In February, my office launched a six-month pilot initiative to pick up shopping carts abandoned on public property in District I. We partnered with the Solid Waste Department to conduct the collections Monday through Friday on a twice monthly basis. A similar pilot is also underway in Councilman Mike Laster’s District J in southwest Houston. Both pilots are expected to run until the end of August.
As we all know, abandoned shopping carts are not only unsightly, but they can create road hazards and even lead to drainage issues if they end up in our ditches. In just the first 4 months of collection, we have retrieved over 700 carts from roadways, sidewalks, esplanades, ditches, and parks in District I. This is in addition to the number of shopping carts picked up by retailers such as Fiesta Mart, Walmart, and others during the same time period.
Despite efforts by some retailers to collect their abandoned carts, significant numbers of carts remain within the public domain. While most of the larger retailers have measures to keep carts from leaving their property, such as through the use of electronic perimeter barricades, or regularly scheduled collection, many smaller and mid-size retailers do not.
That is why during the budget discussion in May, Councilman Laster offered an amendment to create a citywide collection program that would require retailers to come up with better solutions to this problem. Unfortunately, the administration did not support the amendment and it was defeated.
This continues to be a priority for me and many in our community, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues over the coming months to develop sustainable solutions to eliminate this blight from our neighborhoods.
Houston Council Member
TxDOT’s I-45 Improvement & Widening Project
TxDOT is accepting comments regarding their proposed plans to move I-45 to the east side of downtown. The proposed project would include:
- Reconstructing mainlanes and frontage roads
- Rerouting of I-45 in the downtown area to be coincident with I-10 on the north side of downtown and coincident with US 59/I-69 on the east side of downtown
- Removing the existing elevated I-45 roadway along the west and south sides of downtown
- Adding access to the west side of downtown via “Downtown Connectors” that would allow access to and from various downtown streets
- Realigning both I-10 and US 59/I-69 within the proposed project area to eliminate the current roadway curvature
- Adding four I-10 express lanes between I-45 and US 59/I-69
Written comments regarding the project may be submitted by email to HOUfirstname.lastname@example.org. The comment period has been extended to July 27, 2017, and comments must be emailed by that date to be part of the official record.
For more information visit www.ih45northandmore.com.
Canoe/Kayak Launch Sites Open on Brays Bayou
Houstonians who wish to see our bayous from a different vantage point will now be able to enjoy the beauty that is Brays Bayou from the water thanks to the addition of two new sites from where to launch canoes or kayaks.
The two new launch points are near Fonde Park at 2600 Lidstone St. and Brays Greenway Park at 8001 Hockley St. Last year, the first launch site opened near Spurlock Park at 1600 N. MacGregor, and two more launch areas are scheduled to open over the next year near MacGregor Park and Mason Park.
The paddling trail initiative has been made possible thanks to the efforts of District I resident, Amy Dinn. “This project has been a collaborative effort with support from residents from many neighborhoods along Brays Bayou who participated in the planning efforts,” said Dinn. “Additional thanks goes to the Bayou Preservation Association who provided guidance and support on the site placement and construction of the launch sites. Hope to see everyone out on the bayou.”
“This paddling trail allows people to launch canoes or kayaks from multiple points along Brays Bayou,” said Councilman Robert Gallegos who allocated $5,000 in District I Service Dollars to help complete the paddling trail. “This water trail will attract even more residents to our waterways, and make a wonderful addition to the hike and bike trail that has been completed along the banks of the bayou.”
When fully completed, this urban paddling trail will span nearly 5 miles along Brays Bayou, from MacGregor Park to the Ship Channel in southeast Houston.
Alianza Against Crime – July 29
Houston Looking for Artists to Paint New “Mini Murals”
The City of Houston is gearing up to add another 38 artworks to street-side traffic signal control cabinets throughout Houston and is encouraging artists to submit qualifications for the opportunity to create a mural. Known as “Mini Murals”, Houston now has over 170 new original artworks in neighborhoods throughout the city, including several, like those pictured above, in District I.
