Tag Archive for: Bill King

Why You Need to Vote for Mayor Tuesday if You Haven’t Already

This will be the most important mayoral election in Kingwood’s history, but the turnout in early voting was dismal. You would think people don’t care about flooding or that it’s been fixed already. Well, they should care. It hasn’t been fixed.

Below are some photos that show the difference pre- and post-dredging in the mouth bar area of the West Fork.

Match photos of the mouth bar taken after Harvey and Monday 11.4.2019.

Before Dredging: August 2019

This is an Atascocita Point resident walking out to the dredging operation in August.

After Dredging: November 2019

The 500,000 cubic yards that the Corps removed from the West Fork mouth bar barely scratched the surface. Think that’s an exaggeration? RD Kissling took this photo Sunday, 11.3.19, 700 yards south of the mouth bar as he stood in water just a little more than one foot deep. The channel at this point should be at least 400 feet wide and 30 feet deep to match the depth near Kings Harbor.

Photo taken Sunday November 3, 2019 approximately 700 yards south of the mouth bar by RD Kissling. That’s almost half a mile. Like icebergs, the majority of sandbars exists belong the surface.
Where Kissling took the shot in knee-deep water.

The Two-Year Old Controversy that Started Twenty Years Ago

So what does all this have to do with the contest for Mayor? The current mayor has been arguing with FEMA and the Corps for 798 days over how much Harvey deposited in the mouth bar. We’ve had dueling studies. Endless meetings. Countless stories. And still nothing has changed significantly in this most important region of the river.

The City has neglected its obligation to maintain this area for more than 20 years. Engineers warned for decades of the danger and not a penny of the City’s money was spent on dredging.

The City wants FEMA to remove 1.4 million cubic yards, but FEMA claims it would be funding “deferred maintenance” by the City.

Lest we forget, the mouth bar forms a sediment dam behind the dam that contributed to the flooding of more than 4,000 homes behind it and approximately half the businesses in the Lake Houston Chamber.

Bill King’s Plan to Get it Done

Today, Bill King held a press conference in Kings Point to lay out his plan for dealing with the mouth bar. It includes a $10 million contribution from the City to increase the funds already allocated by the State and County. The money would be used to establish a permanent maintenance dredging program.

According to a television reporter and the press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner accused King of campaign rhetoric on the mouth bar issue.

This isn’t about rhetoric. It’s about survival.

If you care about Kingwood, if you care about your home, if you’re tired of waiting…please go to the polls tomorrow and vote. I voted for King. He’s the only candidate with a workable plan to address flooding in my opinion. But please just vote for the candidate of your choice. Not voting sends a message to the Mayor that we’re happy.

After 798 days of argument, letter writing, and meetings, it’s time for results. If re-elected, Sylvester Turner will be term-limited. Without another election hanging over his head, I just don’t see much improvement in the current situation.

For More Information

To learn more about the flood plans of the three leading candidates, read this post.

To learn more about Kings plan to address the mouth bar, see this newsletter.

If you would like more background about the mouth bar itself, please review this presentation about the Mouth Bar by Tim Garfield, RD Kissling, and me. Garfield and Kissling were both senior level geologists for one of the world’s largest oil companies before retiring. They provided the content. I just helped them shape their thoughts.

Kissling also wrote this open letter to the City of Houston that spells out problems with the Tetra Tech study that the City commissioned at the Corps’ request.

Please Also Vote FOR Prop 8

Among other items on the ballot, one of the most important from a flood mitigation perspective is Prop 8. Prop 8 would make money available from the Texas Rainy Day Fund to help provide low interest loans and grants to cities and counties. The money could be used to qualify for matching funds from the federal government. The lack of local matching funds has delayed many worthy flood mitigation projects identified after Harvey. Prop 8 should help fund many mitigation projects, bring more of our federal tax dollars back to Texas, and reduce flood risk by accelerating both grant applications and construction. Vote FOR.

Posted by Bob Rehak on November 5, 2019, election day

798 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Bill King Has Best Plan to Address Flooding By Far

Houston is at an existential crossroads. We’ve had five major floods in the last five years. If we can’t reduce flooding, people will no longer want to live here or move here.

With that in mind, I believe flooding is the number one issue a new mayor must address. That’s not to say we don’t have other important issues. But if we don’t address flooding, we’re sunk.

So which of the candidates has the best plan? Bill King…by far.

Comparing Candidates’ Plans

Bill King

King has by far the most developed and comprehensive plan. He has laid out a clear, concise, well researched, actionable statement of objectives, strategies, and financing in seven parts:

These plans have been vetted by dozens of experts throughout the Houston region from both the government and private sectors.

