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Monthly Planner - October 2019

A Bright Spot in My Day

Planning plays a major role in Houston’s preparedness and recovery from disasters. On September 19, when Tropical Storm Imelda paid a visit to Houston, most of the planning team was busily preparing for the Planning Commission meeting that was scheduled for that afternoon. Most, but not all... Three members from our team had already cleared off their desks, wrapped up loose ends and were working out of the Houston Emergency Center (HEC).

Geographic Information Officer Larry Nierth and the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team, including GIS Supervisor Ryan Mize and Senior GIS Analyst Zach Oyer, are important Tier II support for the HEC and provide critical data analysis and systems support to the emergency operations. Our team regularly updates the 911 call floor data for road and address information. In other words, if a Houston Fire Department vehicle assisted you in an emergency, they got there with assistance from the road network and address locators provided by our GIS team. After these types of storms, the GIS team helps the City's Office of Emergency Management with data geocoding related to damage assessment.

Our GIS support begins long before the emergency. When a new subdivision in Houston or Harris County is created, our GIS team geocodes the new addresses and provides that data to all emergency networks. Our team also creates and maintains dispatch databases that identify response boundaries and provides mapping data and services to both local and federal offices. The next time Google or Waze gives you accurate directions to a location, you can thank our GIS team!

Margaret Wallace Brown
Planning Director

Team Spotlight

Want to learn more about our staff? Dipti Mathur, Development Services Administration Manager, is featured this month. 

Q: You have a background in architecture, what structure in Houston do you love the most?
A: My love for Houston is not just for one building but for the entire city, culture, and its people. If I had to choose one thing, then it would be  the downtown skyline view from the Eleanor Tinsley Park pavilion. 

Q: What’s the most common misconception about the Development Services Division?
A: Often citizens or plat applicants assume the development approval process is as long as it is in other cities around us. People are generally surprised by the short time it takes for the review and approval of applications through the Planning Commission. The Development Services team reviews an average of about 100 applications every two weeks. Most of these applications are approved by the commission the very first time. 

Q: What place in Houston do you consider to be a hidden gem?
A: Levi Park.  It's an awesome family-fun park with lots of activities, such as a splash pad, kid play and activity area, vegetable garden, and walking trails. It also has beautiful, huge oaks trees that seem to provide a cool breeze on hot and humid days.

Dipti Mathur-Ghorpade is pictured with her husband and children. 

Super Neighborhood Day

Happy 20th anniversary to the Super Neighborhood Program! The Super Neighborhood (SN) program was created by former Mayor Lee P. Brown in 1999 to provide an umbrella organization for civic clubs and neighborhood groups throughout the city. The program consists of 88 super neighborhood councils with distinct boundaries that group together contiguous communities that share common physical characteristics, identity or infrastructure as shown on the City's Department of Neighborhood's web site.

The Super Neighborhood Alliance (SNA) is comprised of the presidents or chairs of the SN councils who serve as a formal advisory board to the Mayor and city government on community matters. Find out how your civic club can benefit from participating by contacting the SNA or follow them on their new Facebook page

Census 2020 

Coming to you next spring, the Census 2020 is an important opportunity to be counted. The U.S. Census Bureau launched a new version of The new Census web page adds features, resources, and materials to help inform the public about the upcoming 2020 Census. More information will be forthcoming as the city and the Planning & Development Department gear up for the census count so stay tuned!

Platting Workshop

Over 125 land development professionals attended the 2019 PSEFI Platting Workshop that was held on September 26. The annual workshop provides training on platting and land development issues and is hosted by the Professional Surveyor’s Educational Foundation, Inc. (PSEFI). 

The Planning & Development Department leads the professional training presentations at the workshop. Topics presented included platting basics, research tools, resources, current issues, requirements for city single-family development, transit-oriented design, and walkable places.

Workshop attendees included developers, real estate professionals, agency representatives from TxDOT, METRO, Harris County, and CenterPoint Energy, as well as surveyors, land planners, and civil engineers who regularly submit subdivision plats to the Planning & Development Department for review by our Development Services Team.