Project Introduction

Walkable Places

Mayor Sylvester Turner stated, “Houston is growing in record numbers. More than ever, our citizens want walkable places that connect to parks and activity centers. Our city needs to grow and develop responsibly and efficiently, under the guidance of the Code of Ordinances.”

Houston is a city of tremendous opportunity. As the fourth largest city in the United States, a number of areas in Houston are attracting higher density commercial, office, and multifamily residential developments. These developments present an opportunity to create more vibrant, walkable streets that support alternative modes of transportation. The City’s development ordinances should maximize these opportunities. In this context, City of Houston Planning Commission Chair convened the Walkable Places Committee to explore how these ordinances should be amended to achieve this objective in January 2017.

The Walkable Places Committee met monthly to have a broad discussion regarding how to promote walkable places and transit-oriented development in Houston. After two and a half years of intensive research and discussion, the committee formed a consensus on regulatory tools that encourage high density, mixed-use development along corridors with appropriate context. These tools are the Walkable Places Ordinance and the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance. Both tools implement the core strategies of Plan Houston and achieve the community’s vision and goals.

Auto-centric Suburban Style Development Encouraged by Current Ordinances

    Auto-centric suburban style development

Click the image to enlarge

View PDF version click here

Pedestrian Friendly Urban Style Development Encouraged by the Proposed Ordinances

    Pedestrian Friendly Urban Development

Click the image to enlarge

View PDF version click here











Walkable Places Committee
The committee considered issues and potential revisions to Chapter 26 and 42 related to planning environments that facilitate walking, and create sense of places by encouraging walkable development where appropriate.

A number of areas in Houston are attracting higher density commercial, office, and multifamily residential developments. These developments present an opportunity to create more vibrant, walkable streets that support alternative modes of transportation. The City’s development ordinances should maximize these opportunities. The Walkable Places Committee explore how these ordinances should be amended to achieve this objective.

Walkable Committee Members Graphic

2019 Walkable Places Committee Members, from left to right: Front Row: Cynthia Reyes-Revilla, Susan Alleman, Isabel Longoria, Bill Baldwin, Margaret Wallace Brown, Veronica Chapa Gorczynski, Kim Mickelson Back Row: Ron Lindsey, James Llamas, George Levan, Truman Edminster, Marty Stein, Greg LeGrande, Michael Huffmaster, Clark Martinson


Committee Members

  • Marty Stein
  • Susan Alleman
  • Truman Edminster
  • Bolivar Fraga
  • Veronica Chapa Gorczynski
  • David Kim
  • Greg LeGrande
  • George Levan
  • Ron Lindsey
  • James Llamas
  • Clark Martinson
  • John Mooz
  • Bradley Pepper
  • Cynthia Reyes-Revilla
  • Abbey Roberson
  • Irma Sanchez
  • Josh Sanders
  • Jane West

Proposed Transit-oriented Development Ordinance


The Proposed Transit-oriented Development Ordinance is to overcome the challenges we have experienced during the implementation of the current transit corridor ordinance which was adopted by City Council in 2009. These challenges include:
    1. The optional performance standards have not created enough incentives for developments
    2. The current designated transit streets do not take the adjacent land uses and local context into consideration
We understand that the contexts along different sections of the transit corridors are different. Some areas may not be ready for the walkable urban form. Therefore, it makes sense to have the optional standards to provide developers flexibility in those areas. However, for properties within close proximity of some transit stations with significant amount of pedestrian activities, it’s important and necessary to require compliance of the rules. Many analysis and studies have been done to determine the transit station locations. We have spent significant public funding on these stations. It is very important to ensure development adjacent to these stations meet the intent of ordinance. In this context, the committee agreed that it’s necessary to revisit the current transit corridor map transit corridor planning standards to promote transit-oriented development effectively. The Walkable Places Committee established a series of objective criteria to determine streets eligible for the TOD rules. Planning and Devel opment Department uses the objective criteria to evaluate all the streets adjacent to the existing and planned transit stations, and designate the eligible TOD Streets.

The following interactive GIS map (on the second tab) shows the proposed TOD Streets for each transit station. The Primary TOD Streets are in yellow. Properties along the Primary TOD Streets are required to comply with the TOD rules. Secondary TOD Streets are in pink. Properties along the Secondary TOD Streets can opt into the TOD rules, but it is not required. For more details about the TOD rules, please refer to the Walkable Places and Transit-oriented Development Policy Guide.

TOD Street Interactive Map

To view the full version of the map click here.


Proposed Walkable Places Ordinance Framework

  • Walkable Places are created with support from property owners.
  • Main objective is to create customizable pedestrian-friendly rules to guide new development and redevelopment on private properties.
  • Focus on commercial/mixed-use streets
  • Creating destinations

Walkable Places Pilot Areas

To encourage walkable development effectively, it’s important to create rules appropriate for the local context of an area. Therefore, the committee proposes to create an application process to allow for the creation of Walkable Place Districts with a unique set of rules.

The committee has selected three pilot areas to test and prove the concept of the proposed Walkable Place District application process. The three pilot areas are Emancipation Avenue in Third Ward, Midtown, and Hogan Street in Near Northside. To ensure we identify appropriate rules for each pilot area that are effective and promote walkability, the Planning and Development Department has initiated a series of community engagement meetings in each pilot area. Please click on the pilot areas below to view their respective plans.


Upcoming Community Meetings
The Planning and Development Department will hold 6 community meetings to introduce the proposed Walkable Places Ordinance and the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance to the public. We welcome public review of the proposed ordinances and value resident and stakeholder input.

Walkable Places/ TOD Community Meeting Schedules and Locations:

Community Date/ Time Location
Third Ward
Third Ward
Monday,
October 21, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Emancipation Park, 3018 Emancipation Ave Houston, TX 77004
location
East End
East End
Tuesday,
October 22, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol Street, Houston, TX 77011
location
Midtown
Midtown
Thursday,
October 24, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman St, Houston, TX 77004
location
Hogan/Lorranie
Near Northside
Monday,
November 4, 2019 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Moody Community Center, 3725 Fulton St. Houston, TX 77009
location
Neartown/Museum District/TMC
Neartown/Museum District/TMC
Wednesday,
November 6, 2019 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Covenant Church, 4949 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
location
Uptown
Uptown
Thursday,
November 7, 2019 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Saint Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe Street Houston, TX 77056
location

Public Comment Form

  • Public Comment Form

  • Media

    08.30.2018 -- How the Walkable Places Committee Plans to Make Houston More Pedestrian Friendly (Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research)