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The District Journal, Jan. 25, 2018

A tisket, a tasket... Too Many Shopping Baskets

Heat map showing areas with the highest number of shopping cart accumulation

Shopping carts + Houston = the Wild West. You see abandoned carts at bus stops, in your neighborhood, and even in our Bayous! These carts aren't cheap either, costing retailers $100-$400 to replace. As you can imagine, these costs are passed on to the customer. Reducing cart abandonment is a win-win for all Houstonians.

District J finished a second round of its Shopping Cart Retrieval Program in 2017. The program lasted for 6 months, and was a joint effort with District I, located on the southeast side of Houston. It was paid for by our respective the Council District Service Funds.

In the span of 9 months, from February 2017 to October 2017, our City of Houston crews picked up 3,730 carts in District J and I. In District J 2,102 shopping carts were collected. The cost for the District J program was approximately $25,000. That is consistent with the results from our first pilot program, when 870 carts were picked up in a 3-month period from 2015 to 2016. With on average 250 carts going wayward a month in District J, it is clear a city-wide initiative and ordinance change to address this problem is necessary.

We will begin a third Shopping Cart Collection Program next month, and will continue for a 6-month period. Make sure to contact your District J office with locations of shopping carts so that we can forward to the Solid Waste Department for pickup.

I hope you will join me in continuing to fight for the permanent establishment of an ordinance and program that will permanently address this blight and improve the quality of life in our City.

Click here to read the Houston Chronicle article and a report from ABC Channel 13 regarding shopping carts in our city.

Thank You,
-Council Member Mike Laster, District J

New HFD Pumper Trucks in District J

hpd pumper truck 01

The City of Houston has purchased 4 new Houston Fire Department pumper trucks. Two of these trucks are headed to Stations 28 and 51 in District J. The Pumpers, manufactured by the Spartan company, are fully equipped with hoses, tools, MDTs (Mobile Data Terminals) and added safety features. These safety features include intercom headset communication system/ hearing protection, backup camera with microphone transmitting sound to the E.O., full curtain side airbags, anti-theft door locks system and in-cab tool brackets. Training for the vehicles is scheduled for the beginning of January.

hpd pumper truck 02

Congrats to new Public Works Director

Carol Haddock

We are proud to introduce Carol Haddock as the first woman to serve as the City of Houston's Director of Public Works and Engineering. Your District J office has had the pleasure of working with Ms. Haddock for several years now, and are excited for what the future holds!

Houston Bar Assc. Will-a-thon


Harvey Assistance

Substantial Damage Letter

Some of you may have received a Letter of Substantial Damage from the Public Works and Engineering Department regarding Hurricane Harvey. "Substantial damage" is defined as occuring when the cost to repair the home is more than 50 percent of the market value of the home itself (just the improvement, not the land.)

These letters are the first batch with more letters to come in the new year. Below are some tips from a news article written by Click2Houston.

  1. What does it mean to homeowners who get this letter?
    It means the lowest living floor of your home must be elevated above the base flood elevation in order to get a permit for repairs. Your other option is to appeal the letter.
  2. How do you get into compliance?
    You can knock down your home and build a home that's elevated above the base flood elevation.
    You can also elevate your existing home above the base flood elevation.
    You can apply for a grant to elevate your home. Even if you get the grant, it can take two years or more to actually receive the funds and have the elevation done.
  3. What if I don't agree with the letter?
    You can appeal, by calling the Flood Plain Management Office at 832-394-8854. There is also an appeal form to fill out.
    It's possible your home is already in compliance but was flooded because Harvey was an unusual storm. If that is the case, and you receive a letter, you should go through the appeals process.
  4. What if I get the letter and I don't comply?
    If you don't come into compliance, the city of Houston is required to notify the Federal Emergency Management Agency. You potentially may not be eligible for flood insurance or future disaster assistance.
  5. What if I can't afford the repairs?
    According to Public Works, if a homeowner can't elevate their home or tear down and rebuild to put their home in compliance, they can't get a permit to repair the home. Some other options are applying for the Harris County Buyout Program, applying for an SBA loan or if they have FEMA flood insurance and they raise their home they can be eligible for the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage which is $30,000.

Restoration Centers for Harvey

There are 8 restorative centers opening throughout the City of Houston for Hurricane Harvey victims. Offerings include disaster case management and vital services such as temporary housing assistance, legal aid, mental health and wellness care, home repair and rebuilding information and employment.

In Southwest Houston, the Gulfton Restoration Center at the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center (6500 Rookin St.) operates on Tuesday and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm.

There are 8 other restoration centers throughout the City, please click here for a full list!

Non-Profits Assisting with Recovery Efforts

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is disbursing an additional $27.6 million to 28 local nonprofit organizations to provide relief to Hurricane Harvey flood victims in Houston and Harris County.

The grants will provide flood victims with:

  • Financial Assistance
  • Disaster Case Management
  • Basic Needs
  • Furniture, Furnishings, and Appliances
  • Behavioral Health Services
  • Educational Services

If you are interested in a breakdown of funding and a list of recipients, please click here to view a summary.

Hazard Mitigation Workshop

resiliant houston