Stopping the diversion of drainage fees will give Houston more cash to put into flood mitigation. This will allow Houston to solicit matching funds quickly and accelerate the development of mitigation projects.

Regional cooperation is also critical, especially for places like the Lake Houston Area. Other counties and cities surround us. As we have seen in Elm Grove, if Montgomery County allows worst practices for new developments, we pay the consequences.

Bill King, candidate for Mayor of Houston, spent the day after Imelda visiting with Elm Grove residents and analyzing the causes.

But we currently have no influence in MoCo, which seems to have a development-at-any-cost-even-if-it-floods-people mentality. Until this problem is fixed, we are all looking down the barrel of a water cannon.

King’s seven white papers contain many great thoughts. King clearly understands flooding issues throughout the city. He is extremely articulate and lays out a compelling plan. I believe he can lead voters and the City to solutions.

Tony Buzbee

Tony Buzbee has flood information on at least two different web sites. His campaign site lists flooding as the number one issue. It has a great discussion of Kingwood. That links to a third-party site that features his vision for flood control. After discussing different types of flooding and their causes, he has three suggestions:

  • Include flood abatement credits as part of the permitting process. They would be good for credits against drainage fees in the first year after construction.
  • Identify projects where flood abatement constitutes at least 15% of the total project cost and move those to the front of the line for permit approval.
  • Publicly recognize a different business each month that replaces concrete with natural surfaces.

Those represent good market-driven proposals. Buzbee says he has many other ideas and that, “My campaign will roll them out once our comprehensive white paper is complete.” It’s getting to be about time for that. Voting has already started.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner doesn’t seem to have a flood plan that I can find online. His campaign site has a list of his accomplishments while Mayor after Harvey. He also has a blog post called Getting Ready for the Next Big Storm. In it he mostly talks about partnering with other entities that have money to spend on flood mitigation.

But that post, dated August 19, also contains claims that did not come true. For instance, “The City has won permission from FEMA for the Corps of Engineers to include the removal of the mouth bar in the San Jacinto River…” Unfortunately, FEMA and the Corps only scratched the surface of the area around the mouth bar. That’s a big problem when you rely on OPM (other people’s money).

Mayor Turner also lists, “Creating and operating Neighborhood Recovery Centers … through which victims could apply for federal housing repair aid.” Mayor Turner said in a debate that the City had received $1.3 billion for home repair and recovery. However, the State recently took that program over because more than 2 years after Harvey, only 15 people had received aid.

Under Turner’s watch, he did make some changes to building codes. He also created Stormwater Action Teams, a $17 million program actually funded by the City to address hundreds of … you guessed it … deferred maintenance issues.

And after selling Proposition A last year as a way to create a lockbox around the drainage fund, he diverted $44 million from it this year to cover other costs. That’s on top of another quarter billion worth of diversions in previous years. No wonder it takes so long to get things done. One wonders how much of that mouth bar could have been dredged with a tiny portion of that money.

By the City’s own admission, we’re not much better off today than we were the day after Harvey.

Other Reasons I’m Voting for King

King also has experience as a mayor. While Kemah isn’t Houston, it’s a start.

Bill King has prepped for the Mayor’s job since the last campaign. He has studied every city budget and every audit of every budget since then. He’s been involved in Houston politics for decades and knows most of the players. He’s ready to walk into office on Day 1 and start doing the job.

He has the common sense of a business man who understands the importance of a dollar and delivering results NOW, or losing business tomorrow.

King has the integrity and experience to promise what he’s going to deliver and deliver what he promises.

That’s not a comment about Buzbee. I have met both King and Buzbee on multiple occasions and like them both. I just feel that at this point in time, King has more experience in the political arena and a better plan to address flooding.

King first approached me shortly after I started this web site and long before he announced his run for mayor. He asked me to show him the flooding issues in Kingwood. We’ve met more than a dozen times since then.

We have visited every part of the community. We’ve slogged through sand and mud together, slapping mosquitoes, so that he could see the flooding issues firsthand. I’ve seen him crawl under fences to get a better look at how Woodridge Village flooded homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. He’s waded through ankle-deep mud on Village Springs.

He’s seen the heartbreak of people whose homes flooded on multiple occasions. He understands this problem on both an intellectual and emotional level. He knows this cannot continue. And that’s why I’m voting for Bill King.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/25/2019

787 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 36 since Imelda

Mayoral Candidate Bill King Lays Out Multifaceted Flood Mitigation Plan

Mayoral candidate Bill King has unveiled a multifaceted flood mitigation plan for Houston. While developing the plans, King visited about twenty neighborhoods in Houston that chronically flood and talked to residents about their flood experiences

Bill King gave Kingwood residents a sneak peak at his flood plan earlier this month.

