Residents near the site of the Ashby high rise have vowed to do everything legally possible to stop construction of the proposed 23-story tower. On Monday, in the first of a number of actions to illustrate the impact on surrounding neighborhoods, they parked their cars along several blocks of Bissonnet, at the site of the planned development.
They organized the "creative direct action," with around 70 cars parked between Mandell and Hazard streets at or near the 1700 block of Bissonnet, to show what traffic will look like during construction and afterwards.
The protest was aimed at convincing investors to think twice before funding the proposed tower. "There are better places," Justus said. "It's just a bad choice."
"It's a legal 'park-in'," said Margaret Justus, spokesperson for the Stop Ashby High Rise Task Force. "Instead of civil disobedience, it's civil obedience."
Justus said the protest was aimed at convincing investors to think twice before funding the proposed tower. "There are better places," she said. "It's just a bad choice."
Resident David Thomas said all of the cars came from homes within walking distance of the protest. He pointed out that the proximity of the proposed tower to Poe Elementary School is a particular safety concern.
"It's really going to be difficult to construct such a big building in such a small space," he said.
With a new Museum of Fine Arts, Houston building planned to the east on Bissonnet and a midrise going up to the west, at Greenbriar near Bissonnet, residents are calling for a new traffic study, calling a three-year-old study that the city of Houston relied upon to approve construction of the tower outdated.
Justus said the group will continue to organize "creative, effective, visual and legal" protests to convince investors that it won't make sense to put the tower in the proposed location. "We're not going to give up," she said.
She noted that the Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighborhoods surrounding the proposed tower recently renewed their deed restrictions for another 50 years to ward off any future high rise development. And while some critics say the affluent neighbors are blocking progress, Justus noted that the Stop Ashby High Rise group has received strong backing from other neighborhood groups throughout Houston.
"We're sending a message that it's time for the city to start thinking about how Houston protects its neighborhoods," she said.