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Spring Branch is a district in west-northwest Harris County, Texas, United States, roughly bordered by Clay Road and U.S. Highway 290 to the north, Beltway 8 to the west, Interstate 10 to the south, and the 610 Loop to the east; it is almost entirely within the City of Houston. Established by the Texas Legislature, the Spring Branch Management District exercises jurisdiction over the area.
Several minor bayous run through the community, including Brickhouse Gully, Spring Branch (the neighborhood namesake), and Briar Branch, which drain into Buffalo Bayou in central Houston. Spring Lake is a large pond near the center of the neighborhood.
Spring Branch, always known by that name, began as a religious German farmer settlement; many of the farmers owned dairies. Karl Kolbe, who arrived in Texas from Germany in 1830, was Spring Branch's earliest settler. The Germans opened sawmills to cut area timber. In 1848, St. Peter's United (Lutheran) Church opened on a site donated from the Bauer family; the lumber used in the construction originated from one of the local sawmills. The Spring Branch School Society, sponsored by the church in 1856, would eventually become the Spring Branch Independent School District.
After World War II James E. Lyon served as a developer in Spring Branch. In the mid-1950s, efforts to create a Spring Branch municipality failed. Following this, the Memorial villages, a group of six independent municipalities, formed. Houston annexed the rest of the Spring Branch area. In the mid-to-late 20th century, Spring Branch had a rural suburban character with dirt roads and horses in the area. Spring Branch Elementary School, one of several area elementary schools, was an all-White elementary school.
Apartment complexes opened in the Spring Branch area around the 1970s. In 1982, the City of Houston Housing Authority proposed a $3.8 million U.S. dollar public housing unit at Emnora Lane. The city encountered strong opposition from civic clubs, city council members, and state representatives, so the city housing officials canceled the project. The sign used by the city to indicate the proposed site repeatedly received spray paint graffiti stating "no niggers."
By the 1980s, Houston's economy had collapsed and occupancy rates declined. Many apartment complexes faced foreclosure, bankruptcy, and changes in ownership. Bill Zermeno, a city electrical inspector, said in a 1988 Houston Chronicle article that many of the apartments with some of the strongest violations against maintenance-related city laws were in Spring Branch. Kim Cobb, the author of the 1988 Houston Chronicle article, said that many of the poorly maintained complexes were located next to well-maintained single family subdivisions.
From the 1980 U.S. Census to the 1990 Census, many Hispanics settled in parts of Spring Branch; in pockets of Spring Branch almost all of the immigration was from Central American countries. The Hispanic population increased by an amount between 1,000 and 3,500 per square mile. In 1997 S.D. Kim, the Houston bureau chief of The Korea Times, said that Koreatown, the Korean community in Spring Branch, grew because of inexpensive housing and the zoning to the Spring Branch Independent School District. In 1998 and again in 2001, a proposal to place Korean language street signs in Koreatown lead to political controversy; the reaction against the proposal lead to the withdrawal of the proposal. By 2006, Spring Branch Elementary School was mostly Hispanic, reflecting demographic changes in the Spring Branch area. By 2007 several older houses were torn down and replaced with newer houses; new homeowners came to Spring Branch to buy larger lots, to buy in an area cheaper than neighborhoods bordering Downtown Houston. New residents came due to the proximity to Downtown, Uptown, and the Energy Corridor.
In May 2011 the Spring Branch Central Super Neighborhood campaigned against having federal funds used to improve older apartment complexes in the area.
The district has access to Interstate 10, the 610 Loop, Beltway 8, and the Hempstead Highway. The district is in proximity to Downtown Houston, the Energy Corridor, the Memorial City District (including Memorial City Mall and the Memorial Hermann Hospital Memorial City), the Texas Medical Center, Uptown Houston (including The Galleria), and Westchase.
John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press said that Spring Branch has many "old-school ethnic eateries" and described Long Point Road, Spring Branch's main road, as "thrift store nirvana". The journalist added that Long Point has few chain businesses and stores.
La Michoacana Meat Market has its headquarters in Spring Branch and in Houston. BJ Services Company has its headquarters in the Spring Branch district and in unincorporated Harris County. Tesco Corporation has its headquarters in the Spring Branch district and in Houston. Cameron International Corporation's Drilling and Production Systems center is in the Westway Business Park in Spring Branch and in an unincorporated area. NZ Control Specialists has its headquarters in Spring Branch and is one of Spring Branch's oldest private security companies, opening their doors in 1977.
