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Houston Planning Commission Unanimously Sends PlanHouston to Council

PlanHouston on the way!

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Last week the 26-member Houston Planning Commission unanimously approved a motion to send PlanHouston, Houston’s first comprehensive general plan, to City Council and Mayor Annise Parker for adoption.

The plan was commissioned by Mayor Parker in 2014, when she directed the City’s Planning and Development Department to assemble a project team and engage Houstonians in developing an over-arching vision for the City and specific goals for addressing challenges. The Houston General Plan Steering Committee, made up of 30 experts from diverse fields, created the plan in less than a year, incorporating public input and comments gathered from hearings and an online forum. The plan, born as PlanHouston, now awaits a vote by City Council and the Mayor for adoption.

The plan establishes 12 core strategies that will guide the City in pursuing 32 goals for achieving a community vision set forth in the plan. These 32 goals are organized into 9 categories covering a breadth of aspects: People, Place, Culture, Economy, Environment, Public Services, Education, Housing and Transportation. With Mayor Parker nearing the end of her term, it will be up to Houston’s next Mayor to prioritize and follow through with the vision put forth in the plan.

Houston Public Media states “If the council adopts it, the city is not obligated to implement the plan.” However, this interpretation seems somewhat contrary to Houston Tomorrow’s understanding of what is happening with PlanHouston. When adopted, this plan will be instructions for every employee of the City of Houston for what they should seek to achieve in their work. For example, almost two years ago, Mayor Parker issued her Complete Streets Executive Order, which basically simply instructed all city employees to do all they can to make the streets of Houston safe for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transport. The Public Works and Engineering and Planning and Development Departments have made very significant changes to the design of Houston streets, the process for building streets, and the long range plans for mobility, based upon this simple instruction from the Mayor.

Although PlanHouston was developed in less than a year, many entities and organizations in Houston have been working far longer to create the momentum and awareness needed to set the planning effort in motion. Since 2001, Houston Tomorrow and Blueprint Houston, along with many others, have been working and advocating toward the creation of a plan. Houston Tomorrow President and Founder David Crossley served on the General Plan Steering Committee and testified in favor of PlanHouston at the Houston Planning Commission on August 20th. Regular donors to Houston Tomorrow and Blueprint Houston and the support of the Houston Endowment brought us to where we are today.

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