The Montrose District Catches Up With Mayoral Candidates On Issues Important To The Neighborhood
The 2015 Houston mayoral elections are looming, and the Montrose District asked some of the leading candidates important questions relevant to Montrose residents and business owners, including positions on street repairs in the neighborhood, thoughts on permitting hassles and the current state (or lack of) sidewalk repairs.
Here are selected answers from candidates Chris Bell, Steve Costello, Marty McVey and Bill King. Questionnaires were also sent to candidates Sylvester Turner and Adrian Garcia, but they declined to answer. Some answers have been edited for clarity.
Street Repairs & ReBuild Houston Program
Chris Bell: Based on the Montrose’s importance to commerce and tourism, streets there are a priority. The next mayor should audit and evaluate the ReBuild Houston project to make sure funds produce results.
Steve Costello: I support the ReBuild Houston program, but would prioritize the reallocations of investments into neighborhoods over major thoroughfares.
Marty McVey: ReBuild Houston was a good plan at inception. However, 30% of all revenue should go directly back into neighborhood repair equally distributed by council districts.
Bill King: For street repairs, all available general fund money should be used for those until the city’s pothole crisis is abated. The city can save money and provide more repairs by making better use of outside contractors. As for ReBuild Houston funds, the program is a failure. I oppose the drainage fee and have called for a revote on the program.
Chris Bell: I pledge to repair 200 miles of sidewalks in my first term, inviting Montrose District to suggest areas where sidewalks can be built or repaired.
Steve Costello: It depends on the availability of funding. I’d like to see a plan to incorporate sidewalks and alleyways into the ReBuild Houston program.
Marty McVey: Sidewalks are important pieces of infrastructure and are a necessity to the quality of life; promoting safe walkability and reducing obesity. I advocate repairs through ReBuild Houston and TIRZ funding.
Bill King: The City of Houston should take over responsibility for sidewalks. The current system of relying on individual property owners costs more money and results in an inadequate, disjointed sidewalk system. At its worst, it limits mobility for disabled persons.
Permitting and Inspection Process
Chris Bell: I would promote E-Houston; app-based online improvements for doing business with the City, targeting the permitting and inspection processes.
Steve Costello: I have 30 years of experience in the engineering field and have first-hand experience with the challenges of working with the permitting department. Who better to fix that system than someone who has worked extensively within it?
Marty McVey: Streamline permitting with caseworkers assigned to a portfolio throughout the entire process. The current system is costly to both developers and residents and that is unacceptable.
Bill King: I will restore the multi-disciplinary inspection program for new home construction. Fundamentally, the Department of Public Works and Engineering does not value customer service. I would put management in place that does.