No One Solution, No Easy Answers

King believes the dynamics of flooding in each area are unique and there are no easy answers to Houston’s flooding problems.  “There is no one solution,” says King.  “Our topology and climate present significant challenges when attempting to address flooding. It will require a multi-phased approach and consistent, disciplined attention to the problem over many years.”

Seven-Phase Plan

Below are his seven proposals to improve flood mitigation. These proposals are specific to the City of Houston’s responsibilities.  You can click on each for a detailed discussion.

First In a Series

I will post the flood mitigation plans of other candidates as I receive them. Flooding certainly isn’t the only problem Houston faces. However, solving those other problems will require solving flooding problems.

Who would want to invest in building a home or business in an area that chronically floods? Maintaining Houston’s growth will require solving flooding first.

Posted by Bob Rehak on August 26, 2019

727 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Meet Bill King, Candidate for Mayor of Houston, At Los Cucos Tuesday at 6PM

Bill King, Candidate for Mayor of Houston, will visit Kingwood tomorrow to answer residents’ questions about how he would address flooding and other issues. King will offer a sneak peak of his flood plan that will be released next Monday or Tuesday.

  • Los Cucos
  • 23730 Highway 59 North
  • Kingwood, TX 77339
  • Tuesday, August 13, 6PM


King (left) with Elm Grove resident Abel Vera after the May 7th flood.

Flood mitigation solutions by their very nature are political. I will be posting similar announcements for other candidates as events arise. My hope is that everyone in Houston can meet the candidates personally, get to know them, and learn about their ideas to reduce flooding. A massive turnout in November will help secure our future.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/13/2019

713 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Critical Woodridge S2 Detention Pond Approaching Final Dimensions

When Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest flooded on May 7, the Woodridge Village contractor had cleared most of the 268 acres of land north and west of them. The contractor also had sloped the drainage toward those subdivisions without first installing a critical 50 acre-foot detention pond to intercept runoff. Tonight after months of delays, and the flooding of almost 200 homes, work on that pond is almost complete.

S2 Pond Finally Connected to Drainage Ditch Today

Regular readers may remember plans call for a 15-foot deep detention pond shaped somewhat like a hockey stick (see below). The area circled in red is the channel that will connect the pond to the drainage ditch that runs down the east side of the property. Today, some workers excavated that channel while others deepened the pond.

Circled in red: the channel excavated today that will connect the drainage ditch with the detention pond.

Not Much Excavated on May 9

Back on May 9, about a month ago, very little of the pond was excavated when local videographer, Jim Zura, captured this image from his drone. Only a small ditch connected a pond north of Sherwood Trails to the box culvert seen below. The white outline indicates how much of the pond had yet to be excavated.

Almost nothing had been excavated shortly after the May 7 flood. White outline shows the approximate intended dimension of the pond.

Despite the heavy rains in early May and early June, the contractor now has most of the pond excavated. See the video that Jeff Miller shot this afternoon.

Click here to see Jeff Miller Video of S2 as of 6.14.19

Since the flood, the pond has been widened and deepened. Rebel Contractors is now approaching the pond’s final dimensions and target depth of 15 feet, according to Miller. However, Miller was even more excited about the excavation of the channel connecting the drainage ditch running down the east side of the property to the detention pond. “I’ll be able to sleep with both eyes closed tonight,” he said.

In the future, when runoff drains from the northern part of the property to the southern, it will overflow from the ditch into the pond, rather than into neighbors’ houses.

Recent Excavation Despite Heavy Rains Last Week

The next two shots show what the connecting channel looks like from the ground.

Previously, water in the ditch had to funnel down into the 3′ black culvert (bottom left). This caused the ditch to overflow into surrounding neighborhoods when the ditch got full.
Now, however, this channel connects ditch (foreground) and pond (upper left). It will allow runoff to overflow into pond instead of neighbors’ homes.

Bill King Visits Elm Grove Again, Meets Texas Monthly Writer

But that wasn’t the only good news, today. Houston mayoral candidate Bill King visited Elm Grove for the third time in a month and toured the area with Mark Dent, who is covering the story for Texas Monthly.

Bill King (left) and Mark Dent talk about flood mitigation strategies with Taylor Gulley in the background.

