Mayor's Office Press Release

Court Upholds Houston Historic Preservation Ordinance

June 25, 2019 -- The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas today affirmed the decision of the trial court that the City’s historic preservation ordinance (HPO) did not violate the City Charter’s prohibition against zoning or the State’s Zoning Enabling Act.

In 1995, City Council adopted the HPO, which provides for the creation of historic districts and requires property owners in those designated districts to apply for “certificates of appropriateness” before demolishing, modifying, or developing property in a historic district. The law was amended in 2010 to eliminate the waivers that were available under the 1995 law and its amendments.

In 2014, homeowners in Heights East, a designated historic district, filed suit to have the HPO declared void and unenforceable as prohibited zoning. After hearing all of the evidence at a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the City. The homeowners reasserted their claims on appeal. The court of appeals rejected them as well, holding that the HPO does not create regulations based on geographic district, as zoning does, but on the historic significance of a small number of neighborhoods.

“This decision reaffirms the City’s rights as a home-rule city to protect its precious heritage,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

See Powell, et al., v. City of Houston, No. 01-18-00237-CV (June 25, 2019).