Planning & Development

Press Release

City Council Approves Conservation Districts as a Tool to Preserve Historic Character of Six Pilot Neighborhoods

April 5, 2023 -- City Council voted April 5 to approve an amendment to Chapter 33 of the Code of Ordinances that will enable the process of creating Conservation Districts in six pilot Houston neighborhoods: Independence Heights, Freedmen’s Town, Acres Home, Magnolia Park/Manchester, Pleasantville and Piney Point (located in District F, not Piney Point Village).

The Conservation District designation will allow property owners in these select neighborhoods to identify the important aspects of their community, to promote new compatible development, and to encourage the harmonious, orderly, and efficient growth and redevelopment of Houston neighborhoods.

“There is an urgent concern in Houston neighborhoods – particularly among historical neighborhoods of color that do not have established deed restrictions. These neighborhoods are rapidly losing their character and historical significance from demolition and increased development that conflicts with the look and feel of their community,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“Conservation Districts are another tool to give property owners a say about the future of their neighborhood,” Mayor Turner said. “This is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and this is not imposed on neighborhoods. The pilot neighborhoods have shown considerable interest in having a flexible preservation tool. From here, we will work with residents and property owners and provide notification and multiple engagement opportunities.”

Conservation Districts may be tailored to the needs of the specific district. Read more about the menu of available standards that each neighborhood can consider. Potential benefits of creating a Conservation District:

  • Protecting the character, look and feel of an area or neighborhood.
  • Supporting compatible development and new construction.
  • Designed to be simpler to establish than other forms of neighborhood protection such as deed restrictions or historic districts.
  • Includes structures of any age and is primarily focused on bulk and scale of buildings, not architectural details like historic districts.

The ordinance amendment does not create any Conservation Districts at this time but authorizes the Planning and Development Department to move forward in concert with these selected communities to continue public engagement, evaluate options and begin the district creation process.

“This is the most important preservation tool the City of Houston has adopted since the original preservation ordinances were passed in 1995,” said Houston Preservation Officer Roman McAllen. “We look forward to continuing to work with these pilot neighborhoods to preserve the identity of these extremely significant historic neighborhoods.”

Residents and property owners will have multiple additional opportunities to give input. The process will begin with community meetings. Draft design guidelines and a detailed map of the proposed conservation district will be displayed to the public as part of the public meetings. Property owners in the proposed Conservation District will then receive a response form by regular mail to indicate their support or opposition for the proposed district. To move to the next phase of approval, the proposed district must receive approval from 51% or more of the property owners. Following the vote, public hearings will be held at Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC) and City Council. Should a future Conservation District be presented to either HAHC or City Council demonstrating less than 100% of property owner support, state law requires that HAHC and City Council must have a 75% affirmative vote to create the district. Decisions may be appealed to HAHC and the Houston Preservation Appeals Board.

Learn more about Conservation Districts at