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Houston City Council passes hoarding ordinance

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The Houston City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 16, included lengthy debates, but eventually all major agenda items passed with only minor changes.

The Council held three public hearings to allow for comment on Resolutions of No Objection, which will pave the way for tax credit applications for properties at 2010 North Main Street (Item 1), a scattered-site project in the Greater 5th Ward (Item 2) and a project at 5300 Coke Road. The developers were well known for positive contributions to development in their areas, and no one reserved time to oppose the projects.

The Council also confirmed appointment of three members of the Houston Public Library Foundation board of directors, including former Councilor Sue Lovell to Position 10, Ryman Leach to Position 11, and David Lopez to Position 18 (Item 4).

A $7 million contract for replacement parts for police vehicles with Tommie Vaughn Motors, Inc. caused several Council members to ask why so view vendors bid on the contract and whether future contacts could be subdivided into smaller components. Several qualifications for supply and service of police vehicles have stringent requirements, but some components of the contract for parts might be feasible for smaller minority vendors. (Item 15)

Three measures were essential steps for moving forward on the second downtown Convention Center, hotel and associated parking garage (items 21, 22, and 47). The first two passed without opposition, but the third was the subject of a lengthy discussion on the role of Houston First Corporation, City Council's oversight over the plans and procedures of the downtown development project, and related technical legal questions. The matter was resolved with a minor change in the deed of the tract of land for the parking garage, assuring that it could not be conveyed to a third party at a later time.

The Council also passed an ordinance dealing with hoarding and related behaviors. The ordinance clarifies language in existing law, and provides for police inspection of multifamily residential units where a hoarding might cause a health or safety hazard to other residents. Houston Police would be authorized to inspect, the areas when they receive complaints, and when appropriate, refer the occupants to mental health counseling services. (Item 46).

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