Communications

Property taxes for Woodland Heights homeowners (in general and in a nutshell) by Michael Graves

In recent weeks there has been considerable online chatter resulting from the new federal tax plan. In particular, some neighbors have inquired about the idea of "prepaying" for property taxes for 2018. The following research summary was submitted by Rosie Walker, who is a former writer and communications manager at the Harris County Tax Office.


Property taxes in Texas are paid in arrears, not in advance. January 31, 2018, is the due date for 2017 property taxes.

Below is a summary of the process taken from websites of the State Comptroller and the Harris County Tax Office.

  1. A large part of the job of the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) is to estimate what your property is worth on January 1 each year. January first each year is referred to as the “snapshot date.” What a property is used for on January 1, market conditions on that date and who owns the property on that date determine whether the property is taxed, its value and who is responsible for paying the taxes.
  2. Around May 15 every year, HCAD is supposed to begin hearing protests from property owners who believe their property values are incorrect. (Notifications are mailed to owner addresses on file with HCAD. Verify or update your address at hcad.org.)
  3. Upon completion of this work (protest hearings), HCAD is charged with providing each taxing jurisdiction (City of Houston, HISD, HCC, Port of Houston, Flood Control District, etc.) a list of taxable property within its boundaries. The Harris County Tax Office collects for most of the jurisdictions that tax property in Woodland Heights. You may verify your tax bill online at hctax.net/Property/TaxStatement.
  4. In August or September, the elected officials of each taxing unit should adopt tax rates for their operations and debt payments (i.e., budgetary items). Only then will we be able to know the exact dollar amount of property taxes we owe.
  5. Tax collection for 2018 property taxes will begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, with due date for 2018 property tax being January 31, 2019.

LITH 2017 Ornaments Sold Out! by Michael Graves

As of December 2nd the limited edition Lights-in-the-Heights cloisonné Christmas ornaments are completely sold out! Only 75 were produced.

Delivery of the ornaments is expected about a week before Christmas. Once the goods have arrived, Jan Rynda Greer, LITH Committee Chair, will provide pickup details to everyone who purchased an ornament.

USPS informed delivery will show scans of customer mail as mail is processed by Michael Graves

You can now see the mail destined for your mailbox before it arrives. The service is called Informed Delivery. It works like this: USPS digitally images the front of mail pieces that run through its automation equipment. An email is generated each day your household has mail that is processed through automation equipment. If no mail is processed through automation that day, you will not get a notice. Package imaging is not available.

Activating Informed Delivery service requires opening an account online at usps.com. Verification of your identity requires you to answer a number of questions. The online verification process is not always successful, so the fallback is to go to in person to a USPS location to sign up. 

The nearest substation to Woodland Heights where you can sign up is River Oaks, 1900 West Gray. However, River Oaks substation is not open on Saturday. The nearest substation to Woodland Heights at which you can get verified in person on Saturday is Oak Forest, located at 2499 Judiway at East T.C. Jester. The Oak Forest substation is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 12 noon. It is also open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

WHCA March 2017 Newsletter by Michael Graves

Last week the WHCA newsletter for March was printed and passed to the block captains for distribution. By now most residents should have received one at their door. You can also download a copy by clicking on the image shown here.

This issue of the newsletter contains:

  • The Friends of Woodland Park Firefly Field Day.
  • Details about the Constable Patrol Program for 2017-18.
  • Introductions to our Harris County Deputies.
  • News of changes to the FEMA flood insurance program affecting Woodland Terrace residents
  • A financial update for WHCA.
  • A listing of the newly elected WHCA board of Directors.

This issue places special emphasis on membership renewal and the Constable Patrol Program, which both run from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. We're hopeful that the membership appreciates the benefits provided by the Constable Patrol. Our ability to sustain the patrol coverage depends upon sufficient households supporting the Constable Patrol Program in this new year.

Reminder: Nominations open for the 2017-8 WHCA Board by Michael Graves

The following Woodland Heights neighbors have agreed to be on the nominating committee for the Woodland Heights Civic Association Board Positions for the March 2017 to March 2018 board term. 

