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  May 02, 2013

Four Items of Importance for Houstonians

Find Out How to Protect and Retain the Residential
Character of Your Neighborhood

Chapter 42 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances

New land development rules adopted by Houston City Council now provide residents with additional tools to help maintain their neighborhood's established character. The City of Houston Planning and Development Department (P&D) is hosting a series of meetings throughout Houston in May and June 2013, to explain the new tools and your neighborhood's eligibility for utilizing them. (These new rules are related to adoption of amendments to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances.)

The new tools are designed to:

  • Preserve the existing lot sizes and retain the existing single family character
  • Ensure that future buildings conform to existing building lines

To find a meeting location near you, visit

For the complete text of Chapter 42 including the changes, visit Any questions contact Kevin Calfee at or 713.837.7701.

To learn more about P&D, visit

City of Houston Open Innovation Hackathon and Open Data Initiative
Technology Experts and Recreational Techies
Invited to Help Solve City-Resident Issues, May 17 - May 18, 2013

The City of Houston will host a 24-hour "Open Innovation Hackathon" on Friday, May 17, beginning at 7 p.m. - Saturday, May 18, ending at 7 p.m. Bring your ideas and expertise and come on down.

The event will kick-off on Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m. and continue until 7 a.m. at Start Houston, 1121 Delano Street, Houston 77003. On Saturday, May 18, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. the event will be held at the Houston Technology Center, 410 Pierce Street, Houston 77002.

A hackathon is a day-long event in which software developers, web designers and data analysts collaborate intensively on data and software projects. Over 24 hours, Houston's "civic hackers" will pitch ideas, form teams and develop innovative new websites, mobile apps and insightful data visualizations to address community and city problems.

The Houston Open Data Initiative, is a program that puts public city data in the hands of citizens. The open data originating from dozens of city systems will be critical for the civic hackers in using technology to build tech solutions that solve city problems.

While Houston's Open Data Initiative is modeled after programs in Austin, New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, Houston will also include a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational outreach component designed to teach children across the city about career options.

The city encourages a strong turnout from citizens, corporate participants and members of Houston's technology communities. There are already 15 teams and over 50 additional individuals registered.

Further details about the City of Houston Open Innovation Hackathon, as well as registration information, visit or contact Bruce Haupt at

HITS Warns Citizens Against Online Scams

The City of Houston Information Technology Services (HITS) wants to inform the public how to recognize and avoid phishing, which is an attempt to acquire information such as user names, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.

When using email, it is difficult to know with whom you are communicating. Scammers will utilize this uncertainty to pose as legitimate businesses, organizations or individuals and gain the trust of users. If scammers are able to gain the trust of victims, they can leverage this trust to convince victims to willingly give up information or click on malicious links or attachments. To gain user trust, scammers will appear like legitimate businesses or organizations, by spoofing the email address, creating a fake website with legitimate logos and even providing phone numbers as well as illegitimate customer service centers operated by the scammers.

Being mindful and observant can help you defend against scammers' deceptions by being prepared and proactive. Visit for details on how to avoid becoming a potential victim of computer crimes through online scams.

To learn more about HITS, visit

Utility Identification Alert

The City of Houston and CenterPoint Energy would like to remind Houstonians that CenterPoint contractors may come through your neighborhood to trim branches from utility lines. However, from time to time people do impersonate City of Houston or CenterPoint contractors or employees or law enforcement personnel in order to gain access to someone's home. Here are some important safety tips to avoid becoming the victim of an impersonator:

  • The City of Houston itself does not hire contractors to trim tree limbs away from utility lines; CenterPoint does
  • All CenterPoint Energy employees and contractors wear uniforms and carry identification badges. If the badges are not visible, they will show them upon request
  • If a customer doubts whether or not someone is a CenterPoint Energy employee, ask to see his/her identification badge or call the company's call center at 713.207.2222 or 713.659.2111 to verify that CenterPoint Energy has an employee in the area
  • All of CenterPoint Energy's vehicles are marked with the CenterPoint Energy logo
  • In the majority of cases, it is NOT necessary for CenterPoint employees to enter the home as most of its work is done outside on power and natural gas lines. However, it IS necessary for CenterPoint's natural gas employees, when restoring gas service, to enter a home or business to relight pilots and ensure it is safe to resume natural gas service


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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Dave Martin • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green