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Houston's Latest Push for Walkable Neighborhoods

Building on 2009's Transit Corridor Ordinance, Houston's Walkable Places Committee is creating a process for specific neighborhoods to adopt new rules emphasizing walkability.
November 14, 2017, 9am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Earlier this year, a Kinder Institute survey found rising support for a walkable lifestyle in Houston. Also writing for the Kinder Institute, Hilary Ybarra discusses a new initiative to rework building codes on a place-by-place basis to encourage walkability. 

While Houston at large isn't very walkable, specific sections can be made more so. "Manhattan and San Francisco are walkable, but so is a thriving small town Main Street, activated by lively street fronts and safe sidewalks, easily accessible from residential neighborhoods."

Ybarra discusses the 2009 Transit Corridor Ordinance, which incentivized pedestrian-friendly construction. The recently established Walkable Places Committee takes a different approach. The committee "is currently focused on creating an application-based process to establish specific 'walkable place' areas. Under this new system, any neighborhood could voluntarily apply to become a 'walkable place' and in doing so establish their own set of self-defined unique rules for development to encourage walkability."

"But once adopted, unlike the Transit Corridor Ordinance, neighborhood- and site-specific building rules would be required, not optional, for all new development." The current target is to adopt a new ordinance in 2019. The trick, Ybarra notes, is to connect pockets of walkability on a citywide scale.

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Published on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in The Urban Edge
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