Welcome to The Knox Report – August 2021

August is National Back to School Month!

As August begins, it brings along the promise of the school year starting up again. For some, school supply shopping can be a difficult task. Here is an event that may take some stress out of preparing for the upcoming school year.
The Mayor’s Back 2 School Festival, designed to help economically disadvantaged elementary age Houstonians and their families, will be held as a drive thru event on August 14, 2021 in the NRG Park Yellow Lot. Registration is recommended for participation in the fest: https://www.houstontx.gov/btsf/registermystudent.html
There will be 25,000 backpacks filled with school supplies distributed from 8am-4pm, or until supplies last. The Houston Food Bank has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to also provide food to the families of these students who need assistance. You can keep track of updates and find more information here!

The Mayor’s News Conference

On July 26th, I attended the Mayor’s news conference in support of Houston Neighborhoods.
The residents of Pleasantville, Sagemont, Studewood and other communities throughout Houston are still suffering the effects of Harvey, but now must deal with disparities from the Texas General Land Office (GLO).
The post-Harvey Home rebuilding program was put in place to help residents reclaim their living spaces and fix their homes. Unfortunately, the GLO is replacing houses in various neighborhoods using different standards without regard to community impact or deed restrictions currently in place. The GLO is substantially diminishing the value of not only individual homes but entire neighborhoods. Concerned residents have brought forth some very disturbing issues. 
In some neighborhoods, the GLO has agreed to rebuild pre-Harvey three-bedroom homes with garages and brick facades, while in other neighborhoods, the GLO is denying, particularly senior adults, the same consideration. The GLO is dictating to senior homeowners, who previously owned three-bedroom houses with garages, they must accept replacement homes significantly smaller and limited to a two-bedroom home…without a garage. Failure to agree to the GLO mandate results in removal from the program. 
These GLO replacement homes are replacing larger homes with garages and eliminating the senior residents’ equity in their property. These new homes are often built in violation of neighborhood deed restrictions and are not reflective of the surrounding neighborhood. The result is a significantly reduced asset on which many seniors rely. Neighborhoods are negatively impacted by these homes, which are clearly government funded replacement homes, built to below neighborhood standards. The GLO position is that seniors, “do not need any extra space.” Well, I am a grandfather myself and I know families visit their seniors regularly. Often grandchildren will spend the night, the weekend or, in some cases, the summer with their grandparents. These seniors do need the space to welcome their children and grandchildren to visit.
The disparity lies in the fact some neighborhoods are allowed three or more-bedroom homes built to community standards and in accordance with existing deed restrictions. The result of current GLO policy is inconsistent. This is an egregious error on the part of GLO, and I will work to ensure all our neighborhoods are respected, replacement homes fit the neighborhood standards, and adhere to existing deed restrictions. 


With leftover funds from my annual council budget, I was able to purchase this Tug and Helicopter Maintenance Equipment for HPD’s Air Support Division.
A Tug is used to transport HPD helicopters in and out of their hangar. This new Tug allows HPD’s 50-year-old Tug to retire. The maintenance equipment provides balance for the rotors which improves the safety and longevity of the helicopters. 
Being a responsible fiscal conservative, I closely monitor my council office budget: your taxpayer dollars. By doing so, at the end of each fiscal year I am able to designate funds to City departments to purchase items that will benefit the entire City.

Dabang Radio Show with Jimmy Kim

A huge thank you to Mike Khan and Jimmy Kim for allowing me to provide insight to your listeners on Radio Dabang. It was a privilege to be able to sit down on the show this past month.

Breaking Ground in Sunnyside!

Happy to attend the groundbreaking for the new Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center with my grandson, Cooper. This unique two-story, 57,165 square foot facility will provide both health and community center programs in Sunnyside: the first of its kind here in Houston to pursue such a task.

Let’s Talk Crime: District G’s Townhall

Thank you Council Member Travis for hosting a townhall focused on crime in Houston. It was a great turnout.
It was good to hear perspectives from noteworthy speakers, such as Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, Cmdr. Angelo of Westside Patrol Division, HPOU President Doug Griffith, Constable Ted Heap, Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Jason Taylor, HPD Commander Jennifer Read, Special Agent in Charge Perrye Turner, and Major Susan Cotter of Harris County. It was good to see Council Member Alcorn and former Chief and Council Member Bradford.

Día de Los Muertos

I had the opportunity to attend Council Member Gallegos’ official launch reception and press conference for the upcoming Houston Día de Los Muertos parade and festival.
The Navarro group, who are responsible for orchestrating the event, unveiled both their official logo and announced the charity that would benefit from the parade proceeds: Barrio Dogs.
The Houston Día de Los Muertos Festival will take place on November 6, 2021 in Hermann Square from 2pm-10pm. The parade is currently in the works to begin at 6pm with the route still being decided. Applications for vendors, volunteers, and parade participants will be available as we move closer to the event date. For more information or questions you can email navarro@navarrogrp.com.

