Joint Referral Committee

Developing and selling property for residential or commercial building projects often requires the relocation of City facilities, including street right-of-way and underground utilities, or approval of encroachments into streets or alleys. In the City of Houston, such requests are processed by the Joint Referral Committee (JRC), which consists of representatives of the following departments:

  • Houston Public Works: City Engineer (Utilities, ROW/Traffic), Utility Analysis, Real Estate Services (coordinates as Chair for Houston Public Works Director), Transportation and Drainage Operations
  • Planning and Development
  • Legal
  • Fire
  • Police

The JRC reviews all abandonment and encroachment requests to ensure continued mobility and adequate access to our water, wastewater, and storm sewer utilities. The work of the JRC is part of the important balance between facilitating growth and development, while safeguarding the City's ability to efficiently provide services to ratepayers and taxpayers.

The various transaction types available for processing through the JRC, and their respective descriptions, are referenced below. Please read the descriptions carefully to determine the type of transaction required to accomplish your goal, as selecting the wrong transaction will delay the process. If you need assistance, please contact us at (832) 395-3122 to discuss your situation. Each transaction also includes a “Best Practices Tips” sheet with recommendations that may help you reduce the processing time of your transaction, a flow chart of the typical steps in the transaction, and a fillable application with instructions. To ensure prompt processing of your application, please follow all instructions attached to each application. Applications are accepted every Thursday, from 9am to 12 pm, on the 19th floor of the Bob Lanier Public Works Building, 611 Walker. Accepted applications will normally be placed on the JRC’s Agenda for discussion on the second Tuesday following the application submittal and acceptance date.

Applications are considered in light of State laws (generally Local Government Code Section 272.001) and City Ordinances (Chapter 2-237, etc.). In considering requests, emphasis is placed on what is in the best interest of the citizens of Houston and whether there is a current or future public need for the City facility and property which are the subject of the request.

The JRC does not process all requests for city-owned property.

  • If you are looking for information about property currently for sale by the City, such as lots and acreage, please visit the General Services Department website.
  • If you are looking for information about foreclosed properties please contact Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP Attorneys at Law (, at (713) 844-3400.

If you do not see information about the type of transaction you wish to pursue among the transactions listed below, please email us at [email protected] or call us at (832) 395-3122.

JRC Transaction Type

    A street or alley may only be abandoned to a property owner whose property is abutting the street or alley to be abandoned. 

    Upon review of a request for the abandonment and sale of a street or alley which contains pavement or public utilities, a Contact Letter will be forwarded to the applicant listing requirements that must be completed to finalize the transaction.

    Upon approval by the Joint Referral Committee, the Traffic Operations Division will post signs notifying the public of the abandonment of the street or alley. The public has an opportunity to provide comments concerning the abandonment and sale during the 30 day period.

    A sample application is available for reference.

    Download File: 

    This application should be used to request the abandonment/removal of City-owned easements from private property. This application must be used for utility, sanitary sewer, water, storm sewer and utility easements.  If there are public utilities currently located within the easement(s), the applicant may be required to relocate said utilities to a public street right-of-way and/or relocate the utilities to an easement conveyed back to the City of Houston. Since private utility companies have the right to locate facilities within public utility easements, if the easement to be abandoned and sold is a utility easement, private utility companies must be contacted.  Any property owners abutting the easement(s) to be abandoned and sold must consent to this transaction by signing the signature page of the JRC application.  

    Download File: 

    The application for a Non-acceptance or Disclaimer can only be used for unimproved street rights-of-way or alleys. An unimproved street right-of-way or alley must not be paved or improved for vehicular traffic and cannot have any public utilities constructed within the street or alley. If utilities are within the street right-of-way or alley, the appropriate process is submittal of an application for the abandonment and sale of street or alley.

    Download File: 

    This application must be used to request the City to sell fee-owned property in the following instances:

    • The fee-owned property is irregularly shaped, or
    • The fee-owned property is too small to be independently developed under current development standards, or
    • The fee-owned property lacks access to public roads/right-of-way (is landlocked)

    This application cannot be used for any type of request that includes the abandonment and sale of a street, alley, sale of fee-owned property subject to bid sale standard, or any other request. Please refer to the Application for Abandonment and Sale of Street or Alley for these types of combination transactions.

    Download File:

    Request for the City to Approve an Encroachment of an Existing Structure into a Street or Alley.

    This application is for use only under the following conditions:

    (a) The encroachment is pre-existing

    (b) The encroaching structure must be permanent, such as a building, garage, etc.

     If the encroachment is into a subsurface utility easement* or aerial easement**:

    This application cannot be used for any new or proposed encroachments. Owner should be prepared to construct private improvements within private property and not within the public right-of-way.

    This application cannot be used for any type of request that includes the abandonment and sale of a street, alley, or easement, the sale of fee-owned property, or any other request. Please include 

    Encroachment Requests with the Application for Abandonment and Sale of Street or Alley.

    Download File: 


    [email protected] 

     * Please direct your request to the Infrastructure Design Services

    Contact: Rudy Moreno
    [email protected]

     **Please direct your request to the Office of the City Engineer

    Contact: Venkata Veturi
    [email protected]

    This application is for use whenever it is determined that a recorded instrument contains verbiage which allows a public easement (storm sewer, water, water meter, or sanitary sewer) to revert to the previous owner or terminate, if the easement is no longer being used for the original purpose for which it was conveyed to the City.

    • This application can be used to request the reverter/affidavit of multiple easements, so long as the easements are located within the same tract. For easements located in another tract, additional applications are required.
    • This application must be completed and returned to the Utility Analysis Section (UAS) for it to review and determine if an active public utility is located within the easement. To contact UAS, please Click Here.
    • If the recorded instrument does not contain reverter/termination verbiage, or an active public utility line is located within the easement, then the Application for Abandonment and Sale of an Easement must be completed.
    • All information must be complete on the application, including printed name, title, date, and signature. All related documents must be attached to the application.


    Download File: 


    [email protected]