For Immediate Release: August 22, 2009
Contact: Sue Davis
713-392-6011 | sue@suedavis.netAnnise Parker Statement on Ashby High Rise

“We simply cannot manage our city’s growth by lurching from one Ashby high-rise crisis to the next.”

Houston, TX – Controller Annise Parker today released the following statement on the Ashby High Rise:

I am disappointed with the city’s decision yesterday to grant a site development permit for the high-rise building planned for the corner of Bissonnet and Ashby in the single-family residential neighborhood of Southampton.  From the first meeting at Poe School, I stood with the neighborhood in seeking solutions to stop this project.

I have a continuing concern that increased traffic resulting from the project will pose an unacceptable public safety risk to the surrounding neighborhood, bring a decreased quality of life for the residents, a loss of privacy and a negative impact on their property values.

Clearly, we simply cannot manage our city’s growth by lurching from one Ashby high-rise crisis to the next. Individuals cannot make safe investments in their homes and neighborhoods, and businesses cannot make safe investments in their developments, without predictability and consistency.

We need to get everyone back to the table to get a clear, workable and consistently applied ordinance that would require at least a traffic impact analysis and an adequate mitigation plan to proceed. Traffic impact is a public safety issue because it limits the ability of first responders in an emergency. It is an environmental issue because it creates air pollution. Traffic impacts absolutely need to be considered, and appropriate mitigation required, when we evaluate development projects.

I also believe it is possible to craft an ordinance that would create incentives and/or limits to move high- and mid-rise construction to the boundaries of neighborhoods and on major thoroughfares.

While I do not believe zoning is workable for Houston, I do believe it is possible to better protect neighborhoods and better preserve the property values and quality of life in neighborhoods, while still allowing growth and development.

I have worked for years to bring consistency and predictability to these issues – including spearheading the original density limitations contained in Chapter 42, our subdivision ordinance and subsequent amendments when I served on City Council. As our city has grown, the need for clear rules has even greater urgency. It will receive my highest priority as Mayor.

As Houston City Controller, Annise Parker directs Houston’s financial investments and manages billions of tax dollars.  Her independent audits of city departments and programs have rooted out waste and saved the city money that can be used for priorities such as public safety, after-school programs and economic development.  A businesswoman and neighborhood leader, Parker served on City Council for six years.  She spent 20 years in the oil and gas industry before entering public service.