Grand Opening of the Theocracy School of Divinity

On July 24th, the Theocracy School of Divinity, a seminary college designed to teach those who aspire to learn how to present the gospel, held their Grand Opening and Ribbon cutting ceremony.
In recognition of this special occasion, my Communications Director, Elyssa Garnica, presented Dr. Charlie D. Lacy, President of the Theocracy School of Divinity, with a certificate of appreciation for his dedication and leadership.
Thank you to Pastor Russel of the Greater Jerusalem Baptist Church for allowing the school to utilize their building. Congratulations to everyone and best wishes for all of your future endeavors.

Retiring the Badge

My Son, Jason M. Knox, honorably left his mark with HPD. On July 29th, my family, HPD and friends retired Jason’s badge by placing it in the Wall of Honor Memorial for fallen Houston police officers. The HPD Museum also unveiled their new exhibit which memorializes my son, Jason M. Knox, for his dedication and service to the Houston Police Department.
My Family and I want to thank HPD Chief Troy Finner, our HPD family, Council Member Amy Peck, and the thousands of Houstonians for all their support. My son was a special man. His light and our love for him lives on eternally. 

City of Houston COVID-19 Vaccinations

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic. Take your best shot at returning to normal by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
Getting vaccinated is FREE and does not require ID, proof of residency, citizenship, or insurance.
People age 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Houston Health Department-affiliated vaccination sites are located across the city and open for walk-ins or appointments.
People can visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 to register for appointments. Registration assistance is available by phone by calling 832-393-4220 or 832-393-4301.

It’s Summertime!

Summer can be a blast. The kids are out of school and the weather is warm enough to go to the pool. We are all excited to enjoy some summer fun! However, safety should still be a priority during all of our vacations and seasonal activities. Don’t let your time off be ruined. Here are some some reminders so that we can all make the most of the summertime season:
1 Stay Cool!
We all know how notoriously warm Houston can get! Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very prominent issues in the summer. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and limiting your time outside under the sun. More helpful tips provided by Reliant can be found here: Beat the Heat
2 Don’t Forget the Bug Spray!
Its great to spend time outdoors, but that means we might run into some pesky mosquitos. Not only do their bites itch and irritate, mosquitos can sometimes transfer diseases. Make sure to close the windows and doors to keep these insects out!
3 Make a splash…safely!
Going to the beach or the pool is a summertime staple. In order to fully enjoy it though, make sure you’re up to date on water safety precautions! The Houston Health Department and HPD have great resources to help you brush up on your knowledge.
4 Watch the Grill!
Summer is also famous for cooking up some good old fashioned BBQ. If you’re planning on operating a grill, make sure you remain vigilant in order to prevent an accidental fire. The Houston Fire Department has some helpful reminders here.
5 Plan for the Weather!
June 1st officially kicked off hurricane season. Make sure you’re staying alert and prepared this summer. Residents can find information for severe weather preparedness online at houstonoem.org or by reading the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide (a free resource available from the Office of Emergency Management for all City residents and organizations.)

Behind the Curtain Vol. 2: The 290 Project

In late 2018, some constituents in the Oak Forest neighborhood contacted me about an issue that they were dealing with due to TxDOT’s newly reconstructed Highway 290. This neighborhood is located adjacent to the freeway.
When TxDOT reconstructed 290, the freeway’s new entrance and exit ramps were reversed from the previous ramps near the neighborhood causing “cut-through” traffic. As a result, what was once a quiet neighborhood now had trucks and many vehicles cutting through it.
After seeing the vast increase in cut-through traffic, the neighbors contacted my office seeking a remedy. My staff and I went out to the site and discussed the matter at length with the affected constituents. I contacted Public Works to ascertain what options were available to the community.
After reviewing the various option, Public Works and the neighbors decided that the best solution would be to construct a barrier on the two streets from the feeder road leading into the neighborhood creating “exit only” medians. The medians would deter motorists from entering the neighborhood from the feeder road.
You wouldn’t believe the bureaucracy involved to construct these two barriers. We were now dealing with a state agency (TxDOT) and a City Department (Public Works).
Public meetings were required by law to construct the two medians. Who was going to pay for these medians? Who has the ultimate authority to approve the medians? What about signage near the medians?
This issue crept into the year 2020 which brought “virtual meetings.” The first public meeting was a technological fiasco. Thus, another meeting was held not too long after in June 2020.
After some more persuasion, TxDOT agreed to pay for the construction of the two medians.
The medians were constructed in September 2020. Hallelujah! Unfortunately, no signage was included, such as “no right turn” and “do not enter” signs. So, I reached out to Public Works and TxDOT once again to request signage and markings to be installed. TxDOT agreed to install signage and improve markings. Sounds easy, except the signs were placed on back order.
Finally, in October 2020, the signs arrived and were installed.
I met with the neighbors again after the barriers and the signage were installed. They were ecstatic to once again enjoy peace and quiet in their neighborhood.
After an almost two-year adventure requiring a plethora of phone calls, meetings, and emails, the mission was finally accomplished. We didn’t make the headlines, but we did positively affect hundreds of constituents. Once again, with the perseverance of the neighbors and my office, we were able to improve the lives of Houstonians.


