Know Your Rights: New Limits on City Government


Cities have enormous inherent and statutory powers to regulate land development.

Zoning regulations, economic development regulations, general police powers to regulate for the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City,\ and many other sources of authority all greatly impact property owners. Every two years, the Texas Legislature is presented with numerous bills designed to change what cities can and can’t do. The 2015 Legislative Session prevented cities from instituting fracking bans. The most recent legislative session continued the trend of reigning in municipal power by enacting several bills specifically limiting a city’s authority over land development. 

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Where Have All the Golf Courses Gone?


America’s love affair with golf is waning. There are too many golf courses and not enough golfers. The average age of the active golfer is increasing…and the cost to maintain the courses is increasing as well.

Few people realize the golf courses periodically require significant capital infusion to upgrade their facilities in order to successfully compete with newer courses. Physical amenities age and must be remodeled. New high quality residential communities use lakes and other passive greenspace, and even urban farms, as amenities instead of the traditional golf course.

Buyers of golf course lots should be wary and conduct careful due diligence before purchase, so they accept the risk of the adjacent golf course terminating operation and changing use.

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Reconstruction after Harvey: Flood Development Permits & Grandfathered Structures in Houston


In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve been receiving questions about how to reconstruct damaged structures, both those in flood zones and not, especially those that don’t meet current codes. Some development regulations and policies that affect reconstruction are pretty simple and straightforward, while others are complicated, vague, and sometimes not even written down anywhere. While Houston may not have a formal zoning code that covers the entire city, it does have quite a few development regulations, all of which would normally be found in a zoning code. Noncompliance can result in denial of building permits, stop-work orders, even revocation of certificates of occupancy. Fortunately, there is a path forward for most projects. It’s important for property owners to know what to expect and what their options are in different situations.

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Deal or No Deal? – Letters of Intent: Lessons from the Enterprise Case


A $469,375,000 Million Dollar trial court verdict based on a “letter of intent,” later reverse  on appeal resonates in the real estate industry, where letters of intent are commonplace.

How it started: Enterprise Products, a Houston based pipeline developer/operator approached Energy Transfer, a Dallas based competitor, to investigate a shared development transaction to transport oil from the important industry storage center in Cushing, Oklahoma to Houston, thereby eliminating a major logistics bottleneck. They signed the following documents for the proposed “Double E Pipeline”:

  • Initially, a Confidentiality Agreement to permit sharing of information, with the intention to work toward a letter of intent for the proposed transaction.

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No Fly Zone! So you got a drone, now what? Who makes the rules?








Derek Pershing is a commercial real estate attorney with Wilson Cribbs + Goren and he holds a Private Pilot License and Remote Pilot Certificate. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) is the governing authority over all aspects of civil aviation in the United States. In 2016, the FAA estimated that there were roughly 1.1 million Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”) (a/k/a “drones”) in the United States. The FAA also expects drone usage to triple to about 3.55 million by 2021. Since December 2015, the FAA has required
mandatory registration for all UAS which weigh more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. However, a federal appeals court ruled in May that the FAA does not have the authority to regulate “model aircraft” and require mandatory registration. Still, more than 770,000 drones have been registered in the U.S.—more than double the number of manned aircrafts.

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Deed Restrictions and Airbnb







The “sharing economy”, led by companies such as Uber and Airbnb, is in full force and continues to gain popularity.

Of particular interest in the real estate industry is short-term rental with companies such as Airbnb, Home Away and VBRO. These companies offer an online marketplace for people to lease or rent short-term lodging in houses, apartments, vacation homes and thelike. Short-term rentals offer travelers an alternative to traditional sources of lodging, such as hotels. Short term
rentals also offer property owners a way to generate extra income from their residence. The rise in popularity of Airbnb and its competitors has led many neighborhoods to confront the question of what to do about short-term rentals. This article discusses the various ways neighborhoods can address short-term rentals.

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