News and Events

Clarification on Sidewalk Requirements

The City Engineer has issued the following policy on sidewalk requirements:

Prior practices of granting variances left it unclear how to handle certain situations and created more confusion. The Office of the City Engineer has been working with the City Attorney’s Office to determine the best course of action. Developing a simple process to identify when a sidewalk is required and eliminating the burden of requesting a variance is a better path forward for the time being.

Effective immediately, sidewalks will be required:

  • Along all major thoroughfares regardless of development type,
  • Along all streets abutting commercial and multi-family developments regardless of the street type,
  • Along any street abutting a single family residential property if the property meets all the following criteria:
    • 1. It is a single-family lot, or part of a single family development,
    • 2. The street in front of the property is concreate or asphalt, curb and gutter design or roadside ditch with a minimum of 5
          feet clearance between the property line and the high bank of the ditch, and,
    • 3. There is a sidewalk on either side of the property, or the property has or had a sidewalk prior to the redevelopment of
          the lot.

Applications for sidewalk variances or exceptions are no longer required. If an applicant believes sidewalks are required under this policy, but do not agree with the requirement, they will have to meet with the City Engineer and present a case for variance under the general authority of the City Engineer. The OCE and CA will be working together to develop an ordinance to clearly spell out sidewalk requirements and exceptions. In the meantime, the OCE will follow is policy.

Posted Date: 
February 21, 2019

Guidance on Elevating Air Conditioner Systems in the Floodplain

The City Engineer has provided the following guidance regarding the elevation of air conditioner systems in the regulated floodplain:

The replacement of any equipment should be at the highest elevation possible within reason. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Chapter 19 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances only requires the elevation of equipment to the regulatory elevations when the value of that work exceeds 50% of the structure. Based on that condition, no portion of the system is required to be placed at a regulatory elevation for single-family situations where only the air conditioning system is being replaced. Multi-family and commercial situations that are in the regulated floodplain will be required to elevate the equipment to the regulatory elevation for health and safety reasons.

Currently the regulatory elevation is the 500-year elevation plus two (2) feet.

For questions, please contact the Floodplain Management Office at [email protected] or at 832-394-8854.

Posted Date: 
October 26, 2018

Amended Floodplain Ordinance Effective September 1

Chapter 19 and approved changes to Design Standards (Chapters 9 and 13 of the Infrastructure Design Manual and Building Code) will become effective September 1, 2018. Any administratively complete plans submitted prior September 1, 2018 will be reviewed based on the 2008 Chapter 19 and the 2017 Design Standards. Any plans that are submitted prior to September 1, 2018, that are not administratively complete, or plans submitted on or after September 1, 2018, will be reviewed under the 2018 Chapter 19 and Design Standards.

Only the scope of work included in plans submitted or approved prior to September 1, 2018, may proceed under the provisions of the 2008 Chapter 19 and the 2017 Design Standards. Changes to previously approved plans will be reviewed as outlined above. 

Chapter 19
Grading and site improvements included in administratively complete site work plans submitted or approved before September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2008 Chapter 19. Any plans for buildings submitted on or after September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2018 Chapter 19.
In order for buildings to be reviewed under the 2008 Chapter 19, administratively complete building plans must be submitted before September 1, 2018. That is, for a building in the 100-year or 500-year floodplain to be built below the 500 year flood elevation plus 2 feet, full building (not just foundation) plans must be submitted prior to September 1, 2018.

Detention Requirements (Chapter 9 and 13 of IDM)
For administratively complete redevelopment plans submitted prior to September 1, 2018, required detention will be calculated based on the 2017 Chapter 9 and 13 of the Infrastructure Design Manual (IDM). Assuming the changes to Chapter 9 and 13 of the IDM are approved, for plans submitted on or after September 1, 2018, required detention will be calculated based on the 2018 Chapter 9 and 13 of the IDM. Detention requirements may be addressed in site work plans. Any proposed buildings may be shown on site work plans as impervious cover and as part of the detention calculations, but building plans do not have to be submitted.

Drainage Plan for Plat
Drainage plans for plat submitted prior to September 1, 2018, will be reviewed and approved based on the 2008 Chapter 19 and 2017 IDM. However, plans submitted for such a development on or after September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2018 Chapter 19 and Design Standards, regardless of the date of drainage plan for plat submittal.

Administratively Complete Plan Submittal

Residential plan submittals are considered to be administratively complete when the Houston Permitting Center is in receipt of all required drawings, documents, worksheets and forms as outlined on the Residential Pre-requisite Checklist (Form CE-1301).

Commercial plan submittals are considered to be administratively complete when the Houston Permitting Center is in receipt of all required drawings, documents, worksheets and forms as outlined on the Commercial Pre-requisite Checklist (Form CE-1105).

Note: the pre-requisite checklists will be updated on September 1, 2018 to reflect the new requirements.

Additional Resources

For questions, please contact Floodplain Management Office at [email protected] or 832-394-8854.    

