December 28, 2023

Ready for Another Busy Year Ahead

The city organization is in a really good place right now.  We’ve filled a ton of vacancies over the past year, which has allowed our departments to thrive rather than just survive.  Among recent new hires is an Assistant City Manager, who as a licensed PE will also serve as in-house City Engineer.  For the City Manager, being all set with her team is huge as she’ll finally have some breathing room to focus on the big-picture strategy that’s central to her job description.  As we welcome a new Mayor and Council at the start of 2024, city staff have already turned the page and are eager to get after it and tackle the work at hand.

December 21, 2023

New Standards for New Lighting

As challenging as it was coming up with our noise ordinance a few months back, the companion subject of lighting proved even more difficult.  It’s a bit of a different animal in that offensive noise is generally an occurrence, whereas light trespass is continuous until corrected.  One is more behavioral in nature, the other physical.  Also, while it is still Council’s intention to see how things go and later make adjustments as needed, that approach doesn’t work as well with lighting as it does with noise.  For now, we’ve adopted new lighting standards on a prospective basis only, as we have yet to figure out how to address existing light sources without imposing undue burden on their owners.

December 11, 2023

Relocating METRO’s Bellaire Transit Center

It’s a question I’ve been asked from time to time, and more often of late since it was brought up on the campaign trail and got people talking.  Now that we’re through election season, a blog post on the subject is in order.

The City of Bellaire does not have authority to relocate the Bellaire Transit Center; if METRO is going to do so, it’ll be because it makes sense for METRO.

That we may feel it no longer benefits us isn’t what’s going to move the needle.  Rather, it’s that it would work better—for METRO—if it were situated further west.

Many in Bellaire will be glad to know METRO gets that, too.  While plans could still change and there are no guarantees or commitments as to timing, the future of the transit center indeed looks to be headed in that direction.

November 30, 2023

Elevating Our Drainage Standards and Flood Damage Prevention Regulations

There are three aspects to our flood mitigation efforts:  local, regulatory and regional.  While, as the name implies, our ongoing Regional Drainage Improvement Program fits squarely within that third category, one of the deliverables in the first phase scope of work is very much regulatory in nature.  Over the past several months the Program engineering team has assisted staff and our citizen Building and Standards Commission in proposing revisions to our drainage design and flood damage prevention regulations, which have now been adopted by Council.

It was, candidly, a tedious and highly technical (some would say boring) deliberation, which made it easy to lose sight of what these amendments are all about.  The major takeaways are that (1) based on best available science (i.e., the most updated floodplain maps), new homes will generally have to be built one foot higher than the minimum required currently; and (2) we’ve now formally incorporated the commercial drainage standards, borrowed from the City of Houston, that we’ve historically utilized but not previously codified, to go along with our existing residential drainage standards.

November 13, 2023

Euthanasia Policy, Dog Pound Update

Our city departments work hard, day in and day out, to deliver the high quality of services residents and stakeholders expect.  They are committed to doing so with transparency, and often in close partnership with the community when appropriate.  Which is why it can be so frustrating that they frequently find themselves having to battle misinformation and dispel rumors, time that could be better spent providing services.

The latest example comes in the form of online postings falsely claiming there’s a new policy under which more dogs would be euthanized at the Bellaire Pound.  It’s a scare tactic, plain and simple, employed by some dog advocates to elicit an emotional response and sense of urgency for fosters and adoptions.  Sure, we all like seeing dogs rescued from the pound, but this isn’t the way to go about it.

October 11, 2023

In Solidarity With Israel

Hagit Bibi Photography
I was proud to represent Bellaire, along with Mayor Pro Tem Frazier, at the Houston Community Gathering in Solidarity with Israel a few nights ago.  I was proud to see so many of our Bellaire neighbors in attendance as well.  I was proud to hear Mayor Turner speak on behalf of the City of Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the nation, taking an unequivocal stand in condemning the unspeakable atrocities being perpetrated against innocent civilians and calling out evil for what it is.

Regardless of one’s political views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terrorism and mass murder are wholly indefensible and all of us, as members of a civilized society, have a moral obligation to denounce such heinous acts.

