during its telephonic Special Session last week, a unanimous vote to postpone the election was never in doubt.

Instead, the discussion centered on a proposed “moratorium on any further sidewalk construction on residential blocks until after the election.”  Following constructive debate, by a narrow 4-3 vote Council decided against the moratorium, in favor of maintaining the status quo for the time being.  I have since received a few questions suggesting there may be some confusion—and outright misinformation—out there, about what the status quo actually is, and so I take this opportunity to clear things up.

March 26, 2020

Maintaining Continuity of City Services Through COVID-19

Life these days is anything but ordinary—yes, I know, understatement of the year—but our dedicated city staff are doing all they can to keep things running smoothly.  Garbage and recycling are still being picked up, clean water continues to flow, and first responders keep responding.  Maintaining these basic city services, on which we rely daily and that we typically take for granted, helps make at least those aspects of life feel as ordinary as possible in this extraordinary time.

The manner in which we’re providing services is obviously not business as usual, however, with necessary modifications following CDC, state and federal guidelines to protect the public health and welfare, and that of the city workforce.  Even the emergency response itself is impacted, as our Emergency Operations Center is hardened against threats like severe weather, but viruses not so much; essential response personnel are meeting elsewhere when required, to ensure appropriate distancing.  Our public facilities are closed, but for those services and programming that don’t necessarily have to be delivered in person, we’re adapting and finding new ways to stay in touch with you.  For example, Library staff are working on bringing our ever-popular Story Times online for young families to enjoy remotely.

With all of these changes our staff have even had a little fun this week, recording videos to showcase what their departments are working on and how they’re continuing to serve you, and to introduce some of the people who make it happen.  These videos are being posted to our COVID-19 resource page on the City website and will be updated as new content is created.  We invite you to take a look, and welcome your questions and feedback.

Given all they do for us day in and day out and their demonstrated commitment to public service, it’s no surprise our city staff are once again rising to challenge.  I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this team and grateful to each and every one of its members.  It’s in times like these we’re reminded that the quality and responsiveness of our city services, and the people who provide them, are among the things that really make Bellaire special.

March 20, 2020

Telephonic Special Session of City Council, Monday at 6:00 p.m.

There have been a lot of firsts brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Add to that list our first telephonic City Council meeting.  This past Monday (but announced after my last post discussing our upcoming Council meeting schedule) Governor Abbott temporarily suspended certain provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act in order to allow governmental bodies to meet telephonically or by videoconference in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that bring together large groups of people.  All such meetings will still be open to the public.

This coming Monday’s Special Session, which will be conducted telephonically, has been called for two purposes:  to ask the City Council to (1) extend beyond seven days our local public health disaster declaration, and (2) postpone the sidewalks charter election from May to November.

March 16, 2020

City Council Meetings Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

As we practice social distancing and avoid public gatherings to limit the spread of the coronavirus, some of you have been asking about Bellaire City Council meetings.  Tonight’s meeting is still on, but the schedule for upcoming meetings could be impacted.

While Council meetings are always open to the public, and public attendance and participation are encouraged, those who prefer to observe remotely may do so by tuning in to our live broadcast online or on local government access channels (Comcast 16, U-verse 99).  Public comment may be submitted to the City Council in writing, rather than in person, in care of the City Clerk.  I trust it goes without saying that anyone experiencing symptoms or who feels they may have been exposed are urged to stay home and avoid contact with others.

Our Charter provides that the City Council shall meet “not less frequently than twice each month.”  Regular Sessions are held on the first and third Mondays of each month (except when there is a legal holiday, in which case the meeting is moved to the following Monday).  Absent a formal disaster declaration, the City Council will continue to meet on its regular schedule.  As this month happens to be a five-Monday month, we’ll have three weeks between tonight’s meeting and the next to continue to monitor and see how things develop before making any decisions with respect to the upcoming Council meeting schedule.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these challenges, with the public health and well-being at the forefront of our decision making.

March 12, 2020

Local Coronavirus Preparations

Bellaire emergency management officials have been closely monitoring and preparing for potential local impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  While the City is not under a public health disaster declaration at this time, we have developed an incident action plan in coordination with other area agencies to ensure our readiness.  Our team is in close communication and participates in daily briefings with Harris County Public Health, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recent news of a presumptive positive case in Montgomery County that was not travel related has led to heightened precautions throughout the Houston area.  As a result, many local events have been postponed or canceled.  Here in Bellaire these include the Touch A Truck event that was scheduled to take place at Evelyn’s Park this Saturday, the Patrons for Bellaire Parks’ Wine and Tapas fundraiser on March 28 (you’ll still be able to support our parks through an online auction instead), Party at the Pavilion on April 3, and the Bellaire Trolley Run on April 4.  Decisions have not yet been made concerning other upcoming events as we continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation.

