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  October 28, 2013

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents


Make it a Safe Halloween and "Trick-or-Treating"
Remember to Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery on Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Safety graphicThe City of Houston and all its employees wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween. This is a time for children of all ages to enjoy the time outside in the company of family and friends. Halloween however does present its share of safety concerns that adults and children need to keep in mind. Our emergency services typically see a slight increase in emergency calls on Halloween, mostly because of falls and assaults.

Keep the following suggestions in mind when trick-or-treating:

  • Be alert for cars that may be turning into or out of driveways; never cross between parked cars and always cross at street corners
  • Be cautious of strangers; never go into a stranger's house or accept a ride from a stranger
  • Children should wait until they get home to eat candy; inspect candy for possible tampering; if not wrapped or loosely wrapped, do not eat it
  • Everyone should carry a flashlight or some other form of light to make you more visible to motorists
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the oncoming traffic
  • If you feel threatened or in danger while trick-or-treating you can go to any Houston fire or police station
  • Illuminate pumpkins with small flashlights or battery operated candles instead of real candles
  • Keep burning Jack-o-Lanterns away from curtains and combustible items, including decorations, as well as walkways
  • Make sure costumes are flame retardant; avoid highly flammable fabrics and accessories
  • Masks should have eye holes large enough to prevent visual obstructions
  • Only approach houses where the outside lights are on as a signal of welcome
  • Wear reflective or bright colored clothing

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday morning, November 3 at 2 a.m.. Remember to test and change your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you change your clock back to enjoy an extra hour of sleep. Spring forward, Fall back.

For more information about HFD, visit www.houstonfire.org. For more information about HPD, visit www.houstonpolice.org.


"Houston Salutes American Heroes" Veterans Day Celebration
Monday, November 11, 2013
AT&T Veterans Job Fair, Walgreens Veterans Health Fair, Ceremony and H-E-B Parade

Veterans Day ParadeThe City of Houston invites everyone to show support for our Armed Forces at the annual "Houston Salutes American Heroes" Veterans Day Celebration on Monday, November 11. The festivities begin at Houston City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002, with the AT&T Veterans Job Fair and Walgreens Veterans Health Fair, open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

A moment of silence will be observed at 11 a.m., followed by the 11th hour ceremony in memory of the World War I signing of the Armistice. The American Heroes Parade, sponsored by H-E-B, begins at 12:30 p.m. at Dallas and Bagby, proceeding east Dallas, north on Louisiana, west on Walker, south on Smith and ending at Bagby.

Free parking is available 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Theater District Parking, Tranquillity Garage, 501 Rusk, Houston 77002, entrances 2 and 5 only. (If you enter the garage prior to 12:30 p.m., parking will remain free for the rest of the day.) For more information about the celebration, visit www.houstontx.gov/nov11.

To learn more about the City's Office of Veterans' Affairs (HCOVA) and its services, visit www.houstontx.gov/vetaffairs.


Volunteers Needed for Houston's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thursday, November 28, 2013

The 64th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 28 at 9 a.m., is being presented by H-E-B and the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Special Events (MOSE). The parade is free and open to the public and will pay tribute to Houston by showcasing the city's finest - from fashion, food and heroes to culture, sports and talent. To make it a memorable parade, volunteers are needed!

Sign up to help with the parade at www.houstontx.gov/thanksgivingparade/volunteer.html. For more parade specifics and information about MOSE, visit www.houstontx.gov/specialevents.

Thanksgiving Day Parade


Mayor's Mow-Down Program Targets Overgrown Abandoned Lots
Community Groups Receive a Modest Fee to Maintain Lots in their Neighborhoods

Mayor's Mow Down ProgramThe Mayor's Mow-Down Program is a new pilot program created to address the problem of overgrown abandoned lots in Houston neighborhoods. Sponsored by the Department of Neighborhoods (DON), in partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful (KHB), the program aims to encourage civic groups and nonprofit organizations to make a commitment to maintain abandoned lots in their own neighborhoods. Through such efforts, neighborhood groups can help address public safety concerns often associated with overgrown lots, preserve properties values and instill community pride.

