The recent redistricting of Harris County precincts could not have been more disruptive. More than half the county’s residents changed both precincts and commissioners. Can you say, “Tossed Salad”? It will take some time to work this out. In the meantime, “Many are asking how will new precinct boundaries affect flood-mitigation priorities?”
We’ve already seen how Commissioner Adrian Garcia tried to divert flood bond money from an area he was giving up in the redistricting process to one he was inheriting. That got voted down, but…
Priorities Already Altered Multiple Times in Past
We’ve also seen how Democrats re-ordered flood-bond priorities in 2019, shifted money from other budgets to accelerate projects in poor watersheds, and are suggesting another flood bond with new priorities based on so-called racial equity.
Officially, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) does not allocate flood-bond mitigation money by precinct. They allocate it by watershed and project – with the most money going to the most heavily flood-damaged areas.
But those who watch Commissioners Court regularly know that Commissioners control HCFCD priorities, and no project moves forward without their approval.
Lake Houston Dam Example
For instance, the Lake Houston Dam was half in Precinct 1 and half in Precinct 2 both controlled by Democrats. But P2 Commissioner Garcia has given that area up. The east side of the dam will now be in Precinct 3 now controlled by Republican Tom Ramsey. Ramsey will now also control virtually all the homes around the lake with the exception of a small area in Summerwood. The flood bond allocated $20 million to help support expansion of the flood gates on Lake Houston (Project CI-028). How solid is that commitment now that Democrats have given up most of the area?
Across the county, from Cypress Creek to Armand Bayou, people have dozens of questions like that about projects affecting them. The answers will take time to sort out.
New High-Resolution Precinct Maps Finally Available
Until a few days ago, the lack of resolution and streets in redistricting maps made it difficult to tell exactly where the new precinct boundaries were.
But just last week, the Harris County Attorney posted a new high-resolution map showing new boundaries. The map also shows major streets and voting precincts (in addition to the county precincts).
The biggest changes happened on the north side of the County where Commissioner Adrian Garcia staged a strategic retreat from Republican voters to bolster his re-election chances. Also, Precincts 3 and 4 switched positions. P3 formerly on the west side of the county is now on the north and east sides. And Precinct 4, formerly on the north and east sides is now mostly on the west and north sides.
The plan, designed and approved by Democrats, will force Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey to run for re-election in areas where they are relatively little known – unless they want to move their residences. Commissioner Rodney Ellis carefully drew district boundaries so that Cagle and Ramsey would no longer live in precincts they once represented. And by law, Commissioners must live in the precinct they represent.
Ramsey and Cagle will now have whole new watersheds to learn.
Watershed Boundaries Not Yet Shown on New Precinct Map
Unfortunately, the new high-res precinct map does not show watershed boundaries, although it shouldn’t be hard to create one – for someone with better Photoshop skills than mine!
At the moment, to see how your watershed could be affected, compare two maps side by side.
- The new high-res precinct map and
- Harris County’s Flood Education Mapping Tool (HarrisCountyFEMT.org).
The latter shows watershed boundaries if you click on the Watershed button in the left-hand column.
Most of the Lake Houston Area including Huffman, Kingwood, Humble (east of Bush Intercontinental Airport), Atascocita, Crosby and Spring will now be in Precinct 3 with Commissioner Tom Ramsey.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/2021
1539 Days since Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.