Previously, Igloo Corporation had a manufacturing facility in Spring Branch. The Spring Branch location also housed the company headquarters. In 2004, Igloo announced that it was consolidating to a location in unincorporated Waller County, Texas, near Katy.
The Spring Branch District within Houston is served by the Houston Police Department Northwest Patrol Division, headquartered at 6000 Teague Road. The Spring Branch Storefront Station is located at Suite A at 8400 Long Point Road.
The Houston Fire Department serves areas within Houston and operates Fire Station #5 Old Spring Branch at 2020 Hollister Road, Fire Station #38 West Side at 1120 Silber Road, Fire Station #49 at 1212 Gessner Drive, and Fire Station #77 Spring Shadows at 10155 Kempwood Drive; the stations are in Fire District 5. Some unincorporated areas in Spring Branch are served by the Houston Fire Department, while others are served by the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department. Station 38 was built in 1955. Station 49 opened in a former Spring Branch Volunteer Fire Department facility at Campbell at Long Point in 1956. Station 49 moved to Gessner at Westview in 1961. Station 5 moved from what is now Downtown Houston to Spring Branch in 1977. Station 77 opened in 1990. Station 38 was last renovated during the financial year of 1995. Station 49 closed in April 2008 before undergoing a $753,821.40 renovation. The station reopened on February 9, 2009, and the re-opening ceremony occurred on March 16, 2009. A renovation of Station 5 is scheduled for 2011.
Houston City Council District A covers areas of Spring Branch in Houston. As of 2012 Helena Brown represents the district. In the 1990s a small portion of Spring Branch was in City Council District G.
The city of Houston organized the areas in Spring Branch within Houston into the #8 Westbranch, #10 Spring Branch West, #84 Spring Shadows, #85 Spring Branch Central, and #86 Spring Branch East super neighborhoods.
The Council for #10 Super Neighborhood opened on May 11, 2000. The council for the #85 Super Neighborhood, which includes the Binglewood, Binglewood 5, Campbell Woods, Hollister Place, Holley Terrace, Kempwood North, Langwood II, Outpost Estates, Spring Branch Estates II, Spring Branch Oaks, Springwood/Timbercreek, and Western Oaks subdivisions, opened on August 24, 2000. The council for the #84 Super Neighborhood, which mostly consists of deed-restricted, single family subdivisions such as Spring Shadows and also includes nine apartment complexes and one mobile home area, opened on March 14, 2005. Subdivisions within Super Neighborhood #86 include Afton Village, Brykerwoods, Monarch Oaks, Ridgecrest, Hillendahl Acres, Long Point Oaks, Pine Terrace, and Westview Terrace.
In 2011 the City of Houston opened a permanent electronics recycling center in Spring Branch.
The Spring Branch Management District is headquartered at 9610 Long Point Drive. The Spring Branch Management District's mission is to positively impact public safety, business development, environmental and urban design, and mobility and transportation to help create an environment attractive to business, to facilitate profitability, and to promote the redevelopment and growth of the area. Ongoing programs spearheaded by the Spring Branch Management District include working with the Houston Police Department to promote its Blue Star Program to bring apartment complexes and multifamily residential units into compliance with current city codes, providing constable patrols to enhance security, removing graffiti on public and private property, maintaining various landscapes throughout the district, removing bandit signs, enforcing news rack ordinance, and pursuing health code violations. The management district's boundaries are almost entirely within the City of Houston; a portion in the north is in an unincorporated area in Harris County.
As of 2012, according to Bob Stein, a Rice University political scientist, voters in Houston City Council District A tend to be older people, conservative, and White American, and many follow the Tea Party movement. The voting base is such despite the presence of large Hispanic neighborhoods within District A. In the 2011 election voters in Spring Branch, for City Council District A, favored Tea Party candidate Helena Brown over the incumbent, Brenda Stardig, because Stardig supported a "rain tax," passed in 2010, that taxed churches. The taxation of churches had a negative reception with political conservatives in Spring Branch. In the 1990s a small portion of Spring Branch was in City Council District G. In 1989, during a city council race, many in Spring Branch voted for Jim Westmoreland for an at-large position. Westmoreland drew controversy after reports of a joke that was characterized as "racist" spread. Beverley Clark, the opponent and a Black teacher, defeated Westmoreland in that race.
