Administration and Regulatory Affairs

Franchise Administration


Mailing Address:

City of Houston
ATTN: Franchise Administration
P.O. BOX 2226
Houston, TX 77252

Office Address:

611 Walker, 13th Floor
Houston, TX 77002

832.393.8529
832.393.8517 (fax)

Juan Olguin
Assistant Director

The City of Houston’s Franchise Administration collects franchise fees from electric and gas utilities, municipally-franchised cable television providers, commercial solid waste transporters, network facilities franchises (non-Chapter 283 fiber networks), railroad spur track franchises and businesses operating under right-of-way encroachment ordinances. In addition, the section collects fees owed under Chapter 66 of the State Utilities Code (state-franchised cable and video providers) and under Chapter 283 of the Local Government Code (state certificated telecommunications providers).  In connection with these duties, the Franchise Administration coordinates audits and compliance reviews, and actively monitors state and federal legislation and administrative proceedings that impact these fees.

EXISTING FRANCHISES
For questions related to your existing franchise, please contact Rosalinda Salazar, Senior Staff Analyst, at 832.393.8529 or rosalinda.salazar@houstontx.gov.

Payments should be mailed to:
City of Houston
ATTN: Franchise Administration
P.O. BOX 2226
Houston, TX 77252

Payments from franchisees on a quarterly remittance schedule are due by C.O.B. 45 days after the end of the calendar quarter (i.e., February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15).  Late payment penalties will be applied where applicable.

Payments from Right-of-Way Permit Ordinance holders are due by C.O.B. on the anniversary date of the permit ordinance effective date.  Please contact Rosalinda Salazar, Senior Staff Analyst, at 832.393.8529 or rosalinda.salazar@houstontx.gov with questions or concerns.

For questions related to commercial solid waste hauler franchises, please contact Naelah Yahya, Staff Analyst, at 832.393.8530 or naelah.yahya@houstontx.gov.

FRANCHISE APPLICANTS

Franchises in General
Section 17 of Article II of the City Charter of the City of Houston requires the issuance of a franchise for any private use of the public rights-of-way.  No such franchise shall ever be granted until it has been read in full at three regular meetings of the City Council, nor shall any such franchise, grant, right or easement ever be made to any private individual, corporation or association, unless it provides for adequate compensation or consideration there for, to be paid to the City of Houston, and in addition to any other form of compensation, the grantee shall pay annually such a fixed charge as may be prescribed in the franchise.  Such grant under and any contract in pursuance thereof shall provide that upon the termination of the grant, the grant, as well as the property, if any, of the grantee, in the streets, avenues and other public places, shall thereupon, without other or further compensation to the grantee, or upon the payment of a fair valuation there for (the mode of ascertaining which shall be determined in the grant), be and become the property of the City of Houston, and the grantee shall never be entitled to any payment or valuation because of any value derived from the franchise or the fact that it is or may be a going concern, duly installed and operated.  Every such grant shall make adequate provision by way of forfeiture of the grant, or otherwise, to secure efficiency of public service at reasonable rates, and to maintain the property in good order throughout the life of the grant.  The City Council may also inspect and examine or cause to be inspected and examined at all reasonable hours any books of account of such grantee, which books of account shall be kept and such reports made in accordance with the forms and methods prescribed by the City Council, which, as far as practicable, shall be uniform for all such grantees.

Any proposed franchise over 30 years in length must be submitted to the vote of the legally qualified voters of Houston.  No grant shall be made or authorized for a longer period than 50 years.

Police Powers in the Rights-of-Way
The City of Houston maintains its police powers over the use of the public rights-of-way.  Any company wishing to install its infrastructure in the public right-of-way must obtain the proper permits prior to doing so and must in all instances meet the requirements of the City’s Building Code.  The City may require any privately owned infrastructure inhabiting the public right-of-way to be relocated at the owner’s expense if needed by the City.  Examples include a water main/sanitary sewer/storm sewer rehabilitation project, abandonment of a street/easement and rededication of a right-of-way to a different purpose.  The City may also require privately owned infrastructure to be removed from the right-of-way if the company is abandoning its use of its infrastructure.  Finally, the City has regulations regarding the closing of street lanes for construction/repair work, time of day regulations regarding construction/repair work and regulations regarding restoration of streets, sidewalks and easements post-construction/repair work.  Please visit www.houstonpermittingcenter.org to obtain additional information regarding required permits.

