[Judge Buddie Hahn] ultimately sided with the city of Houston’s argument that Proposition 1 did not authorize the assessment of a drainage fee — state law did. So leaving mention of the drainage fee off the ballot was not misleading, he concluded.
As a narrow legal/technical matter, Judge Hahn probably got it right. Nevertheless, as citizens we should expect public officials to behave in a more forthright and transparent manner than they did in passing this poorly vetted, poorly understood tax increase.
And no, that’s not a variant of the “stupid voters” criticism that we frequently see from local lefty bloggers. The proposition narrowly passed, despite the fact that many property owners seemed to rely on the assertions of proponents that they’d only be paying $5/month (of course, non-property owners probably were less concerned about those assertions). Trusting the assertions of politicans doesn’t make a voter stupid. Naive, perhaps.
(UPDATE: Full Chron story on the lawsuit here).
If you have a trampoline, trailer or boat in your yard, you could be paying more than your fair share of the city’s new drainage fee.
The city of Houston is using satellite images of your yard to figure out the impervious surface, but that satellite image is mistaking all sorts of things as impervious surfaces.
We found all sorts of examples of mistakes made in calculating the drainage fee. If you do not appeal the errors, you are stuck paying for more impervious surfaces than you really have.
Trees and shade from a fence/shrubs show up as impervious surfaces on the satellite shot of my property. A not-naive person might suspect that the city’s assessments tend to err on the revenue-enhancing side.