The event, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, drew more than 2,100 people of all faiths, races and backgrounds, with several hundred more participating by livestream.  Dozens of community leaders and elected officials from both political parties were there.  And it was just one of many such gatherings taking place across the country and around the world.  As dark as these days have been, witnessing diverse groups of people coming together to support one another, united by our shared humanity, has provided a bit of light.

Video of the event is available for replay online.  For those who are moved to contribute, a local emergency fund has been established to accept donations that will directly benefit victims and their families.

September 22, 2023

A Smooth Budget for FY 2024

The development and adoption of the fiscal year 2024 budget was described by more than one participant as “one of the smoothest budget processes in recent memory.”  Between the push and pull of Council’s direction to hold the nominal tax rate flat and ongoing inflationary pressure, the budget was largely already spoken for before it even began.  Just to maintain existing service levels within those constraints left relatively little else to talk about.

September 18, 2023

Council Pilots New Noise Ordinance

In furtherance of our strategic emphasis on Quality of Life, Council labored through multiple hours-long workshops and a town hall meeting trying to figure out how to better regulate noise in the City.  Just as the Planning and Zoning Commission and staff wrestled with it in developing their recommendations.  It’s a notoriously difficult subject to legislate, and even after all the effort we put into it we probably still didn’t get it exactly right.  As such, our newly adopted noise ordinance will be implemented as a pilot of sorts, with the express understanding—if not expectation—that we're likely going to have to go back later and make some adjustments.

September 1, 2023

Bellaire Foodie Fest

The Bellaire food scene is hoppin’ with exciting new restaurants as well as longtime favorites.  Come celebrate and discover what they have to offer at the 2023 Bellaire Foodie Fest, presented by the Bellaire Business Association and H-E-B.

Sample a variety of food, wine and beer, enjoy live entertainment and cooking demonstrations, and have fun visiting with friends and neighbors at what has become a quite popular annual event.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Bellaire Police and Fire Foundation.

These local businesses serve our community in more ways than one.  They contribute greatly to our quality of life and have played a key role in promoting the revitalization of our commercial areas, a major focus of our Comprehensive Plan and a consistent theme we’ve heard from residents in our ongoing Plan ReviewThe BBA encourages everyone to Stay Loyal to Local, for the mutual economic benefits derived from keeping more of our spending right here at home.  The Bellaire Foodie Fest is a wonderful way to showcase and support our area restaurateurs.

Food!  Wine!  Beer!  Fun!  Come on out for a delicious evening September 30, 5:00-8:00 p.m., at the Civic Center.  For tickets and information, including sponsorship opportunities, visit

August 23, 2023

Public Works Moving to New Temporary Space

Unlike other city facilities, the Public Works administration building generally isn’t public facing.  So understandably it doesn’t always get the most attention; out of sight, out of mind.  But that doesn’t make it any less essential to providing the critical infrastructure and services we all depend on, and which are fundamental to our health and wellbeing:  clean drinking water, wastewater treatment, solid waste collection, streets and drainage.  We’re currently in the process of moving the Public Works department into a leased commercial office, on South Rice just outside the City, because they are in desperate need of functional space as we finally get underway with planning for a new facility.

August 8, 2023

Special Election to Authorize Sale of Ruffino Hills Landfill Property

It’s an election year in Bellaire, and in addition to the usual races for Mayor and Council voters will also be asked to authorize the sale of property outside the City previously dedicated as park land.  We’ve been looking to sell it for many years and at last the time is right.  While we don’t yet have a deal, it makes sense to go ahead and put it on the ballot now because it won’t cost us anything extra to conduct a special election in conjunction with the general election we’re already paying for.

Ruffino Hills is located along Keegan’s Bayou, out near 59 and the Beltway in Southwest Houston.  Originally the site of a municipal landfill for the cities of Bellaire and West University Place, after the landfill was closed in the 1980s the property was developed as a golf course that operated through the 90s and early 2000s.  The two cities continued to own it in roughly equal portions, until last December when West U. sold its half for $10.5 million to the City of Houston to be used for regional storm water detention in the Keegan’s watershed.

