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City aims to make Houston more walkable and transit-oriented

HOUSTON – Helping improve the Houston experience for pedestrians and bicycle riders is the goal for two new ordinances recently approved by Houston City Council.

The Transit-Oriented ordinance will make updates to streets within half of a mile of a bus or transit station and the Walkable Ordinance will dictate how new buildings and re-development are constructed.

The whole mindset behind these new rules really focuses on where Houston is headed in terms of population growth. As the fourth largest city in the United States, a number of areas in Houston are attracting bigger business buildings and residential developments. This type of construction presents an opportunity to create more vibrant, walkable streets that support alternative modes of transportation, according to Principal Planner for the City of Houston, Muxian Fang.

The new rules will focus on three areas first:

  • 1. The Hogan / Lorraine Street area in the Northside.
  • 2. Emancipation Avenue in 3rd Ward.
  • 3. The entire Midtown area

When we spoke with Fang and she said both ordinances will have the biggest impact on new construction. New buildings in these areas will have wider sidewalks, between 6 to 10 feet, no vehicle parking use in front of buildings to help build closer to the street. Parking on the side or behind a building. The new rules will also include a 4-foot “buffer” zone between the sidewalk and the road.

“If they do not comply they will not get the permit,” said Fang, Principal Planner for the City of Houston.

Meaning, if a developer wants to see a building go up in these pilot areas, they must fit all of the new ordinance’s criteria.

Standing buildings will not be required to change. The ordinance won’t go into effect until Oct. 1.