There were no surprises when council delayed the item. Fifteen historic districts have been created after the original ordinance was passed in 1995, but amendments being offered could have an effect on those districts. Councilmember CO Bradford told Mayor Annise Parker that he was concerned about the restrictions being considered on the rights of property owners.
“This particular historic preservation effort in my view, is being driven by city hall, as opposed to being driven from and by the citizens in the community. The deal that was made with the original petitioners, it has been changed. It has been materially altered, and I’m fundamentally opposed to what is presented as this particular historic preservation ordinance.”
Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck and Mayor Parker had a difference of opinion regarding the elimination of a 90-day waiver for demolition of structures located in areas with historical designation.
Clutterbuck: “The rules that applied at the time that your historic district was created will apply in the future, and so I think that that would eliminate the concerns around the table about what would happen, since we have suspended the 90-day waiver.”
Parker: “Respectfully councilmember, I think you still have the uncertainty until the transition process ends.”
Clutterbuck: “Yes Mayor and I thank you, and I think that this would negate the requirement for a transition process. 13A would then be moot.”
Parker: “So would the new ordinance.”
Clutterbuck: “Mayor, I disagree with that assertion.”
There are no doubt a lot of issues that need to be resolved before the revised ordinance comes before council. While she’s encouraged by their involvement, Mayor Parker admits the long and intense process affects her personally.
“I am a resident of an historic district. I live in a landmarked national register home, so I am not seeking to do anything to any Houstonian that doesn’t apply to me, unlike most of the councilmembers around the table. This has been an open and transparent process in fact, part of the frustration has been that we have been so open and accessible and doing much of the work in public that it’s delayed the process frankly, but it is frustrating for councilmembers to imply that there hasn’t been a lot of public input, or that this is something that is being sprung on members of the public.”
Parker believes amendments to the preservation ordinance will truly protect all of the city’s historic districts.