Takeaways from April 16th City Council Meeting

Substandard and Abandoned Houses

Substandard and abandoned houses were an early topic of last Monday’s regular Council meeting. After numerous complaints from residents on Nextdoor and articles in the Southwest News about abandoned houses the City Manager provided a PowerPoint presentation on the subject. 

If a structure is vacant but secured, the yard maintained and the premises kept clear of debris, no City codes are being violated.

If a yard is not maintained or is full of debris and may tend to produce unwholesome or unhealthy conditions (standing water, carrion) it can be declared a nuisance under Article II Section 22-45

However if the structure is unsafe (roof or walls collapsing, for instance), or left unsecured, doors or windows left open or missing, or poses any other hazardous condition, per Article III Section  9-77_Code of Ordinances-Housing the City can declare an emergency situation and refer the property to the Building and Standards Commission.

Abandoned properties are a code enforcement issue. To report a problem contact Linda Barbour, our Code Compliance Officer, at lbarbour@bellairetx.gov .  Since the Harvey floods last August three citations have been issued.  At this time no cases have been referred to Building and Standards.  Find the City’s report on this subject here: https://www.bellairetx.gov/list.aspx?MID=3452

Questions About the Spruce Street Project and HEB

Circled items 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the 5200 Spruce St drawing show existing parking spaces crossed out, lost to the businesses.

A member of Council asked the City Manager if the City had received any response other than opposition to the Spruce Street project. The City Manager replied that response was consistent with what they had heard from business owners at the earlier meeting, that 100% of the business owners had been contacted and most expressed concerns about what is happening with the right of way.  He added that businesses have become used to using the right of way.

Just as his staff had recently informed the business owners, some of whom have been in their locations for 25 year or more,  the City Manager stated he would not change the plan. If Council is unhappy with it then Council can change it.

He stated that angled parking like this has not been done before and would not impact a business owner’s ability to use what’s not in the right of way, and insisted the new design would double the number of parking spaces on the right of way.  There was no explanation of why public spaces are needed since there are no small retail shops on Spruce and the existing businesses already have spaces for their customers and employees.

According to the drawings some of the spaces, not located in the right of way, will be totally blocked and become useless space, while customers and employees will be forced to park in public spaces. If no convenient public space is available they will have even more difficulty visiting the business. Parking spaces of at least three businesses along Fifth St will be eliminated.  Why? How will the changes affect the value of the businesses and the properties?

My take is that a few businesses have always had the use of the right of way along Fifth for parking, and Jax has had parking spaces on Spruce since the mid-90s, but all other businesses have parking spaces on their land.

The proposed design of the 5 -foot sidewalk plus angled parking will clearly hinder or block access to most of the parking spaces located on private property on the north side of Spruce. See Costello overlays.  Circled items 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the 5200 Spruce St drawing show existing parking spaces crossed out, lost to the businesses.

See updated plans, minor changes: Costello Overlays Updated May 2018

No estimate for the additional cost of the promised sidewalks, landscaping, trees, irrigation, and streetlights has been provided.  Comments for Council can be directed to Tracy Dutton at tdutton@bellairetx.gov

HEB is rebuilding a portion of Spruce now in front of the new loading dock to provide access for deliveries to the new store. When asked if HEB is on board with the plan the City Manager’s response was yes – apparently regarding the loading dock area.  He provided an explanation about plans to reimburse HEB for that portion of the street rebuild. Not addressed were the problems HEB will experience with customer ingress and egress to the new store while both Spruce and Fifth are under construction for months.

The entire City Council meeting for April 16, 2018, can be viewed here: https://bellairecitytx.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&MeetingID=1799&Format=Agenda

About Jane McNeel

Bellaire resident since 1956. Email: bellairebcc@gmail.com. Find more information on 'About This Site' in the main menu.
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