The Coordinating Committee will guide the work of the Technical Advisory and Regional Transect workgroups; implement the Citizen Participation Plan to ensure community engagement occurs throughout the planning process; present plan elements and recommendations to the Governmental Advisory Committee for vetting and feedback on the feasibility of implementation strategies; and monitor the progress of plan development and implementation.
The diverse experience of members of the Coordinating Committee is meant to strike a balance across sectors and begin a dialogue around issues that have not been discussed across geographic areas, political boundaries, interests and regional needs. Members represent a robust cross section of communities and organizations, including government agencies, non-profit/advocacy organizations and research/educational institutions. Select each member name for more information.
Blueprint Houston and the Center for Houston's Future have the capacity to engage a diverse representation of the general population. Blueprint, a citizen-led advocacy group, has experience bringing together small and large groups of Houstonians to develop collaborative efforts, including Citizens' Vision for Houston and Envision Houston Region. Participants in these meetings range from 300 to more than 1,000 people, the demographics of which mirror the voting patterns in the City of Houston in all aspects—age, ethnicity, income and geography. The Center for Houston's Future has an ethnically-diverse 550-person network of business and civic leaders who have graduated from its Business/Civic Leadership Forum. The Center develops research on public policies and their long term impact on the Houston region, including the "2009 Environment Indicator Report" released in January of this year. A new report focusing on Water and Green Buildings is currently in the works and will be released in early 2011. Blueprint and the Center will convene meetings, distribute information via web sites and newsletters and initiate electronic dialogues with the ultimate goal of involving a broad cross-section of the region.
Representing both rural and coastal communities, Chambers County can provide valuable resources and insight to the planning process. The County has recently completed several complementary projects, including the "Chambers County Long Term Recovery Plan," produced in partnership with FEMA; the "Chambers County Greenprint for Growth and Conservation," created with the Trust for Public Land; a multi-million dollar U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resource Management project near Lake Anahuac; and a county-wide disaster recovery housing program to benefit low- to moderate-income households. Chambers County's efforts can serve as a template for other rural counties in the region.
The City of Bay City is a rural South Texas coastal community in Matagorda County engaged in a grass-roots-driven effort of self change to grow sustainably in the areas of economic development, education, housing, infrastructure and health care. The Bay City Community Development Corporation demonstrates forward-thinking and support for existing natural resources and assets. The City has funded a Small Business Assistance Center to help entrepreneurs develop business ideas and grow small businesses, participates in a Main Street Program that enhances the appearance of the historic downtown and assists merchants to remain viable businesses. The Bay City Community Development Corporation also supports an active Convention and Visitors Bureau that markets both Bay City and Matagorda County to tourists for the area's attractions of beaches, bay and Gulf fishing, birding and history.
The City of Galveston provides a distinctive regional perspective as a City that sustains tourism, education, medical and port and industrial facets of a culturally diverse community. Located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately one hour from Houston, Galveston has unique historical, environmental and economically-valuable assets. The City will soon begin a comprehensive revision to all development, land use and subdivision code regulations by incorporating all previous relevant planning activities into a coordinated land use management system for the recovery of the City of Galveston from Hurricane Ike. As a member of the Coordinating Committee, the City of Galveston shares expertise in sustainable building and planning practices, demonstrated through a history of mitigation, coastal planning, and infrastructure best practices.
The City of Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and the largest city in Texas with a population of more than 2.2 million, or 37 percent of the Gulf Coast Planning Region. It is also one of the most diverse cities in the country with more than 150 languages spoken. In addition to English, the top spoken languages include Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, French and Urdu. Additionally, Houston is home to one of the largest Refugee Resettlement Agencies in Texas. The City provides an array of services – including planning, design, construction and operation of infrastructure and affordable housing. Education and outreach are strong points of the City’s Planning Department as demonstrated during the Urban Corridor Planning initiative. Increasing awareness among residents, stakeholders and agency technicians helped create a uniquely Houston outcome.
