I spent a couple of hours last week wading through the City’s recently released Resilient Houston, a plan, which, according to its authors, “provides a framework for collective action for every Houstonian; our diverse neighborhoods and watersheds; City departments; and local, regional, and global partners . . . to protect Houston against future disasters—from hurricanes to extreme heat waves—and chronic stresses such as aging infrastructure, poor air quality, and flooding.”
There are some good ideas in the report, like planting a lot more trees and trying to get buildings out of the floodway. Although I’m not sure we really needed a year-long study that cost God-knows-what to know that planting more trees and not building in the floodway are good ideas.
It also sets a lot of completely unrealistic goals with no concrete ideas on how to accomplish the goals. For example, we will apparently have no more car-crash fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. Most of which are safely far enough in the future that everyone will have forgotten about them when they are not met.
There are also some truly idiotic ideas. My favorite is to spend $5,000,000 on local artists to “create resilience awareness projects across the city.” Can you imagine what a boondoggle that would be? BTW, it would take the annual property taxes of about 500 average Houston homeowners to pay that bill!
Mostly the study is a bunch of new-urbanist nonsense that if we would all just give up our cars, start riding the light rail or biking to work, and move into a 1,000 square-foot multi-story apartment, the City would become a metropolitan utopia. I was a little surprised there was no recommendation that everyone start wearing Birkenstocks.
The report never mentions the City’s structural deficit. The word “pension” does not appear in the report, even though that remains the City largest ongoing fiscal issue. It only has one oblique reference to the City’s financial challenges saying, “We will need to develop new funding and financing tools that enhance our current funding.” Of course, that is code that we are going to come up with some creative ways to tax you more.
There are many references to the City’s aging and inadequate infrastructure, but not even the vaguest hint about how to address that issue, what the priorities should be, or how to finance the new projects. All in all, this will be another study that will become a dust collector on some shelf at City Hall. Too bad the City didn’t spend the money on actually fixing something, like maybe some potholes.