The program offers participating groups a modest fee of $75 for each approved cut after the work has been completed and verified. The first mowing will be done by City of Houston (COH) crews. Thereafter, the community groups take over maintenance of the lots. Each cut must be approved in advance. KHB will assist by providing groups with access to supplies and tools for the projects.

Any civic group or nonprofit organization interested in maintaining a COH approved abandoned property may apply by visiting www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods/mowdown.html. For more information, email mowdown.don@houstontx.gov or call 832.394.0654.

To learn more about DON, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods. To learn more about KHB, visit www.houstonbeautiful.org.


Celebrate City of Houston's Fifth Annual Citizenship Month
November 1 - 30, 2013

Citizenship MonthMayor Annise Parker and the Citizenship Month Steering Committee invite you to take part in the City of Houston's Fifth Annual Citizenship Month (formerly Citizenship Week), Celebrating the Many Faces of Houston, November 1 - 30. The citywide celebration will feature a series of events to promote what it means to be a citizen of Houston as well as to encourage Houstonians to be active in the community.

The Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, is a proud sponsor of Citizenship Month, in partnership with community organizations. To learn more about OIC, call 832.393.1080 or visit www.houstontx.gov/oic.


New Downtown Parking Signs and Art Meters
Making Parking Downtown Easier and Fun

Wind Meter Parking SignThe City of Houston has begun to de-clutter and simplify Houston's downtown parking system. The project will improve signage, meters, mobility lanes, commercial zones and parking communications to make parking easier for the 20,000 to 30,000 people who park downtown each day as well as the many Houstonians and visitors who come downtown for entertainment, sports etc. The Downtown Parking Signage Project completion is targeted for summer 2014.

Additionally, Mayor Annise Parker recently introduced the very first art meter sculptures in the nation. Four local artists were chosen to design the sculptures: Car and Meter History by Devon Moore (1300 Nance, Houston 77002), Found Art designed by David Medina (1300 Sterrett, Houston 77002), Gumball Machine designed by Ketria Scott (1400 Nance, Houston 77002) and Wind Blown Meters designed by Anthony Shumate (3 meters on 1200 Sterrett, Houston 77002).

Visit the six art parking meter sculptures designed by these local artists, in partnership with Houston Arts Alliance, in the heart of the Warehouse District area of downtown.

To learn more about the City of Houston's Parking Management visit www.houstontx.gov/parking. To learn more about the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs visit www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs.

Parking Sign


Need to Get Information or Report Something in Houston?
Call 311, Visit www.Houston311.org, download the Smartphone App

3-1-1 LogoThe City of Houston hotline, 311, has undergone a complete transformation making it even more convenient, customer-focused, efficient and flexible. 311 empowers citizens to join the City's effort to improve the community by making it easy to report issues that need to be resolved. If you see something that needs fixing, let us know!!

The most recent update to the system is the 311 smartphone application (app) that provides an easy-to-use and efficient vehicle for Houstonians to submit requests when it is most convenient for them. Citizens can now upload photos or videos and attach them to a service request type within the app.

311 Help & Info users are able to submit service requests by calling 311, the 24/7 call center, through the redesigned website www.Houston311.org, by email 311@houstontx.gov or via the free smartphone apps, available for Android and iPhone.


Free Houston Living App

Houston Living AppThe City of Houston (COH) and the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) have collaborated on Houston Living, a new free mobile application (app) designed to give Houstonians instant access to information about city government, local amenities and events, real estate and more.

Houston Living provides GPS (global positioning system) location-based government information, including:

  • App users' local elected official biographies, websites and social media outlets
  • City news headlines and calendar of events
  • Nearby city services and amenities, including public transportation options, parks and trails, public safety substations and library locations/hours
  • Nearby neighborhood organizations, associations or civic clubs to encourage homeowner civic involvement
  • Nearby real estate, including homes available for sale and market analysis of recent sales (via a link to www.HAR.com)
  • Social media communication from both the COH and HAR

Houston Living is available for free download at the Apple App Store/iTunes and will soon be available on the Android Market.


