Greetings Friends,

¡Feliz Dia de los Reyes Magos! Or as we say where I worship, “¡Happy Epiphany!” While January 6th has come to mark a less auspicious day in our country’s recent history, I’d like to wish y’all a very happy and prosperous New Year. As Mayor Turner has presented us with a long list of projects to complete in this our final year in Houston City Council, I too look forward to finishing strong with a productive and successful 2023.

Here below is our look back to some of the highlights and major accomplishments of the past year. I hope that you enjoy reading them and we stand ready to serve as called.


David W. Robinson, FAIA
On January 19th, Houston City Council approved amendments to Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances related to additional protections for Houston’s four-legged residents. These amendments included updates to mirror State of Texas laws regarding procedures when dealing with aggressive and dangerous dogs, a ban on tying or chaining dogs, and also mandated access to clean drinking water and adequate shelter at all times. The amendments included mandatory microchipping for all owned animals, eliminating the traditional rabies tag and physical pet license and replacing it with a microchip. This change allowed BARC Animal Enforcement Officers to scan and return a pet to its owner while the officers are in the field, eliminating the need to bring any animal back to the shelter for intake. Furthermore, the amendments required all pet stores located within the City limits to sell only dogs and cats sourced from a humane organization or a municipal/county animal shelter. The six existing pet stores that sell breeder obtained dogs and cats to be given one year to come into compliance. Congratulations to Council Member Sallie Alcorn for her hard work to pass this amendment which improved the quality of life of the dogs and cats in Houston.
On 27 January, Committe Chairs David W. Robinson, Sallie Alcorn and Robert Gallegos co-chaired a joint Transportation, Technology & Infrastructure; Regulatory & Neighborhood Affairs and Quality of Life Committee meeting on the subject of rail safety in Houston following complaints from residents and businesses of frequent, long-lasting street crossing blockages by stopped or disabled trains. During the meeting, the role of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was discussed as well as an update and overview of the Gulf Coast Rail District, regarding their responsibilities. Additionally, representatives from Union Pacific provided an update on their operations in the Houston region and addressed a number of reasons causing the blockages including the following…
  • lack of railroad engineers due to the ongoing COVID crisis
  • longer trains due to short staffing
  • safety inspection issues when trains are forced to decouple
  • cargo transportation backlogs due to supply chain challenges and the reduced international production capacity as ports and cargo rail rushes to catch up to the global impacts caused by COVID
On February 2nd, Mayor Sylvester Turner released One Safe Houston: The Mayor’s Public Safety Initiative to Combat Violent Crime, a 4-pronged approach to fight violent crime in the City of Houston through 1) violence reduction and crime prevention, 2) crisis intervention, 3) response and recovery, and 4) youth outreach opportunities; and key community partnerships. The plan committed to put more officers on the streets through overtime and additional Houston Police cadet classes and created a $1 million gun buyback program. It also provided an additional $1.5 million in funding for the Houston Forensic Science Center to address the backlog of cases and to fund domestic violence awareness programs with an additional $3 million to provide more services for survivors and prevention efforts. Mayor Turner also announced:
  • $2.5 million for the implementation of the CURE Violence program in targeted communities. The Cure Violence model trains and deploys outreach workers and violence interrupters to mitigate conflict on the street before it turns violent.
  • A proposed ordinance for council approval requiring security cameras on certain classes of businesses where the increase in crime is concentrated.
  • A proposed ordinance for city council approval requiring that a bail bond company charge a premium which is equal to at least ten percent of the amount of the bail bond set by the court.
  • Increased support for the Community Re-Entry Network Program. The program helps formerly incarcerated individuals with successful community reintegration support including workforce development, mental and behavioral health resources and housing and other basic needs including referrals and job placement advocacy. Reducing recidivism is critical for increasing long-term public health and safety and for lowering corrections costs. The proposed $1 million dollar increase will allow a 50% increase for the number of participants to grow from 500 to 750.
For more information on the initiative or to read it in its entirety, please clickHERE.
On February 23rd, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council approved the purchase of 97 battery electric vehicles. The new electric vehicles (EVs) will replace internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that are aging out of the City of Houston fleet. The EV purchase follows the guidelines established in the Houston Climate Action Plan – a strategy that sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve regional air quality, and build climate resilience. The Houston Climate Action Plan aims to convert all non-emergency, light-duty municipal vehicles to electric power by 2030.  The Fleet Management Department, working in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, is spearheading the City’s EV initiative. The City recently partnered with Evolve Houston to apply state-of-the-art methods of life-cycle cost analysis and optimization modeling to determine financial and environmental impacts and to align investment decisions in EVs and their associated infrastructure. According to this study, electrifying the municipal fleet will generate significant savings from lower energy costs as well as with ongoing maintenance. Estimated savings are expected to grow as the cost difference between ICE vehicles and battery Electric Vehicles continues to shrink. City departments adopting Electric Vehicles from this purchase include:
• Houston Police Department
• Houston Fire Department
• Houston Parks and Recreation Department
• Fleet Management Department
• General Services Department
• Houston Airport System
• Department of Neighborhoods
• Houston Health Department
• Solid Waste Management Department
• Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department
Data collected on the operation of the EVs in the different City applications will be used to optimize additional EV deployments. This purchase will add to the 40 battery electric vehicles already in the fleet. The City of Houston is actively placing EV charging infrastructure at multiple City facilities to support the flexibility and availability of these additional EVs. Due to global supply chain issues, the EVs approved  by City Council are not expected to arrive until the early Spring of 2023.  Additional EV purchases are expected to come in the next few months. Any grant opportunities that come available prior to the delivery of the vehicles will be fully evaluated for their potential to offsett the City funds used to cover the purchase price of the electric vehicles.
