The City Needs Your Input for the Design of the Reconstruction of Dunlavy

Be Sure to Submit Your Comments to the City by December 15, 2015 Regarding the Reconstruction of Dunlavy

On November 18th, the City Public Works and Engineering Department and the Planning Department provided a joint-presentation on new bicycle facilities on Dunlavy between Allen Parkway and Richmond; and the scheduled Dunlavy reconstruction between Allen Parkway and West Gray and between Richmond Alabama. Their reconstruction efforts will include new roadway, storm drainage, sewer infrastructure and new bicycle facilities. The segment of Dunlalvy adjacent to WinlowPlace itself is not currently under design, but they are looking for our input as they consider the entirety of Dunlavy and the neighborhood's needs. This is the "Middle Segment" between Peden and West Main.

If you missed the meeting, please review the presentation, linked here, yourself. They are specifically looking for comments regarding the configuration of bike lanes, pedestrian amenities and on-street parking. Anything else is fine, too, but pay particular mind to those items. It is likely that, when funded, the Winlow Place segment of Dunlavy would be modeled more similarly to the Southsegment, which in the presentation is Richmond to West Alabama.

The main thing to note is that they need your comments and input by DECEMBER 15th.
This handout has those details, but you can also just email comments to


For the North Segment, from Allen Parkway to Peden, they plan to:

  • Reduce number of lanes to accommodate a continuous turn lane
  • Improve signals and turn lanes at intersections 
  • Replace storm and water system 
  • Improve pedestrian realm 
  • Improve bike facilities

Possible configuration of North Segment is shown in the illustration to the right.


For the South Segment, West Main to Richmond, they plan to:

  • Create dedicated parking area
  • Improve signals and turn lanes at Richmond
  • Replace storm, water and sewer systems as necessary
  • Improve pedestrian realm 
  • Add bike facilities

Possible configuration of South segment, which is likely the one that might be most like what we'll eventually have, is shown in the illustration to the right.

Note that this is unrelated to the Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan Proposed Amendments that we fought for with the City. Those were specifically related to leaving Dunlavy with its current 60-foot right of way (so that the City would not "take" an additional 70 feet), as well as reclassifying Dunlavy from a 4-lane Major Collector to a 2-lane Major Collector. With the new classification, which we won, Public Works & Engineering is still able to "design" new street configuration within that given (60-foot) right-of-way. This may include, it sounds like, new bike lanes which after hearing public input at many meetings, might be a great thing pending the exact design.

Again, the main thing to note is that they need your comments and input by December 15, 2015.
Read the presentation, linked here, yourself. Note that This handout has information for how to submit feedback, but you can also just email comments to

– by Caroline Garry

Guest Post: My Tax Dollars at Work

Winlow Place was delighted to be offered this article as a guest post from Sherry Weesner, a very active member of the Montrose community. Her civic club discusses many of the same issues we do, so she is keenly aware of the types of questions our residents often ask. Her post is below – please enjoy!

My Tax Dollars at Work

I know we all complain a lot about where our taxes go. Well, I've discovered a place where you can see how your City of Houston property taxes are spent.

The City's approximately $2 billion General Fund is its largest fund and supports the majority of the basic services of the City, such as police and fire protection, health and human services, and garbage collection. The largest sources of revenue for the General Fund are property and sales taxes, which together make up approximately 70% of the General Fund.

The current property tax rate for the City of Houston is 63.108 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The sales tax rate for the City is 1 cent, METRO's is 1 cent and the State of Texas' tax rate is 6.25 cents per dollar for taxable items purchased. Obviously, most of the sales tax you pay ends up in the State's budget.

We also pay the Drainage Utility Charge (ReBuild Houston) – which shows up on your water bill. The fee is either 3.2 or 2.6 cents per year per square feet of impervious surface depending on the type of road you live on (curb and gutter or open ditch). This fee pays for street and drainage improvements within the city. The city has approximately $1.7 billion in road and drainage infrastructure debt and pays nearly $150 million per year in interest on that debt. 11.8 cents of every $100 of property value collected is currently going to pay off the debt incurred on previous street and drainage projects. As this debt is repaid the funds will be used for street and drainage improvements around the city.

To review the taxes you pay to other entities like HISD visit the Harris County Appraisal District website.

The City has created a website to show us how our property taxes are spent. The My Tax Dollars at Work website on the City of Houston's webpage allows each of us to analyze how our Property Taxes are spent. The page has not been updated to the most recently adopted budget but I expect that will happen soon. The current budget is similar to the budgets approved over that last several years.

