Open House: September 7, 2019 Houston Heights Woman’s Club with the Heights Public Library by Michael Graves

WC.PNG

The Houston Heights Woman’s Club welcomes all our Greater Heights Area neighbors to an informal Open House on Saturday, September 7 from 10 am to 12 noon.

Visit our historic clubhouse, learn about our neighborhood community service activities, social events and 119 year old Literary Club. View the latest updates to our beautiful rental venue. Take the opportunity to also learn about the many services offered by our Heights Neighborhood Library who is sponsoring a table at this open house.

What: Houston Heights Woman’s Club’s Open House

When: Saturday, September 7, 2019; 10:00 am – 12 noon

Where: HHWC Clubhouse, 1846 Harvard Street

Wear: No need to dress up - this is a come as you are event

Questions? info@houstonheightswomansclub.com

Or visit our website http://www.houstonheightswomansclub.com

Upcoming I-45 Workshops by Michael Graves

The City and its technical team are gathering input to develop alternative designs and make recommendations to TXDOT and has developed an interactive map that can be accessed here. Please join Council Member Cisneros for the upcoming COH Planning Department Workshops on the IH-45 project. More info here. Additional workshops are being scheduled for late Sept./early Oct. (TBD).

Tuesday, 8/13/19, 6 pm - 7:30 pm, Optional intro at 5:40 pm
Harris County Dept. of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd.
Accessible by METRO 79
Focus on Segment 2 & 3-North (I-610 to I-10 & I-10 to US-59)

Thursday, 8/15/19, 6 - 7:30 pm, Optional intro at 5:40 pm
Aldine Ninth Grade School, 10650 North Freeway
Accessible by METRO 56, 59, 99
Focus on Segment 1-North (Beltway 8 to N. Shepherd)

Saturday, 8/17/19, 10 am - 11:30 am, Optional intro at 9:40 am
Burrus Elementary School, 701 E. 33rd St.
Accessible by METRO 44 & 56
Focus on Segment 1-South (N. Shepherd to I-610)

Watching Out For Street Trees by Michael Graves

A live oak lost in the 500 block of Bayland Avenue.

You may have noticed that one of the much-loved Live Oaks on Bayland Avenue was recently taken down. Several neighbors noted this as it was about to occur. While we're saddened by the loss of the majestic oak, we are happy to report that, according to the COH Forester, the tree in question was properly permitted for removal due to structural problems.

If you witness the removal of trees from street easements, please call 832-395-7100 immediately so the Houston Parks Dept can check for permits and avoid unnecessary street tree loss. This phone line is answered 24 hours a day.

For all other non-emergency street tree service requests please call 3-1-1 (713-837-0311).

Yard of The Month: 728 Usener by Michael Graves

Our August Yard of the Month is 728 Usener, home to Daniel Rueda for more than twenty years. It is thoughtfully tended with help from David Bartula (Luxury Lawns), sourcing locally, mostly from Buchanan's and statues from Joshua's. Plantings are chosen to be low maintenance, capable of withstanding our melting climate, and high impact, with florals taking turns to pop seasonally.

Through his yard you will find:

  • Yaupon Holly for a little shade

  • Asparagus Fern

  • Purple Potato Vine provides the tiered entry along a rare Houston hill

  • Agapanthus

  • Periwinkle

  • Canna Lily in a lovely salmon hue

Rudbeckia, showing off now in deep summer, is a yellow flower similar to Black Eyed Susan. Daniel's took off from a single planting and fills in so nicely.

Along the east side of his yard, springing from the hardy jasmine ground cover, are beautifully twined purple-bloom Wisteria.

On the west side, in a tricky spot with heat and shade, is a sweet-scented Mountain Laurel.

Years ago a neighbor had suggested having a theme of Red Bud trees lining their block, so in the spring they are on display.

In winter, pansies continue to make his yard vibrant and bright, sometimes complemented by purple kale.

Thank you for sharing your yard with us this month!

- Stephanie Riceman, WHCA Director of Beautification


Want To Ride Into The Future? by Michael Graves

Houston METRO is bringing the autonomous shuttle to Houston for the first time! The Easy Mile autonomous shuttle is a fully automated, 12 passenger (6 seating/6 standing), all electric vehicle to transport students, faculty staff on an one-mile closed loop route along TSU’s Tiger Walk.

TSU’s Tiger Walk driverless Shuttle.jpeg

Houston METRO is offering free tours to ride the autonomous shuttle! Our goal is to inform and educate the public about autonomous shuttle for future integration into our current services. If you’re interested in a FREE group tour, or would like to know more please email Cindy.Ho@ridemetro.org or call 713-615-7079.