Harris County Precinct Three, headed by Steve Radack as of 2008, serves portions of Spring Branch. Harris County Precinct Four, headed by Jerry Eversole as of 2008, serves other portions of Spring Branch. Harris County Constable Precinct 5 patrols much of Spring Branch. The unincorporated area within the Spring Branch Management District is assigned to the Harris County Sheriff's Office District IV Patrol, headquartered at the Clay Road Substation at 16715 Clay Road. The Harris County Department of Education maintains an office in the North Post Oak Building in Spring Branch. The Harris County Toll Road Authority operates its West Area EZ Tag Store in Spring Branch.
Harris County Precinct 3 operates the Spring Branch Community Center and Courthouse Annex and a tax office at 1721 Pech Road in Spring Branch. Alma Corporation built the building now housing the Spring Branch Community Center in the late 1960s. In 1971 Alma sold the building to Sam Houston Memorial Hospital; in 1976 the hospital sold the building to Houghton and Neville West. Harris County bought the building in 1986, causing it to become a courthouse. Bob Eckels, then the Precinct 3 commissioner, established a community center in the ground floor's north half. Steve Radack became the commissioner of Precinct 3 and began renovating the building. After the census of 1990 the county rezoned the community center and the surrounding neighborhood into Precinct 4. During the 1990s changes to the center occurred. The county moved the center back into Precinct 3 after the 2000 Census. In 2011 the Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community opened, taking in the previous community center.
Parts of Spring Branch located in District 136 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Beverly Wooley represents the district. Parts of Spring Branch located in District 138 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Dwayne Bohac represents the district. A portion of Spring Branch is within District 7 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 Dan Patrick represents the district. Parts of Spring Branch are within District 15 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 John Whitmire represents the district.
A portion of Spring Branch is in Texas's 18th congressional district. As of 2008, Sheila Jackson Lee represents the district. A portion of Spring Branch is in Texas's 7th congressional district. As of 2012, John Culberson represents the district.
Between the 1990 U.S. Census and the 2000 U.S. Census, as Spring Branch gained many Hispanic and Korean residents, many White residents left. Nestor Rodriguez, an immigration expert from the University of Houston, said that the white population of Spring Branch implied that many were leaving not because of racial differences but because the new residents were not middle class. Rodriguez said "They don't say they're not middle-class, but they say, well, look at them, they're out on the street corners looking for work; we're not used to that. But those are characteristics of working-class or lower working-class people."
In 2000, the City of Houston's Super Neighborhoods located all or in part within Spring Branch reported the following population statistics:
|Super Neighborhood||SN #||Population||Hispanic||%||White||%||Black||%||Asian||%||Native American||%||Native Hawaiian||%||other non-Hispanic||%||2 or more races||%|
|Spring Branch West||10||32,423||17,059||52.61%||11,353||35.02%||1,878||5.80%||1,627||5.02%||59||0.18%||11||0.03%||44||0.14%||392||1.21%|
|Spring Branch Central||85||29,074||18,844||64.81%||7,678||26.41%||1,190||4.09%||1,103||3.79%||44||0.15%||6||0.02%||23||0.08%||186||0.64%|
|Spring Branch East||86||26,491||16,275||61.44%||7,872||29.72%||1,075||4.06%||945||3.57%||51||0.19%||5||0.02%||27||0.10%||240||0.91%|
The Spring Branch Medical Center, located in Spring Branch, was the first hospital outside of the Texas Medical Center to perform open heart surgery. As the owners of the Spring Branch Medical Center attempted to sell the facility to the Harris County Hospital District, the owners announced that the hospital would close by May 1, 2010. Because the hospital was ending inpatient services, it announced that it was laying off 720 employees. As of March 2010 it employed 509 full-time employees and 211 part-time employees. The hospital plans to continue offering outpatient programs such as emergency care services, imaging services, and radiation oncology.
Houston-based McVey & Co. Investments LLC purchased Spring Branch Medical Center, at 8850 Long Point Road, early 2011. Marty McVey, chairman of the hospital, is currently reopening the historic community hospital. The website for the hospital changed to www.sbmchealth.com.
Spring Branch Independent School District serves most of the areas within the Spring Branch Management District, and all of the Memorial area in Houston, and several small cities. Despite being located in Houston, Spring Branch is not served by the Houston Independent School District.
Middle schools in Spring Branch ISD serving the Spring Branch area include Landrum Middle School, Northbrook Middle School, Spring Oaks Middle School, and Spring Woods Middle School. In addition Spring Forest Middle School in the Memorial community of Houston and Spring Branch Middle School in the City of Hedwig Village serve sections of Spring Branch.
