Governance refers to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by government, market or networks, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through laws, norms, power or language.

Overview & Powers

A Municipal Management District (MMD) is an economic development tool that allows property owners to enhance a defined area. A MMD is created by an act of the Texas Legislature and derives its rights and powers through “enabling legislation.”

Houston Downtown Management District (“Downtown District” or “HDMD”) was created in the regular session of the Texas Legislature in the spring of 1995 under Chapter 375 of the Local Government Code, and currently is codified as Chapter 3801 of the Texas Special Downtown Districts Code. HDMD became effective on August 2, 1995 and was organized on August 29, 1995. In 1999, the Downtown District’s boundaries were expanded by the Texas Legislature to include all of the 1,178 acres that lie primarily within the freeway ring around the City of Houston’s city center. The Downtown District’s purpose is the continued pursuit of a plan for downtown’s revitalization and sustainability as a diverse, desirable, accessible and perpetually active core of the Houston region.

In addition to the rights, powers, privileges, authority, and functions of a MMD created under the aforementioned Chapter 375 of the Local Government Code, to accomplish its purposes the Downtown District may employ the rights granted to political subdivisions under Article 16, Section 59, of the Texas Constitution, including those conferred by Chapter 54 of the Texas Water Code, and the powers under Article 3, Section 52, of the Texas Constitution and Chapter 365 and Chapter 441, Texas Transportation Code. The Downtown District does not have power of eminent domain and cannot finance by assessment services or improvements unless a petition has been filed with the board signed by a requisite number of landowners.

The Downtown District may levy assessments, ad valorem taxes, and/or impact fees. The Downtown District may incur liabilities, borrow, issue bonds, or other obligations, acquire and dispose of property, construct, develop, encourage, and maintain employment, commerce, transportation, housing, tourism, recreation, arts, entertainment, economic development, safety, and the public welfare.

Intergovernmental Agreements

HDMD is a governmental agency and political subdivision of the State of Texas. It may enter into intergovernmental agreements with other units of government at the federal, state and local level.

Torts & Claims

The Downtown District is a unit of government for purposes of Chapter 101, Civil Practice and Remedies Code and is immune from torts claims.

Rights and Powers of the Houston Downtown Management District
  • Chapter 375, Texas Local Government Code, governs municipal management Downtown Districts
  • Chapter 3801, Texas Special Downtown Districts Code, rights and powers of Houston Downtown Management Downtown District
  • Texas Constitution: Article 3, Section 52, powers of a road Downtown District and the power to levy property taxes; and, 16.59 Article 16, Section 59, powers of a conservation and reclamation Downtown District
  • Chapter 54, Texas Water Code, powers of a municipal utility Downtown District
  • Chapter 395, Texas Local Government Code, financing capital improvements required by new development in municipalities, counties, and certain other local governments
State Ethics, Policy and Procedures Statutes Applicable to the Downtown District
  • Chapter 375, Texas Local Government Code, which governs municipal management Downtown Districts, generally sets forth conflicts of interest rules for directors
  • Chapter 171, Texas Local Government Code, which defines substantial interests and sets forth procedures for dealing with conflicts of interest
  • Chapter 36, Texas Penal Code, which prohibits bribery, improper influence and acceptance of certain gifts by directors, officers, and employees of public bodies
  • Chapter 573, Texas Government Code, anti-nepotism rules
  • Chapter 49, Texas Water Code, which requires the board to adopt a code of ethics and various other policies and procedures
  • Chapter 176, Texas Local Government Code, which requires directors and the executive officer to file conflicts of interest disclosure statements whenever anyone contracts or seeks to contract with the Downtown District for the sale or purchase of property, goods or services, and the director or officer or their family members have received taxable income or gifts over $250 from the contractor
  • Chapter 551, Texas Government Code, Open Meetings Act
  • Chapter 552 Texas Government Code, Public Information Act
Investment and Security of FUnds of Political Subdivisions (“Investment Laws”)