Much of the City of Huntsville, as well as Walker County, is comprised of low-income, underserved populations. Walker County has the 14th highest poverty rate among Texas counties and the City ranks eighth in poverty level among Texas cities. The City is currently administering two housing grants for low-income residents and serves as a shelter city for residents from other areas during catastrophic events. The City of Huntsville brings many strengths to the Coordinating Committee, including the ability to understand the needs of rural areas and experience in reaching out to low-income and traditionally underserved residents.
By 2020, Fort Bend County is projected to grow to more than half a million residents. Initially developed as a bedroom community to the City of Houston, the County is now facing significant growth and understands that planning is crucial to sustaining a livable community. Various entities within the County help support economic development and planning efforts by sponsoring marketing programs to ensure ongoing success in business retention and recruiting. The public continues to be informed through the media, entity newsletters, billboards, the County web site, telephone voice information and word of mouth. Commissioners Court is also always well attended by interested members of the public. The County will bring this level of successful planning and public engagement to the Coordinating Committee.
Established in 1941, the Greater Houston Builders Association represents more than 1,700 members and is responsible for employing more than 100,000 people and infusing $5 billion annually into the Houston economy. GHBA members consist of a broad base of builders, remodelers, developers and a variety of companies that provide products and services to the homebuilding industry. In June 2010, the GHBA launched its new green building program, Green Built Gulf Coast, focusing on regionally-appropriate green building practices for both single-family and multi-family developments. The GHBA will play a significant role in strengthening community support, particularly developers and home builders, through education, collaboration and public service.
The Gulf Coast Economic Development District is the federally recognized economic development regional planning organization for the H-GAC region. The GCEDD is governed by a 30-member Board of Directors with representation from across the region, from large metropolitan cities and counties to small cities and rural counties. The GCEDD maintains the region's "Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy," is experienced in conducting workshops on small business financing, and currently manages a $10 million loan fund. The GCEDD is also working with the state of Texas to develop programs that incorporate economic development and disaster recovery planning into long-term planning and recovery efforts. The GCEDD can provide a diverse mix of economic and community development perspectives to many of the items to be addressed during the planning process – from balancing opportunities for growth with quality of life in rural towns, to providing jobs and skills training to the citizens of urban areas and small cities
Harris County, the third largest county in the nation, is home to 4.1 million people – a population that is more than 24 U.S. states. Recognized as the Energy Capital of the World, the County was selected as one of the winners of the 2008 "100 Best Communities for Young People" competition by the America's Promise Alliance and Capital One.
Harris County annually receives funding through HUD for projects that address housing, economic development and infrastructure needs. Every five years, the County creates a Consolidated Plan that outlines plans for housing, infrastructure and quality of life for residents, and the County sponsored a Livable Communities Initiative Master Plan for the City of Baytown that addresses transportation needs and redevelopment of the downtown corridor to create a more vibrant, sustainable and livable community.
The Houston Advanced Research Center is a regional leader in developing science for decision-making by policy leaders and the public. HARC is the only organization of its type in the region and outreach on aspects of sustainability is one of HARC's strengths. HARC coordinated the first and largest regional environmental risk assessment, Houston Environmental Foresight, and engaged in outreach to create awareness of the findings for many more years. Currently HARC produces the "Texas Climate News," an Internet source of information on regional climate impacts and policies. With 15 professional researchers available, HARC will play a role in providing expertise on the status of the region in environmental, economic and social equity terms. HARC personnel can also support the planning process as experts on the Technical Advisory Groups and by assisting in scenario development based on the principles of sustainability.
The Houston-Galveston Area Council with its long history of facilitating collaboration among local jurisdictions, state and federal agencies and public and private stakeholders on significant regional and subregional plans, is well positioned to lead the sustainability planning initiative. It has conducted major region-wide public engagement efforts, such as Envision Houston Region, as well as charettes and goals-setting exercises for local communities. As the Metropolitan Planning Organization, state-designated planning agency for solid waste and water quality, and is a regional provider of job training and aging services, H-GAC has an extensive background in setting regional priorities for distributing state and federal funds including, most recently, $1.8 billion allocated by the U.S. Congress to help communities and low- to moderate-income residents recover from the impacts of Hurricane Ike.
