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Houston City Council Members Want To Delay New Floodplain Regulations

A City Council committee says more time is needed to study the measure. They also want the public to weigh in.

Already the city requires homes in 100-year floodplains to be elevated one foot. Houston Public Works is now proposing new rules for 500-year floodplains. That could require builders to elevate new homes up to two feet.

The plan was to have a one-week comment period and then put the ordinance before council later this month. But speaking before the Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure Committee, District A Council Member Brenda Stardig said not so fast.

“Having Addicks Dam in our district and not getting the reports promised, do you think I’m going to trust going forward that this is going to be okay?” asked Stardig. “It’s not.”

Also asking for more time was Council Member Dave Martin, who said District E would be heavily impacted by the new regulations.

“Why not have a community input meeting in arguably some of the hardest-hit areas?” said Martin. “We always do it. Let’s be transparent. I would charge us with making sure that transparency is number one in our mode of thinking.”

Other council members also called for public meetings as well as additional time for people to comment. That could delay a vote on the ordinance for at least a couple of months.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has issued a statement regarding the proposed regulations:

“I hope all Houstonians will express the will of the people on the need for the City to move ahead swiftly on the flood ordinance changes I have proposed. When adopted by City Council, the revised ordinances will make sure that new dwellings are built high enough to protect lives and property in the ‘post-Harvey era’ where the next epic rainfall may be right around the corner.

“We have had three ‘500-year floods’ in the last 3 years. To continue as if nothing has changed is unrealistic and to delay action is irresponsible.

“I’m glad a joint City Council committee hearing today gave people a chance to express their views. In the end, the Council should enact the ordinances. It would be a serious mistake to not make significant changes that mitigate the risk of flooding.”

“Council members have joined me in urging state and federal lawmakers to move urgently to provide the funding Houston needs to become more resilient and more flood resistant for when the waters rise again. We cannot make a convincing case without showing that we are moving urgently at the local level to find solutions for ourselves. The world is watching and now is the time for us to act.”

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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