Please keep in mind that a consent form must be signed before touring, if over 18, or a permission form for those under 18.

The following documents detail how to participate in the project, and ride the autonomous shuttle.

Creature Feature: Cooper’s Hawk by Michael Graves

So… you’re walking down the street with your dog or stroller when a dark blur streaks by and a dozen doves explode out of a tree, with the jays who witnessed the event screaming JAY JAY JAY! What just happened? Chances are good that a Cooper’s Hawk is to blame and that he or she may now be enjoying a meal.

“Coops” are becoming increasingly at home within the Woodland Heights, with these woodland hawks moving into neighborhoods to offset impacts of habitat loss. Coops lurk from hidden perches in trees, swooping out to snatch birds, squirrels, rats, bats, reptiles and insects. All but the tiniest pets are safe, with Cooper’s Hawks weighing in at less than a pound and unlikely to tackle anything bigger than themselves.

Though we may feel bad for those who are eaten, the balance of nature requires these ongoing interactions of prey and predator, as is beautifully illustrated in the new movie The Biggest Little Farm. And the risks work both ways, with the Coops’ method of hunting resulting in injuries that give them an average lifespan of just one year – not good for a species that doesn’t breed until its second year.

As a result, most of the Coops you’ll see are young birds, which have a brown back and wings, and brown streaks running down the white breast and belly. Adults have a slate gray back and wings, with orangey barring across the breast and belly. Coops of all ages have a very long tail with broad brown and gray bands. Photos taken in Woodland Heights and White Oak Park display the progression from nestling, to juvenile, to adult.

Want to learn more about the birds of the ‘hood? Check out the Bayou City Birding resources of the White Oak Bayou Association at WhiteOakBayou.org/resources-and-zines and take part in the monthly bird survey at Woodland Park.

- Wendy Wright

Nominate a Bird of Houston by July 15, 2019 by Michael Graves

Recommended by City Counselor Karla Cisneros at the July WHCA general meeting. What's your vote for The Bird of Houston? https://houstonaudubon.org/birding/birdofhouston.html

Official symbols reflect the cultural heritage & natural treasures of areas. Countries and states recognize emblems like flags, birds, flowers and seals; and every city has its own unique spaces and things residents cherish. At Houston Audubon we treasure birds, people, and natural landscapes, and we are proud to be a part of the Houston community.

wwright(01).JPG

Join us in celebrating Houston by helping us select a bird species that represents our bayou city. We take pride in our hometown and we want to hear from our fellow Houstonians which bird inspires or connotes emotion or thought when you think of Houston.

Is it the Great Blue Heron foraging along the bayou or the Great-tailed Grackle scoping out the local HEB parking lot? We want to hear from you!

Nomination period ends July 15, after which we will narrow the submissions to the top 8 birds based on votes. The winner will be determined via brackets beginning on July 22. This will include head-to-head voting in 7 different rounds (with 3 days of voting for each round) until we have the winner. All of this will be happening right here, so be sure to bookmark this page! We'll announce the winning bird at the beginning of our 50th anniversary Bird Week festivities (September 21 - 28, 2019).

WHCA July General Meeting Reminder by Michael Graves

WHCA General Meeting Banner July 2019.jpg

WHCA General Meetings are usually held at one of the public schools in the neighborhood. However, when school is not in session these locations are not available. Happily, our newly minted bylaws give us the flexibility of holding the meeting at a nearby establishment. So, for the very first time, we are pleased to announce that the next WHCA General Meeting will be held:
 

Tuesday, July 9th at 7pm
in the back meeting room at
A 2nd Cup, 1111 E 11th St


The agenda:
TXDOT have hosted a number of public meetings recently, trying to sell their I-45 Expansion plan and collect Public feedback. You very likely received a TXDOT flier in the mail his past week.

Jim Weston, President of the I-45 Coalition, a WH resident with a long history of tracking the project, will present an independent summary of the state of the current plans.

Leann Mueller will present about a local effort to promote slower, more careful driving in the Greater Heights. She leads a local instance of a larger, national effort promoting adoption of 25 MPH as a speed limit in residential neighborhoods.

Also:
As usual, there will also be updates from the WHCA board of directors.

This meeting is your bi-monthly chance to have your voice heard. Like something that we've done? Come say so! Don't like something? Well, we need to know. Have suggestions for something that should be done? Most definitely let it be known.

