The City of Pearland, TX undertook development of this Hazard Mitigation Plan (“the Plan”) because of increasing awareness that natural and man-made hazards, especially flood hazards, may affect many people and property in the area. The Plan is a requirement associated with receipt of certain federal mitigation grant program funds administered by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Water Development Board. In addition, the Plan is a pre-qualification of eligibility for other mitigation funds.
The City Manager and the Administration Department were designated by the City Council to coordinate with other appropriate departments and agencies to facilitate the development of the Plan in conformance with state and federal guidelines.
The Plan was prepared pursuant to the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (44 CFR 78.6), the Hazard Mitigation and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Programs (44 CFR Parts 201 and 206), and the process outlined in materials prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program.
1.3 Planning Area
Most of the City’s 44 square miles lie in northern Brazoria County with portions extending into Harris and Fort Bend Counties. The City of Pearland Hazard Mitigation Plan is prepared for the entire City. As of 2002, the geographic boundaries of the City are as shown in Figure 1-1.
1.4 Geography, Climate, and Population
The City of Pearland is located in southeast Texas, about 14 miles southeast of downtown Houston (Figure 1-2). Ground surface elevations across the City vary from 31 feet to 65 feet above mean sea level. However, only minimally perceptible gradient changes are found along major drainage ways. Soils are mostly in the Lake Charles clay and Bernard clay loam complexes. Typical of the region, the dark gray soils are poorly drained, limiting private septic systems and increasing storm water runoff.
Figure 1-1. City of Pearland.
Figure 1-2. Vicinity Map: State of Texas. The climate of the region is humid subtropical, with hot summers and mild winters. The area is typically sunny and mild with an average annual temperature of 68.9 degrees. The climate during the summer is moderated by prevailing cool southeasterly winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Summers are long with high daytime and moderate nighttime temperatures. Normally, the winters are short and mild. The average minimum January temperature is in the low 40’s. During December, January, and February, the winds are generally northerly, but during the balance of the year southerly winds predominate.
Generally, the heaviest precipitation occurs during thunderstorms in the spring, summer, and fall, and often is associated with tropical systems and hurricanes moving through the region. Rainfall averages about 48 inches per year and, although generally evenly distributed, the heaviest occurs in late spring or early fall.
1.4.1 Population and Growth
Pearland is the fastest growing city in Brazoria County, positioned on a growth curve that extends well into the 21st century. The estimated population for the year 2000 was 37,640, a 101% increase since 1990 (U.S. Census Bureau). This growth was substantially higher than that of Brazoria County as a whole, which experienced a 26% increase. According to the 2000 Census, Pearland had the 6th highest percent increase from 1990 among Texas cities with populations of at least 35,000. Pearland, which is home to nearly one-sixth of Brazoria’s 241,767 residents, is now the most populated city in Brazoria County with an average density of 932 persons per square mile (statewide average is 79.6 persons per square mile). The Texas Department of Human Services reports 973 births and 268 deaths in 2001.
The City’s 2001 population is estimated at 40,700. The long-term rapid population increase contributes to development pressure and has the potential for long-lasting impacts on the quality of life.
Table 1-1 shows the number of residential, non-residential, and City-owned parcels of land, distinguished between vacant and improved.
Parcels (improved and unimproved).
Based on the results of the 2000 census, the City estimates over 13,500 housing units (up from almost 7,000 in 1990). The bulk of homes are less than 15 years old. This is notable because the City began managing mapped floodplain areas in 1985, thus homes in flood hazard areas should be reasonably protected through elevation. In 2000, the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $ 117,700.
According to U.S. census data, Pearland’s housing and population doubled between 1990 and 2000. Growth within Pearland is projected to continue at a strong pace over the next decade. Clearly this growth can increase the people and property at risk from hazards. Section 5 provides an estimate of the annual dollar value of loss to future development from relevant hazards. The City of Pearland strictly enforces their floodplain ordinance, with its one-foot freeboard requirement, and requires all new construction to be designed and constructed for 110 mile per hour wind loads, which significantly reduce the potential impact to new development from hazards that have had the highest historical impact on property.
The information provided in Table 1-2, based on labor force figures, indicates that employment is not dominated by any single industry. Pearland’s 2001 estimated unemployment rate of 3.6% was below Brazoria County’s estimated 5.3%, below the State’s estimated 4.9% and below the national estimated 5.4% unemployment rate.