Bellaire is in talks with Houston to do the same, and is also considering interest from private developers.  Unlike West U.’s side of the property, however, Bellaire’s was dedicated as park land when the golf course was going in.  As such, under state law our voters must first approve a sale:


__________ FOR
__________ AGAINST
We hope all who are eligible will take the time to carefully study this issue—and, of course, the candidates for Mayor and Council—and exercise your right to vote!  Be sure to register by October 10 if you haven’t already.  Early voting will run from October 23 through November 3, and Election Day is November 7.

August 1, 2023

#OneBellaire Mobile App Available for Download

Keep up with the latest City of Bellaire news and information, and access helpful resources anytime, anywhere, from the convenience of your mobile device.  The #OneBellaire app is your new digital hub for:

  • Community events calendar and public meeting announcements
  • Important alerts and updates
  • Information about city services, such as holiday trash and recycling schedules
  • Online bill pay
  • and so much more!

Set it up for push notifications to receive new content automatically in the categories you choose.  This feature does not replace our PrepareBellaire emergency alert system, which is geotargeted for incidents that affect your specific location, but is a great way to get general information through Notify Me.

The #OneBellaire app is our primary, centralized app.  From within #OneBellaire you can easily access the SeeClickFix app previously released by tapping “Report a Concern,” or you can continue to use it separately if you prefer.  Still under development is another new app, Bellaire Collects, which is all about solid waste services, including a waste wizard that will assist users in understanding what materials can and cannot be put out for recycling.  Once ready it will likewise be integrated into #OneBellaire and also function as a standalone app.

We’re excited to bring you this communication enhancement, and hope you will find it a useful tool for staying connected and engaged with the City.  Please reach out with your feedback, or if you have any questions or need assistance with the app.

Download the #OneBellaire app today!


July 19, 2023

Council Says “Not Yes” to Methodist Hospital Development

Monday night’s long-awaited deliberation and vote (or non-vote as it turned out) on the Methodist Hospital planned development application was unusual to say the least.  These are typically straightforward proceedings resulting in an up or down vote, often with conditions attached when a project is approved.  This one didn’t go that way.  As individual Council members stated their positions it was clear the proposal wouldn’t get enough votes to pass, but at the same time some members presented substantial modifications or even alternative designs they would vote for if the details could be worked out with the applicant.

Given those members’ interest in exploring such other possibilities, Council was reluctant to simply vote down the proposal in its entirety.  Both because we hope Methodist will continue to engage with us, and also to avoid potentially running afoul of a rule that would impose a two-year waiting period before any reconsideration.  But neither could we redesign the project on the fly from the dais, much less without input from the applicant or the public.

All of which led to a decidedly procedural, and decidedly unsatisfying outcome:  a motion to postpone the matter indefinitely as a means of avoiding voting against it.  In other words, “not yes” rather than “no.”

July 17, 2023

Council Looking To Discontinue Garbage Bag Distribution

For as long as anyone can remember (historical documentation points to 1971), the City has distributed rolls of garbage bags to every residence a few times a year.  The rationale for this program is to facilitate compliance with a provision of our Solid Waste Code requiring plastic bags be of a certain minimum thickness to prevent leaks.  These are thicker than your typical grocery store bag, and because the City buys them in bulk we can get them cheaper than if residents had to go out and buy them on their own.  The cost is passed on through the solid waste rate on our monthly utility bills.

However, the traditional reasoning behind the program no longer holds up.  Whatever may have been the case decades ago, today’s grocery store bags are stronger than they used to be, even if still thinner.  Many Bellaire households don’t use the City-supplied bags at all, and Public Works doesn’t enforce the thickness requirement, because it simply hasn’t been an issue.

July 12, 2023

Problem Solved:  Not One Dog Pound but Two

Turns out, the answer that’s eluded us for so long has been right under our noses this whole time.  From the start we’d all assumed our existing dog pound, flood prone and past its prime, would no longer be part of the picture.  But as it proved immensely challenging to identify a suitable site elsewhere on which to construct a new facility, staff revisited that earlier assumption and realized the old facility held the key.

July 7, 2023

Survey on Bellaire’s Future

Is Bellaire headed in the right direction, attracting the kind of developments and redevelopments that enhance your everyday quality of life?  Or are there aspects of our zoning regulations we need to revisit and update to better fulfill your vision for the Bellaire of today and tomorrow?

