Public Meeting on CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric’s Rate Increase

May 16th, 2019

On April 5, 2019 CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric filed an application to change rates with the City of Houston for customers within city limits. CenterPoint also filed a similar application with each city within the company’s service area and with the Public Utility Commission for customers within unincorporated areas.

A public meeting regarding the CenterPoint proposed electric rate change will be held Thursday, May 29, 2019 at 6 p.m., in the City Hall Annex, Public Level — 900 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002. The purpose of the Public Meeting is to provide Houston CenterPoint customers with an opportunity to comment on the Company’s electric customer service and proposed rate change.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may submit comments to: Alisa Talley, Division Manager, Administration and Regulatory Affairs, 611 Walker, 13thFloor, Houston, TX 77002 or alisa.talley@houstontx.gov.

More about CenterPoint’s Electric Rate Change Request. CenterPoint is proposing to increase retail electric customer rates by approximately $186.6 million. CenterPoint, is also proposing, through a separate TCJA (TAX Cut and Jobs Act) Rider, to return approximately $97 million to customers over a three-year period. The TCJA Rider reduces the company’s request by approximately $32.4 million to $154.2 million annually for a three-year period. After the three-year period, the TCJA Rider expires, and retail customers will pay the full $186.6 million increase. If CenterPoint’s proposed rates are adopted, the average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month would experience an approximate 1.91% increase — $2.50 per month for the first three years, assuming an existing retail rate of $0.125 per kWh. Similar data is not immediately available for the years after the TCJA Rider expires but will be requested from CenterPoint. A complete copy of CenterPoint’s filed Application is available for review upon request with the City Secretary’s Office.

For more information, please contact Alisa Talley at alisa.talley@houstontx.gov or 832.393.8531.

HOUSTON MUNICIPAL COURTS ANNOUNCES SPRING AMNESTY PROGRAM

March 19th, 2019

The City of Houston Municipal Courts Department has announced the start of its Fresh Start Spring Amnesty Program. For the next three weeks, certain delinquent cases will be discounted to help citizens save money while resolving outstanding cases.

“Now is the perfect opportunity to start this spring season with a “Fresh” clean slate. If you have delinquent cases, you are urged to come forward and take advantage of these discounted rates,” said Judge J. Elaine Marshall, director and presiding judge of the Municipal Courts Department. “We are here to assist with Amnesty-eligible cases issued on or before February 1st. Put the past behind you and start fresh and if you have questions, please call us – we are here to help,” Judge Marshall said.

The Amnesty Program began Friday, March 15, at 8 a.m. and ends Saturday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m.  Any defendant who voluntarily appears at any Municipal Court location during the amnesty period will be permitted to resolve all of their eligible delinquent cases, including Failure to Appear (FTA) cases, and will not be subject to arrest.

Cases eligible for amnesty include cases that were delinquent prior to Feb. 1, 2019. Only the defendant named in the citation or his or her attorney can participate in the Amnesty Program. Bonding companies, friends, relatives, and spouses cannot make the amnesty request on behalf of someone else.

The Amnesty Program does not apply to a defendant that is in custody, previously adjudicated cases, parking citations, administrative violations, bond forfeitures, or civil cases. Individuals may call the Houston Helpline by dialing 3-1-1 or 713-837-0311 for questions about whether their specific case(s) is amnesty eligible.

Defendants may take advantage of the Amnesty Program by phone, U.S. Mail or in person at any Municipal Court location.

For additional information about Municipal Courts or court cases, visit the website at www.houstontx.gov/courts, or call the Houston Helpline at 3-1-1or 713-837-0311 if outside of Houston.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you doing this?
To resolve cases for which all other means of resolution have been unsuccessful and to assist the citizens of Houston with any lingering outstanding Municipal Court issues.

When does Amnesty begin?
The Amnesty Program began Friday, March 15 and ends at Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

What kinds of cases are eligible for Amnesty rates?
Most delinquent traffic and non-traffic citations that were delinquent on or before Feb. 1, 2019 will be eligible for Amnesty discounts. Parking citations and Administrative violations are not eligible for Amnesty. Citizens may call 3-1-1 to find out if they have eligible Amnesty cases.

What do I do if I have a delinquent parking citation?
Parking citations are not eligible for Amnesty. For additional information or assistance regarding paying your parking citation, please call 311 or 713.837.0311.

How can I find out if I have warrants?
Dial Houston’s Helpline at 3-1-1, visit the website at www.houstontx.gov/courts or come in person at any City of Houston Municipal Court location.

What are my options if I find out that I have warrants?
You may pay the fines at the applicable Amnesty rates if your cases qualify. You may also be able to post a bond and have your case(s) reset for a new court date. You always have the option to seek legal advice from an attorney or come to any City of Houston Municipal Court location to speak with a judge.

