The criteria for prioritizing Harris County flood projects - What's Your Point?

This week's panel: Jessica Colon - Republican strategist, Nyanza Davis Moore - Democratic Political Commentator Attorney, Bob Price – Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas,  Ben Streusand – conservative commentator, “Three Amigos”, KSEV Radio,  Laura Moser  - Democrat, former Congressional candidate, Antonio Diaz- writer, educator and radio host, join Greg Groogan in a discussion about how Harris County is prioritizing flood control projects.

Ultimately, politics is about winning the leverage necessary to control public resources and then deciding who gets them and when. Here in Harris County there's an enormous amount of local flood mitigation money set for distribution.

Over the course of a week, FOX 26 reported ongoing protests by local residents, concerned the County Judge Lina Hidalgo is working to initiate flood projects in low income areas, ahead of others. Judge Hidalgo called our reporting inaccurate and misleading.

We stand completely behind our story.

In a conversation with Judge Hidalgo she says property values in long neglected neighborhoods aren't high enough to qualify for federally funded projects, so local bond money is the only way to deliver overdue relief to underserved people.

Critics are calling that "social-engineering" which they believe breaks the pledge of addressing the worst first.

Last week, after receiving a letter from 11 Houston area state lawmakers, objecting to the use of Low-Income as a criteria for ranking projects, Hidalgo and the County altered course, telling FOX 26 that "Equity" will now be achieved by gauging how long a neighborhood has been waiting for a flood control project, and not based on household income.

In a letter sent to state lawmakers on February 27, 2019, Judge Hidalgo and Russ Poppe, Executive Director of Harris County Flood Control District wrote:

Based on conversations with stakeholders, HCFCD's current draft contains eight potential criteria to comprise the Equity Guidelines which will score projects that have not begun.

  1. Existing conditions drainage level of service: Project in area that flood repetitively should receive higher weight.
  2. Flood Risk Reduction: How many people can we remove from the floodplain?
  3. Potential for Multiple Benefits: Can we use the space for recreational or environmental benefit as well as flood mitigation?
  4. Project Efficiency: What is the total cost of the project divided by the number of structures benefitted? Can we accomplish flood risk reduction for fewer dollars, either through partnership or other cost savings?
  5. Long Term Maintenance Costs: Can we maintain the project after completion or would we have to plan for additional maintenance costs?
  6. Minimize Environmental Impacts: Does a project raise additional environmental concerns or is it self-mitigating?
  7. Lack of Service: Has a project been completed in the previous 10 years? Has it been over 10 years?
  8. Partnership Funding: Is a project funded through partnerships?