Houston mayoral candidates talk real estate

Development, affordable housing and crime are priorities for Jackson Lee and Whitmire

Houston Mayoral Candidates Talk Real Estate
Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire (Getty, John Whitmore)

Houston mayoral candidates have given further insight into their policies on commercial real estate, hinting at what the future might hold for the Bayou City.

In the final stretch of the mayoral runoff, Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Democratic Texas state Sen. John Whitmire honed in on development, flood prevention, permitting efficiency and affordable housing, in an interview with Bisnow

The runoff, on Saturday, Dec. 9, follows a tight general election in which Whitmire secured 42.5 percent of the votes against Jackson Lee’s 35.6 percent. The candidates have received substantial support from the local commercial real estate industry.

Whitmire has garnered major endorsements from prominent real estate organizations such as the Houston Association of Realtors and the Greater Houston Builders Association. His campaign received a $20,000 donation from the Texas Association of Realtors, along with $10,000 contributions from Brizo Construction president Cody Lee and longtime multifamily developer Steve Ford, for example. 

Jackson Lee stressed the importance of fostering a positive relationship between developers and neighborhoods to ensure compatibility. She aims to streamline permitting, prioritize projects efficiently and address financial deadlines for developers. 

Whitmire likewise wants to create a more efficient permitting and review process, citing recommendations from the Houston Real Estate Council. 

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Addressing crime, which affects property values and foot traffic, Jackson Lee highlighted collaboration with law enforcement and her efforts against sex trafficking. Whitmire proposed increasing police presence through civilian-staffed administrative roles, emphasizing community policing and coordination among law enforcement agencies.

Regarding affordable housing, Jackson Lee said she is committed to building senior housing, incentivizing small-scale developments and collaborating with the U.S Department of  Housing and Urban Development for larger projects. Whitmire called for a broad range of housing options, increased down-payment assistance and protection against displacement due to rising property taxes.

On flooding, Jackson Lee spoke about the importance of using drainage fees effectively, collaborating with federal agencies and leveraging the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Whitmire stressed regional collaboration and cited the success of flood mitigation projects like the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Park.

The candidates recognized the need for improvements in Houston’s infrastructure, with Whitmire emphasizing the importance of addressing deferred maintenance and Jackson Lee focusing on stabilizing the water system.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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