If I come to court to pay, will I be arrested?
No.  The City Houston Municipal Courts will not arrest individuals who visit our courthouse to inquire about their delinquent cases.  We encourage everyone to come in voluntarily to resolve their cases.

If I want to pay for my delinquent cases/warrants, what are my payment options?
Payment options are as follows: Phone (3-1-1, 713-837-0311), U.S. Mail, or In-Person at any City of Houston Municipal Court location.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept cash, checks, money orders, and American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa.

After I pay, how long will it take to clear my driving record through DPS?
The City of Houston Municipal Courts Department will forward the information to DPS upon payment of your case(s). Please allow 5 to 7 business days for your driving record to clear through DPS.

Recycling Collection Schedule Update

January 17th, 2019

HOUSTON – Please note the following adjustments to the City of Houston’s recycling collection schedule. Due to the schedule adjustments do not place your recycling (green) container at the curb until Wednesday or Saturday.

For future updates and collection schedules please visit our website, monitor our social media and 3-1-1 customer service center.

Thank you for your patience as we work on resolving this matter. Residents are also encouraged to take advantage of the six (6) neighborhood depositories closest to your home. For more department information visit www.houstonsolidwaste.gov

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Thursday’s & Friday’s A-Week Curbside Recycling pickup

Monday, January 21, 2019 (Martin Luther King Jr) 
CITY HOLIDAY: NO COLLECTION SERVICES. All facilities and services closed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 
Monday’s Garbage Collected.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Tuesday’s Garbage Collected.

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Thursday’s Garbage Collected.

Friday, January 25, 2019
Friday’s Garbage Collected.

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Monday’s & Tuesday’s B-Week Curbside Recycling pickup.

Sunday, January 27, 2019 
Thursday’s & Friday’s B-Week Curbside Recycling pickup.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019  
Monday’s & Tuesday’s A-Week Curbside Recycling pickup.

Saturday, February 2, 2019
Thursday’s & Friday’s A-Week Curbside Recycling pickup.

For more information about SWMD and our services, visit us at www.houstonsolidwaste.org, “LIKE” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste, follow us on Twitter @HoustonTrash, or call 3-1-1, the City of Houston’s Customer Service Helpline.

Recovery centers to provide federal aid for repair of homes damaged by Harvey

January 16th, 2019

The City of Houston has taken a critical step forward with the opening of four Housing Resource Centers, one in each quadrant of the city, to use $1.17 billion in federal aid to assist Houstonians whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Anyone who may be eligible must first complete a survey:

  • Online at https://recovery.houstontx.gov
  • By phone at 832-393-0550 (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Or in person at any of the new centers (Northeast, 9551 N. Wayside, Houston 77028; Northwest, 13101 Northwest Freeway [Hwy. 290], Suite 101, Houston 77040; Southwest, 6464 Savoy Drive, Suite 110, Houston 77036; Southeast, 11550 Fuqua St., 3rd floor, Houston 77036)

Mobile outreach teams are also available to serve home-bound residents and others.

Please see the info flyer.

Mayor Sylvester Turner opened the Northeast center on Monday, encouraging community members to be ambassadors for the recovery effort to ensure that no eligible homeowner is left out.

The mayor told people in the packed room, “Our goal is to reach and serve as many of the affected homeowners as possible, especially those who are hardest to reach – our disadvantaged, senior citizens, those with limited English proficiency and those with special needs. We will not leave anyone behind.”

On the importance of taking the Harvey Recovery Survey, the mayor continued, “No one wants another delay in the process. The survey will help us understand each homeowner’s situation better and determine which program they may be eligible for.”

Tom McCasland, director of the City Housing and Community Development Department, emphasized that the city has moved quickly to ensure recovery was launched as soon as federal funds became available. McCasland said, “The contract for the money was signed on the 4 th , today is the 14 th – it’s 10 days later and we’re rolling out programs.”

The city will receive the $1.17 billion for housing recovery through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Texas General Land Office.

The recovery funds include the Homeowner Assistance Program, which offers five program options including: 1) reimbursement for completed repairs, 2) homeowner-managed rehabilitation, 3) city-managed rehabilitation and reconstruction, 4) buyouts, and 5) interim mortgage assistance.

While priority will be given to low- and moderate-income homeowners, assistance is available to homeowners of all income levels.

