REPORT: Gulfton/ Sharpstown Night Walk (CPTED)

21 Nov, 23

On the evening of October 12, Harris County Precinct 4 hosted a Night Walk in Gulfton. The Night Walk provided an opportunity for community leaders to voice their thoughts and concerns about the neighborhood. Community stakeholders came together for a night walk, and an interactive mapping handout was distributed, complete with a link to a corresponding app. This approach ensured that every member of our diverse community could participate in a way that suited them best. The purpose of this event extended beyond a simple neighborhood stroll; it aimed to be a platform where voices were heard, and ideas were shared. 

Our three main goals for the evening were to experience the neighborhood from the perspective of a pedestrian, educate our partners and stakeholders on key concepts of nighttime design such as lighting, safety and placemaking, and encourage stakeholder interest in urban design and nocturnal issues. During the Night Walk, community members expressed their receptivity by offering a wide range of comments and ideas throughout the night. Comments were focused on lighting and maintenance, sidewalks, placemaking opportunities, street safety, and supplemental crime prevention. 

3 primary Goals: Experience - Educate – Encourage

Experience:  Foster a shared understanding of the experience of being on the selected street segments at night. Use flashlights provided by community partners and filter paper to make our own lighting design and discuss how various forms of lighting make us feel in the space. Interact with the public realm in various ways from the perspective of a pedestrian and local resident.

Educate: Educate various stakeholders on key concepts of urban design such as nighttime design, BUG (Backlight, Uplight, and Glare) lighting principles, and other anticipated improvements.

Introduce: concepts such as Public Light, Private Light, Found Light, Perceptions of safety, light temperature, and smart lighting. Elevate local experts in lighting and health from the University of Texas Health Science Center and the Houston Astronomical Society.

Encourage: Stimulate stakeholder interest in nighttime design. Educate key partners on the importance of people focused lighting including the Gulfton Management District and Houston Police Department who will be instrumental in maintaining the new improvements.


Community Feedback
The Night Walk served as a forum for community leaders to articulate their thoughts and concerns, drawing together a diverse assembly of stakeholders. Through the distribution of interactive mapping handouts, a corresponding app, and many conversations, the event encouraged the active participation of every community member, fostering a space where their voices could be heard.

Lighting & Maintenance: Most notably, residents voiced a pressing need for increased public lighting along Westward St. Their specific request was for pedestrian-scale lighting, especially along the northern section towards IH-69 indicated on the map on p. 5. There is excessive private lighting coming from the apartments along Westward that can be disorienting for people walking along the street. This harsh lighting was most likely implemented for security reasons, but it goes far beyond the property line, to the other side of the street and negatively impacts residents with nearby windows as well as pedestrians. Along Westward St., there is a small section of land designated as a community garden that has fallen into disrepair. The area immediately in front of the entrance is overgrown with trees and grass and there is a large fence and gate that obscures the garden plots from view. This garden is a valuable resource in need of repair. Participants also brought attention to maintenance issues on Westward Street, such as fallen signage and broken or missing sidewalks.

Sidewalk Assessment: Westward St.: Overall, the sidewalks on Westward St. are in fair condition. However, a notable concern arises from Gulfton Street to I-69, where the condition deteriorates significantly. The sidewalks in this segment are much narrower, with an uneven grade. Additionally, issues such as overgrowth and broken slabs are prevalent, which pose safety and walkability challenges.

Glenmont Drive: On Glenmont Drive, the sidewalks are in below-average condition. The main issues here are frequent breaks in the sidewalk path, primarily at driveway intersections, and the regular occurrence of cars parked on the sidewalks. Furthermore, the slabs show signs of wear and significant cracking. In summary, our assessment reveals mixed conditions in the area. While Westward St. exhibits fair conditions with a significant concern in a specific section, Glenmont Drive’s sidewalks are consistently below average and face challenges related to driveway intersections and parking issues. Improving these sidewalks should be a priority to ensure safety and accessibility for pedestrians in the community.

Placemaking Opportunities: The event identified two blank walls belonging to the Atrium Cellini apartment complex, which were identified as prime locations for public art indicated on the map on p. 4. Additionally, a neglected community garden near the Sterling McCall Ford auto dealership on Westward Street emerged as a potential focus site and was marked for an ‘urban acupuncture’ style intervention. This intervention would enable our community to come together and nurture a part of our neighborhood, fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility.

Street Safety: Attendees unanimously called for speed control measures. Community members raised concerns about the speed of vehicles along Westward Street. Another issue raised during the community discussion was related to parking. Residents and experts pointed out the need for more parallel parking spaces and a reduction in head-in parking due to the conflicts created by many cars parking on top of the sidewalks. These issues were seen as significant obstacles, blocking people’s paths, and posing safety concerns for pedestrians.

Supplemental Crime Prevention: Due to a high perception of crime and the proximity of the freeway, the community also requested the implementation of flock cameras or similar automatic license plate recognition systems (ALPRs) along Westward Street. In addition, community stakeholders requested the removal of a sign in front of an existing flock camera because it is blocking the camera’s view. Lastly, concerns were raised about harsh lighting conditions along Glenmont, which were perceived as a threat to pedestrian safety.


The interactive activities, mapping handout, and app proved to be the catalyst for an engaging evening of community involvement. As we collected the documents at the end of the walk, the feedback collected reinforced the unity and spirit of our community, painting a vibrant picture of a brighter future for Gulfton. The specific insights gathered during this event will serve as a foundation for immediate and medium-term improvements, reaffirming our commitment to making Gulfton a better place for all its residents.

For immediate improvement, adjusting the sign currently in front of the flock camera along westward to clear its view is achievable, and a short-term placemaking project utilizing the identified blank walls on the Atrium Cellini apartment complex for public art could be organized. This could involve collaboration with local artists or community members to enhance the visual appeal of the area. In addition to this, general maintenance, especially along Westward near an old community garden, will improve the look and feel of the area immediately.

In the medium-term, additional cooling, placemaking, and safety improvements are possible. Shade along the corridors is inconsistent and could be enhanced with additional trees and shade structures. Sidewalks along Westward are newly built,but stop short of the planned Bus Rapid Transit Corridor. Sidewalks on Glenmont are in need of reconstruction for the majority of the corridor and parking conflicts contribute to safety issues for all road users. Crossings from one side of the street to another – especially on Glenmont presents another opportunity for improvement. Along both corridors are opportunities to support the congregating of community through “las placitas.” Finally, installation of pedestrian-scale lighting along the northern section of Westward Street towards IH-69 could address the pressing need for people focused lighting infrastructure. Smart lighting solutions that balance safety with energy efficiency and community preferences could be explored as options for the area.