Today, City Council approved a motion to refer the proposed high density ordinance back to the administration. The effect of this action is to indefinitely delay the further development of this ordinance. However, the Mayor also announced a new policy, which is explained in the documents posted above, whereby the City of Houston will use an existing ordinance, sometimes referred to as the “curb cut” ordinance, to address objectionable traffic impacts from certain kinds of new high density developments.

While we regret that the Mayor has decided to refer the high density ordinance back to the administration, we are gratified that the City intends to rely on its existing authority to address the objectionable traffic impacts from the proposed Ashby High Rise project. We are also pleased that the Mayor said today that the original 23 story project proposed by the Buckhead developers could not be approved under the Mayor’s policy announced today. We commend the Mayor, Council Member Clutterbuck, and many others within the administration who have worked hard to determine the best way to employ the City’s authority to address misguided projects like the Ashby High Rise.

Some have suggested that the process that the Mayor outlined today, as applied to the Ashby High Rise, would constitute a regulatory taking or inverse condemnation and expose the City to damages in a lawsuit brought by the Ashby High Rise developers. Our legal team has evaluated this suggestion, and it believes that the type of review process identified in the Mayor’s statement would not rise to the level of a “compensable taking” under either the United States or Texas Constitutions. It appears that the City’s legal department has reached the same conclusion, since we understand that the City is fully prepared to defend any legal actions arising from the action taken today by the Mayor.

We hope that the developers of the Ashby High Rise project will reconsider their original project design and propose something more consistent with the one and two story single family residential character of the historic Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighborhoods.

We plan to actively monitor any permit applications or alternative project proposals submitted by the Buckhead developers, and we will make any concerns we have known to the appropriate City personnel. If the City seems prepared to approve permitting for a project that is unacceptable to the neighborhood, we will not hesitate to employ the other tools that are available to us to protect our interests, including litigation if necessary. These activities will require the ongoing involvement of the community and the Task Force. We thank you for your continued support.

Chris Amandes, Co-Chair
Jim Reeder, Co-Chair