King emphasized several needs to Dent. They included:

  • Greater clarity and accuracy of flood maps, so that people can realistically assess their flood risk
  • Safer construction practices that better protect downstream residents
  • Preservation of natural wetlands, buffers and drainage features like those that previously existed on the Woodridge site, and that had protected Elm Grove since it was built.

King emphasized that preserving such natural areas and the wetlands on them can provide both recreation and protection against flooding. Finally, he advocated using buyouts to build more and bigger detention ponds, and also to create more green space.

It’s good to know that King is taking Kingwood issues seriously. He’s making them a centerpiece of his campaign and using them to shine a spotlight on development practices that need improvement in my opinion.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/14/2019 with help from Jeff Miller

654 Days since Hurricane Harvey, 5 weeks since the Elm Grove Flood, and 4 Months Until the Election

Thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public interest and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP statute of the great State of Texas.

Figure Four Partners Denies All Responsibility for Elm Grove Flooding; Blames God

Figure Four Partners, LTD, a subsidiary of Perry Homes and PSWA, Inc., its sole general partner, issued a statement today regarding the flooding in Elm Grove Village. Elm Grove is a part of Kingwood that borders Figure Four’s development, Woodridge Village, in Montgomery County.

In the statement, Figure Four denied any responsibility for the flooding and blamed it on an act of God. Further, they invoked the shield of government approval, saying their plans were approved by the City of Houston and Montgomery County.

Their unsigned statement, which I have reproduced verbatim below, says:


“While our hearts go out to the homeowners that recently flooded in the Elm Grove Subdivision, the flooding there this week had absolutely nothing to do with the Figure Four and Perry Homes project nearby.” 

“As virtually every media outlet in the region has reported this week, and Harris County Flood Control meteorologist Jeff Lindner confirmed, Tuesday’s rainfalls at times matched the intensity of Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Chronicle reported that “The rainfall was particularly severe in suburban areas such as Kingwood …” 

“Though our project is still in the land clearing stage, many of the detention ponds are complete – providing improved drainage to the area that did not previously exist. Additionally, the drainage study and construction plans for the Figure Four project were completed by LJA Engineering, an experienced and highly respected firm and approved by the County. All City and County permits were obtained and all applicable building codes have been followed. 

“Several questions have been asked about a concrete structure on the project. This structure is the outfall control device and part of the permitted and approved drainage plan. The outfall control device functioned as designed on Tuesday night. Similar to the detention ponds, the outflow control structure improved drainage in the area.” 

– End of Statement –

Concrete structure referred to in statement above.

Flaws in Argument

At the risk of clarifying the obvious, I would point out that:

  • Elm Grove didn’t flood during Harvey.
  • The improved drainage did not work as well as the previous natural drainage, which the developer filled in.
  • The “highly respected” LJA Engineering, Inc. was sued by almost 500 homeowners in the Woodlands for flooding there (see below).
  • The “many” completed detention ponds, none of which I could see in drone footage, were not up to the task.
  • If the outflow control structure “improved drainage,” why did 400 homes flood that didn’t flood before?

Summary of Woodlands Case and Court Documents

In the lawsuit against LJA Engineering, Inc., plaintiffs alleged that the engineers failed to prepare for, or consciously ignored, a foreseeable weather event, which resulted in the flooding of homes and caused catastrophic losses.

While never really addressing the merits of the allegations, the defendant denied the allegations and responded with 25 reasons why they should not be held accountable. For instance, the defendant responded that the flooding was an act of God. They also claimed the defendants assumed risk when they bought their homes; that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by unspecified third parties; and that the plaintiffs’ own acts or omissions caused or contributed to their alleged injuries.

Here’s a federal court’s summary of the case, before it was remanded to Harris County District Court.

LJA and co-defendants Woodlands Land Development, L.P. and The Howard Hughes Corporation, pled for abatement of the case, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to provide them with sixty-day advance written notice of the claims. The judge then abated the case on 4/22/19.

Difference Between Woodlands and Elm Grove Cases

The Woodlands and Elm Grove situations are similar in that they both involved extreme weather events and flood damage. However, there are also some major differences. In the Woodlands case, plaintiffs occupied the land developed by the defendants. In Elm Grove, neighboring land owners were damaged during development of adjoining property.

Also, in the Woodlands case, plaintiffs alleged that the property had flooded in 1994, that defendants knew it, and that they failed to raise the property high enough to prevent flooding during Harvey. However, Elm Grove did not flood either in 1994 or during Harvey. It flooded only after clear cutting and the beginning of earthwork on the Figure Four Partner’s property.

It will be interesting to see whether any lawsuits emerge from those damaged in Elm Grove.

