Advocacy Alert: HB 1474 Restricts Local Historic Districts

The Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee of the Texas House of Representatives will hold a public hearing at 1:00 PM CST on Monday, March 22, 2021 to consider House Bill 1474, introduced by Rep. John Cyrier.

We want you to know that the last minute changes to the original bill filed in January would require a 75% supermajority vote of local governing bodies to approve the inclusion of individual properties against owner consent within a local historic district. It also would prohibit inclusion of any church-owned property (not just the historic sanctuary) within a local historic district without the consent of a church.

It is our assessment that this bill would create a higher burden on historic district designation, which does not regulate use, than is required for all other types of zoning, including base zoning, which restricts use. Historic districts under Chapter 211 of the Local Government Code empower local governments to establish and protect cohesive historic districts that are based on standards of research and integrity. We interpret the language of this bill as being inconsistent with the longstanding theory, practice, and standards of historic district designation by allowing individual property owners to “opt-out” of such districts. Responsible local governments have established policies and procedures that provide ample opportunities and safeguards for public input before implementing historic district zoning. “Swiss cheese” districts defeat the very purpose of creating districts in the first place.

You can make public comments on HB 1474 through the House Public Comment portal, but comments must be submitted before the close of the hearing which begins at 1:00 p.m. today. Consequently, if you would like for your comments to be included, you should consider doing so as soon as possible. The portal link is below.

Your perspective is important, and the potential impact of HB 1474 on your community and its ability to create meaningful and cohesive historic districts in the future should be considered by the Committee.