Houston Tomorrow has promoted sustainability in the Houston region since the organization's founding in 1998. They are also national leaders in several coalitions key to changes in federal policy, including Smart Growth America. The organization has developed extensive functioning partnerships with many important non-profits and civic associations across the region and holds frequent study groups to help many other non-profits and government officials understand issues related to sustainability and transportation. Their first study group, for the "2025 Regional Transportation Plan," led to the founding of the Citizens Transportation Coalition. Houston Tomorrow brings a bank of knowledge on regional trends and needs, as well as technical GIS mapping and modeling experience. They will also help the Consortium better engage stakeholders that may not traditionally participate in regional planning efforts.
Houston Wilderness is a consortium of 65 local, state and federal agencies, research and education centers, conservation organizations, and business and economic interests devoted to understanding, appreciating and preserving the ecological diversity that is found within a 100-mile radius of Houston. In addition to developing environmental advocacy programs such as incorporating a sustainable "green infrastructure" approach to the region's water quality and flooding challenges, they support regional prosperity directly by helping to protect the Gulf Coast fishing industry and indirectly by educating the public about the area's natural heritage and quality of life. Houston Wilderness has spent the past four years facilitating the implementation of its regional plan for the Sam Houston Trail and Wilderness Preserve, a 650-mile continuous greenbelt and trail system surrounding the greater Houston metropolitan area. As part of the Coordinating Committee, Houston Wilderness will provide experience and insights from the environmental advocacy perspective and will offer facilitated access to its consortium.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is a national community development non-profit organization with a local presence in Houston. Over the past 20 years in Houston, LISC has mobilized corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments. In 2006, LISC began implementation of its new strategic plan — Building Sustainable Communities — to create neighborhoods that are good places to live, do business, work and raise families. Houston LISC offers diverse community development partners serving low-wealth communities in Houston's urban neighborhoods. Their nearly three years of comprehensive community development initiatives in these neighborhoods have engaged more than 300 unique non-profit agencies and civic leaders. As a member of the Coordinating Committee, LISC will ensure that the plans generated from this proposed effort provide a coordinated and socially equitable approach to policy and investments around housing, transportation, and environment.
As a regional transportation provider, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) is an integral element for sustainable development in the Houston Metropolitan Region. METRO is an innovative regional transportation organization committed to partnering with the public and private sectors to provide the safest, highest quality services and mobility solutions while creating economic growth. METRO is currently in the implementation phase of its METRO Solutions Phase 2 program which is a part of the "2035 Regional Transportation Plan." Key components of the implementation program include light rail in five corridors, commuter rail, enhanced Signature Bus services and new transit facilities. Citizen involvement has been a crucial component of the plan's development and implementation program. METRO receives several grants from the Federal Transit Administration and is compliant with Federal Title VI and Language Assistance requirements which require outreach efforts to accommodate those with low incomes and those who are underserved. METRO will bring this experience along with dedicated staff time to the Coordinating Committee.
Montgomery County is a 1,075-square mile jurisdiction adjacent to Harris County and the City of Houston. A portion of the County is the home to major planned communities as well as the growing County seat city of Conroe, while a significant amount of the County remains rural. Three major corridors traverse the County, positioning the area as a pass-through route for travel from Houston to Dallas and points to the northwest and serving as a primary evacuation route for a large portion of the Houston-Galveston Area. The completion of these major thoroughfares has also enabled the rapid development of commuter-owned housing. Montgomery County Community Development manages CDBG, HOME and ESGP entitlement grants plus Hurricane Ike housing and infrastructure funds from the State of Texas. The current "5-Year Consolidated Plan" focuses on building new affordable permanent housing for special populations. In addition, Community Development has conducted county-wide surveys, has facilitated numerous focus groups and planning charettes, and routinely provides outreach to low-income and underserved persons. Montgomery County's experience in public outreach and planning will be an asset to the Coordinating Committee.
