Homeowners fear flooding risks from neighbors' decorations

Some residents in the Heights are creating additional parking space at the expense of flood control
March 21, 2014 3:58:36 PM PDT
Houston's drainage ditches are supposed to drain water away from homes. But in some parts of the Heights, neighbors have turned the drainage ditches into little more than decoration.

Some drainage ditches have been filled with rocks. Others covered over with bricks. Oftentimes, a parking plat would be installed over these covered drains.

The plats may provide needed off street parking, but they are illegal unless a city engineer has issued a permit. As a result, some worry that the desire for more parking and curb appeal means less drainage for the entire neighborhood.

"A lot of these were put in without proper permits," said resident Gayla Sonderegger. "A lot of them don't have the proper culverts, or properly graded, so when we have heavy rains, the water does not flow."

Street after street, it was easy to find drainage ditches, in city right of ways, covered up for curb appeal, or needed parking. The city says that's obviously not permissible.

City of Houston spokesperson Alvin Wright said, "Folks who use decorative devices to cover up the entire entrance of the drain, defeats the purpose of the drain system themselves."

Parking pads can be legal if a permit is granted first. But neighbors say repeated calls about illegal drain and parking issues have yielded little enforcement, and they've grown weary.

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