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Houston Seriously Tightens Rules on Floodplain Construction

It was the city's "first major regulatory response" to Hurricane Harvey.
April 9, 2018, 6am PDT | Katharine Jose
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Texas Flood

Last week, in an "unusually tight" vote, the Houston City Council ruled that starting in September, "all new construction in the city’s floodplains will have to be built two feet above the projected water level in a 500-year storm." Under current rules, it's only one foot, and from only the 100-year level.

"The vote marks a shift away from Houston’s longtime aversion to constraining," writes Rebecca Elliot, who also reports that the vote was largely along party lines—as well as supported by the mayor.

Harris County started using the 500- year floodplain in January, but entire region's distaste for regulation has been a popular topic of conversation in the months since Hurricane Harvey, which according to some studies was more like a 1,000-year storm.

It might seem unwise, after Harvey, tokeep building in the floodplain at all, but the city's real estate market barely paused in the wake of the massive storm, and buyers of both new and old structures will still be protected by the National Flood Insurance Program.

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Published on Friday, April 6, 2018 in Houston Chronicle
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