Council Requests Briefing from Oncor on Power Outage Response

Last Wednesday, I, along with six of my colleagues, requested that Oncor brief the Dallas City Council on the utility company’s response to power outages during the recent snow storm.

I have heard from many residents who went without power for days and who were frustrated by Oncor’s failure to communicate with them.  I also heard from residents who told me they often experience power outages and they would like an explanation was wel as a remediation plan from Oncor.  I look forward to talking with Oncor about these issues.

Here is the memo (click for a pdf version):


“This Old House” Magazine Selects Junius Heights “Best Neighborhood for Families”

As reported on Unfair Park, District 14’s very own Junius Heights Historic District was selected by This Old House Magazine as the nation’s “Best Neighborhood For Families” in their annual “Best Old House Neighborhoods” contest:

Like most of Texas, the city of Dallas is obsessed with all things big. But the people of the Junius Heights neighborhood beg to differ. “This is a small-town, front-porch community,” says Bill Williams, who purchased a Craftsman here in 2003. Junius Heights is home to some of the city’s most interesting residents, including artists, reporters for The Dallas Morning News, and about half the lawyers in town. And it’s turning into a haven for families looking to eschew traditional suburban living. That’s thanks in part to Woodrow Wilson High School, “one of the best examples of an inner-city high school in the country,” according to one resident (and Newsweek magazine). The school provides a top-notch education, as well as entertainment for Junius Heights residents through its excellent theater and athletic programs.  More….

Junius Heights is a great example of how historic district designation can help stabilize a neighborhood.  Since becoming an historic district in 2006, the neighborhood has enjoyed improved property values and has become even more attractive to families.  Most importantly, Junius Heights is full of active, involved neighbors who look out for each other and take pride in their lovely corner of East Dallas.

Congrats to the residents of Junius Heights for this well-deserved national recognition!

Update on Tree Limb and Brush Pick-Up

This announcement was just made from Dallas’ Sanitation Department regarding storm debris pick up:

The City of Dallas will provide free storm debris collection for Dallas’ Sanitation customers affected by the record snowfall that hit North Texas on February 11 and 12.  Customers who need to clear their property must place cut and stacked tree limbs at the curb.  Customers do not need to call 311 to request collection.  Citations for “out of cycle” brush waste will not be issued until after March 15.

Sanitation brush collection crews will work overtime and Saturdays to pick up all storm debris on customer’s property.  The debris will be picked up on customers’ normal brush/bulk schedule and will likely require 4-5 weeks to complete pick-up.  Customers can look up their brush collection week here:  “Bulk Collection Map” and “2010 Bulk Collection Calendar.”

Dallas Sanitation customers may also take storm debris to the following two locations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and must show proof of residency with a driver’s license or current water bill. 

Bachman Transfer Station
9500 Harry Hines Blvd.

McCommas Bluff Landill
5100 Youngblood Rd.

Storm debris will be chipped into mulch and will be available at no charge to customers for home use.  Customers can pick up mulch at either location—just in time for spring gardening.

Dallas Awarded $23M in Federal Grant for Streetcars

Great news!  Thanks to the hard work of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Dallas has been awarded a grant from the federal government to develop its Downtown and Oak Cliff streetcar system.  From the Dallas Morning News Transportation Blog:

Dallas scored big this morning as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the city will receive $43 million in grants that will build a starter downtown streetcar loop that will cross into Oak Cliff [$23M], and will greatly reduce NTTA’s cost to build the State Highway 161 toll road [$20M].

Its two projects were among 51 — and the only ones in Texas — to win out in the competition TIGER grant competition announced this morning. The federal government had reserved some $1.5 billion in stimulus funds for a grant competition aimed at providing funds for creative projects, especially those that achieve the Administration’s sustainability goals.

Although the $23 million won’t cover the build out of the complete Downtown and Oak Cliff lines, it is a terrific start to our modern streetcar plans.  We’ll be working over the coming weeks to prioritize and plan for the use of these funds.

Many thanks to Congresswoman Johnson, her staff, City of Dallas staff, the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments!  Great work!

No Need to Call 311 Before Putting Tree Limbs on Curb for Pick-Up

Great update from Jeff Siegel over on the Advocate’s Lakewood/East Dallas Blog:

Just got off the phone with Mary Nix, who oversees Dallas’ sanitation efforts, and she says the city is rescinding its call first policy about downed tree limbs from last week’s storm. Just put them on the curb, she said, and they’ll eventually be picked up. It may take a couple of weeks, but the trucks will get to them.

Nix said officials realized that there were so many downed limbs that it wasn’t practical to ask residents to call 311 first. I told her that was a fine decison, and that people around here would be glad to hear it. Expect the official announcement to be made on Wednesday.

Oncor: Working on Downed Transformers

I am continuing to pass along to Oncor all power outages that are reported to me.  I got another update from Oncor:

Councilwoman Hunt,

I understand why your constituents are frustrated, being with out power for days is rough.

Oncor has all available resources working to restore power.  The remaining outages are device level outages (transformers and fuses). That’s why there are just numerous small pockets of outages spread across the city.  Device level outages are the most time and labor consuming. Oncor crews are having to clear away trees and limbs, and pickup and re-hang wire and replace equipment. The process is slowing going, but we are making process. We are hopeful to have a large majority of the remaining customers back on today.

Oncor has setup restoration districts across the city to focus on neighborhoods.  Relief should be coming soon.

Also, based on the emails I’ve received, it sounds like many residents experience regular outages that Oncor needs to fix.  Next week, I will be talking with Oncor to let them know about these problems and see what they will do to get them resolved.

Oncor: No Specifics on Restoring Power

I just got a response from Oncor to my request for more specific info on when power will return to certain areas:

Due to the scope of work required to get lights back on and the way the outages are spread out across the city, I am unable to give you any specific information.

Oncor has restoration districts setup across the city.

We are working to get remaining customers back on today. The time frame depends on the required work to get the lights back up.

I’ll post again if/when I learn more.