We hope to see you there!

Tracking Crime in Woodland Heights by Michael Graves

If you look on NextDoor you might sometimes get the impression that crime is rampant in Woodland Heights. However, things you find there don’t paint a complete picture of what actually occurs in the neighborhood. Happily, there is a way that you can find out what’s going on using CrimeReports.com.

CrimeReports.com view of Woodland Heights incidents May 27 - June 26, 2019.

The data on CrimeReports is sent on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis from more than 1000 participating agencies to the CrimeReports map. Each agency controls their data flow to CrimeReports, including how often they send data, and which incidents are included. With regard to WH, you’ll find information from HPD and the Harris County Sherriff’s Department.

According to HPD:

CrimeReports is the nation's largest collection of law enforcement agencies committed to transparency, public access, and citizen engagement. The Houston Police Department has partnered with CrimeReports to provide public access to data from original crime reports entered into the Houston Police Department’s Record Management System within the last 180 days. The crime data is updated every 30 minutes and represents basic/general information for incidents within the City of Houston.

With everything shown on a map, you can drill down to a specific date and location to see what was reported. Incidents are marked for the type of activity, including; assault, break & enter, theft, theft from vehicle (by far the most common in WH), property or drug-related crime.

At the time this summary was generated there were just 7 incidents reported for the preceding month, including; (6) theft from a vehicle and (1) case of vandalism. You can drill down further, to get a better understand of patterns. For example, what days of the week or times of day does most crime occur?

The site also has some novel features. For example, you can register that fact that you have one or more surveillance cameras. That allows law enforcement to know who might be able to help provide evidence of events nearby.

You can also create an alert, so you’ll be notified when something is reported in a specific target area.

It’s easy to get all wrapped up in anecdotal reports that paint a bleak and depressing picture. I’ve found the hard data presented at CrimeReports.com to be a welcome insight into the reality of the situation.


While on the subject of crime…have you signed up for the WHCA Constable Patrol Program? The program ensures that Harris County Constables are on patrol in WH for 80 hours/each week. The availability of the constables dramatically reduces response times when you need their assistance.


Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! by Michael Graves

YOTM-SIGN-NOBG.png

It seems that the WHCA Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! It's last known perch was on the 900 block of Merrill. We need it back! If someone grabbed it, perhaps to prank a neighbor, we'd be happy just to see it returned to where they found it. No questions asked.

If you see it, please let us know where so we can collect it. You can email newsletter@woodland-heights.org or send us a message via the WHCA Facebook page.

- Michael Graves

WHCA 4th of July Parade Cancelled by Michael Graves

13599797_1137549402933074_2926055427066606685_n.jpg

The shuffling of the WHCA schedule, moving the Annual General Meeting from March to May and restructuring the board of directors, has had a number of knock-on effects, some unanticipated. In this case, a shortage of time and volunteers has forced the cancellation of the 4th of July Parade.

In the past, organizing the event had been the responsibility the President-Elect, a position that has been eliminated on the new WHCA board of directors. Harry McMahon, President, says that going forward, the event will be organized by the Director of Membership, so we can expect its triumphant return in 2020.

Yard-of-the-Month: 118 Alma by Michael Graves

I love wandering the neighborhood and admiring our fine old homes and the gardens that surround them.  One of my favorite walks is Germantown, an area just east of Houston Avenue and bordering I-45 settled by German immigrants in the late 1800’s.

A few years ago, I discovered a wonderful Queen Anne cottage (c1915) and garden at 118 Alma. I knew immediately that the resident was an artist. The evidence is everywhere. The large picture of a beloved pet mounted on the wall of the front of the house protected by the porch, the planters made out of tires, the mosaics on the fence, the jars filled with various colored water that adorn the flower beds, and the amazing topiary that spells out the artist’s last name,  H-A-Y-S-L-I-P.

Mary’s great-grandparents moved into the house on Alma in 1920.  Mary has lived in the home since 1974. Take a walk and come to see Mary Hayslip’s garden and art. There are memories here among the flowers and trees in our Yard-of-the-Month.

Creature Feature: Yellow-crowned Night-Herons by Michael Graves

They came back and are doing well!!! The Yellow-crowned Night-Herons that is. The Live Oak trees on Bayland hosted a large number of nests this year, with the birds having built only a few nests along the avenue during the past few years – probably as a result of the aggressive tree trimming performed by a city contractor in 2015 while the trees were filled with nestlings. This year, each block of Bayland that provides a full canopy averaged two nests, with an average of two to three chicks from each nest in the process of leaving the nests – or “fledging.”