Neighborhood Centers Inc. has employed a place-based, community-centered approach since its founding in 1907. They reach more than 250,000 individuals each year in some of the region's most vulnerable communities. Through a network of six community centers, 20 senior centers, 24 Head Start locations and numerous shared spaces where they provide education, immigration forums, volunteer tax centers and other services, NCI centers and programs were hubs of activity related to the Census Count initiative. In addition, large-scale and door-to-door outreach activities were conducted with some of the "hard-to-reach" populations, including non-English speakers, immigrants, and residents of apartment complexes and trailer parks. Neighborhood Centers Inc. will play an active role in reaching out to diverse communities through the Coordinating Committee.
The Port of Houston Authority represents a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours' sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage (14 consecutive years) and first in U.S. imports (19 consecutive years.) The Port of Houston is made up of the Port of Houston Authority and the 150-plus private industrial companies along the Houston Ship Channel. All together, the port authority and its neighbors along the ship channel are a large and vibrant component of the regional economy. More than 220 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Houston in 2009, and more than 7,700 vessel calls were recorded. The Port of Houston Authority brings a wealth of knowledge regarding sustainability to the Coordinating Committee and will provide dedicated staff time, technology and meeting facilities.
Texas Southern University Center for Transportation and Training and Research and the Department of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy have experience facilitating community involvement with low-income and/or minority communities in the Houston region on topics related to environmental planning, hazards mitigation and community development. While they have primarily worked with African-American communities, they also have experience engaging Hispanic communities. TSU is a state-supported institution, established in 1947 with the mission of serving the African-American population in Texas. Due to the urban location of its campus, TSU recognized the opportunity and responsibility to address the problems of urbanization in the community. The mission, faculty, and student population has since broadened and diversified, representing over 65 different countries, nationalities and cultural backgrounds. TSU's mission is now directly related to concepts of sustainability in planning for communities. TSU offers dedicated staff time, meeting facilities and research opportunities via a pool of graduate students.
The United Way of Greater Houston is an active participant in many regional planning efforts. They were a founding member of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County and also an active participant in regional transportation planning efforts. Currently, they are leading an initiative to create a regional plan for disaster response among the non-profit community in the Houston-Galveston region. They are also active in efforts to plan for and address the needs of the community's growing homeless population. The United Way of Greater Houston can serve as a convener of the non-profit communities in Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Waller counties and can ensure community partners are informed and engaged throughout the planning process.
The University of Texas Medical Branch Center to Eliminate Health Disparities supports research, training and interventions to address the causes of health inequities in society, developing new models for understanding and eliminating health disparities, and promoting policy change improve population health. CEHD understands health in a broad context, related to the physical, social and economic environment, and also related to social justice in the stratification of power and privilege in society which often work to create health inequities. The binding philosophy of the programs is to support ethically based, community and population health driven solutions, with a strong emphasis on demonstration projects suitable for scaling up to regional, state or national levels.
Waller County is a small, rural county west of Houston and Harris County that is expected to receive substantial growth in the next 20 years around existing transportation facilities. The Waller County Economic Development Partnership is currently working to develop a "Comprehensive Plan" for the County's anticipated growth. The "Comprehensive Plan" will examine current and future land use, medical facilities, housing stock and employment opportunities to hire and/or train a base of skilled workers. The County is also striving to maintain its agricultural contributions to the region and is looking for a strategy to increase local foods produced for the Houston metro area. The Waller County Economic Development Partnership will provide the Coordinating Committee with expertise in capacity building and knowledge sharing based on their experience working with elected officials, business representatives and technical experts during the development of their "Comprehensive Plan."
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