City council vote on two hot issues today

April 30, 2008 7:50:21 PM PDT
A proposed new energy conservation code for buildings and new choppers for HPD were on the agenda at Houston city hall today.The first issue on the agenda was green buildings. City council did pass an ordinance to reduce energy use. As energy costs rise, the city and the local community have agreed on adopting a more energy efficient protocol going forward.

That means that new commercial building being built from here on out will be required to use, for example, more energy efficient air conditioning units or heating units. They might be required to use reflective materials on the roofs to reflect some of the sunlight away.

All of this to design to reduce the energy costs for these buildings. Some developers were concerned that this would be very expensive. But supporters say it would only cost about three percent more overall in building. The local trading organizations did decide to support this new standard going forward.

The other topic on the agenda was the use of police helicopters. The fleet of helicopters being used by HPD is rather aging. Some of the choppers are more than 30 years old.

Today, the city council approved a wide ranging increase of police helicopters. In fact, six new helicopters will be coming onboard within the next year. They will be used to patrol the skies over Houston. The helicopter CORE with the Houston Police Department all showed up at today's city council meeting and they say if council members are willing to listen to them, they say the helicopters are desperately needed.

"As the city has grown in square miles and in population, it certainly helps the city and the police department respond quicker to the calls and catch criminals. We would be going from patrolling 14 hours a day to going over 40 hours a day when all of these helicopters are finally here," said Dan Schwarzbach with HPD Helicopter Unit.

All members of city council voted in favor of these new additional helicopters except for Councilmember Pam Holm. She reportedly said she supported this plan in concept, but was uncomfortable with the financial structure on how these helicopters would be brought onboard.

Nonetheless, we can expect the first of these police helicopters to appear in June and the police officers who showed up to today's meeting were very excited about replacing some of the 30-year-old helicopters still in service.

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