In Houston, Development Must Think outside the Floodplains, Advocates Say
By Emma Whalen, Community Impact
Part of a series
July 4, 2019
As new development regulations in Houston attempt to offset the effects of more frequent heavy storms, some advocates and researchers say targeting the area’s urban sprawl will do more to reduce those at risk than limiting the amount of development in the city’s core.
Researchers, including Shelton, said approaching development regulations from a watershed level rather than a jurisdictional level would make it easier to manage stormwater runoff across Houston and its suburbs and would reduce the strain downstream on bayous and tributaries. This approach also calls for more dense development on existing property rather than converting open land into new subdivisions.
“We need to be redeveloping decrepit commercial districts [outside of flood plains] that would be suitable for multi-use residential and commercial,” said Susan Chadwick, director of nonprofit Save Buffalo Bayou. “Look at all those strip malls all the way up North Shepherd.”
Moving water through the city more effectively relies on less development upstream as well as more green space surrounding the bayous’ flood plains. This could be aided by the Houston Parks Board’s Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative, which focuses on adding parks and trails along the city’s bayous.
“We’re not against development,” Chadwick said. “It should just be intelligent development.”