For the next couple of weeks, we’ll see the fledglings walking around (please drive mindfully) and making short flights around the neighborhood as they build up their strength. Soon, they’ll be easy to spot along the banks of the White Oak Bayou, feeding on a wide assortment of crayfish and other crustaceans, fish, frogs, toads, insects and even the occasional snake. If you look carefully, you’ll also be able to spot Yellow-crowns roosting in trees in White Oak Park and Woodland Park. In the fall, most will leave the area, heading to wintering grounds along the coasts of Mexico and Central America.

Yellow-crowns take on many looks, with the full adult plumage not achieved until the third year. Young birds are mostly brown with white markings. Gradually, they’ll morph over to a slate gray color scheme, with the flashy black-and-white facial markings of the adults added last. A series of photos taken in the neighborhood and along the bayou illustrates the transformation from quasi-dinosaur to svelte adult to ancient mystic.

If you’d like to know more about the birds you can find in the Woodland Heights and along the bayou, check out the Bayou City Birding Zines and Posters that can be downloaded from the website of the White Oak Bayou Association at WhiteOakBayou.org/resources-and-zines. The first of these zines features the Yellow-crowns and five other herons and egrets that can usually be spotted along the bayou.

- Wendy Wright

The Young Entrepreneurs of Lemonade Day 2019 by Michael Graves

Back in may, in the run-up to Lemonade Day, we tried to promote the event by offering to promote pop-up lemonade stands using the WHCA web site, Facebook page, Twitter account and mailing list. We had four families take us up on the offer. Some sent pictures, which we offer here.

We received quite a number of comments about this activity. All but one were supportive of the idea. On that basis, it will continue. And it need not be confined to April & May. If your crew have a lemonade stand or similar exercise planned, let us know and we'll help spread the word.

Feeling The Byrne on Father's Day by Michael Graves

The epic battle unfolded on Saturday, June 15, when fathers on the 400 block of Byrne challenged their kids to a rematch of an annual Father’s Day weekend tradition. Mike Bennett, Cory Clechenko, Scott McBride and Raul Ramos, reinforced by honorary block “dad” Kirk Carver, lobbed water balloons, ducking and weaving the return fire from more than a dozen boys and girls. Drenched and out of breath when the ammunition was exhausted, the battle was called a draw, with fun had by all!

Thanks to Megan Mastal, also of Byrne St, for sending in the story & pictures.

Talking Trash with Rollout! Houston by Michael Graves

Not long ago someone commented on NextDoor that they were finally able to keep track of the city schedule for yard waste and heavy trash by watching the WHCA calendar right here on our website. This was completely unexpected! I didn’t think that anyone particularly made use of our calendar, except perhaps our own board members. All of our meetings are listed there.

I thought I’d share my technique for staying on top of the city’s rather confusing trash collection schedule; the Rollout! Houston app. A free smart phone app Rollout is available for both Apple and Android phones, also iPads.

Once installed you enter your zip code or allow the app to determine your location. It looks up the SWM schedule for that location, presenting it with a minimum of clutter or fuss. It’s dramatically simpler than using the COH website. You can instantly know what’s being collected this week, or to lookup the next time heavy trash or yard waste is being picked up.

Rollout! was created as part of a City of Houston Hackathon by Kenton Gray (@kentonue). Joel Cook helped with the design. Its creation dates back to when Annise Parker was mayor. I have found it to be a very reliable way to know when the trucks will be rolling through Woodland Heights.

If you have community events that you’d like added to our calendar, please email the details to communications@woodland-heights.org.

The new WHCA newsletter is on its way! by Michael Graves

The current edition of the WHCA newsletter is one of our special printed issues! The finished goods were returned from the printer on Tuesday. A few lucky households might have received theirs before we were beset by rain on Wednesday.

Our brave team of volunteer block captains are currently working to distribute them door-to-door. I would hope that everyone will get their copy in the coming few days.

If you’re in a hurry, you can download a PDF copy right here.

Infrastructure Corner by Michael Graves

The WHCA board would like to start a new feature providing periodic updates of infrastructure-related issues, both big and small, happening in and around the neighborhood. Infrastructure projects require both vision and funding. So we want to keep everyone informed of, not only what is going on, but how those projects are being funded. We’d also like to use this feature to invite feedback on infrastructure projects that you would like to see to improve the safety and enjoyment of our neighborhood. Email us at infrastructure@woodland-heights.org.

