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Ordinance Guide - Abandonment of Streets, Alleys and Easements

Sec. 2-237. Abandonment of streets and alleys.
Streets or alleys, whether owned in fee or used by easement, may be sold to the abutting owner or owners, in proportion to the underlying fee ownership as exists, or would exist if by easement. When ownership is of the underlying fee, the apportionment shall be determined by city council, which determination will be final. Upon the payment of:
(1) A fee of $300.00; or
(2) The appraised market value of the street or alley, based on not less than one appraisal; or
(3) The actual costs to the city based upon a "per square foot" proration of the city's cost plus the cost of any city improvements subsequently made that pertain to the property covered by the street or alley;
whichever is greatest, and after abandonment of the street or alley, the city will deliver a certified copy of the ordinance effecting abandonment to the owners of the fee simple title thereto, or to the abutting owners. The market value of any street or alley shall be fixed by city council, which determination as to such market value will be final.
(Code 1968, § 2-7; Ord. No. 74-803, § 1, 5-15-74; Ord. No. 88-171, § 1, 2-10-88)

Sec. 2-238. Abandonment of easements.
Easements, other than streets or alleys, may be sold to the abutting owner or owners, in proportion to the underlying fee ownership as exists, upon the payment of:
(1) A fee of $300.00; or
(2) The appraised market value of the easement, based on not less than one appraisal; or
(3) The actual costs to the city based upon a "per square foot" proration of the city's costs plus the cost of any city improvements made that pertain to the property covered by the easement;
whichever is greatest, and after abandonment of the easement, the city will deliver a certified copy of the ordinance effecting abandonment to the owners of the fee simple title thereto. The market value of any easement shall be fixed by city council, which determination as to such market value will be final.
(Code 1968, § 2-8; Ord. No. 74-803, § 1, 5-15-74; Ord. No. 88-171, § 2, 2-10-88)

Sec. 2-239. Narrow strips of land.
Fee-owned narrow strips of land, or land so shaped as to be incapable of being used independently, may be sold to the abutting owner or owners, in proportion to the abutting ownership.
(1) Apportionment will generally be based on:
a. The projection of existing abutting property lines over such narrow strip; or
b. Street frontage, if any; or
c. Access to the property;
said apportionment to be determined by city council, which determination will be final.
(2) Payment for such tract of land shall be made in the amount of:
a. A fee of $300.00; or
b. The appraised market value of the tract of land, based on not less than one appraisal; or
c. The actual costs to the city based upon a "per square foot" proration of the city's cost plus the cost of any city improvements subsequently made that pertain to the tract of land;
whichever is greatest. The market value of such tract of land shall be fixed by city council, which determination as to such market value will be final.
(Code 1968, § 2-9; Ord. No. 74-803, § 1, 5-15-74; Ord. No. 88-171, § 3, 2-10-88)

Sec. 2-240. Conditions to all sales.
(a) Nothing in this division shall be construed to require the city council to accept any bid or offer, or be required to consummate any sale of any land or property interest or to give any person a vested right to compel the city either to abandon, vacate or dispose of any land or any easement or right therein, or to compel or require that the same be upon any particular or exact terms or consideration.
(b) Any applicant under sections 2-237, 2-238 or 2-239 shall be required to make a cash deposit with the city equal to $300.00 plus the city's estimate of its cost to obtain appraisals of the land or property interest in question, or any re-appraisal thereof requested by or on behalf of the applicant, as reflected by the estimates of the cost to perform such work submitted by the appraisers selected by the city. All such appraisals or re-appraisals shall be obtained in the name of, and solely for the use and benefit of, the city. The $300.00 deposit, and the amount deposited for the first appraisal(s) only, shall be applied to the purchase price of the land or property interest under sections 2-237, 2-238 or 2-239 if the abandonment and sale is completed. The entire amount so deposited shall be forfeited by the applicant to the city the event the abandonment and sale is not completed.
(c) This division shall be subject to the requirement in article VII, section 9, of the Charter that "in all sales or leases in which the price or money rental is in excess of $25,000.00 the property shall be first appraised by two qualified appraisers appointed by the council, their report in writing to be filed with the council for its consideration."
(d) The city council shall not sell or lease any interest in real property in which the price or money rental is in excess of $25,000.00 unless the property has been appraised by two qualified appraisers who are not city employees, which appraisers shall be appointed by city council.
(Code 1968, §§ 2-10, 2-11; Ord. No. 74-803, § 1, 5-15-74; Ord. No. 86-1582, § 1, 9-9-86; Ord. No. 88-171, § 4, 2-10-88; Ord. No. 92-984, § 1, 7-15-92)

Commentary
Occasionally, an apartment owner will negotiate with the city to purchase part of a street or easement. Some owners have done this when a dead-end street serves only one apartment property – allowing an owner to install a guardhouse or stop sign. In Houston, these matters are handled by the Real Estate Division of the Building Services Department. Any inquiries may be made to 713-837-0311 .