Saving Houston's Trees

Tree in Right of WayTrees located in the City of Houston (COH) right-of-way (along neighborhood streets, typically the area from the curb to the sidewalk) are public property and developers do not have the right to remove these trees without express permission from the COH.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of situations lately where developers have removed and destroyed large, irreplaceable trees without permission, thereby violating the law and harming both the environment and beauty of our surroundings. Such removal and destruction can subject developers to both criminal and civil sanctions, but once the damage has been done, neither sanction is really adequate. Rather, developers who would seek to violate the law must be deterred by realizing that their actions will result in serious sanctions, including shutting down their projects for some period of time.

The COH has embarked upon an aggressive course of seeking sanctions against developers who remove and destroy public trees without permission. Any resident observing such potentially illegal removal or destruction of public trees is asked to immediately call 311, the COH helpline.

Note: Permission to remove a tree may only be granted following a permitting process that requires justification and some type of mitigation, either by planting other trees or contributing to a tree fund. In many instances, justification does not exist to remove a particular tree and permission would be denied.


Half-Price Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Sale
Saturday, November 9, 2013, 9 a.m., First Come, First Served

Join the Mayor's Office of Sustainability for the fourth annual half-price compost bin and rain barrel sale on Saturday, November 9, 2013, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., at the Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington Street, Houston 77002.

Compost bins will be sold for $45 (normally $100) and/or rain barrels will be sold for $55 (normally $120). These prices will only be available while supplies last and the bins and barrels will be sold on a first come, first served basis. This event happens only once a year and when they are gone they are gone until next year.

Compost bins and rain barrels are great ways to live more sustainably and save money. Compost bins keep organic material out of landfills and produce rich compost you can use as a soil additive or fertilizer. Rain barrels eliminate the need to use treated drinking water to water your plants, wash your car or clean your driveway.

Start living greener this fall! For questions, contact Baker Goldsmith at baker.goldsmith@houstontx.gov.

To learn more about City of Houston sustainability efforts, visit www.greenhoustontx.gov and www.codegreenhouston.org.

Barrel and Bin Graphic


Wedding Ceremonies Now Performed At Houston Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts Department LogoThe City of Houston Municipal Courts is pleased to announce that wedding ceremonies can now be scheduled at the Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse, 1400 Lubbock Street, Houston 77002. The ceremonies are performed by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wedding ceremonies are offered in both English and Spanish with a limited number of guests welcome to attend. To have a wedding ceremony performed at the Houston Municipal Court, there are three simple steps to follow:

  1. A couple must obtain a Marriage License at their local County Clerk's office. A list of Harris County locations is provided below. Only Texas-issued licenses are accepted. The license is good for a 30-day period, and the couple must wait at least 72 hours from the time the marriage license was issued to hold the ceremony.
  2. Once the Marriage License is obtained, the couple should visit the Municipal Court's website www.houstontx.gov/courts/WeddingCeremonies.html to complete and submit the online form to schedule an appointment for the ceremony. A court representative will contact the couple within 48 hours to discuss the details of the wedding ceremony and to confirm the date.
  3. On the scheduled day of the ceremony, the couple should plan to arrive early to pay the $100 wedding ceremony fee at the Public Service Counter located on the first floor in the lobby of the Municipal Court building. Cash, check or credit card accepted.

For more information about Houston Municipal Courts, visit www.houstontx.gov/courts, call the City's Helpline 311 or if outside of Houston, call 713.837.0311.

Harris County locations to obtain a marriage license:

  • Main Office, 201 Caroline, Houston, TX 77002, 3rd Floor of Administration Building, 713.755.6411
  • Baytown, 701 West Baker Road, Baytown 77521, 281.422.0253
  • Chimney Rock, 6000 Chimney Rock, Houston 77081, 713.660.7902
  • Clay Road, 6715 Clay Road, Houston 77080, 281.859.0685
  • Clear Lake, 16603 Buccaneer, Clear Lake 77062, 281.486.7250
  • Cypresswood, 6831 Cypresswood Drive, Spring 77379, 281.379.1057
  • Humble, 7900 Will Clayton Parkway, Humble 77338, 281.540.1173
  • North Shepherd, 7300 North Shepherd, Houston 77091, 713.697.5193
  • Pasadena, 101 South Richey, Suite D, Pasadena 77506, 713.274.6230
  • South Belt, 10851 Scarsdale, Houston 77089, 281.464.0115

Comments Requested on 2040 Regional Plan
Saturday, November 9, 2013

2040 Regional PlanOur Great Region 2040 is a high-level plan that aims for Our Region to be one of the world's greatest places to live, work and succeed, as defined by measurable goals, by the year 2040. It is the result of the efforts of hundreds of organizations and thousands of people from across the Houston-Galveston Area Council's 13-county service area. Plan to attend the following meeting as public input is a very important part of the process.

