As district council members, my colleagues and I ran on a platform of representing the best interests of our communities. As residents within each of the 11 districts, we are acutely aware of the plethora of issues affecting our neighborhoods. Our constituents depend on us to advocate for their needs, which often are not met in a timely manner due to complex levels of bureaucracy and the number of citywide projects in the queue. Each district council member knows the impact that $1 Million in discretionary council funds will have on his or her district. Will it address all the needs that exist? Certainly not.
However, it is a move in the right direction to provide those who are most familiar with the concerns, with the opportunity to address them in a speedy and efficient manner. Many of our constituents have been playing the waiting game and it is time to provide them with much needed relief.
The overall structure of the program will incorporate necessary legal protections and Mayor Annise Parker must approve or deny each request within 10 days of submittal. The approval process requires project justification, in order to establish the feasibility and necessity of a funding request to the administration. These are funds that have been redirected in the budget for this specific purpose and have not been allocated to provide council members with free reign to do as we please.
The District D Plan
In order to establish an effective District D Needs-Based Plan, the District D team of community liaisons will convene for a retreat next month where we will analyze our constituent issue logs and all service requests made to our district office and four satellite offices. We will also have Department Directors and representatives from Department of Neighborhoods; Housing and Community Development; Parks and Recreation; Police; and Fire attend to provide their input on areas of concern pertinent to the District D community. This process of collaboration will allow our team to vet through and determine the priority needs across the district and identify short-term project goals.
As I travel through the neighborhoods of District D, I see no shortage of problems, which need to be tackled. The blight that exists in areas such as Sunnyside, South Union, South Park, Third Ward, and South Belt/Ellington directly impacts the public safety of those residents. Students traveling to and from school walk by abandoned buildings and weeded lots filled with trash. Senior citizens worry about their physical safety when walking on sidewalks that are in desperate need of repair. Children play at poorly lit parks with less than desirable restroom facilities. Small potholes turn into major road hazards for families, elderly drivers, and medical personnel. Addressing issues such as these are minor fixes, which will have a major impact on improving the quality of life for residents.
True collaboration and consensus on neighborhood needs will aid in forming a real partnership between the community and city government. Rather than talking at our community, we will show that we are listening to them, thus building up their trust and confidence in the process. And together, we will all work towards building a better Houston for future generations.