Why is the City Spending Our Money to Fight This Lawsuit?

Update on Residents Against Flooding

July 27, 2016

Residents in the Memorial City area, which is in the Buffalo Bayou watershed, filed a federal lawsuit last May to try to force the city to enforce stormwater detention and drainage regulations against developers not just in northwest Houston but also across the city. The suit claims, among other things, that lack of enforcement is causing flooding of their homes. The suit also names the local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ 17) and its Redevelopment Authority. The TIRZ 17 collects some property taxes in the zone and decides how to spend the money, and the suit accuses the TIRZ of deliberately funneling rainwater runoff away from commercial developments and into residential areas.

Attorney Charles Irvine speaking to the annual meeting of Residents Against Flooding on June 29, 2016.

Attorney Charles Irvine speaking to the annual meeting of Residents Against Flooding on June 29, 2016.

The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages. They request that the City and the TIRZ simply do their jobs.

Recently attorney Charles Irvine of the environmental law firm Irvine and Conner spoke at the annual meeting of Residents Against Flooding, which filed the lawsuit. He provided an update on the lawsuit in the wake of a recent Texas State Supreme Court ruling against a similar lawsuit filed by homeowners in the White Oak Bayou watershed.

Watch Irvine speak to the meeting in this 17-minute video. Among other things, he points out that the City could avoid litigation, and he questions who in the City is approving development plans without the required slowing and catching of stormwater runoff that results from increased impervious surface such as parking lots, apartment complexes, and shopping malls.


2 thoughts on “Why is the City Spending Our Money to Fight This Lawsuit?”

  1. Recently, Ed Browne (chairman) and I (board member) of Residents Against Flooding (RAF) attended a meeting of another group trying to make a difference, the Cypress Creek Flood Coalition. They hosted speakers Mike Talbott (retiring executive director of Harris County Flood Control)and Steve Radack (Precinct 3 county commissioner) to address flooding.

    Both had the gall to say, “Some people actually LIKE flooding. They get a new car and a remodeled house.” I have this on video. They also blamed our horrific situation on Mother Nature, Radack saying, “If it’s not Mother Nature, what is it?”

    Well, Mr. Radack, despite all the charts and diagrams Talbott showed us about how much rain we’ve had, we also have proof that developers are getting away with murder when it comes to NOT detaining their own storm water run-off. They use grandfathering and every loophole possible to avoid paying for required detention. Our homes and streets then become their detention basins – scott-free – for them anyway.

    Both speakers insisted that all the rules are being followed by developers and that they are also later inspected. Well, maybe the rules need to be changed if they are not working to keep us dry!

    I suggest that anyone who sees a new development in progress go to Harris County Flood Control and insist to see that the rules are being followed on that project. And insist to see that completed projects are being inspected regularly.

    After over 8 years of RAF trying to get the City to change ordinances and rules to strengthen homeowners’ protection from irresponsible development and to get the City to pay attention to our pleas for detention and drainage improvements, RAF has seen nothing of significance happening and we are flooding more than ever.

    Radack told the audience that he is all for a tax increase to address the flooding problem. Say what? Don’t we already pay a drainage fee? The TIRZ 17 in my area has millions of dollars (our taxpayer money) that could be used for detention and drainage but their board is too busy appeasing developers by using it for mobility, sidewalks, landscaping, bike trails – anything but drainage! (We LOVE bike trails but they are no good to us if they are under water.)

    Oh, and one last vent – at the Cypress Creek meeting an audience member told Radack that Congressman John Culberson said at a Meyerland meeting that the county commissioners were at fault. Radack was livid and called Culberson “a damn liar.”

    Unless we have civil unrest to force our City and County to take our flooding as an emergency, it looks like we’ll flood again and again before anything substantial happens. Please support Residents Against Flooding and donate to help us continue our lawsuit.

    Quite frankly, it’s the only chance we have.


    1. Thank you, Cynthia Neely. Especially for this report from the Cypress Creek Coalition meeting.

      The responses from Talbott and Radack are appalling.

      Here is a link to video of the Cypress Creek Coalition meeting described by Cynthia.

      And here is a link to the Residents Against Flooding website.

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