It Could Happen
Two problems will face Houston Renaissance as it marshals support for its Fourth Ward project ["The Great Land Grab," by Brian Wallstin, January 30].
One will be the acquisition of enough contiguous land so that the residents can be isolated from activities that are incompatible with residential life. The other is the control of the edges of the neighborhood outside the development. Where is this going? People do care what happens next door to them and usually will not pony up for the investment-of-a-lifetime if there is even a remote possibility that it will disappear into the abyss of urban blight.

In most cities, a zoning ordinance helps control activities within and adjacent to residential neighborhoods. In Houston, many depend on deed restrictions, which were put in place by developers when they controlled all of the property. Writing restrictions in an existing neighborhood is a whole different ballgame. Notarized signatures from 75 percent of the property owners are required -- a task that is particularly daunting in an atmosphere of suspicion. In addition, unless a property owners association is formed, the restrictions are not binding on the 25 percent who could opt out. Who would live where the possible uses of one-fourth of the property are unrestricted? Houston Renaissance could form a tax increment finance district, which has the power to zone. Would all of those anti-zoners on the board of Houston Renaissance see the light and convert to pro-zoners if it would line their pockets?

It could happen.
Henry Pownall
Past president, Houston Homeowners Association

Escort to the City Limits
The article on land grabbing was great. Where was the Houston Chronicle while all of this has been going on? Only the Press would dare tackle such a story. Thank you. Should I ever become mayor around here, I will have these people escorted to the city limits.

Vito Vargas
via Internet

Blatant Hypocrisy Detected
I am extremely upset over the registration of employees of sexually oriented businesses as contained in the amended SOB ordinance passed by City Council last month ["Sexually Disoriented," by Shaila Dewan, January 23].

The licensing of the entertainers and waitresses will be a matter of public record. I have known for years that public figures of all sorts want their privacy and safety insured by keeping personal information private. They use different names and unlisted phone numbers, which seems prudent on their part.

Councilwoman Helen Huey has stated that there would be no danger to these women or their children, and that if anything happened to them "we would have the name of whoever looked up the records."

I have since found out that the city secretary's office is prohibited from releasing personal information on members of City Council. Those public records are protected by law.

Apparently, the councilmembers are willing to expose women and children to dangers they are not willing to assume themselves.

John P. Trotter
via Internet

Editor's note: Mr. Trotter is referring to a Texas law that allows elected officials to request that their home addresses be deleted from the personal financial disclosure reports they are required to make available to the public. The disclosures of Houston councilmembers are filed with the city secretary's office.

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