State Franchises - Telecommunications & Cable/Video
As of 09.01.1999, all telecommunications franchises are issued by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUC), rather than the City of Houston.  As of 09.01.2005, all cable/video service franchises are granted by the PUC as well, rather than the City of Houston. 

Companies seeking either a telecommunications franchise or a cable/video franchise should visit the PUC website at http://www.puc.state.tx.us/industry/Default.aspx for additional information.

State franchisees are still required to obtain all relevant permits from the City of Houston’s Public Works & Engineering Department prior to performing construction/maintenance in the public rights-of-way.  Permit fees for state franchisees with regards to work in the public rights-of-way are waived.

In consideration for their private use of the public rights-of-way, certificated cable companies operating under a state franchise are required to remit a fee equal to 5% of their gross revenues earned from customers within the City limits and 1% of their gross revenues earned from customers within the City limits in support of Public, Education and Governmental (PEG) Access Channel programming on a quarterly basis.

In consideration for their private use of the public rights-of-way, certificated telecommunications companies operating under a state franchise are required to remit access line fees to the City of Houston on a quarterly basis based on rates established by the PUC.

For City fee schedules, go to www.houstoncityfees.org.

Encroachment Franchises/Permit Ordinances/Pipeline Franchises
The City of Houston no longer issues encroachment franchises for basements, vaults, tunnels, sky-bridges, underground conduits crossing a street, etc.  Companies wishing to construct a facility that encroaches upon the public rights-of-way must obtain the appropriate permits from the City Engineer’s Office.  Additional information is available at www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/planning/cityengineer.html.

The City of Houston is prohibited by state law from franchising the oil and natural gas transmission pipelines that cross its public rights-of-way throughout its boundaries.  However, oil and natural gas transmission pipelines are required to obtain the appropriate permits from the City Engineer’s Office.  Additional information is available at www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/planning/cityengineer.html.

Solid Waste Franchises
Article VII of Chapter 39 of the City Code of Ordinances makes it unlawful for any commercial solid waste operator to collect, haul or transport solid waste or industrial waste from commercial properties located within the city without first having obtained a franchise for that purpose upon the consent of the city council.

Payments from franchisees on a quarterly remittance schedule are due by C.O.B. 45 days after the end of the calendar quarter (i.e., February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15).  Late payment penalties will be applied where applicable.

Network Facilities (Fiber Optic) Franchises
Article XIV of Chapter 40 of the City Code of Ordinances makes it unlawful for any telecommunications provider to lay, construct, operate, offer for lease or make available for any use whatsoever any network facilities across, along, over, above, or under any public way within the limits of the city for any private or commercial purpose unless the right to do so has been granted to the telecommunications provider by a network facilities franchise.  Article XIV does not apply to those providers operating as certificated telecommunications providers (CTPs) under the auspices of Chapter 283 of the Local Government Code as administered by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUC).

Spur Track Franchises
Section 38-6 of Chapter 38 of the City Code of Ordinances allows for the City to franchise railroad companies wishing to operate spur tracks upon the City’s rights-of-way.

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)/Small Cells Systems Agreements
The Master License Agreement for Wireless Facilities and Poles in the Right-of-Way passed by City Council December 18, 2015 allows for the City of Houston to enter into an agreement with any provider that wishes to place DAS/Small Cells facilities in the City’s rights-of-way.  Companies seeking to obtain a License Agreement should contact Rosalinda Salazar, Senior Staff Analyst, at 832.393.8529 or rosalinda.salazar@houstontx.gov.