As a new hurricane season looms on the horizon, Houston leaders are reportedly still looking for ways to protect the city from future catastrophe through infrastructure improvement and legally-based development changes.
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According to past surveys, a number of Houston residents support these decisions, including plans to build a third reservoir, buying out frequently flooded homes, restricting land development and adding new flood control infrastructure.
DEVELOPING STORY: @SylvesterTurner says he'll recommend stricter building regulations for new homes in #Houston, following Hurricane Harvey. Will follow 500-year flood plain (instead of 100-year) and require homes to be built 2 feet above flood elevation. @KPRC2 #HurricaneHarvey pic.twitter.com/KYew0BZhWK
— Aaron Fernandez-Wische (@KPRC2Aaron) January 24, 2018
“Almost 85 percent of people in Harris County support both the construction of a new reservoir to protect West Houston and greater restrictions on construction in flood plains,” University of Houston researcher Jim Granato provided in a press release. “We also found significant support for not allowing homes that have flooded multiple times to be rebuilt.”
However, like with most initiatives, securing funds for new projects is proving to be a difficult task, according to financiers:
Although Governor Greg Abbott agreed to release funds from Texas’ rainy day fund to help pay for recovery, the state can’t cover the bill for everything officials in Houston, as well as leaders along the rest of the Texas coastline, say they need to prevent future disasters.
Furthermore, according to the Houston Chronicle, in an interview on the issue, Abbott clarified he wants the federal government to issue recovery funds before the state kicks in cash.
The governor said he also opposes local property tax increases.
— Houston HCDD (@HoustonHCDD) January 23, 2018
As local politicians consider bond issues along with a possible tax increase to pay for projects, a survey conducted by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs reportedly revealed a majority of Houstonians are not interested in paying more taxes for flood control projects:
Results showed a large minority of residents said they would pay more taxes, with 46 percent indicating they would pay higher property taxes and 45 percent willing to pay higher sales taxes.
The survey allowed respondents to choose between dollar amounts they are willing to pay:
Nineteen percent favored a tax increase of $12 per year, 12 percent said they would be willing to pay $25 a year and 15 percent said they would pay $50 extra.
On the other hand, 46 percent said they would not be willing to pay even $1 more per month for flood protections; 8 percent did not respond.
US Army Corps of Engineers @USACEHQ proposes study of #flooding in and around #Houston in response to hurricane Harvey, looking at problems at the catchment-scale and considering a wider range of interventions https://t.co/3KlVQKrJg2 pic.twitter.com/13lLyR7qK0
— UrbanFloodResilience (@BlueGreenCities) January 22, 2018
The Hobby School reportedly worked with political scientists at Rice University to conduct the survey by phone during November and December.
City leaders are still working to come to an agreement on a best solution. Stay tuned.