I utilized the website to analyze where the taxes are spent for a typical property in our area. For this example, I evaluated a property with a $500,000 appraised value with a homestead exemption.

Below is a detailed breakout of how the annual property taxes are spent:

– Guest post by Sherry Weesner

Update on 1920 West Alabama

Winlow Place has been keeping in contact with the developers of the property on 1920 West Alabama (the apartment will be called Dolce Living). We recently met with the Superintendent of this project and presented him with a Q&A which collected/compiled questions from our residents. We met for roughly 2 1/2 hours and nearly every question was cleared up or resolved. Please find the documented questions in the attachments below (there were two rounds of questions sent in). We will continue to monitor their progress/keep you informed.

Many thanks to Denise Hanks for her support in this process.

– by Caroline Garry

TIRZ 101

TIRZ stands for Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. They are special zones created by City Council to increase investment in specific areas of the city. A TIRZ works by establishing a base year for property taxes, and then setting aside any future tax revenue over the base year amount (the "tax incitement") to be used for projects within the TIRZ boundary. As an example, say a TIRZ is established in 2014 and the real estate taxes for that year are $1 million. If in 2015 the real estate taxes were $1.1 million because of property appreciation, then that extra $100,000 tax increment would be set aside for projects within the TIRZ as directed by the TIRZ board and approved by City Council.

It's important to remember that a TIRZ is not an additional tax. Instead, it is just a reallocation of the taxes that are already being collected. With a TIRZ, any increase in property values that results in a collection of additional real estate tax revenue is set aside for projects within the TIRZ boundary, instead of being sent to the City of Houston for general use.

Much more detailed information about the composition and operation of TIRZs can be found on the city's website at

Background on the Midtown TIRZ Annexation

Montrose does not have a TIRZ, but Midtown does. The Midtown TIRZ, also called TIRZ #2, was established in 1994 and has resulted in the completion of several substantial infrastructure projects in Midtown including the recent improvements to Bagby Street. In December of 2014, a proposal was announced where the Midtown TIRZ would "annex" certain parts of Montrose, mainly the commercial corridors along Montrose, Richmond, Alabama, and Westheimer.

Click to enlarge

The idea was that the tax increment and experience built up by the Midtown TIRZ could be used to help rehabilitate some of the important streets in Montrose that needed substantial improvement and repair. However, many felt that this proposal was announced very suddenly and without the input of the Montrose community. As a result of special neighborhood town halls that Council-Members Ellen Cohen and David Robinson facilitated, the voices of the community were heard, and the annexation of parts of Montrose by the Midtown TIRZ will not go forward at this time.

Next Steps

Because one of the largest concerns with the proposed annexation was the lack of Montrose community input, the process is going to start again from the ground up to make sure that community voices are heard. The Midtown TIRZ annexation is not a foregone conclusion, and there are proposals on the table for a separate Montrose TIRZ as well as the ability for Montrose to say that we don't want a TIRZ at all.

Starting in January 2015, various stakeholder committees will be formed and will have meetings to determine the specifics of how – or even whether – Montrose will participate in a TIRZ. Those committees will meet through January and February of 2015 with the goal of preparing a proposal in March that reflects the considered choices of the Montrose community. If the community would like to participate in a TIRZ, the proposal will go through a review process in April of 2015 with an eye toward presenting the proposal to City Council for approval in May.

This is an important process and everyone's voices should be heard. Watch this blog for more information on how to participate in the stakeholder committees that will be formed at the beginning of next year.

– by Ben Garry

Historic Preservation Ordinance Info Session

As an FYI and information-gathering purpose, residents from Winlow Place may be interested in attending an upcoming meeting hosted by the City of Houston Planning and Development Department. The department is in the process of updating the historic preservation ordinance. Public meetings on that process will begin on Monday, September 29. Details are below.

Date: Monday, September 29
Time: 6pm – 7:30pm
Location: 900 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002 (in the Council Annex Chambers)

From the original email:

The ordinance was updated in 2010 to create permanent protections for historic structures in designated districts and to establish a new process for creating a historic district. The goal of this process is to correct and clarify targeted items and create greater consistency for the applicants and for the commission. The amendments will provide applicants with additional options for a streamlined approval, provide the commission with improved guidance on which to base their decision and create a more efficient process.

The results of Committee meetings will be posted on the Department website. Citizens can email to sign up to receive updates about the process, meetings and proposed amendments. For additional questions, call 713.837.7963.