The West Houston Association Newsletter | November 2016 | View in browser
Message from the Chairman: Open Letter to the Houston Chronicle
John S. Moody, Parkside Capital

West Houston AssociationMy family has been part of the Houston real estate community for four generations starting with my grandparents developing rental homes in the Irvington and Ryan Additions and continuing to the current next generation of my children and nephews. I think we collectively have a pretty good understanding of what makes our local economy special and allows us to offer the most affordable and most diverse set of housing options of any major metro in the United States.

The key lynch pin of affordability is our use of Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) which are unique to Texas. This vehicle allows a significant amount of the cost of a developed lot to be financed at a very affordable rate of interest over extended periods of time. Therefore, homebuilders can purchase a lot substantially below cost and by passing that savings on to the homebuyer, deliver housing that is more affordable. MUD's only reimburse actual costs incurred as certified by the MUD engineer. All projects are bid and costs are tightly controlled. The total tax rate inside MUDs is typically lower than the municipal areas so homeowners are achieving good value. Ask your staff to explain why our city has the highest growth rate and lowest cost housing in the U.S.

MUDs also allow development in unincorporated areas where there's no municipal service. Your newspaper suggests that the alternative to MUDs would be incorporation of the land into a city or other municipality. This is completely unrealistic. Neither our counties nor cities are equipped to fund the massive infrastructure required to accommodate the 20 year historical growth rate of 100,000 new residents per year. I will guarantee you, if you ask, 100% of the mayors of Houston, Katy, Sugarland, Conroe, Pearland etc. will tell you they have no way to provide the infrastructure. I'll guarantee you that you will you get the same response from all of our County Judges and Commissioners.

The Chronicle seems to suggest that the MUD structure is a major concern to residents and homeowners. You fail to note that 50% of all area wide sales for the past 15 years are within these very MUDs. People are voting with their feet and checkbooks every day and opting to live within these districts. Why? The large Master Planned Communities (Sienna, Riverstone, Cinco Ranch, First Colony, Aliana, Cross Creek to name a few) are all financed in part by MUD bond sales. The bond sales reimburse actual costs expended by the developers to install state of the art landscaping, hiking trails, bike paths, recreation centers, etc. Again ask your staff why the highest quality of life communities are almost exclusively located in the MUD financed developments. Why does Houston have six of the top 10 Master Planned Communities (all using MUDs) in the United States? How would we begin to accommodate 100,000 new people per year without MUDs? read more
President's Message: Staying Engaged with Policy
Auggie Campbell, President, West Houston Association

West Houston Association"If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."—Mike Enzi

Increasingly, regulators are seeking stakeholder engagement prior to adopting policy and regulations. So more voices are involved in regulatory review. If you are working on policy review on your own, it is easy to get drowned out. These days, it is not enough to comment on policy—we have to work together.

Reviewing policy and regulatory changes may seem about as glamorous as designing road drainage, but it is one of the tasks that the West Houston Association has done well for years. And a few of us out there really enjoy it (like those people designing road drainage—thank you). Policy and regulation, like utilities and roads, are not easy to put together and work better when they are properly designed, reviewed, and supported. read more
WHA Board Passes Regional Flood Control Resolution

On October 17th, the West Houston Association's Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution supporting efforts by the Harris County to design and construct regional flood control. Restoring Addicks and Barker Reservoirs and constructing a new reservoir in the Cypress Creek Watershed are essential to creating a lasting solution to the region's flood control issues. Funding is critical, and we are asking for support of officials at all levels to ensure that our area can fund and solve foreseeable flood risk. Please contact your representatives and let them know that you support regional flood control initiatives led by the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We are happy to provide contact information!
Event Preview: WHA’s 14th Annual Tri-County Judges Forum - November 28

County Judges Ed Emmett, Bob Hebert, and Trey Duhon will return to WHA's 14th Annual Tri-County Judges Forum to be held on November 28, 2016 (noon) at the Embassy Suites—Energy Corridor. For more event information, including sponsorship and attendance, please contact
HGAC Update: Funding, Freight, and Waller County

One of the major, recent achievements of the West Houston Association was helping to organize the Greater West Houston Mobility Study, which was led by HGAC. The good news for Greater West Houston is that HGAC has a number of initiatives that will likely bring benefits to Greater West Houston.