From March 28th through April 1st, Council Member Robinson joined Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston First CEO Michael Heckman, Greater Houston Partnership Senior and Chief Economic Development Officer Susan Davenport, City of Houston Chief Development Officer Andy Icken, stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry including United Airlines and leadership from the Houston Airports System (HAS), including HAS Director Mario Diaz, for the “Houston Week” trade mission to Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City, the City of Houston’s first international trade mission since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trip was part of a strategic push and international branding campaign to make Houston the number one tourist destination for Mexican travelers by 2024, the delegation promoted Houston’s diversity in food and drinks, entertainment opportunities and intercultural activities. During the mission, the delegation met with numerous dignitaries including Governor of Nuevo León, Samuel Alejandro Garcia Sepúlveda, as well as other members of Governor Garcia’s administration for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen ties between the State of Nuevo León and the City of Houston.  A series of roundtable discussions took place including one with Mexico’s head of the Secretariat of Economy, Tatiana Clouthier on global trade. While in Mexico City, meetings also took place with the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roberto Velasco, as well as with Secretary of Tourism Miguel Torruco. The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, to discuss strengthening the relationship between Mexico City and Houston as well as to address other shared challenges such as affordable housing, equitable economic development, climate adaptation and urban resilience.  For more information on the mission and its successes, click HERE.
Council Member Robinson joined the Economic Alliance- Houston Port Region on a 2022 Washington D.C. Policy Visit from April 26 through April 28. The delegation was organized and led by Chad Burke, President and CEO of the Economic Alliance. It consisted of elected officials and other representatives of industry and commerce, including Texas State Senator Larry Taylor, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Mayor of Morgan’s Point Michel Bechtel, and Mayor of Seabrook Thom Kolupski. The delegation also included Jim Griffin from San Jacinto Community College, representatives from several business organizations, including Bob Mitchell, then-President of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP), and Amy Sicki, Executive Director of BayTran. 
The Economic Alliance: Houston Port Region is a regional economic development organization that represents the most influential energy corridor and trade port in the world, with a mission to grow the regional economy through public policy, infrastructure, workforce development and quality of life initiatives. The purpose of the visit was to promote federal policy priorities, introduce partners, and express the economic impact and importance of the port region’s world class destination.
The delegation met with over 19 Congress Members, including U.S. Congresswomen Sylvia Garcia, Sheila Jackson Lee and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. Discussions focused on innovation in petrochemical production, as well as in advanced recycling standards and techniques to make America’s manufactured products more sustainable and resilient. Another priority topic to advocate for the ongoing support for the Coastal Spine and the advancement of the recently created Gulf Coast Protection District. This barrier of seawalls, sand dunes, and storm mitigating protective infrastructure will enhance the protection of more than 4 million residents, associated industry, and infrastructure from storm surge associated with future hurricanes and other storms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The delegation promoted additional federal funding and expanded support through the process of ongoing authorizations and appropriations, all necessary to protect the region’s assets that impact both local, regional, and national economies. The Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) currently provides several opportunities to support the Houston Port Region, and hurricane protection must be prioritized among the available funding sources. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) is currently working on IIJA grant opportunities to promote projects like the Coastal Spine and enhance ecosystem restoration, such as with the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
To see more about the Economic Alliance, click HERE.
On May 26th, Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered the inaugural lecture at the African American Library at the Gregory School on the two-year anniversary of the murder of native Houstonian, George Floyd. Mrs. Latonya Floyd, sister to Mr. Floyd, is seen here celebrating his life and was joined by Council Member Robinson, District D Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, District C Council Member Abbie Kamin, and Mayor Turner.
On May 21st, Council Member Robinson participated in the 2022 Houston Bike Summit. The ride visited areas where new bike infrastructure has been built, as well as areas where redesigns are planned. Here, CM Robinson is pictured with Veronica Davis, Houston Public Works’ Director of Transportation & Drainage Operations, and Joe Cutrufo, Bike Houston Executive Director.
On June 1st, Houston City Council voted to approve Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proposed $5.7 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, as amended by Council.
The current budget is marked by a $487 million (9.3%) increase in spending from the last fiscal year. The general fund budget is capped at $2.7 billion, which is an increase in spending of $102 million (3.2%) from last year. Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act have once again been used in this year’s budget as a revenue replacement, which Council agreed is a short-term solution to an issue that they will need to address in future budgets.
The budget’s general fund will provide for pay raises for the employees of several departments, including a 6% increase for firefighters, a 4% increase for police officers, and a 3% for municipal employees over the course of the upcoming fiscal year. Out of the 106 amendments discussed, only 16 were passed by City Council.
Of the 16 approved amendments, 2 were co-authored by Council Member Robinson in conjunction with fellow Council Members Sallie Alcorn, Mary Nan Huffman, and Amy Peck with the intent of enhancing operations at the Houston Permitting Center (HPC). The first provided for an increase in revenues and expenditures in the Building Inspection Special Fund by $500,000 by adding an expedited review service for the Office of the City Engineer at the Houston Permitting Center (HPC). The second will draw from 1 of 3 funding sources to increase spending in the Building Inspection Special Fund by $300,000, all designed to address and implement process improvements at the Houston Permitting Center.
Council Member Robinson speaks with Council Member Sallie Alcorn (At-Large 5) as Chair and Vice Chair of the City’s Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure (TTI) Committee. At the table Houston Permitting Center Director Chris Butler and other city officials attend a panel discussion at the West Gray Multiservice Center on June 23.