The Comprehensive Plan is our foundational, long-term policy statement of who we are and who we want to be, and is what will guide both public and private investments that will shape the City’s physical redevelopment and community character for decades to come.  As such, it’s critical we review the Plan from time to time, and in doing so cast a wide net to capture as many perspectives as possible.  Our current Comprehensive Plan Review is well underway, and as part of that process residents and other stakeholders are invited to participate in an online Survey on Bellaire’s Future, now through July 28.

This format allows for personal, candid input in ways in-person listening sessions might not, and is accessible to fill out at your convenience.  We recognize the survey is not the be-all and end-all, and it isn’t intended to be.  But it is a useful tool to secure feedback from those we might not otherwise reach, and is timed so as to inform a deeper, ongoing public discussion of the key issues that emerge as the Review progresses.

Also, some additional engagement opportunities have been announced for next week:

  • Wednesday, July 12:  Residential Engagement Opportunity at Bellaire High School, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (parking available at S. Rice and Maple)

  • Thursday, July 13 (rescheduled from June 15 due to extreme heat advisory):  Walk-up Tables inside the Bellaire City Library, 2:00-4:00 p.m., and outside at Evelyn’s Park, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

And, of course, there will be more such events to come.  Keep an eye on the Comprehensive Plan Review page on the City website for future announcements.

We thank you for your participation in this important project, which will help ensure the final product is truly representative of all viewpoints in defining Bellaire’s future.

June 9, 2023

Revised Dumpster Ordinance Now in Effect

Anyone who’s ever heard a dumpster being serviced knows how loud and disruptive it can be.  Now, imagine being jarred awake in the dead of night by a dumpster being banged against the ground just beyond the fence outside your bedroom window.  For an unlucky few, whose homes back up to commercial or institutional properties, this has been happening more often of late, and presents a serious quality-of-life issue.  And it has highlighted the need to revisit our dumpster ordinance, which hasn’t been updated in over 30 years.

May 19, 2023

Upcoming Public Input and Engagement Opportunities

Lots going on in Bellaire over the next couple of months, including a number of public input and engagement opportunities.  Your participation in these meetings will help shape the future of our city and we want to hear from you!  Please make plans to attend as many as you can, and be on the lookout for further announcements later in the year.

Comprehensive Plan Review

Tuesday and Wednesday, May 23 and 24, the Comprehensive Plan Review kicks off with the first of several listening sessions.  While open to all stakeholders, next week’s are scheduled in the morning with the goal of reaching local businesses and community partners early in the process; there will be future sessions in the evening.  Sign up to attend here (business stakeholders) or here (community partners and residents).

May 16, 2023

FY 2024-26 Strategic Plan

Though often overlooked and underappreciated, strategic planning is a big part of what we do.  Indeed, it’s at the very heart of our role under the council-manager form of government.  Council sets the big-picture policy direction, which the City Manager and staff then execute in their daily work.

Council’s adoption of a fiscal year 2024-26 Strategic Plan represents a next-level enhancement to our existing strategic planning model.  It adds a new layer of granularity, with goal statements to further articulate Council’s Strategic Focus Areas and strategies for an organized approach to their implementation.  Most significant, it lays out a list of specific tasks that staff came up with, and Council approved, as a menu of sorts to choose from over a rolling three-year period.

It is not a guarantee that each of these tasks will actually be realized—funding must still be allocated in annual budgets and future spending decisions made by Council.  Nor is the list necessarily exclusive.  It can and will change over time as needs and circumstances arise.

April 3, 2023

Regional Drainage Improvement Program Website, Task Force Meeting Apr. 11

Through the first quarter of the year, the several tasks laid out in Work Order #1 of our Regional Drainage Improvement Program are all progressing right on schedule.  In their latest monthly update the engineering team presented the current status of each, emphasizing much of their recent focus has been on building partnerships and pursuing external funding sources.  They’re also putting the finishing touches on recommended refinements to our Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, which will soon be ready to go to the Building and Standards Commission.

On the public engagement front, the project website is now live at, and will be updated periodically with new information and developments.

The consultants have also scheduled their first meeting with our Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force for next Tuesday, April 11, at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center.  Expect some technical discussion and opportunities for Task Force members and the public to provide feedback on progress to date and next steps.