To schedule a mobile outreach team, or for any additional information, please visit https://recovery.houstontx.gov or call the Harvey recovery hotline number 832-393-0550, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Housing Resource Centers hours of operation are:

  • Mondays – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Wednesdays – Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Houston’s Local Action Plan Open for Public Input Until June 21

June 8th, 2018

The City of Houston has released its draft local action plan for $1.15 billion in housing recovery funding. The plan is available for review and public comment from Thursday, June 7 through Thursday, June 21 and will be submitted to City Council for approval on June 27. The plan includes a local needs assessment, programs and budget, and spending timelines for $1,155,119,250 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.

“Hurricane Harvey hit hard for many Houstonians, but it didn’t break our spirit,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “With these recovery resources, our goal is to make historic progress in ensuring that every Houstonian has a safe, affordable place to live, and that our neighborhoods provide economic opportunities for Houstonians to thrive.”

Since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of housing recovery funds in February, the City has been working with Harris County, the State of Texas, and the federal government to ensure that Houston gets its fair share of these resources and that they are locally controlled. Submitting a local action plan to the Texas General Land Office (GLO) is a requirement for Houston to receive this funding.

The Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) has been convening public meetings and focus groups to inform the development of the local action plan. Since April, HCDD has worked with civic groups, the Super Neighborhood Council, and City Council Members to host or participate in 17 community meetings, focus groups, and public events to get input on Houstonians’ recovery priorities.

“Houstonians must have a voice in their own recovery,” said Housing Director Tom McCasland. “Our department will continue to be out in the community, listening to people’s experience, concerns, and needs so that we can build a stronger, more resilient, and more equitable city.”

More than 600 people have participated in events focused on long-term recovery since April and 383 have taken HCDD’s recovery survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/HoustonHarveyRecovery. Additional meetings will be held throughout the comment period before the draft goes to City Council on June 27. A list of upcoming events is posted at www.houstontx.gov/housing and on the HCDD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/HoustonHCDD.

Later this summer, Houston’s plan will be incorporated into the State of Texas Plan for Disaster Recovery: Hurricane Harvey – Round 1 as a substantial amendment. Harris County’s plan will be incorporated in the same amendment.

Public comments on the local action plan may be submitted by email to: Fatima.Wajahat@houstontx.gov or by mail: HCDD, ATTN: Fatima Wajahat, 601 Sawyer, Suite 400, Houston, TX 77007. View the draft Plan at:

To learn more about CDBG-DR and upcoming events related to disaster recovery, please call 832.394.6200 or visit www.houstontx.gov/housing.

Talks point to local control of U.S. long-term recovery aid

March 22nd, 2018

After a recent meeting among representatives of the City of Houston, Harris County and the Texas General Land Office in Washington, D.C., Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced that local governments and the state agency have established a framework for moving forward on distribution of long-term recovery funds for Hurricane Harvey.

“I had asked for fairness in how the City of Houston would be treated – that the City be properly consulted by the General Land Office, per the requirements for these funds set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Mayor Turner said. “This meeting marks the beginning of that consultation. We are now on the right path to a fair distribution of much-needed disaster relief dollars.”

“I’d like to thank Land Commissioner George P. Bush for his collaborative efforts, as well as our partners at Harris County,” Mayor Turner continued. “Working together, we can put these funds to work for the kinds of long-term investments in housing and community development that will make our city stronger for the future.”

“It’s crucial that local governments have significant input into how these funds are distributed,” said Judge Emmett. “As the first line of response to those devastated by Hurricane Harvey, we are most familiar with what is needed and where. I genuinely thank our state and federal officials for recognizing our need for flexibility.”

HUD convened the meeting, which included representatives from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Abbott had selected the Texas General Land Office to distribute $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds appropriated to the State by Congress for Harvey relief last year. This is the second round of long-term recovery funding for Hurricane Harvey and is primarily intended to meet housing needs. Congress appropriated additional funds in January for infrastructure and mitigation.

The meeting was convened to begin consultations among the City, County, and State about how funds will be distributed and used. The framework gives Houston and Harris County local control over their recoveries and uses HUD’s unmet housing needs data as a basis for distributing funds.

The GLO will use the framework to draft an action plan, which is required by HUD before the agency will distribute funds to the state.  The public can comment on the draft action plan for 14 days before it is submitted to HUD for approval.

“This is a good first step, and the City of Houston plans to remain heavily involved in the process until we cross the finish line with HUD approval of the GLO’s action plan,” Mayor Turner said. “The sooner we have funds in our hands, the sooner we can implement a world-class community engagement plan and put these dollars to work for recovery.”

Armed with a clearer picture of how the funds will be distributed, the city immediately  will begin consulting with communities in Houston about how to use these resources to build a more resilient and equitable city.

Deadline extended for public input on changes to Chapter 19

February 20th, 2018

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin said he appreciates the comments received by many District E residents, and is happy to announce that Mayor Sylvester Turner has changed the deadline for public input on changes to City of Houston Chapter 19 to Monday, March 5 at 5 p.m.

