The regular City Council meeting on Wednesday July 17, was relatively short and uneventful, compared with public session interrupted by protesters the day before. The meeting began with a public hearing mandated by state law on Standards of Care for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's Youth Recreation programs. Following the formal hearing, the Council re-adopted Article XII, Chapter 32 of the Code of Ordinances. Parks Director Joe Turner reviewed the rules and restrictions, and noted that more than 4500 school-age youth benefit from the programs each year (see video).
The Council then approved Mayor Parker's appointment of Kat Gallagher to the Houston Zoo Board of Directors for an unexpired term ending June 30, 2014 (Item 2 on the agenda). The council also re-appointed 11 members of the Greenspoint District of Harris County Board of Directors. In order of position, Kelly McNeil, D. Michael Downs, John Ridgway, Karen Marshal, Ramon Berjarano, Daid Egbert, Charles Lopez, Thomas, Wussow, Eward Hinton Adam Ruiz, Jr. and Stephen Head. (Item 3 on the agenda).
Virtually all 26 items on the consent agenda, mostly infrastructure contracts, grant approvals, and consulting contracts, were approved with minimum debate, frequently with the sole dissenting vote of Council Member Helena Brown.
The agenda also called for nominations to 6 different boards (Items 27 – 32). Positions were open for the Boards of Directors of Reinvestment Zone One, the Historical Commission, the Houston Center for Literacy, the Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority, Rebuild Houston Oversight Committee, and the Wastewater Capacity Reservation Review Board. For the first time, the nominations had been the subject of a committee hearing, where they were reviewed and vetted. The nomination committee then reported a slate of nominations, but opened the process for nominations from the floor. Names of each position or each board are available in the Agenda Backup. Council expects to approve the nominations next week.
An ordinance providing for registration of group homes was tagged for a second time. Council Member Rodriguez presented an amendment to require appropriate fire escapes, proper exit signs, and other fire safety measures, previously not raised in committee hearings.
The final matter on the agenda and was approval of a Section 380 agreement with Cosco for development of a new 149000 sq. foot store at the intersection of I-10 and Grand Parkway in the Cimarron Municipal Utility District. Under the agreement, Costco will build a street and sidewalk facilitating access to the store, which will also encourage development of the area, and provide other infrastructure for about $1 million. The street will become public property and the cost will be credited against sales revenues. Based on the performance of other Costco stores, estimated sales taxes that the City will collect about $8 million.
Even with the advantages, several Council Members objected. Council Member Andrew Burks expressed concerns that there was an inadequate effort to demand more community involvement from Costco, and that the Council was appearing to be more willing to grant a larger concession to a wealthy business than it was to grant minor property tax relief to seniors. (See video) Council Members Brad Bradford Larry Green called for more evidence that the incentives were necessary. The agreement passed 14-3.