Questions and comments on the Regional Drainage Improvement Program are always welcome, by e-mail to

March 9, 2023

Putting Policy Into Action

Strategic planning is an ongoing process, as city staff constantly look to Council’s policy direction to guide their day-to-day activities.  It also benefits Council’s own decision making by providing structure and promoting consistency, serving as the essential link between individual decisions and our identified, broader objectives.

This year, the City Manager moved up on the schedule the professionally facilitated planning sessions typically associated with the start of budget season.  Her purpose:  for Council to build upon and flesh out the Strategic Focus Areas we adopted last year, and to develop specific goals, strategies and tasks that will help staff put Council’s policy direction into action.

February 7, 2023

Forward Progress

This year’s State of the City celebrates the team of dedicated professionals who day in and day out provide the high-quality services and amenities we depend upon, and which are at the very core of why we choose to call Bellaire home.  In reviewing their recent accomplishments, what really stands out is how city staff have managed to overcome persistent staffing shortages and leadership changes in maintaining our “Forward Progress.”  That’s the theme of my presentation, and it represents both their significant achievements and the promise of even more good things to come.  It’s my pleasure to share with you the highlights of the past year for each of our city departments, and a preview of what we can expect for 2023.

February 3, 2023

Verification Report for Restoration of CRS Rating, Flood Insurance Discount

More good news!  Following the recent cycle visit that FEMA required for our application for a two-class modification, the Insurance Services Office has tallied the results and determined we’ve met all prerequisites to be restored to our prior Community Rating System classification of 7.  Once ISO’s verification report is accepted by FEMA, we’ll be getting back our flood insurance discount—15% across the board—and we’re told it should go into effect this October 1.

That we were able to gain reentry into the CRS program within just one cycle (Class 9, last April), and then to qualify for this reclass (to a 7) so soon thereafter, is truly unprecedented.  It is the direct result of untold hours of hard work put in by our Building Official and Interim Assistant Director, Christian Somers, and his team including our consultants at Tetra Tech.  We’re talking about a very detailed and time-intensive process, and the significance of their accomplishment cannot be overstated.

As noted above the flood insurance discount associated with Class 7 is 15% for all policyholders.  Previously that’s what it was in Zone AE, covering the vast majority of Bellaire, but it was only 5% in Zone X, outside the special flood hazard area.  Under Risk Rating 2.0, which is completely independent of our (or any community’s) CRS classification, there’s no longer that distinction.  However, each property is now priced based on its own unique risk, and so individual results, even within the same flood zone, may vary.

The swift restoration of our CRS status brings to a close what has been an unfortunate chapter for our city.  Of course it doesn’t excuse the mistakes of the past, but at least they’ve been rectified at the earliest possible opportunity.  Christian and his team are to be commended for taking ownership of this problem they’d inherited, and for their tireless efforts in getting it resolved.

January 13, 2023

Another $3.3 Million in Grant Funding Coming Our Way

A great way to start the new year, we’ve recently been informed that several of our federal and state grant applications have been approved.

With sincere appreciation to Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher for once again going to bat for us, Bellaire secured $3 million in the latest round of federal appropriations:

Accessible and Inclusive Playground

$600,000 of that funding is to build an accessible and inclusive playground at Evergreen Park.  It will offer a range of play experiences for children of varying abilities and diverse needs, such as by utilizing wider, ramped platforms and structures designed to accommodate wheelchairs.  It will also incorporate sensory play elements involving touch and music, as well as interactive educational features.  Our non-profit partner Patrons for Bellaire Parks believes so much in the importance of this project it has pledged another $160,000 toward any local match (bringing to more than $2.1 million Patrons’ total contributions to date in support of Bellaire parks).

January 10, 2023

Regulatory Reporting Oversight Triggers Mandatory Public Notice

At last night’s City Council meeting, the City Manager informed Council and the public of the disappointing news that the City has been issued a pro forma Notice of Violation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), for Failure to Submit a Disinfectant Level Quarterly Operating Report.  This was solely a paperwork violation, which the City corrected immediately upon receiving the Notice.  Be assured there was never any threat to the safety of our water supply, a point that’s easily lost in the mandatory language (which I’ve cut-and-pasted below) of the written public notice TCEQ now requires be sent out to Bellaire water customers.  I offer the following, to let you know that it’s coming and to help put it in perspective.