Alan Clark, HGAC's director of transportation planning, says that the Houston region does not get its share of funding because TxDoT is not accurately accounting for vehicle miles traveled. HGAC is working with TxDoT to come up with a more accurate count, which could result in an increase in state transportation funding of hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five to ten years. WHA has discussed this issue with HGAC and TxDoT's Houston Office; we look forward to seeing progress that turn into dollars and then roads. read more
Committee Updates & Related News
Education & Workforce Development:
Katy ISD Engagement
Chair: Matt Schaefer, Texas Children's Hospital
Next Meeting: October 12th, 2pm at Texas Children's Hospital West Campus

The committee met on October 17th and heard a presentation from focus on providing understanding of how primary and secondary students are placed on career paths and how industry and advanced educational programs can help. Katy ISD experts will explain their process and work with committee members, which include representatives from U of H, HCC, and industry leaders. On August 15th, the committee met to review the statistics and information developed by CDS and HCC. Some of this information will be in the WHA Economic and Demographic Report.
Flood Control, Drainage & Wetlands:
Regional Planning & Flood Control Forum
Chair: Lee Lennard, BGE, Inc.
Next meeting: December 12th, 2 pm at WHA's Office

The committee met on October 10th at WHA's office and discussed policy and project considerations for 2016-2017. Tim Buscha, who is chair of the ACEC committee that wrote a letter calling for more funding for HCFCD said that he would provide additional information at the next committee meeting. The group also developed a plan to work on its section of the 2050 Plan. BGE will work on mapping/GIS for regional flood control. IDS (Tim Buscha) and EHRA will work on developing a summary of current policy and best practices for the committee's section of the 2050 Plan. At the next meeting, we have invited Richard Long (USACE) to speak to the group.
Parks, Recreation and Open Space:
Chair: Chris Patterson, RVi
Next meeting: November 9th, 2 pm (location to be determined)

The committee met on September 22nd and discussed best practices, upcoming meetings, and the Parks Section of 2050 Plan. Rvi is developing an inventory and map of all park space in Greater West Houston, which will provide the basis for future planning. Patti Joiner of Knudson will lead a group that will develop best practices and model standards that will encourage quality growth.
Quality Planned Development:
2050 Plan Update
Chair: Peter Houghton, Howard Hughes Corporation - Bridgeland
Next meeting: December 15th, noon at Cypress Creek Lakes

The QPD committee met on October 20th. Mary Harmon announced that WHA received four new QPD applications, including one from the NHA area. Lindsey Woodard provided an update on the QPD Marketing Plan and discussed potential web ad buys that will complement the Facebook campaign. The group then discussed a proposed structure and draft milestones for the 2050 Plan update.
Regional Mobility:
Rail Update
Chair: Mark Kilkenny, Mischer Investments
Next Meeting: December 10th at noon in WHA's office

At the committee meeting on October 10th, David Hagy, Regional VP for Texas Central Rail, and Maureen Crocker, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Rail District, discussed upcoming regional rail projects. The group discussed the need to continue work on the Red List, Yellow List, and Green List, targeting to have a draft by December 2016 or February 2017. The group also discussed a request from HGAC to WHA to assist with facilitating a micro-transit project in the Energy Corridor area and beyond.
Sustainable Infrastructure:
SSustainability Program in Beta Testing
Chair: Jim Russ, EHRA
Next meeting: November 8th, 7:30 am at EHRA's Office

The committee met on October 11th and finalized a framework for a WHA Sustainability Program and associated applications. The program will provide applicants with recognition and provide WHA members with information on which sustainability programs are most effective. Beta applications were sent to select members with the hope that responses will be complete in November.
Water Resources:
Gulf Coast Water Authority
Chair: Jack Miller, R.G. Miller
Next meeting: November 16th, 2 pm at WHA's Office

At the committee's November 16th meeting, Ivan Langford, General Manager of the Gulf Coast Water Authority will provide an update on planning for GWCA's future needs. The committee will finalize assignments for its section of 2050 Plan.
WHA on Social Media

The West Houston Association is working to increase our presence on social media via Facebook and Twitter. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the endeavors, events, committees and current issues of the West Houston Association.
2016 Planned WHA Events
Look for more details in 2016 as these event dates and times are confirmed.

November 3
12-2 pm

  State Issues Forum
Embassy Suites - Energy Corridor

November 28
12-2 pm

  14th Annual Tri-County Judges Forum
Embassy Suites - Energy Corridor

December 15
6-8 pm

  Annual Christmas/Year-end Party & Awards Banquet
Westin, Memorial City
*Dates and venues are subject to revision based on scheduling and contract considerations.
West Houston Association | 713-461-9378 |
Memorial City Plaza Two | 820 Gessner, Suite 1310 | Houston, Texas 77024