SMLS for 1600 Branard Approved

The Houston City Council has approved Special Minimum Lot Size protection for the 1600 block of Branard Street. The ordinance will remain in effect for 40 years, at which point it can be renewed. With the inclusion of the 1600 block of Branard Street, the entirety of Lancaster Place Extensions 1-3 now enjoy the protection of Houston's Special Minimum Lot Size ordinance.

Dunlavy Street Reconstruction: Community Meeting on March 15, 2017

Staff from the City of Houston's Public Works & Engineering Division will meet with residents of Lancaster Place to discuss plans for the reconstruction of Dunlavy Street's infrastructure from the south entrance of H.E.B.'s parking lot to Richmond Avenue. The community meeting will coincide with LPCA's General Meeting on March 15, 2017 and will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Pecore Hall of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

LPCA Spring Social on April 24, 2016

The Lancaster Place Civic Association will hold its Spring Social on Sunday, April 24th, at the home of Joanna Spires and Thomas Soulas at 1615 Colquitt Street: time 5-7 p.m. The Social is the premier event for LPCA's 2016 membership drive. Eligible residents of Lancaster Place are invited to join the Association or renew their memberships. Join LPCA today! We will be a stronger community with your participation.

LPCA Bylaw Revisions Approved

The LPCA Bylaw Revisions proposed by the Board of Directors was approved by a unanimous vote of Members present at its General Meeting on February 17, 2016. The approved Bylaws can be found here.

A new Membership Dues structure was also approved unanimously. The new structure is:

  • $45:     Individual (one adult in a household or one property owner of 18 years of age or older)
  • $65:     Dual (two adults in a household, or two adults who own a property jointly)
  • $100    Sustaining (eligible adults who wish to support LPCA at a greater level

 An individual person or institution qualifies for one membership only.

Proposed LPCA Bylaw Revisions

The Board of Officers of the Lancaster Place Civic Association has conducted a thorough review of its Bylaws for the first time since the Association reconstituted in 2005. The purpose of the review was to clarify language, correct grammatical errors, add qualifying details and fine-tune Association procedures, as needed.  This review has produced a set of proposed revisions that will be presented to LPCA Membership at its next meeting on February 17, 2016, on which occasion Members will vote on their adoption.

Some revision highlights are:

  • Clarifying LPCA Officer duties
  • Fine-tuning the Election Calendar
  • Retooling the procedure for amending the Dues Structure

A link to the full set of proposed Bylaw revisions is provided here. Please note that they are highlighted in yellow for greater ease in identifying changes.

A link to the current Bylaws is given here for comparison's sake.

Dunlavy Reconstruction

The Public Works & Planning Departments hosted a joint Community Meeting on November 18 to present their preliminary plans for the reconstruction of the Dunlavy Corridor from Allen Parkway to Richmond Avenue. At this time there is CIP (Capital Improvement Project) funding for two segments of Dunlavy: the north segment from Allen Parkway to Peden Street and the south segment from West Main Street to Richmond Avenue. Reconstruction will include new roadway, storm drains, water & wastewater infrastructure, sidewalks and bicycle facilities.

Here are some highlights of the design for the south segment that runs through the middle of Lancaster Place. The stretch of Dunlavy between West Alabama and West Main was rebuilt during the construction of the Montrose HEB, so it is not included in PWE's current plans.

  • Construction is forecast to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2019
  • The roadway will be reconstructed with two 11-foot wide travel lanes
  • There will be no center turn lane in this segment
  • There will be 8-foot wide dedicated parking on both sides of Dunlavy protected by "bow-out" landings at the intersections of West Main and Colquitt
  • There will be a 6-foot sidewalk along the west side of Dunlavy
  • There will be a 10-foot shared use path for pedestrians and bicycles along the east side of Dunlavy
  • The bicycle route will eventually link Buffalo Bayou Park with Rice University
  • The intersection at Richmond Avenue will be regularized so that traffic flows more evenly onto the stretch of Dunlavy that runs south toward Bissonnet Street
  • There will be a protected left-hand turn lane at Richmond
  • All work will be done within the existing right-of-way

A reassuring note to come from the presentation was that the south segment of Dunlavy through Lancaster Place is recognized as primarily residential in nature and that the new street is being designed with that context in mind. A copy of the preliminary design with maps and street-views is available on ReBuild Houston's web site at LPCA encourages everyone to take a look at this material. There is a great deal of additional information, including a preliminary design for the north segment of Dunlavy between Allen Parkway and Peden Street and a prospectus on the Houston Bike Plan.

CIP funding is not yet in place for the middle section of Dunlavy Street between Peden and West Alabama. When CIP funding is allocated, that segment will be designed so that Dunlavy is a cohesive north-south corridor through the neighborhoods of west Montrose.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Thanks to Sherry Weesner for generously sharing her research and analysis of the City of Houston’s budget. Sherry is a longtime resident of Montrose and a veteran in the defense and betterment of the Montrose community.

My Tax Dollars at Work

I know we all complain a lot about where our taxes go. Well, I've discovered a place where you can see how your City of Houston property taxes are spent.

The City's approximately $2 billion General Fund is its largest fund and supports the majority of the basic services of the City, such as police and fire protection, health and human services, and garbage collection. The largest sources of revenue for the General Fund are property and sales taxes, which together make up approximately 70% of the General Fund.

The current property tax rate for the City of Houston is 63.108 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The sales tax rate for the City is 1 cent, METRO's is 1 cent and the State of Texas' tax rate is 6.25 cents per dollar for taxable items purchased. Obviously, most of the sales tax you pay ends up in the State's budget.

We also pay the Drainage Utility Charge (ReBuild Houston) – which shows up on your water bill. The fee is either 3.2 or 2.6 cents per year per square feet of impervious surface depending on the type of road you live on (curb and gutter or open ditch). This fee pays for street and drainage improvements within the city. The city has approximately $1.7 billion in road and drainage infrastructure debt and pays nearly $150 million per year in interest on that debt. 11.8 cents of every $100 of property value collected is currently going to pay off the debt incurred on previous street and drainage projects. As this debt is repaid the funds will be used for street and drainage improvements around the city.

To review the taxes you pay to other entities like HISD visit the Harris County Appraisal District website.

The City has created a website to show us how our property taxes are spent. The My Tax Dollars at Work website on the City of Houston's webpage allows each of us to analyze how our Property Taxes are spent. The page has not been updated to the most recently adopted budget but I expect that will happen soon. The current budget is similar to the budgets approved over that last several years.

I utilized the website to analyze where the taxes are spent for a typical property in our area. For this example, I evaluated a property with a $500,000 appraised value with a homestead exemption.

Below is a detailed breakout of how the annual property taxes are spent:

by Sherry Weesner