The Houston Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors, including the newly-elected 2014 HAR Directors and senior staff, warmly welcomed Houston Mayor Annise Parker at the August 12 Board meeting. After joining HAR’s leadership for lunch, Mayor Parker updated the group about the state of the city.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker (center) is pictured with HAR’s Executive Committee, Mario Arriaga, Chaille Ralph, Danny Frank, Nancy Furst and Wayne Stroman, before delivering her state of the city presentation to HAR Directors and senior staff.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker (center) is pictured with HAR’s Executive Committee, Mario Arriaga, Chaille Ralph, Danny Frank, Nancy Furst and Wayne Stroman, before delivering her state of the city presentation to HAR Directors and senior staff.

During Mayor Parker’s visit, Taqi Rizvi, HAR’s Chief Technology Officer, had the opportunity to demonstrate a mobile app designed to connect consumers with the City’s services and to better know their communities, elected officials, and properties for sale.   After seeing the app and its features, Mayor Parker responded, “I love the app!” HAR’s Governmental Affairs Team, Web Department and Mayor Parker are anticipating an October launch of the app, so look for more news about the app in the coming months.

Highlights of Mayor Parker’s administration include:

  • Demolished approximately 3,000 blighted properties, including the original Dirty Dozen, the worst of the city’s rundown and abandoned apartment complexes.
  • Addressed infrastructure concerns by supporting Rebuild Houston.   In its first year, this program resulted in more than $180 million in improvements to our infrastructure. A total of 46 street and drainage improvement projects were started or completed.  136 lane miles of asphalt streets were resurfaced, 75 miles of storm sewers were cleaned, and 277 miles of road ditches were re-graded.  By the end of 2013, 38 improvement projects will be completed.
  • Helped to win voter approval of the public/private Bayou Greenways project that will lead to $200 million of enhancements to Houston’s parks system.  This project will create a continuous system within the city limits of 150 miles of parks and trails along Houston’s bayous.
  • Launched Make Safe Saturday, a new neighborhood cleanup initiative that secures blighted properties that are in violation of City codes, but do not meet the criteria for demolition.
  • Passed bonds to fund fire stations, libraries, parks, police, and public health improvements and construction for the next five years.
  • Supported the Buffalo Bayou Park improvements through a $55 million public/private partnership led by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Harris County Flood Control District with catalyst funding from the Kinder Foundation.  This support paves the way for the transformation of the 158-acre, 2.3-mile stretch of the bayou from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street.
  • Reworked Chapter 42, Subdivisions, Developments, and Platting, of the City’s Code of Ordinances to accommodate the need for more housing options.
  • Set up a separate Department of Neighborhoods to tackle constituent issues and clean Houston’s neighborhoods.
  • Reduced the city’s overall homeless population through innovative housing initiatives.
  • Launched Tweet My Jobs, a smart phone app to help Houstonians gain quick and easy access to job openings.
  • Advocated for AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign, a local anti-texting while driving public awareness campaign to help lower the risk of traffic fatalities due to texting while driving.

When the spotlight shines on Houston in a positive way, we all like to brag.  Here are a few bragging rights to share:

  • Houston received national recognition when Forbes Magazine named Houston the “coolest city.”
  • Forbes predicts that within a decade Houston will be known as “America’s next great global city.”
  • The Port of Houston is the #1 exporter in the United States.
  • Houston is the job growth capital of the nation and the first major city to recover from the recession.
  • Houston is the most diverse city in the U.S. according to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research/Rice University.
  • Houstonians enjoy a lower cost of living compared to other major U.S. cities.

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