Marlene Gafrick

Former Director, Houston Planning and Development Department

Houston, TX

As Houston’s top planning and development official, Marlene Gafrick brings more than 30 years of experience in land development that includes ordinance development, implementation and enforcement, permitting and coordination with public agencies and special districts.

Gafrick joined the Department 30 years ago as an associate planner fresh out of school. She was named planning director by Houston Mayor Bill White on July 7, 2005 and continues in that capacity today under Mayor Annise Parker. She holds a B.S. Economics in Urban and Regional Planning from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.

While her work location has stayed the same, her responsibilities and the ways they are fulfilled have seen many changes. She has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of many new and amended ordinances to encourage growth while protecting and preserving neighborhoods. She is especially adept at harnessing new technologies to improve workflow and accountability.

The Department provides tools and resources to strengthen and increase the long-term viability of neighborhoods, regulates land development in Houston and the extra territorial jurisdiction and reviews, investigates and promotes land regulation policies for the changing demands to Houston’s growth and quality of life.

Current challenges include changing development rules along transit corridors to increase pedestrian and multi-model connections to adjacent neighborhoods and creating rules to allow mixed use/pedestrian districts. She is overseeing the transition to a Regional Enterprise GIS environment that supports the sharing of data, GIS services and resources among city departments, area governments, utilities and related agencies. She also is partnering with related city departments and outside agencies to increase regional transportation planning including the adoption of a city-wide mobility plan.

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