City officials asking for public's input on upcoming budget

The new Plan Houston survey is a quick online survey asking locals what they would like to see improved in their neighborhoods and throughout the city.

The City of Houston is asking its residents to help them decide what issues to focus on and how to spend money in the upcoming budget through a new survey.

It’s all part of Plan Houston, the city’s first-ever general plan, approved by Houston City Council in 2015. Leaders call it a vision statement for where the city is and where it should go.

Now Mayor Sylvester Turner wants residents to help make that vision a reality by making their voices heard.

The East End is one of Houston’s most historic neighborhoods, an area with community, convenience, culture and cuisine, and the place Christian Aguilera has called the home for 26 years.

“Everybody knows each other, everybody’s really cool,” said Aguilera.

Aguilera and other residents say the area has improved over time and seen a lot of changes, especially in the last five years.

That change is the story in neighborhoods all over Houston. It's the reason the city is asking residents for help on deciding what issues they should attack first in the upcoming budget.

“If you’re silent on the front end, then you’re complaining on the back end,” said Amanda Edwards, City Council Member Position 4.

So Edwards is encouraging Houstonians to speak up through the city’s new Plan Houston survey.

The survey has three components: a place for residents to fill in their ZIP code, dropdown menus to select the three biggest issues facing their neighborhood, and an open space to fill in any unlisted issues or anything else on the survey taker’s mind.

“It’s less than 60 seconds to complete,” said Edwards, who says many people avoid taking surveys because they’re worried they’ll take too long. “And if you’re long-winded, I’ll give you two minutes.” 

Two minutes for Houstonians’ two cents on how a lot more money than that should be spent next year.

“You have these neighborhoods where it’s all houses and you have the one little run-down apartment,” said George Charles, of South Houston. “They’re not good for the community.”

Charles says he and his family moved to South Houston after getting priced out of the East End.

“Most of the people aren’t gonna be able to afford the cost of living over here I’d say in about five to ten years,” said Charles.

That’s one of many different needs and concerns that Edwards says she’s already hearing from different neighborhoods.

She says the most common feedback revolves around fixing traffic, fighting crime, and infrastructure improvements, including flood mitigation, something she says the city is also working with state and federal agencies to tackle.

“We’re looking at some more novel approaches to how we can get some of that funding to our region,” said Edwards.

Edwards says the more people that take the survey, the better an idea the mayor and city council members will have on what’s going on across all of Houston’s diverse neighborhoods.

The survey deadline is December 16.

Once it’s closed, Edwards says the mayor and city council will have a retreat and discuss the answers and how to best move forward.


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