Posted Date: 
August 29, 2018

Impact Fee Increase - Effective July 1, 2018

NEW! Impact Fee Increase - Effective July 1, 2018
The Water Impact Fee will increase to $706.83 per service unit. No change will be made to the Wastewater Impact Fee. All applications received by the close of business day Monday, June 30, 2018 will be processed under the current rates of $1,199.11 per service unit for wastewater and $626.50 per service unit for water.

Posted Date: 
July 05, 2018

Fire Drill Scheduled for Houston Permitting Center

As recommended by policy, City buildings must hold fire drills twice a year. The Houston Permitting Center (HPC) will be conducting their semi annual scheduled fire drill on February 4, 2019 anytime from 9-10.  All customers and employees must evacuate the building during the drill and head to the nearest staging area. Do not use the elevators or central stairwell as a means of exiting the building.  

  • Staging Area A: From the Northwest Exit, turn left and proceed to the rear of HPC Parking Lot 1
  • Staging Area B: From the Northeast Exit (left of the Security Desk) or North Stairwell, proceed across HPC Parking Lot 1 to the wall of the I-10 HOV lane
  • Staging Area C: From the Southeast Exit (right of the Security Desk) or the Southeast Stairwell, go down the sidewalk towards Parking Lot W and stop at the picnic garden
  • Staging Area D: From the South Exit, turn right and proceed down the sidewalk to HPC Parking Lot 3

Map of Exit Points (click to enlarge):

HPC exit points map image

Those with limited mobility should proceed to the closest exit, take a seat in the nearby chairs and await the Fire Warden's instructions.

Map of Staging Areas (click to enlarge):

Map of Staging Area Image

For questions, please contact us at 832.394.9000 or via email [email protected].


Posted Date: 
May 14, 2018

Stormwater Information Form Now Available through the Office of the City Engineer

Effective Monday, April 23, 2018, the responsibility for stormwater capacity will transfer from the Utility Analysis section to the Office of the City Engineer. The new Stormwater Information Form will replace the Stormwater Letter of Availability Application form. The Utility Analysis Section will continue to process stormwater applications that have already been submitted to the Houston Permitting Center.

It is preferred that applicants submit the Stormwater Information Form with their public plan, prior to submitting their building plans. The form must be submitted with:

  • A recorded deed or title report in the owner's name
  • HCAD print out
  • A survey and/or recorded plat
  • Previous stormwater letter of availability (if applicable)
  • Copy of outside agency approval (if applicable)
  • Stormwater quality permit (if applicable)
  • Drainage study/hydraulic analysis (if applicable)

Should additional information be required, the plan reviewer will contact the applicant.

Please note that due to extenuating circumstances the online capacity reservation application through the iPermits portal has not yet been updated to reflect stormwater's relocation. Please only submit online applications for water and wastewater capacity.

For questions, please contact Stephen Rutledge at [email protected].

Posted Date: 
March 20, 2018

Sign Administration Plan Review to Go Paperless

Starting Monday, May 7, 2018, Sign Administration will transition to 100 percent electronic plan submittals. Going digital means no longer having to drive to downtown and wait in long lines for permits or plan review. The electronic process will allow you to submit plans anytime, anywhere, including nights and weekends.  

To ensure our customers are prepared for this all electronic process, we are hosting workshops dedicated to our Sign Administration customers only. These workshops are free and offer hands-on practice using the system. Register today at In addition, step-by-step user guides are available on that page under the Resources section. 

We want to assure you that we are here to support you in this transition. For questions, please contact Sign Administration at 832.394.8890 or via email at [email protected]

Posted Date: 
April 06, 2018

Reduced Operating Hours for One-Stop Plan Review

In an effort to bring continuous improvement to One-Stop’s operational processes and to provide an enhanced level of customer service, the One-Stop team will undergo an intensive training curriculum that focuses on operational efficiencies. Starting Monday, April 23, 2018 through Friday, May 4, 2018, One-Stop will operate between 8 AM and noon. Staff will be in training from noon until 5 PM.

For questions, please contact Hugh Russell at hugh.[email protected].

Posted Date: 
March 27, 2018

Update on Temporary Satellite Offices for Harvey Recovery

We have re-aligned our service hours at our temporary satellite office at the Kashmere Multi-Service Center (4802 Lockwood Dr.) to coincide with other City of Houston Harvey Recovery services. The office will be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Due to reduced demand for services, we have closed the satellite office at Southwest Multi-Service Center (6400 High Star Dr.).

For additional Harvey recovery information and resources, please visit

Posted Date: 
March 27, 2018

Council Approves Ordinances for Residential Facilities

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, City Council approved a package of ordinances to increase the safety and operator accountability for boarding homes, lodging facilities, correctional facilities and alternate housing facilities. Code Enforcement’s Occupancy Section will oversee the permitting of boarding homes and lodging facilities while the Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department will oversee the permitting of correctional and alternate housing facilities. The Occupancy Section will complete the annual inspections for all four facility types.

Operators of residential facilities will have 18 months to come into compliance with the new ordinances. Permitting requirements, application forms, and additional information can be found at

For questions, please contact [email protected].

Posted Date: 
March 27, 2018


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