Ed Gonzalez served as a Houston police officer for over 18 years. On the beat, he developed a keen sense of the connection between an active community and a safe one. Now he’s working to create a Houston where more residents can enjoy tight-knit, walkable neighborhoods.
Ed Gonzalez currently serves both as a City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem of Houston, and is a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council Advisory Board. Gonzalez notes that many people may not realize that Houston is the fourth largest and most diverse city in America. Gonzalez’s own District H contains a thriving entertainment district, neighborhoods known for historic architecture and landmarks in Texas’ African American and Latino history.
Gonzalez believes the construction of two light rail lines through the city is crucial infrastructure for sustainable growth. “We want to make sure that there’s the interconnectedness, that we’re creating vibrant communities around those light rail lines,” said Gonzalez. “Transit-oriented development is very important, and we’re also being mindful of all users of transportation as well.” The latter concern prompted Gonzalez to champion the adoption of a Complete Streets policy for Houston. In April, he wrote an Op-Ed in The Houston Chronicle in which he called on the public to “think of common-sense ideas to improve mobility in each of our neighborhoods,” and to share them with the Council.
Gonzalez also sees possibility in ReBuild Houston, a program that will increase transportation choices, create a better water system and make streets safer for everyone who uses them. Perhaps the most remarkable element of ReBuild Houston is its sustainable financing structure. “Pay-As-You-Go” funding ensures that new debt is not being incurred by the city and that Houston will be able to afford twice the amount of infrastructure that it could otherwise afford.
Gonzalez is aware of the role the private sector plays and must continue to play in achieving a smart growth vision of Houston. “Making sure there is a vision for certain corridors, that there’s leadership behind that. I think that brings some comfort and confidence to anyone making an investment.” In Houston, as in many municipalities around the country, success in creating vibrant, walkable neighborhoods comes when government officials and developers share a vision and a commitment to community.
Ed Gonzalez is just one of many municipal officials sharing his vision and expertise for making great neighborhoods on Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.