Mayor Parker Unplugged
Mayor Parker reveals her Astrodome views, her food truck troubles and the sidewalk truth: Highlights from #AskAnnise
On Monday, we joined Mayor Annise Parker and her staff at City Hall for a live web chat on CultureMap — and repeat reader questions indicated the issues at the forefront of your minds, from the Astrodome to foodie problems.
Polls on the chat showed that 34 percent of the people want "quality of life" to be the Mayor's top priority, while "infrastructure" wrangled 31 percent of the vote. Eighty-seven percent of readers think that Houston is heading in the right direction, and 57 percent say that the best thing about Houston is its people and diversity.
Here are five major issues that emerged from the exclusive CultureMap chat:
"Not my decision. It will be decided by 4 county commissioners and the county judge," Parker wrote. "However, I personally believe there ought to be something we can do to preserve it, or at least the steel skeleton as presented in the UH Grad Student Ryan Slattery's proposal."
Sidewalks and streets
"We're working on Complete Streets policy. . . The challenge with sidewalks is that the city of Houston was developed without sidewalks and it would require retrofitting thousands of miles of sidewalks," Parker responded.
"The [ReBuild Houston] program has only been fully operational for 1.5 yrs and we've spent $180M on 46 projects with 38 planned for this year."
"[The three lines currently under construction] should be up early next year and quadruple the number of miles of light rail in Houston," Parker said.
And regarding the contentious (but hella convenient) line along Richmond Avenue? "METRO and I remain committed to the University Line, but it is dependent on the availability of federal dollars. Two of our four light rail lines have been locally funded. We're the only city in America that's been forced to do that."
Parker talked up her One Bin for All initiative, which will use "innovative, cutting-edge technology" to divert solid waste to the recycling stream.
When it comes to meals, Parker admitted a preference to stay in — or at least close to home. "There are three breakfast spots within walking distance from my house — Canopy, Harry's and the Breakfast Klub. They're all excellent choices, although I've also been known to hang out at La Mexicana."
She also supports food trucks and intends to pass a new ordinance "as soon as practical" — and hopes that Houstonians will encourage their council members to vote in favor.
But Parker's response revealed the challenge of getting the current rather restrictive food truck ordinance changed.
"I clearly support food trucks and wish to see the restrictions on food trucks downtown lifted," Parker wrote. "I'm not in the business of embarrassing Council Members, nor am I inclined to bring something to a vote that I know cannot pass. However, I intend to pass a new food truck ordinance as soon as practical, and I'm NOT going to give up.
"I encourage you to reach out to your council members!"