If you are an artist interested in joining the registry, you can find the Open Call guidelines available HERE. Artists will need to submit their qualifications, including work samples, a letter of intent, and previous work experience. The deadline to submit your application will be no later than August 11, 2017 and all artists will be notified of results by August 31, 2017.
For more information about the City’s Cultural Programs go to houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs.
Are you Prepared for Hurricane Season?
With hurricane season well underway, the City of Houston is urging all residents to prepare. The National Weather Service has predicted an “above-normal” year for hurricanes in the Atlantic. Regardless of whether or not you live in an evacuation zone, everyone should be ready to respond if a hurricane threatens our coast.
Hurricane Evacuation Zones & Routes
While a majority of residents in the City of Houston live outside of a Hurricane Evacuation Zone, it’s important to remember that those residents along the coast may have to evacuate if a storm threatens our area.
Hurricane evacuations are coordinated between local governments (cities and counties) and are called by ZIP code. Regional law enforcement agencies will work to help keep evacuation routes open and traffic moving along designated routes. For a map of hurricane evacuation zones and designated travel routes, visit houstontx.gov/hurricanes.
Have an Emergency Kit
If you plan on riding out the storm in your home, make sure you have a “stay at home kit” with enough supplies to last 5-7 days. This includes sufficient food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights and sturdy work gear and gloves in case you have to remove debris following the storm.
If you plan on evacuating, have a “go-kit” ready to do with supplies for 3-5 days. Remember that you may be far from home for longer, so make sure you have enough medication and other essentials for the time you are planning to be away.
For a full list of supplies to have in your kit, download a copy of the City’s Disaster Preparedness Guide at houstonoem.org or call 3-1-1 to request a printed version in English or other languages.
Make an Emergency Plan
If you do not live in an evacuation area, you likely would not need to evacuate. Make a plan for your family to ride-out the storm. Select an interior room on the lowest floor possible and have what you need to secure your windows from strong winds.
If you live in an evacuation area, be prepared to evacuate. This means pre-designating a place you’ll go, and ensuring you have enough supplies for your household for 3-5 days.
Stay informed throughout hurricane season about developments in the tropics. Visit hurricanes.gov for the latest information from the National Hurricane Center, and houstonemergency.org for updates from the City of Houston.
Know your Neighbors
When disasters strike, communities rally together to help each other recover. Meet your neighbors, and take an inventory of who has certain supplies and skills, and make a plan to work together if a hurricane hits.
Also, ensure that the most vulnerable in our community, those who may have a medical need or disability, or who may need extra assistance in a storm are looked after. You may also help them register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) which provides emergency agencies with information about their unique needs. Call 2-1-1 (877-541-7905) or visit texasstear.org to register.
City Pools are Open for Summer!
The Houston Parks Department’s 37 outdoor swimming pools are open during the summer months (June – Aug). All pools are FREE and open to all ages, but children under 8 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The pools are open Tuesday through Sunday, from 1 to 8 p.m.
What to Wear: Appropriate swim-wear is required – No cut-offs, shorts, T-shirts, or thongs. The City of Houston’s policy prohibits the wearing of T-shirts in swimming pools unless an exemption letter has been accepted and filed in our Aquatics Office. Exemptions are granted based on medical and/or religious reasons, for the wearing of plain white T-shirts only.
For the Kids: Children under 8 must be accompanied in the pool by a parent or an adult. Swim diapers are required for infants and babies.No flotation devices, such as floaties and inflatables, are permitted.
What Not to Do: No smoking is allowed. No eating and drinking is allowed, except in designated areas. No beverages or alcohol in glass containers are permitted. No excessively loud music is permitted.
The department also operates a heated indoor natatorium for citizens with disabilities at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray.
For a complete list of rules and regulation for department pools please visit: www.houstontx.gov/parks/aquatics