After the proposed changes were presented to Council during a Joint Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure/Regulation and Neighborhood Affairs Committee Meeting Feb. 12, Council Member Martin provided strong feedback to Mayor Turner, demanding residents be given more time to participate in the process.

APPROACH

The City of Houston hopes to reduce the risk of flood loss for future development and redevelopment by ordinance revisions, new regulations, building codes and design guidelines. Existing development will be improved through Capital Improvement Projects, buyouts, home elevations and demo-rebuilds. Buyouts will be determined based on repetitive flooding and are only considered when residents volunteer to participate in the program. Additionally, home elevations utilizing pier and beam methods are being researched by Houston Public Works. 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Houston’s current code only applies to property in the 100-year floodplain and protects 1 foot above 100-year flood elevation. The proposed revisions would include property in the 500-year floodplain and protect “X” feet of 500-year flood elevation. It would also include no net fill in the 500-year floodplain. 

“X” feet in the proposed revisions is still to be determined following the public input period. It is believed that the City is looking at changing the ordinance to 2 feet above the 500-year floodplain, but the City would like input on if that is too much or too little.

The 100-year floodplain is land that is predicted to flood during a 100-year storm, which has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. The 500-year floodplain has a .2% chance of occurring. For residents outside of the 100-year and 500-year floodplain, these changes to the ordinance will have little or no affect.

PUBLIC INPUT AND NEXT STEPS

Public input on proposed changes to Chapter 19 can be made:
·        Through this survey (new deadline: Monday, March 5 at 5 p.m.)
·        By emailing the Houston Public Works Department at pwe.director@houstontx.gov, or
The ordinance will be presented to Council on March 21, 2018.
For more information, please contact the District E office at 832-393-3008 or via email at districte@houstontx.gov

Time has come to get serious about protecting our region and the nation

October 1st, 2017

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, at the podium, prepares to roll-out dynamic new storm surge protection video during a media event held Sept. 12 at Houston City Hall. Shown, from left are: Houston City Council Members Karla Cisneros, Dave Martin, David Robinson, Jack Christie, standing behind Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Mayor Pro-Tem Ellen R. Cohen. Next to Cohen are State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, State Rep. Dennis Paul, and Stephen C. Costello, City of Houston chief resilience officer and “flood czar.”

By Kathryn Paradis

Victor Hugo, a French writer famous for penning Les Misérables, among many other works, wrote, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Following the massive destruction of Hurricane Harvey, roughly estimated to have caused $150 billion in damages, it appears that the time has finally come to take storm surge protection for the upper Texas Gulf coast under serious consideration.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, less than 24 hours shy of the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Ike, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and the City of Houston rolled out the second in a series of videos produced to promote the critical need for a coastal spine system, an “Ike Dike” if you will, to protect the people, homes, businesses, industries and economies of the region, state, and nation.

The film, Unprepared – A Nation at Risk, produced by Space City Films and funded by the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, takes a hard look at the consequences of Houston suffering a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, surrounded by members of city council and other stakeholders, led the media event by stating, “I don’t think there is a better time to have this conversation than right now. As we work diligently to get back on track after the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, we are also keeping our eyes on the vital need for strong surge protection in our region.”

“It is very difficult,” he emphasized, “to have a conversation about rebuilding if we don’t have a serious conversation about mitigation … It needs to be a part of the rebuilding process.”

San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer says hello to Col. Len Waterworth, Texas A&M Galveston executive professor.

The mayor continued, “I think that Hurricane Harvey was a warning sign that we need to start talking, and, quite frankly, we need to start designing and building. There is no reason that in the package before Congress that they are considering that the coastal spine should not be fully funded.”

Mayor Turner then invited BAHEP President Bob Mitchell to address the media and others in the overflow crowd in the Legacy Room at Houston City Hall. BAHEP, in partnership with Texas A&M University at Galveston among many others, has been working since 2009 to gain support for a coastal spine system.

“We’ve actually been able to accomplish more in the last 10 months than we have in the previous seven years,” Mitchell told the crowd, pointing out that the accomplishments would not have been possible without the assistance of many people, notably Dr. Bill Merrell of Texas A&M Galveston, the “father” of the coastal spine concept. “Without his foresight and creativity, there is no way that we would be standing here today,” Mitchell said.

He invited everyone to watch the video, which spoke of Texas storms and their consequences, featured interviews with hurricane experts and elected officials, and outlined the potential financial impact on the nation of such storms and the aftermath of a major storm surge barreling up the Houston Ship Channel. The dynamic video can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v_Ez1Xvkjqo.