July 7:           Council approved the purchase of 210 Dell laptops and docking stations for $592,069 for use in police cars. In an ongoing multi-year effort, the City continues to refresh and upgrade its technology needs throughout city departments.
Council approved an interlocal agreement with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service for five years. The Extension Service will provide wildlife hazard mitigation for Bush, Hobby, and Ellington Airports. This service, required by the FAA near the airports, mitigates wildlife which can cause serious damage to aircraft.
Council approved a contract worth $1,791,500 of federal dollars to hire a vendor to provide state-of-the-art incident command training and certification for all Fire Department command staff. The contractor will supplement the training provided with continuing education classes designed to maintain the incident command certification while also enhancing officer development.
July 14:         Council authorized final payment of $12.6 million for the Almeda Road Paving and Drainage Project. The project spanned from South MacGregor Way on the north, Old Spanish Trail on the south, South Freeway 288 on the east and South Braeswood on the west. Federal funds and TxDOT contributed 80% towards the project cost. The project included the reconstruction of a six-lane divided roadway with expanded storm sewer pipe capacity and the installation of two new traffic signal systems.
Council approved two interlocal agreements with the San Jacinto River Authority, the City of Humble, and Harris County Flood Control District. The first agreement is a project to study the most efficient and safe operation of Lake Conroe and Lake Houston to benefit the municipal water supply, along with flood control and protection of the reservoirs’ yield for the municipal water supply. This study is scheduled to take 36 months. The second agreement includes creation of a plan for implementing potential sediment solutions in the Upper San Jacinto River Basin (Lake Houston watershed) by evaluating the input, output, and storage of sediment for the entire basin. The duration of this study is scheduled for 24 months. The City of Houston is sharing the cost of these studies with the City’s portion not to exceed $875,000.
I, along with two of my council colleagues, opposed an item to spend $400,000 with an Austin-based consulting firm to provide a 2-3 year study for the Livable Places Initiative for the City’s Planning Department. I am concerned that upon the completion of this study, it will provide “cover” for the Administration to potentially supersede or bypass neighborhood deed restrictions. As I have observed in the past, the Administration will commission a study with a third party with a specific result already a foregone conclusion. Then once the study is concluded, the community is shut out in providing input.
July 21:         Council adopted the Harvey Single Family Development Program guidelines. These guidelines were previously approved by the Texas General Land Office on June 4, 2021. This program will build 226 affordable single-family homes available to low to moderate income households and who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Housing Department will partner with non-profit and for-profit developers on this program being funded with already budgeted federal Community Development Block grant dollars.
Council approved a loan agreement with the Tejano Center for Community Concerns, Inc. to provide a loan of $1,560,000 to partially finance the construction of Sunrise Lofts. This project will be an 89 unit affordable housing rental complex located at 3103 McKinney Street. This development will provide housing for 18-25 year old, high risk, homeless adults who have aged out of the foster system. The City has enjoyed a 28 year relationship with the Tejano Center providing a broad range of social, health, and educational programs addressing the needs of persons in the East End community.
July 28:         Council approved payment of $135,406 for emergency repairs for smoke and fire dampers in the Houston Police Department headquarters building. During a scheduled fire and smoke test performed by a third-party inspector, it was discovered that 1,004 of the building’s 1,313 smoke and fire dampers failed inspection.
Council approved the purchase of sock style firefighting hoods for $598,325 for the Houston Fire Department. These hoods provide protection to firefighter’s head, face, and neck during structural firefighting operations when there is a threat of fire or when certain physical hazards are likely to be encountered.
Council approved extending the term of the Emergency Telehealth and Navigation Program (ETHAN) to June 30, 2023. This ongoing program directed by HFD triages non-emergency patients via a telehealth virtual visit, as well as manages each patient with primary care services and provides alternate transportation. ETHAN increases the efficiency of HFD by allowing emergency vehicles back into service much faster by avoiding transportation to local emergency hospitals.