Rosie Walker (rosiethewriter@gmail.com
Pat Rutledge (pat@flagstonemortgage.com
Carla Reed (mrscarlareed@yahoo.com
Brad Snead (snead@wrightclose.com
Matt Hartzell (maymat@aol.com

If you are interested in a WHCA board position for the March 2017 to March 2018 term then please send an email to one of the members of the nominating committee with the completed nomination form.

All WHCA Board Positions are open for nominations for next year: President, President Elect, VP-Treasurer, VP-Deed Restriction, VP-Security, VP-Infrastructure, VP-Communications, VP-Beautification, VP-Secretary and VP-Membership. 

As a reminder, the WHCA board elections will be held on March 21, 2017 at 7:00 PM at Hogg Middle School. Nominations at the meeting are not permitted so please make sure to send in any nominations before the March 21 meeting. 

All WHCA Board members must be current members of the WHCA and the VP of deed restrictions must be a licensed attorney. 

Michael Graves
VP Communications, WHCA

Introducing Your 2016-17 WHCA Board by Michael Graves

Last month we listed the names of the WHCA Board and the positions they held. This month we are furthering that introduction by sharing a photo along with more personal information about each of our board members.  Now, when you reach out to a WHCA Board member you can make a more personal connection with a neighbor that gives their time freely to serve you and the community in which you live.  – Roger Moxley

Tyson Greer.jpg

Tyson Greer, President-Elect

Tyson Greer, President-Elect assists the President in carrying out the mission and objectives of the WHCA.  Tyson has lived in the neighborhood since 2010 with his wife Jan. Both from smaller towns, they were drawn to the Woodland Heights for its neighborhood feel, location and beautiful historic homes as the perfect spot to raise a family in Houston. They’ve since added two more to the crew (Moses and John) and you can see them pretty much every weekend at the “Dinosaur Park” or cruising the neighborhood in an array of miniature vehicles.  Tyson joined the WHCA board to help preserve its history and charm but also ensure that the neighborhood progresses with its place at the center of one of the largest and most diverse urban environments in the country. 

Susan Pennebaker, Secretary.

 Susan and her husband Ward moved to Woodland Heights in 2012.  Also known as “the dinosaur people”, the Pennebakers have been involved with Association activities throughout their residency in the neighborhood. Susan has served as Secretary of the Association since 2015. Her responsibilities include preparing the Minutes of all Board and General meetings, maintaining key Board documents (both electronically and in print), and responding to online inquiries directed to her account. Passionate about not only our neighborhood, but also the community-at-large, Susan is active as a Board or Committee member of the United Way of Greater Houston, the McGovern Health Museum, the American Leadership Forum and the KKG Charitable Foundation. She is a Principal of Pennebaker, a marketing/advertising firm.

Michael Graves, VP Communications

Michael Graves, VP Communications, is responsible for the various channels that the board uses to communicate with the neighborhood, including; the WHCA web site, email mailing lists, and WHCA-related activity on Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter. He also oversees the regular production of a monthly email newsletter.  A home-office based technologist with a background in media production, Michael has a longstanding aversion to commuting. He’s been a WHCA resident since relocating from Toronto in 1998 and can often be found in one of our many public parks, riding a bike, walking his dogs or flying kites.

Carla Reed, VP Beautification

Carla Reed, VP Beautification monitors the community entrances, common areas, and neighborhood entry signs at Watson esplanade, Houston Ave., and N. Main.  She and her husband Adrian raised both of their now adult children in the Woodland Heights and have been in the neighborhood for over 20 years.  As a scientist with a passion for gardening, she spent a decade running the garden at Travis Elementary where both of her kids went to school.  It is with the greatest pleasure that she gets to pick the yard of the month.

Melissa McKee, Treasurer

Melissa McKee, Treasurer keeps the WHCA in top financial condition by maintaining the Association's books; physically writing and depositing checks in addition to tracking electronic payments; reconciling bank accounts; presenting financial statements at meetings; and, preparing and submitting the required tax returns. Melissa studied Accounting at Texas A&M University, where she also met her husband. She loves rock 'n' roll, the great outdoors, scrapbooking, and all-day breakfast. She wanted to “give back” to her dearly beloved 'hood of six years by joining the Board in April 2016.

