Unfinished Business

HB 1200: Preservation of Historic Districts

The City of Houston stood in full support of State Rep. Christina Morales and House Bill 1200 during the 87th Legislative session. HB 1200 bill sought to clarify that cities like Houston, which operate without zoning ordinances but have rich historical resources that its citizens want to preserve through local historic preservation programs, may do so.

A lawsuit filed against the City suggested that state law does not permit historic preservation programs if a city has not implemented comprehensive zoning. If successful, the suit would mean Houston would not have the ability to regulate places of historical, cultural, and architectural places of importance because such actions constitute zoning.

HB 1200 sought to:

  • Clarify that certain municipalities that do not exercise zoning authority may adopt and enforce a regulation the primary purpose of which is to protect or maintain historic or culturally significant structures, objects, sites, or districts and that this regulation is not considered a zoning regulation.

While the City was ultimately successful in court, this legislation would have clarified the special status historical designation in Houston and stop similar challenges to Houston’s historic and heritage districts.

Due to the advocacy efforts of a single special interest group, the legislation failed to get the necessary votes to get out of the House Calendars Committee and failed to pass during the 87th Legislative session.