Most SBISD areas in the Spring Branch District are within the separate attendance boundaries of Spring Woods High School and Northbrook High School in Spring Branch. The southern portions of west Spring Branch have students zoned to Stratford High School in the Memorial area of Houston. Some areas of Spring Branch along Westview and Interstate 10 have students zoned to Memorial High School in the City of Hedwig Village.
Some areas within the district are within the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. The area is divided between the attendance zones of Bane Elementary School in Houston, Kirk Elementary School in unincorporated Harris County, and Lee Elementary School in unincorporated Harris County. The area is divided between the attendance zones of Dean Middle School in Houston and Truitt Middle School in unincorporated Harris County. All residents of that area are zoned to Cypress Ridge High School in unincorporated Harris County.
School of the Woods is a college prep Montessori School for early childhood through grade 12. Located near the intersection of Wirt Road and Westview in the heart of Spring Branch, it is one of the oldest Montessori schools in the United States. It was founded in 1962 and has been in the vanguard of pre-K through High School Montessori education for more than half a century.
Other private schools located in Spring Branch include The Awty International School, Houston Christian High School, Fair Haven Day Methodist School, St. Mark Lutheran School  and The Monarch School. Originally the school had a campus in Spring Branch and a campus in Hilshire Village. In Spring 2009 all programs of The Monarch School moved to a new campus on Kempwood Drive in Spring Branch. The Parish School is located in a plot of land bordering the Spring Branch District. The Parish School moved from its former campus, now the site of The Rainard School, to the new campus in 2005.
Houston Community College System (HCC) operates the Spring Branch Center, a part of the Northwest College, in Memorial City. The facility was known as the Town and Country Campus until 2009. The college is inside the former Town and Country Mall. In 1999 a former 112,000-square-foot (10,400 m2) AMC Theatres and KMart building in Town and Country was re-tenanted to HCC. HCC signed its lease to occupy portions of the Town & Country Square Shopping Center in 1999. During that year the owners of the Town & Country Square Shopping Center filed a lawsuit against HCC for trying to stop a Barnes and Noble from opening in the shopping center premises.
The Houston Public Library operates the Arnold L. Hillendahl Neighborhood Library at 2436 Gessner Road and the Elizabeth L. Ring Neighborhood Library at 8835 Long Point Road. The Harris County Public Library (HCPL) system operates the Spring Branch Memorial Branch at 930 Corbindale Road in the City of Hedwig Village. The 10,500-square-foot (980 m2) branch opened in 1975.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department operates municipal parks within the Spring Branch Management District. Agnes Moffit Park, located at 10645 Hammerly Boulevard, has a swimming pool and a golf course. The R.L. and Cora Johnson Park is located at 9791 Tanner Road. The adjacent R. L. and Cora Johnson Community Center, located at 9801 Tanner Road, has a 0.25 mile hike and bicycle trail, a playground, an outdoor basketball pavilion, and lighted tennis courts. The park was originally known as the Carverdale Park; it was renamed in January 2009 after some civic leaders. Freed Park and Community Center is located at 7020 Shadyvilla Lane. The park has an indoor gymnasium, a .35 mile hike and bicycle trail, a playground, a lighted sports field. Schwartz Park is located at 8203 Vogue.
Harris County Precinct 3 operates the county parks. The 13-acre (53,000 m2) Nob Hill Park, located at 10300 Timber Oak Drive, has a 0.59-mile (950 m) walking trail, a picnic, a playground, a gazebo, and a softball field. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Spring Branch Pocket Park, located at 1700 Campbell Road at Spring Branch Drive, has a 0.057-mile (92 m) trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Housman Pocket Park, located at 6705 Housman Street, has a 0.12-mile (190 m) trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Moritz Pech Family Park, located at 1493½ Moritz Drive, has two playgrounds and a 0.22-mile (350 m) granite jogging trail. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Creek Pocket Park, located at 1701 Creek Drive, has a 0.068-mile (0.109 km) trail. The 0.21-acre (850 m2) Bracher Pocket Park, located at 1507½ Bracher Street, has a 0.057-mile (92 m) gravel trail, a playground, and a gazebo. The 0.65-acre (2,600 m2) Bauer Pocket Park, located at 2201 Bauer Road, has a 0.1-mile (160 m) trail. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) Gessner Pocket Park, located at 1610½ Gessner Drive, has a 0.025-mile (40 m) trail and a playground.
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