In the month of June, a number of developments were made to improve parts of the City’s permitting and planning review process. On June 22, City Council authorized a project to design and build a new permitting and inspection system to support the Houston Permitting Center (HPC). The new system, HouPermits, is a workflow-driven application that provides a new customer portal, a back-end comprehensive web-based system and mobile application to be used by the city’s Field Inspectors. The item was brought before the TTI Committee in their meeting on June 9th, chaired by CM Robinson.

At the same presentation, new and much-needed software package was introduced for the Plat Tracker and Historic Preservation Tracker programs. This new system replaced aging in-house applications with new scalable COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) solutions for the two existing programs. Updates will roll out in the coming months as Houstonians and subject matter experts bring forward their concerns and suggestions on how the process can be improved, as with events like the one pictured above.


On June 22nd, City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to authorize an agreement between the City of Houston, Harris County, and the Port of Houston to advance and study the potential of the Galveston Bay Park Plan proposal. The park would be comprised of a series of mid-bay islands, created by utilizing dredge spoils and materials from the widening of the Houston Ship Channel already underway. This is an idea conceived and proposed by architects Rogers Partners in collaboration with Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. The proposed in-bay storm barrier is intended to serve as both a hurricane mitigation strategy as well as a 10,000-acre accessible public park facility.

As stated by Mayor Sylvester Turner, “The project is needed to inform critical investment to protect the Greater Houston region from the devastating effects of future storms in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Texas Coast and within Galveston Bay.” Council Member Robinson added, “The Galveston Bay Park Plan has been lauded as a potential complement to enhance the effectiveness of the coastal spine project while protecting critical infrastructure, regional industry and our port facility. The project would also increase the protection of Houstonians, our neighbors throughout the region and the essential workers who support and sustain our communities.”

