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A Texas suburb hits the brakes “City of homes? . . . We don’t use that anymore because it is not appropriate.” A Bellaire Chamber of Commerce official “The city fathers were not incompetent for the city of Bellaire ten years ago. They were incompetent for the city of today.” A Bellaire Civic Action Club leader Texans have recently been warned by urban affairs specialists that the problems of urban decay and the desertion of downtown areas are not restricted to the cities of the Northeast and Midwest. Dallas and Houston both are losing population to outlying suburbs, and some urbanologists predict that within ten years, problems as grave as those of Detroit and Newark may be hard upon us here in Texas. What have received less attention, however, are the relatively new problems of the suburbs themselves, especially those closest to their central cities. The “bedroom” towns of Texas might well learn much from the response of Bellaire’s citizens to the encroachment of Houston’s runaway commercial expansion. Eds. 11111111111111111111. By Mark Addicks Bellaire Like many American cities, Houston has for 70 years been following a “slash-and-burn” pattern of development, marked by a widening circle of suburban housing developments around the inner city. In the early 1900s, Bellaire \(formerly the Westmoreland dairy farmurb,” whose residents rode the electric rails for a 30-minute commute into town. In time, however, more exclusive towns grew up beyond Bellaire, and the aging “city of homes” suddenly found itself hard against Houston’s spreading commercial development. Traffic and crime problems began to take on big-city dimensions. Bellaire today is a middle-to-uppermiddle-class municipality in Houston’s southwest metropolitan area. The 1970 census showed that in a community of 20,000, there were 1,200 MexicanAmericans and only six blacks. In 1977, a prospective resident needed an annual income of at least $25,000 to buy a house, which, on the average, cost from $55,000 to $60,000. Politically, Bellaire is a conservative place: Republican Bill Archer represents it in Congress, Walter “Mad Dog” Mengden is the state senator, and the electorate has traditionally given strong support to the GOP’s presidential candidates and most state and local advocates of the status quo. But on Aug. 13, the complacency that has characterized Bellaire’s public life was altered dramatically. A record number of voters-4,646 \(or slightly more than 50 percent of those 4111111=111.111111111111111111111111111 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3