FYI on Planning
- Planning Director Retires
- New Planning Director
- Planning Commission Subcommittees
- Revised Metro Plan
- Bus Rapid Transit
- Harris County Toll Roads
- Housing Strategies
- Planning Process in 4 Cities
Planning Director Retires after 14 years
After 10 years of serving as Planning Director, Robert Litke will retire
at the end of August. During his tenure, Mr. Litke initiated the Super Neighborhood
Program and the first major rewrite of Houston’s land development ordinance
known as Chapter 42 to create new rules for urban development. He will be moving
to New Jersey “to watch his grandchildren grow." Press
New Planning Director Announced
The Mayor has named Marlene L. Gafrick, Deputy Director of the Planning and
Development Department to succeed Mr. Litke. She has more than 25 years experience
in land development that includes ordinance development, implementation and
enforcement, permitting and coordination with public agencies and special districts.
Planning Commission Committees Underway
From comprehensive planning to parking, the six committees of the Planning
Commission are addressing issues that affect quality of place in Houston. Currently
under discussion by more than one of these committees is Chapter 42 and its
effect on urban style development in the suburbs-occurring from the Woodlands
to West Houston. The need for variances in the City of Houston introduces elements
of delay and unpredictability for such development outside Loop 610. Final
reports are expected in December, 2005.
Meeting of these committees are open to the public. Click here for a schedule.
Metro Plan Introduces Bus Rapid Transit
If implemented, Metro’s revised Metro Solutions plan will provide 97
miles of rapid transit, instead of the originally planned 36 miles. 55% of
the funding will be committed to rapid transit rail services and the balance
will be allocated to rapid transit bus systems (BRT).
Metro describes BRT as:
rubber-tiered hybrid propulsion vehicle operating in-street or in a separate
dedicated right-of-way, using easily recognizable buses operating
at frequent headways (6 minutes or less) and providing similar service to
- approximately 60 feet in length with a seating capacity of 65 and a total
capacity of 90 passengers per vehicle.
- Capable of speeds comparable to light rail.
- Having 70% low floor and multiple doors on each side for quick and easy
- Stopping at stations similar to the METRO rail stations with the same
ticketing and boarding procedure.
- providing equivalent functiona lity
and level –of-service as light
For more information on bus rapid transit systems in other cities, go to
Bus Rapid Transit Central (http://www.brtc.homestead.com/). For more photos
from Metro Board, go to 1, 2, 3, 4.
Next Steps for 5 New Toll Roads Approved in Harris
According to the recently approved Harris
County Capital Improvements Plan for 2005-2010 , “The following
projects have been evaluated and are considered to be the next five projects
to be constructed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA). "
- Beltway East Mainlanes
- Brazoria County Toll Road
- Grand Parkway, Segment E
- Hardy Toll Rod Extension into Downtown
- Hempstead Road Managed Lanes
Federal and state governments require citizen input into the transportation
planning process for all projects funded in part with any federal funds. TxDOT
and METRO projects fall under this requirement. Because the Harris County Toll
Road Authority does not use any federal or state money, citizen input is not
required. For an outline of the steps to launch a transportation project by
HCTRA and TXDOT, see HCTRA summary
and TXDOT summary.
Housing Strategies Task Forces Present Reports to City Council
Mayor White and City Council have received recommendations on Housing Planning
and Affordable Housing from two task forces appointed by Council Member Gordon
Quan and supported by the American Institute of Architects Houston. See Housing Summary
and Planning Summary.
Highlights include specific actions that would provide:
- Incentives to promote city-wide planning priorities
- Improved coordination and integration of local planning processes
- Incentives for a voluntary site plan review
- Expanded development options and connectivity within/between neighborhoods
- Enhanced coordination among city departments and agencies
Planning Processes in Four Cities
Blueprint Houston studied the planning practices of San Diego, Nashville,
Dallas and Charlotte in 2004. Each of these cities involved the public in identifying
its values and goals for the future of the city and then adopted (or is adopting
in the case of Dallas) a vision of its urban form. In each case, the vision
serves to coordinate development and implementation of the various citywide
infrastructure plans with smaller area plans for neighborhoods, employment
centers, town centers and transportation corridors.
San Diego has adopted a city of villages vision. Charlotte has a corridors
and centers vision. Nashville adopted the 2015 Plan. Dallas is in the process
of adopting its vision for a comprehensive plan that “will provide the
blueprint for implementation actions and act as a guide for the Dallas City
council regarding allocation of City resources.” For more information
see the following:
San Diego :
General Plan Monitoring Report: www.sandiego.gov/cityofvillages/pdf/generalplan/gpmonitoringrpt.pdf
Vision (2015 Plan): www.charmeck.org/Departments/Planning/Area+Planning/Plans/2015+Plan/Home.htm
General Plans/ Policy Guides: www.charmeck.org/Departments/Planning/Area+Planning/Plans/home.htm
Vision (Concept 2010 Plan) http://www.nashville.gov/mpc/index.htm
Corridor Studies: http://www.nashville.gov/mpc/urban.htm
Community plans: http://www.nashville.gov/mpc/WhatIsCP.htm
Community Workshops: http://www.forwarddallas.org/about/workshops.html