zoning regulations


an interesting characteristic of Houston is the city’s lack of zoning laws. rather, city officials of yesteryear thought it better to let the market decide. on Sunday, while Laura was at work, I walked up Heights Blvd to a coffee shop called Waldo’s. it’s located in a bungalow and, without the sign and cars parked out front, it looks like any of the other quaint, historic-looking nestled houses between apartment buildings along the tree-lined boulevard. the counter is located at the back of the house, near the original kitchen, and when you first walk in there are an array of tables, an alcove with a couch, and a stage for live performances. stepping from the overcast, humid outdoors into the cafe, the tables were filled with students and their laptops, textbooks, notebooks, all manner of study materials. rather than disturb them, or take my tea outside where it was still a little chilly and a little misty, I nestled into a fold-out loveseat in the front room.

during the course of the day I was joined by a family eating breakfast whose pre-verbal son was still a little unsteady on his feet; a woman studying spatial relationships (architecture perhaps?); several woman looking for a room in which they could gossip, but who left after a few minutes just as the young girl with them got settled into an awesome high-backed chair with matching ottoman; a young woman typing up notes on her laptop.

after an hour and a half, once the sun peeked out and the threat of precipitation dissipated, I went out to the porch for awhile. unfortunately, after about ten minutes a pair of guys came out to smoke while drinking their coffee. they had a lengthy and embarrassingly cliched conversation about cars and the relative merits of Audis and Volkswagons (one, who was wearing cowboy boots and, in spite of them, sounded rather like a walking stereotype of east coast ego and privilege, had recently purchased an Audi). but, after about an hour, another smoker wandered out onto the porch and I decided that, while I very much liked being outside in the sunshine, I much preferred the non-toxic, air conditioned sitting room, once again acknowledging how great we have it in Madison and Dane County.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.