With a relatively light and non-controversial docket Wednesday July 24, Houston City Council took several strategic steps toward future development and community improvement. The meeting began with appointments and re-appointments of a members of 6 boards by motion on a slate presented last week (Agenda Items 2-7). It then held a public hearing on an application by Chevron for a Section 312 Tax Abatement Reinvestment Zone. (Agenda Item 1) The Zone was part of a State-sponsored initiative to give incentives to investments that will create jobs and economic growth. Unlike the Section 380 Tax Investments Reinvestment Zones used for the Costco development, the Section 312 Zones are authorized for investments that will create at least 1700 jobs. They apply to only one site and do not require infrastructure investments. In this case, Chevron USA plans to build a new downtown office building on Louisiana Street, transferring 800 jobs from its California headquarters and creating 1700 new professional jobs with salaries averaging $110,000 a year. The estimates do not include construction jobs for the site or secondary jobs expected to result from the influx of processional employees (restaurants, auto dealerships, etc).
Following presentations on the legal and financial elements of the investments, the Council heard from members of the public (mostly Chevron staff), and spent about 15 minutes on questions, comments, and compliments of Chevron, which has a long history as a corporate citizen supporting many community events and services through volunteer hours, sponsorships, and programs to hire veterans.
No action was required following the public hearing, but the Council appeared unanimous in going forward with th Chevron plan.
Most of the items on the docket involved accepting work on four for previous projects (Items 8-11) approving contracts for infrastructure projects (Items 12 (tagged), 13, and 13a), and routine matters on standards of care, adjusting boundaries of utility districts, and selling bonds (Items 14-22)
Following the consent agenda, the Council finally considered an ordinance requiring registration of group homes. Council Member Rodriguez submitted a revised amendment including technical corrections suggested by the City Legal Department. The ordinance will take effect in 120 days, and require group homes to show that they meet certain building code, fire code, and other health standards.(Item 24)
In the press conference following the meeting the Mayor and Vice Mayor Gonzalez explained that the ordinance was a first step toward identifying group homes and assuring that they meet minimum standards. In addition, the public is invited to help enforce the ordinance by reporting group homes that might not meet proper standards. In addition, a public database of group homes will help Houston residents to locate homes that may be appropriate for a friend or relative.