Saturday, November 9
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons Lane
Conference Room A, Second Floor
Houston 77027

To review the draft plan and/or submit comments until Friday, November 15, visit www.ourregion.org. For questions, email ourregion@h-gac.com or call Anna Sedillo, Planning and Development Department (P&D) at 713.837.7701.

To learn more about P&D, visit www.houstontx.gov/planning.


HPD Auctions Abandoned Vehicles

Houston Police Department LogoThe Houston Police Department (HPD) auctions abandoned vehicles Monday through Thursday at vehicle storage facilities throughout the city. All vehicles are sold as-is, for cash, to the highest bidder and most have some type of damage.

If five or more vehicles are purchased by one person during a calendar year, a motor vehicle dealer's license is required. Salvage vehicles will only be sold to state licensed salvage dealers.

For more information, auction times and locations, visit www.houstontx.gov/police/auto_dealers_detail/vehicle_auction.htm or contact the HPD Auto Dealer's Detail at 713.247.5812.

To learn more about HPD, visit www.houstonpolice.org.


Houston Public Library Events for November 2013

Houston Public Library (HPL) offers educational and entertaining events all year at its locations in Houston. The free events are open to the public and will include author presentations for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (November 22) and a presentation from the Digital Public Library of America. For a full list of featured events, visit www.houstonlibrary.org/events.

John F. Kennedy"Dallas 1963": Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis
Tuesday, November 12, 6 p.m.
Julia Ideson Building - Auditorium, 550 McKinney, Houston 77002
"Dallas 1963" by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis is the explosive, chilling account of the city that would become infamous for the assassination of a president. Breathtakingly paced, Dallas 1963 presents a clear, cinematic and revelatory look at the shocking tragedy that transformed America. Countless authors have attempted to explain the assassination, but no one has ever bothered to explain Dallas -- until now.

Digital Public Library GraphicDigital Public Library of America Presentation and Discussion
Wednesday, November 20, 1:30 p.m.
Julia Ideson Building - Auditorium, 550 McKinney, Houston 77002
Dan Cohen, Executive Director of Digital Public Library of America will make a presentation followed by a discussion. This is part of Rice University's annual "Technology, Cognition and Cultures" lecture series. RSVP to Tiffany Hoover at tiffany.hoover@houstontx.gov or 832.393.1518.

Conspiracy at the Library!
Saturday, November 23, 2 p.m.
Central Library - Program Place, 500 McKinney, Houston 77002
There will be a discussion with Kaaran Thomas, the author of "Trip in the Dark: It Began with the Kennedy Assassination." It is a fictional work loosely based on former Texas Governor John B. Connally, Jr., a victim of two tragedies - the Kennedy assassination and the great Texas recession.

For more information, visit www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832.393.1313.


Cyber Security Awareness

Veterans Day ParadeThe City of Houston Information Technology Services (HITS) recommends the following ways to protect yourself on the internet.

  • Do not participate in any cyber bullying activities
  • Do not post personal, sensitive or non-public information on social media
  • Follow your organization/work's policy and promptly report all security incidents or concerns to your organization/work's security team
  • Lock your computer whenever you leave you it, even if for a moment
  • Never share your password with anyone
  • Pause and consider the risk before connecting to unsecured internet sites
  • Raise awareness of good security practices among your family, friends, colleagues and community
  • Safeguard sensitive data from any inappropriate disclosure
  • Treat your mobile device like the powerful computer it is, and protect it -- both physically as well as by activating security features such as password and anti-lock, anti-virus software and removal of data from a mobile device
  • Use strong passwords and create a separate one for each account

For more information about HITS, visit www.houstontx.gov/hits.


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Mailing Address:  City of Houston | P.O. Box 1562 | Houston, Texas 77251
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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