Following Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston has proposed changes to their Floodplain Regulation Ordinance. In January, the Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock and Chief Resiliency Officer Steve Costello invited a small group of industry stakeholders, including the GHBA, to a meeting to distribute those changes and solicit feedback. Chief among those proposed changes was proposing to raise the finished floor to the 0.2 percent chance flood elevation (500 year) plus 24 inches.
Floating this major change without substantial explanation or supporting data caused obvious concern. However, the GHBA has been and will continue to be at the table as this process moves forward. We were asked to submit comments on the original draft and some of our concerns have already been addressed favorably. We have been in contact voicing our issues with both Director Haddock and Mr. Costello and have a scheduled follow up stakeholder meeting later this week.
Also this week, on February 12, a general presentation of the City’s current proposed changes was made to a joint council committee hearing.
The GHBA and our stakeholder partners were there to offer testimony during the public comment period. Our concerns were well received by council members, who overwhelmingly had issues, questions and concerns of their own. There was major pushback against the timeline and transparency of this process, but there is still a long way to go.
With Harvey and the catastrophic flood events of 2015 and 2016, we realize that there is a need for change in how the City regulates development in certain areas and the industry wants to be a responsible community partner. That said, any proposed revisions that would result in sweeping changes and a departure from the way that our business is conducted need to be fully vetted and the unintended consequences need to be understood. The GHBA will continue to work with the City moving forward in an effort to achieve an equitable solution for the citizens of Houston and the development industry.
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