In the Figure Four Statement, you can see how the company is already setting up themes for their legal defense if necessary. LJA Engineering invoked the same themes during its defense of the Woodlands allegations.

In Other Developments Saturday…

Yesterday was filled with new developments and discoveries:

  • Elm Grove held a public meeting with a law firm to inform flooded residents of their legal rights.
  • Many residents of Porter came to the meeting to complain of drainage issues on the northern and western sides of the project.
  • It became clear that another 175-acre parcel of land was a part of the project. That parcel has also been clear cut, but no drainage “improvements” were visible.
  • No other precautions were visible to prevent runoff of silt such as berms, sand bags, or silt fences.
  • Water was ponding on neighbors’ property.
  • No stormwater pollution prevention permits were posted at any of the entrances to the job site that I could see. That in itself may be a violation of state regulations.
  • Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo still had not visited Kingwood or declared a disaster. Such a declaration would make residents available for assistance from government agencies.

Additional Parcel Triples Clear-Cut Acreage

Saturday, Porter residents called to my attention the fact that Figure Four Partners was also developing an even larger tract of land not visible from Kingwood.

Location of Woodridge Village, Section 3. MCAD lists it as 161.74 acres, but plat shows it as 175.

This link shows a plat of the northern 175 acres, which Figure Four Partners called “Woodridge Village Section 3.” For those who are interested in contacting the developer or engineering company, the plat shows their addresses and phone numbers.

Here’s what the area looks like. It’s roughly twice the size of the area to the south that directly borders Kingwood.

Elm Grove is on the right out of frame. Note the slope toward Elm Grove.
Another angle on the northern tract shows clear-cutting in progress and the slope toward Elm Grove.
Looking south, directly toward Elm Grove and the area that flooded so badly. Elm Grove and another giant clear-cut tract belonging to Figure Four Partners are beyond the tree line.
Flooded Porter residence that backs up to Figure Four development. Residents in both Sherwood Trails and Porter who border the development complain of the build up of stagnant, stinking water because of altered drainage.

Meanwhile, Clean-Up Continues in Elm Grove

Debris washed into Elm Grove from developer’s property shows how high water flowed in down Village Springs Drive.
Home after home along Village Springs Drive had debris piled head high as residents mucked out their homes.
Oh, that low, down-in-the-dumpster feeling...
Since the flood on Tuesday, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin has been inspecting the clear cut area adjacent to Elm Grove, coordinating City clean-up efforts, and meeting with affected residents.
Houston Mayoral Candidate Bill King (l) consults with flooded resident Abel Vera (r) about events that unfolded during the flood. Piles of dirt in the background are roughly sitting on top of the original stream on the property that was filled in by the developer. Vera’s home is directly behind him. This is one of at least a half dozen trips King has made to Kingwood in the last year to understand flooding issues in the area.
Flooded Elm Grove and Porter residents attending a meeting at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church to learn about their legal options. Shot shows approximately half of the crowd.

Posted by Bob Rehak on May 12, 2019

621 Days After Hurricane Harvey

Thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP statute of the great state of Texas.

Bill King to Discuss Kingwood Flooding Issues, High-Rise Development and More at Townhall this Sunday

Bill King, who has announced he will be a candidate for mayor this November, will be holding a townhall meeting on February 10 at Los Cucos from 4:30-6:30.  Bill has indicated that he will discuss flooding in Kingwood, along with other issues important to our community.  This is the Eventbrite link if you are interested in more information – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bill-king-for-houston-mayor-campaign-launch-los-cucos-tickets-55079090041.

Why You Should Come

Kingwood residents need to participate in City elections this year to ensure that candidates who know about the issues facing our community, especially flooding, are elected.  Therefore, I will post information on all events held by candidates for mayor or council that plan events in Kingwood.

Demonstrated Commitment to Solving Flood Issues

This is the first of those posts. I must say that Bill King’s desire to understand flooding issues throughout the City, not only in Kingwood, has impressed me. Long before, he decided to run for Mayor again, King contacted me several times to discuss flooding problems in Kingwood. We also discussed how solutions here might impact downstream communities. King even spent an entire day with me last summer slogging through sand dunes in East End Park and on Marina Drive in Forest Cove to see the problems first hand.

Townhomes destroyed by Harvey on Marina Drive in Forest Cove.

He has seen firsthand what 240,000 cubic feet of water per second can do.

King’s Position on High-Rise Development

I know Bill King has some definite opinions about the high-rise development in the floodplain by River Grove Park. Please come and hear what he has to say. I am eager, too, hear it, too. Hope to see you there.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/8/2019

528 Days since Hurricane Harvey