So what’s going on? Here are a few things . . .

Houston Ave & White Oak Intersection Nears Completion

If you haven’t seen it yet, the construction is almost finished at the intersection of Houston Ave and White Oak. The City removed the “slip road” connecting White Oak to Houston Ave, widened the sidewalks connecting Woodland Park to the White Oak Bayou Trail, and generally improved the pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure to make the intersection safer for all road users. There is even some green “kermit” striping for a bike lane. And, in case you were wondering, the clock tower is back in.

How was this project funded? It was primarily a combination of funds from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone # 5—or TIRZ 5—and the Greater Northside Management District. For those who don’t know, a “TIRZ” is a political entity in the City limits that retains a portion of property taxes within its district. TIRZ 5 is called “Memorial Heights,” which primarily covers areas surrounding Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou. It does not cover our neighborhood, but it comes close. On the other hand, the Greater Northside Management District covers our neighborhood and most of the Heights East of Yale and South of North Main. It’s funded by a property tax on local commercial businesses.

You can find more information on TIRZ 5 at https://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/tirz/5.html and on the Greater Northside Management District at http://www.greaternorthsidedistrict.org/home.shtml.

Road Diet and Bike Lane on Houston Ave (White Oak to Spring Street)

Remember the temporary bike lane on Houston Ave during recent construction to I-45? Thanks to City Council Member Karla Cisneros, that bike lane has been made permanent. She used funds from City Council District H to reduce the lanes on Houston Ave between White Oak and Spring Street from four to two (i.e., a “road diet”), and to install protected bike lanes on both sides of the street. This can be a key “North/South” connector between the two bayou trails. They call the barriers “armadillos.”

Houston Ave Bike Lane.jpg

You can find more information about both of these projects from a local blogger: http://houstreets.com/2019/06/03/houston-ave-white-oak-dr-redesign-complete/

More B-Cycle Stations

On Wednesday, May 30, 2019, Houston B-Cycle installed two new stations in the Heights. The first is at 11th Street and Heights Blvd (Heights Central Station) and the second is at 7th and Yale (Heights Mercantile). That brings the total number of stations in the Heights to five (Woodland Park, Stude Park, Bobcat Teddy’s, Heights Central Station, and Heights Mercantile), with a number of additional stations just outside of our area.

You may ask why at these locations? Because these developers helped fund the stations. Houston B-Cycle is currently operating on a large grant that requires local funding for 50% of each station, which ranges from $10-20k. You can find the full map B-Cycle station map here: http://houston.bcycle.com/station-map. Where else would you like to see a B-Cycle station in our neighborhood?

That’s it for now. We’d love to hear from you about infrastructure projects you’d like to see in and around the neighborhood. And please let us know of current or future projects you hear about. Again, email us at infrastructure@woodland-heights.org.

Brad Snead
WHCA Director of Infrastructure

About the 11th Street "Road Diet" by Michael Graves

Did you miss the meeting at Hogg Middle School last night regarding 11th Street? Here's the latest!

Ian Hlavacek and Lauren Grove presented a proposal to reconfigure 11th street between Shepherd and Michaux. The proposal, called a 'Road Diet', has been shown to:

a) accommodate existing and future traffic
b) will not divert traffic to side streets
c) reduce traffic speed
d) decrease unsafe driving maneuvers like weaving
e) introduce a safe east-west bike route
f) improve safety for people walking along and crossing 11th
g) increase safety for people using the Nicholson Trail
h) serve cross streets and driveways effectively
i) could increase travel time for drivers up to 30 seconds

Here's an article with a video that helps demonstrate how road diets work: https://www.vox.com/2018/7/25/17593344/road-diets-lane-conversion-traffic-calming-explained-video

Note that this configuration will also allow for the installation of 'pedestrian refuges,' or islands, which will make pedestrian crossings easier and safer. The City has received many calls and emails over the years from our community advocating for a safer crossing at the Nicholson Trail crossing at 11th. This configuration will make these safer crossings available at other spots as well, especially those that serve our kids on foot and bikes going to school.

These refuges are also planned for Studewood. This article illustrates how pedestrian refuges work: http://pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=19

Looking around our own neighborhood we have at least a few examples of four lanes reducing to two or three:

  • Studemont to Studewood as you travel north

  • Cavalcade to 20th

  • Waugh to Heights

To voice your comments:

  • ian.hlavacek@houstontx.gov

  • lauren.grove@houstontx.gov

  • jennifer.ostlind@houstontx.gov