Historic Preservation Ordinance Passes
REALTOR® volunteers serving on HAR’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group (GAAG) and Political Affairs Advisory Group (PAAG), working together with Houston City Council Members and the Planning Department, spent over a year reviewing the proposed changes to the controversial Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO). Ultimately, on October 7, Houston City Council passed the HPO with language that HAR GAAG volunteers helped secure. Ed Wolff, the HAR Chair’s appointee to the HPO, led the efforts and represented HAR during the negotiations.
The most important provision within the Ordinance to our members and all property owners in the City of Houston is the requirement that is needed in order to create a new historic district. The rule that was already set in the 2010 Ordinance, which requires 67% of all property owners within the proposed district to support the designation of an historic district, was unchanged despite a last-minute amendment to lower the 67% threshold. It was through much negotiation with the City of Houston’s Planning & Development Department and Houston City Council Members that we were able to agree that this specific rule should remain the same.
Council Member Brenda Stardig fought for REALTORS® by holding her ground on private property rights. During Council discussion on the threshold language, Stardig stated that lowering the 67% threshold would undo the progress made by stakeholders dating back to 2010.
As one of the leading advocates for private property rights in the City of Houston, HAR’s Governmental Affairs team along with the efforts of the REALTOR® volunteers made sure their voices were heard during the review process of the HPO. We appreciate the outreach efforts made by the Planning Department, including one-on-one visits with Margaret Wallace Brown, Deputy Director for the Planning and Development Department.
To view the updated ordinance visit www.municode.com/library/tx/houston/code_of_ordinances .
GAAG and PAAG Volunteers Receive Mayoral Proclamation
Volunteers serving on the GAAG have the responsibility of reviewing legislation, policies, regulations, and issues that affect the real estate industry. Developing positive respectful relationships with leaders at all levels of government helps to smooth the way.
Volunteers serving on the PAAG have the responsibility of meeting, recommending, and helping to elect candidates at all levels of government. Together, the work of these two groups make advocating for REALTOR® issues that much more effective. We must speak with one voice to advance candidates and public policies that uphold private property rights, real property ownership, strong communities and a vibrant business environment.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Council Members Brenda Stardig and Ed Gonzalez recognized the great efforts of the HAR GAAG and PAAG volunteers by presenting the groups with a proclamation at City Council on September 22. As stated in the proclamation, “It is important for the GAAG and PAAG volunteers to engage in public policy. Real estate and politics share a similar characteristic. Each is fundamentally a local enterprise with a broad national impact.”
How to Get Involved
HAR members interested in becoming politically involved are encouraged to join one of the Governmental Affairs department’s volunteer groups. There are five volunteer groups from which to choose:
- Governmental Affairs Advisory Group (GAAG) – is an issue-focused group. Members will hear issues on the local, state, and federal levels of government. Members are tasked with developing the candidate questionnaires for PAAG candidate interviews. If you are interested in policy and government, this would be a great group to join.
- Political Affairs Advisory Group (PAAG) – this group focuses on the recommendation and election of Realtor® friendly candidates. Members in this group conduct candidate interviews for local elections (i.e. Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court), as well as state and federal candidate elections. They are also tasked with get-out-the-Realtor-vote efforts.
- Bay Area Political Affairs Advisory Leadership (PAAL) – This group is comprised of HAR members living in the Bay Area. They are responsible for interviewing and helping to elect candidates running for Pearland City Council, as well as state and federal elections in that area. Members are also tasked with weighing in on issues at the local level (i.e. County bond elections and local ordinances). If you live in the Bay Area, this would be a great group to join.
- Fort Bend PAAL – HAR members in the Fort Bend area will interview and help to elect candidates running for Missouri City Council, Sugar Land City Council, and Fort Bend County Commissioners Court. They will also interview candidates for state and federal office that cover the Fort Bend area. Members are also tasked with weighing in on issues at the local level (i.e. County bond elections and local ordinances). HAR members living in the Fort Bend area are encouraged to join this group.
- Montgomery County PAAL – HAR members living in the Montgomery County area will interview and help to elect candidates for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors and Montgomery County Commissioners Court. They are also tasked with interviewing state and federal candidates whose districts lie in Montgomery County. Members are also tasked with weighing in on issues at the local level (i.e. County bond elections and local ordinances). If you live in the Montgomery County area, this would be a great group for you.
If you are interested in joining any of these groups, please go to www.har.com/getinvolved. The deadline to apply is Monday, November 30,, 2015 at 5:00 pm.