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Houston Council enacts payday lending regulation, postpones food desert and wrec

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It its final meeting of the year on Dec 18 2013, Houston City Council discussed three issues in considerable detail, although two were tagged or otherwise postponed, and one matter did not require action.

Fist, the Council heard a report from a Ms. Rybicky of the US Postal Service with official notice that several post offices were being studied for possible consolidation or closure. Most are in the Montrose area near Westheimer and in the Third Ward. For all cases, facilities now have excess capacity. The most cost-effective approach will be decided on a case by case basis.

The council took Item 48 dealing with payday lending and debated it at length before the Consent Docket. After debating several potential amendments, the matter passed substantially as the Mayor proposed, maintaining the substantive elements enacted in other major Texas cities.

The second item debated was a rule changing requirements of alcohol free zones that might encourage more grocery stores in so-called “food desserts.” However, after amendments were offered, City Attorney Feldman stated that he would need time to review the language, so the measure was tabled until the January meeting.

Finally, lengthy the Council held a relatively brief discussion of a new regulation on wrecker drivers and storage lots. The issue was tagged and will be presented at the first regular meeting of the new year.

For 5 of the 17 City Counselors, today was the final meeting. Helena Brown (District A), Al Hoang (District F) and Andrew Burks (at large 2) were defeated in their re-election bids. Wanda Adams (District D), James Rodriguez (District I) and Melissa Noriega served the last of their 3 terms under current term limit rules.

Council Member Bradford used his final announcement time to underscore the turnover imposed by 2-year terms and term limits. He mentioned that in the last 4 years, 17 of the 18 positions are new counselors. He urged a review of the term limit rules.

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