The City of Houston redistricts every 10 years and redraws its new boundaries for each Council District based on data collected from and during the decennial U.S census. The City’s goal is to balance population numbers across each district to create clear, identifiable boundaries, keep county voting precincts intact, leave voting power by demographic concentration undiminished, and preserve City Council and constituent relations. Public engagement in this matter began on May 25th through virtual meetings and with a 12-part series of in-person town hall discussions. Through these meetings, the city worked to incorporate public input into the proposed plans. Citizens and members of the public were allowed to comment on the new maps during three public hearings throughout the month of July. 
Houston City Council voted on October 12th to approve and adopt the final proposed redistricting plan which established the new boundaries of single-member City Council districts. These new boundaries will be used for the purpose of electing District Council Members at the City General Election to be held on November 7, 2023 and will go into effect for terms of office beginning on January 2, 2024. “Representation matters, and redistricting requires tough decisions that will affect our Council districts for the next 10 years. The law requires us to balance the populations of our Council districts and that is what we accomplished after much thoughtful discussion,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This is a complicated process with many moving parts, and I fully appreciate all the feedback we received from residents and civic groups, as well as the hard work from of our redistricting experts and Planning Department employees.”
On Saturday, August 13th Council Member Robinson joined his colleagues and Mayor Sylvester Turner at the George R. Brown Convention Center for the Mayor’s Back 2 School Fest sponsored by Shell.  This annual festival is designed to help economically disadvantaged elementary school students in the Houston region and their families to prepare for a successful return to school and to set the foundation for future educational growth.  Over 4,500 returning students were provided clear backpacks with several important yet basic school supplies and over 15,000 Houstonians were served by vendors and offered general health screenings at the event.  Additionally, the Houston Health Department was on site to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone in attendance over the age of five years. The Houston Public Library system was also present with their Mobile Library, where interested parents and students could check out books and browse collections online.
Council Member Robinson  and Chief of Staff Diana Caicedo (right) join members of the Houston Public Works team at the 2022 NACTO conference in Boston.
On 6-10 September, Council Member Robinson and Chief of Staff Diana Caicedo joined over 1,200 transportation experts, policymakers, advocates and transit practitioners at the annual National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) conference in Boston, Massachusetts.  NACTO’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. This is a mission shared by Council Member Robinson and represents ideals promoted during his election to City Council.  The four-day conference featured 110 speakers in 37 diverse breakout sessions, nine workshops, 45 mobile “WalkShops” led by city employees, and comments from Mayors Michelle Wu, Sumbul Siddiqui, and Katjana Ballantyne of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, USDOT Deputy Director Polly Trottenberg, and FHWA Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack, who shared both their personal histories and their vision for the future of transportation policy.
Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council Member Robinson, and the rest of the Houston delegation present a Houston Astros jersey to the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike.
From 22-30 October, Council Member Robinson joined Mayor Turner, Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin, the Greater Houston Partnership and Houston business leaders on a trade mission to Tokyo and Chiba, Japan to meet with high-ranking government leaders and business executives to promote Houston’s economic, governmental, and cultural ties.  During the mission, the delegation was given an exclusive tour of the Shinkansen high speed rail control center and were treated to a ride on the bullet train like the trains that will be used for the proposed Central Texas Rail that will connect Houston to Dallas.  They also toured several high-tech sector industrial facilities and spoke to several high-ranking executives to encourage their interests and investments in Houston.  While the delegation had a busy schedule with many meetings, they were able to attend a special performance of Swan Lake by the Houston Ballet who were touring Japan at the time of the visit. They also visited the city of Chiba in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Houston and Chiba.  For more information on the delegation’s trip, click HERE.
Council Member Robinson welcomes Astros Manager Dusty Baker to City Hall for the 2022 Post Season Rally.

On 5 November, the Houston Astros clinched their second World Series title in six seasons. Yordan Alvarez hit a towering three-run homer, helping the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in Game 6. The win gave the Astros’ 73-year-old manager Dusty Baker, pictured above with Council Member Robinson, his first title in 25 seasons as a manager, the last three having been in Houston.

On 7 November, a crowd of more than 1 million fans celebrated the Houston Astros’ World Series win with a downtown parade. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had encouraged fans coming to the victory parade to “arrive early, wear Astros’ colors, be loud and celebrate safely.” The parade, which started at noon and lasted for a couple of hours, packed sidewalks with people as Astros players riding floats and buses waved at cheering fans. Congratulations to the team and to the die-hard fans for bringing it home. Go ‘Stros!

On 19 December, Mayor Sylvester Turner signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) regarding the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP).
The city’s MOU will focus on six key areas:
–    Housing and Community Cohesion
–    Drainage and Flood Mitigation
–    Reducing the NHHIP Footprint During Detailed Design
–    Transit and MaX Lanes
–    Connectivity
–    Park Space and Urban Design
The NHHIP is designed from IH 45 North Corridor from Beltway 8 North to and around Downtown Houston. It will provide connectivity for residents and businesses within and beyond the State of Texas.
“The path forward begins anew today. As I’ve said before, the NHHIP done the right way can be a transformational and generation-level project, enhancing connectivity, increasing mobility, and significantly lowering flood and existing parks and greenspace impacts,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Today’s MOU represents the commitment, ongoing collaboration and communication between county, city and state governments to meet the needs of residents and businesses within the region.  It also provides resources for Houstonians to stay in their neighborhoods, as our people, our residents, are the heart of our city.”
TxDOT will engage with the public throughout the period of construction to ensure communities are informed about developments, congestion, transportation issues and other related matters.  The public will also be able to submit comments to TxDOT throughout the life of the project.
“Both the Memorandum of Understanding executed with Mayor Turner, and the agreed upon terms and conditions agreed to with Harris County, which will warrant their dismissal of the lawsuit against the project, represent how staying focused on common ground and the benefits to the region in key areas of interest have provided an outcome that will enhance the I-45 NHHIP project as we move forward,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan said.
“The City of Houston has spoken as a voice for our residents, and I will continue to support the project as long as my goals of resilience, multimodal transportation and equity are met,” Mayor Turner says. “Coming together under this MOU provides a path forward that will benefit us all.”