September 26, 2007
I believe that the proposed development of a 23-story mixed use development with over 450 parking spaces, on the site of the Maryland Manor apartments, will impair mobility on Bissonnet, a two-lane street.
As it becomes more desirable to live in Houston, more people move here. We would like consumers to have many choices to live within the City limits. Ultimately we want people also to be able to live closer to where they work, reducing costs of traffic congestion and enormous infrastructure costs by long commutes.
Houston's City Charter prevents the City from dictating preferences to landowners concerning the residential or commercial use. I believe the City of Houston does have the power to limit or to impose reasonable requirements concerning on-site parking, flood impacts, the amount of traffic or trips and the reasonableness of places for ingress and egress on a particular property.
As Houston has grown and vacant land has become scarce and many Houstonians want to live in areas close to their work and shopping, we have attracted many more applications for high-rise projects than at any time in the past.
In each case we have required that developers do an analysis of the traffic impact of their development. Obviously much new development and more employment creates more traffic, but we need to consider impacts on on-street parking that may disrupt neighborhoods and discourage cut-through traffic or attempted left turns across two-way streets or curb cuts for entrances or exits too close to congested intersections.
Within the last two weeks a Council Committee held a hearing on ordinances which would require a traffic impact analysis and approval of the access and ingress plan for certain types of development. We must make rules that are clear and predictable and capable of being applied on a non-discriminatory basis. Both I and our Public Works Department have repeatedly told developers that development plans should reasonably address traffic impacts.
There should be reasonable criteria based on the number of automobiles capable of entering or exiting a property onto a street in a residential neighborhood. Those criteria should take into account the size and lane configuration of the street, proximity to traffic signals, location of the curb cuts, turns across lanes, etc. The criteria should not unreasonably impair the ability to satisfy consumer needs to live closer to employment centers or the rights of landowners to convert one multifamily use to another.
In the meantime, I will be prepared to use any appropriate power under law to alter the proposed project as currently planned.