Brad Snead, VP Security

Brad Snead, VP Security oversees the Constable Program as well as collects and reports on crime statistics in our neighborhood.  Brad is an attorney at Wright & Close, LLP and specializes in civil appeals. He is happily married to Lauren Snead, who is a professor in the College of Education at the University of Houston. They have lived on Omar Street since 2010 and have a lab-golden retriever mix named Maggie. She barks a little too much, but isotherwise the sweetest and cutest dog in the neighborhood.

William Getschow, President

William Getschow, President through March 31, 2017.  William has been a resident of the Woodland Heights since 2006 and a lifelong Houstonian.  William has been very active with the July 4th Parade and other Woodland Heights community events over the last few years.

VP Deed Restrictions

We are currently seeking a replacement for Gigi John the current VP Deed Restrictions who will not be continuing in this position after March 31, 2017.  This is a very important position in that the VP Deed Restrictions reviews and provides the position of the WHCA as to whether new build or remodel plans meet deed restrictions.   The position also coordinates revisions/updates of existing deed restrictions; coordinates new deed restrictions for unrestricted subdivisions; educates neighbors/realtors about the importance of deed restrictions, the role they play in historical integrity and quality of life in your neighborhood.  As soon as Gigi’s replacement has been selected we will publish a photo and bio on that person as well.

VP Membership

VP Membership actively seeks ways to increase the WHCA membership by keeping residents informed of what their dues pay for; solicits feedback from residents on ideas to increase membership; coordinates a New Resident Welcoming program and the Block Captain program. Roger Moxley held this position for a portion 2016-17, resigning in early February, not long after preparing the material for this story. The position will remain vacant until board elections in March.

Historic District Design Guidelines Visual Preferences Survey by Michael Graves

Click on the image to go to the city web site and begin the survey.

What are the keys to designing a compatible house or addition in a historic district?

At previous community workshops, participants evaluated a series of alternative building models for new houses and additions. Some models were rated as being either clearly appropriate or clearly inappropriate. For other models, opinions were mixed, or there wasn’t enough feedback to draw clear conclusions, and so this survey focuses on those models for which we did not receive clear direction.

We have also updated some illustrations to more closely reflect the character of individual historic districts. Your answers will help us recommend building design tools to be included in the Woodland Heights Historic District design guidelines.
The survey is divided into three parts:

Part 1: Overall Issues In the District
This section asks the extent to which you agree or disagree with issues that were mentioned in previous workshops.

Part 2: Building Design Tools
This section asks you to comment on the usefulness of design techniques that can affect compatibility, in terms of mass, scale, and relationship of a building to its neighbors. A background paper, titled Houston Historic Districts Potential Design Tools, provides further information about the design tools in Part 2.

Part 3: Building Scenarios
This section presents seven house designs -- three that show different approaches for constructing an addition to a historic single-family home, and four that illustrate new single-family homes in the historic district. Each scenario incorporates a combination of the design techniques described in Part 2 and will help us determine how effective these tools may be in achieving compatible designs.

All surveys must be completed online or postmarked no later than Friday, January 27, 2017.

The New Faces Of The WHCA Board by Michael Graves

The past month has seen some changes in the faces on the WHCA board. The current board is comprised of the following officers:

  • William Getschow, President
  • Tyson Greer, President-Elect
  • Carla Reed, VP-Beautification
  • Susan Pennebaker-VP-Secretary
  • Michael Graves, VP-Communications
  • Brad Snead, VP-Security
  • Melissa McKee-VP, Treasurer
  • Giji John-VP, Deed Restrictions
  • Roger Moxley, VP-Membership
  • Matt Johnson-VP-Infrastructure

These officers will serve through March 2017. In March the WHCA will be holding elections to determine the officers for the coming year, which runs through to March 2018.

Block Captain Program by Mark Sternfels

Neighbor Missy Wright is leading an effort to reinstate the block captain program. This team of volunteers walks their block distributing WHCA information to neighbor's front porches. It's a great way to meet neighbors and help the WHCA eliminate some postage costs. While we’ve received a great response so far, we could use a few more volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the block captain coordinator, Missy Wright.