Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Looking Forward to the Texas Big Six 2040: Potential Discussion Topics

This Friday city planning and development leaders from Texas' largest cities will gather at Texas Southern University for a day-long workshop and panel discussion to discuss each city's plans, policies and projects that will continue to "shape the livability, resiliency, and competitiveness" of each city and their surrounding regions. It will be the first time that all six of these directors has gathered to talk about development each of Texas' largest cities.

I wrote some thoughts two weeks ago about the benefit of this type of event, especially for a city like Houston. This week I'd like to explore some of the things that we might hear about from each city. Even though each city has different development circumstances, economic backgrounds, populations and governmental controls, we can still learn from each of them. So, planning and development issues what might we hear about from each of Texas' largest cities on Friday?


Houston is embarking on developing a General Plan. Perhaps we will hear more about the plan's progress, as well as the review of the city's Historic Preservation Ordinance. And, in a city without zoning, some might wonder what land use and development regulations the city and its citizens actually has at their disposal. 


We might hear about Dallas' continued development in its downtown, and may be able to learn more about how the city uses Historic Districts and Conservation Districts top provide for community planning. We might also hear more about the decisions Dallas faces in zoning areas of the city for continued infill development and growth, including the city's recent review of the Oak Cliff neighborhood, just to the southwest of Downtown Dallas.

San Antonio

San Antonio may be able to discuss the continued growth of its neighborhoods, including the amending of its area plans, as well as the growth outside of the city's limits. We might also hear about how water accessibility has a role in development in San Antonio.


Austin may be able to tell us about what might lay ahead for the city after the failure of a proposed light rail expansion. More importantly, Austin may give us an update on the efforts the city is making in their CodeNEXT initiative. It's an attempt to "simplify the development rules but find ways to fit more housing and development in the city’s core, especially along major roads." This is something Houston might be able to learn from, as Austin seems to be allowing itself to accommodate a greater amount of infill development as the city grows in population. We also might be able to hear more about Austin's continued interest in learning more about tiny homes and micro-units.

Fort Worth

Fort Worth may be able to shed some light on its town and gown relationship with TCU, especially given the recent halt on single family housing permits surrounding the TCU campus. Fort Worth is also considering raising the minimum parking requirements for single family dwellings around the TCU campus, assuming that parking for rental homes is leading to an increase in street parking. The city is also in the process of adding parkland through the city's 2015 Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Master Plan. Even though it is not a plan developed by the Planning and Development Department, it is an important planning topic, especially in a growing city. (City of Fort Worth Parks and Community Services survey).

El Paso

El Paso might be able to tell us more about its recently launched Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, the Sun Metro Brio, as well as the continued development of El Paso's downtown.

These are all speculative topics that we might hear about from each city. There will be a time for questions and answers, so if these topics, or others of the public's interest, aren't answered in each director's presentation, there's a time to ask them.

More information about the event can be found on the Houston APA website, and if you're interested in attending you can sign up to attend the event here.

Fri, Nov. 21, 2014
8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Houston, Texas