Employees in all departments are making arrangements to avoid or minimize as much as possible any disruptions to city services.  We’re planning for the contingency that some of our workforce could be affected, whether directly, or indirectly such as those with childcare responsibilities in the event schools are closed.  Maintaining uninterrupted Police, Fire, Public Works and other essential services will remain our top priority.

Our foremost concern is to protect the health and welfare of the community.  All residents are urged to do their part in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 by familiarizing themselves with and following CDC recommendations.  Please stay informed through local news outlets and check the City website frequently for updates as they are available.

March 11, 2020

Contemplating Continued Progress on Streets and Drainage

By the early 1980s, Bellaire’s original, post-war era infrastructure was reaching the end of its useful life and in serious need of attention.  At that time and in the years that followed, the City undertook individual maintenance and rehabilitation projects as annual budgets would allow, but the available cash on hand was nowhere near enough to keep up with the demand.  Having allowed conditions to deteriorate to that point, without having set aside any funds along the way, by the year 2000 it had become clear that continuing the pay-as-you-go approach was simply no longer an option.

The Bellaire Millennium Renewal bond program was the first comprehensive package of citywide infrastructure improvements and was approved overwhelmingly by the voters to begin tackling our most critical needs.  Through the successor 2005 Rebuild Bellaire and 2016 Better Bellaire bond programs we’ve continued that work, including the systematic replacement of streets and drainage systems in order of relative priority.  Our progress has been steady, but at only about a third complete we still have a long way to go.  Assuming we remain committed and intend to stay on course, it’s time to identify and begin planning for the next round of projects.

February 17, 2020

Sidewalks Charter Election Called for May 2

The latest battles of Bellaire’s decades-long sidewalks wars were fought in the fall of 2018, and in response to overwhelming public input spanning multiple hours over multiple meetings, the City Council completely canceled all plans for standalone sidewalks.  Through the public process those battles were thus brought to conclusion, but the issue was revived a few months later by resident petitions for three charter amendments that would remove the question of sidewalks from the public process.  The requisite constitutional waiting period having now passed, and pursuant to the state election law calendar, last week the City Council formally ordered a special election to be held on Saturday, May 2.

January 14, 2020

When the Unthinkable Happens Here

We're all shocked and devastated by this afternoon’s senseless tragedy at Bellaire High School.  Our hearts are foremost with the victim and his family, and we stand together in solidarity with the entire BHS community in mourning this horrific loss.  The City of Bellaire is working with and will continue to provide our support to school administration and HISD, now and in the days to come.

School shootings take place with such alarming frequency, it’s easy to become desensitized and lulled into complacency.  We see it on TV, and while we know it can happen anywhere, it’s not supposed to happen here.  Yet today it has.

As a parent, I’m positively stricken having to explain to my young children the events of today, and the harsh realities of the world in which they live.  I’m shaken to my very core, seeing their innocence abruptly taken from them.  I honestly don’t know how to answer all their questions, or to give them the reassurance they need when I’m not always so sure myself.  I can’t help but hold them a little tighter.

As a neighbor, I’m in stunned disbelief that this has happened right here, that one of our own kids won’t be coming home tonight.  I feel an overwhelming sadness for all the students and their families, for whom everything has forever changed.  School is supposed to be a safe place, but our very basic sense of security now gives way to worry.  We owe it to our children to find some way to restore it.

In times of crisis we've shown what it means to be a community.  We’re here for each other, and will move forward together through this difficult time.  We’re thankful for our first responders and for all they’ve done today, and will continue to hold near and pray for the victim and his family.

January 7, 2020

Working Together in Moving Bellaire Forward

The start of every new Council term, like the beginning of the New Year with which it coincides, is a time for both reflection on the past—what has been working well, and less so—and looking forward.  It’s a time of optimism, with the promise of good things to come, and inspiration, with renewed energy to tackle whatever challenges may lay ahead.  This year it’s especially so.

That this new Council is more visibly reflective of the diversity of opinion throughout the community can only be a good thing.  For everyone to feel they have a seat at the table provides a tremendous opportunity—for all of Bellaire—to work together, rather than against each other.