Council Approves Staff’s Comp Plan

I am very sad to report that the City Council passed staff’s version of forwardDallas! today. Only the least significant changes proposed by the Plan Commission made it into the version passed today. The big changes, the ones that kept neighborhoods and property owners in the driver’s seat when it comes to zoning and planning for their area, didn’t make it in.

The chambers were packed, with the vast majority wearing stickers saying “CPC Yes.” Speakers spoke very eloquently about why it was so important to adopt the CPC changes.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Garcia moved to approve the version of the plan approved yesterday by the Council Committee. She accepted a change from Linda Koop, with whom I’d discussed changing the definition of “transit corridors” to make them more focused on transit than land-use. That change made it into Dr. Garcia’s motion.

I moved to amend the motion, to add back all the significant CPC changes. Councilmember Rasansky seconded my motion. He and I were the only councilmembers voting in favor of the amendment, and against Dr. Garcia’s motion. forwardDallas! passed 12-2. (The Mayor was absent.)

Response to DMN Editorial on Comp Plan

In a bold move, the Dallas Morning News proclaimed the staff’s version of the forwardDallas! comprehensive land use plan to be the best thing for Dallas since a toll-road through the middle of the Trinity river.

I know I shouldn’t be sarcastic in my blogs, but it’s hard not to. Three things about this editorial really got my goat:

(1) “Transit corridors disappeared….[S]tripping out transit corridors, which designate where DART stations and denser developments will be built, leaves a gaping hole. “

You know what a transit corridor is? Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s NOT a “Transit Center,” which is what Mockingbird Station and West Village are. That’s a mixed-use development with retail and residential at or near a light rail stop. Those make a lot of sense, and they remain in the CPC’s version of the comp plan.

I would point you to a transit corridor in Dallas, but we don’t have one, so you’ll have to settle for a definition from the staff’s proposed comp plan. It’s a long section of street that’s supposed to become a corridor of dense mixed-use development (imagine Mockingbird Station or West Village stretched out along miles of road). It is “focused around bus rapid transit corridors” according to staff’s plan. The mass transit component of the corridors makes sense, because otherwise, you’d just have an insane traffic jam from all the residents of the dense developments along the corridor. Sounds neat, right? Well, it would IF THERE WERE ANY PLANS FOR RAPID BUS TRANSIT ALONG ANY OF THE 135 MILES OF TRANSIT CORRIDORS PROPOSED BY THE PLAN.

I talked to DART, and guess what? There are NO bus rapid transit routes in our city today. According to DART’s long-range plan, over the next 24 years, there may be a total of TWO roads in Dallas with “BRTs.” There are no plans for such service on the other 130 miles of staff’s proposed transit corridors. Oh, and don’t even think about what transit corridors might mean to the residential neighborhoods along the route to have dense multi-family and mixed-use development encroaching on them. The “Transit Corridors” can go anywhere from a block to a half mile into surrounding neighborhoods (but will somehow supposedly “mitigate” any negative effects to the area).

(2) The editorial also laments the silly Plan Commission’s meddling into two years of hard work by the consultant and staff. Well, fact is, the consultant and staff have been reluctant to incorporate input from the public into their version of the plan since the process began. Sure, there have been minor tweaks here and there, but for the most part, they have made quite a show of “receiving public input,” but have done nothing to incorporate such input into the plan. Having lots of meetings and creating a database of public comments are MEANINGLESS unless the input makes its way into the final product. The Plan Commission, made up of citizen volunteers from every council district in the city, examined the input from residents, business groups, neighborhoods, and community leaders, and (gasp! shock!) incorporated the will of the people into the plan.

(3) Lastly, God forbid that neighborhoods and property owners have input into the future of the city: “City leaders are hoping to send the message that Dallas is open for business. But by giving neighborhoods more power than other stakeholders, the city appears skittish about progress.” I’m not sure how any of the changes give neighborhoods MORE power than other stakeholders; the changes the CPC made just ensures they’ve got a seat at the table.

The most important thing about this editorial is seeing what the crux of staff’s arguments are going to be to pass their version of the plan. Mainly, “the CPC is moving us backward, while the consultants and staff are moving us forward.” It’ll be the song and dance of “the CPC likes the status quo and just doesn’t like change,” when in fact, this document creates great, positive changes, but keeps the reins in the people’s hands, not city staffs’. Staff can guide and advise and suggest, but at the end of the day, it’s the residents and tax-payers who must live in this city. And your voice matters.

Just Because You’re Talking Doesn’t Mean Anyone’s Listening

Getting input and holding meetings are meaningless exercises if the suggested changes don’t make it into the final product. After dozens of meetings, emails, and letters, the fundamental recommendations of council constituents weren’t incorporated into the final forwardDallas! product.

The Plan Commission went back, looked at the changes recommended and supported by groups as diverse as The Real Estate Council, the Dallas Homeowners League, and Preservation Dallas, to name a few. They incorporated those changes into their recommendation to the Council.

Shouldn’t residents and property owners who have to live with this thing have a say in the final product? Or should we be satisfied with the fact that we “gave our input,” even though doing so resulted in no substantive change?

Have you read this thing? Liking the idea of a comprehensive plan and approving this particular plan are two different things. I support having a comprehensive plan, too, but it’s even more important to get it right.

Council Committee Approves Comp Plan Without Any Public Hearings

Well, the five-member Council Comprehensive Plan Committee just met, and it was a sham meeting.

Staff explained very generally why the most significant changes the Plan Commission recommended were bad. Staff explained that transit corridors are terrific (even though there are no plans for mass transit service to them); that the map is perfect as it is (even though it doesn’t focus on specific areas of change and protect our neighborhoods as stable); and that a bottom-up, community-focused planning process is wrong — we need staff telling us how our communities should be.

Despite the fact that the City Council hasn’t even held a SINGLE public hearing yet; despite the fact that 13 of 15 CPC members support all the changes; despite the fact that the COMMITTEE DIDN’T EVEN DISCUSS THE MAJORITY OF THE CPC’S PLAN; Mr. Oakley nonetheless moved to approve the minor changes proposed by the CPC, but not the major ones I mention above. The Committee approved it on a vote of 4-1; I voted “no.”

Care about this? Well, we may pass this plan on Wednesday, the way things are going, so come down to City Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14 at 1500 Marilla St. and let us know what you think.

Message to Council: Pass CPC Version of Comprehensive Plan

For the last two years, the City of Dallas has been developing a comprehensive land use plan that will guide development in our city for the next twenty to thirty years. This plan is about to be approved by the City Council either Wednesday, June 14 or June 28, and it is imperative that you know what is going on.

I am fundamentally in support of adopting a comprehensive plan for Dallas. However, I think it’s even more important that we get this plan RIGHT. I have been critical of many aspects of the plan proposed by city staff because I believe their proposal will negatively impact our neighborhoods. My main points of contention have been:

● The plan’s emphasis on multi-family housing instead of single-family.
● A comprehensive plan map that redesigns our city without substantive community input.
● A comprehensive plan map that fails to identify stable neighborhoods (so they can be protected from future development and higher densities) and areas of change and transition (where we want to grow and redevelop).
● An across-the-board reduction in parking requirements.
● Lack of coordination with DISD to ensure that our schools can handle the dramatic population growth proposed by the plan.
● Proposal for narrow sidewalk widths (despite ostensible focus on pedestrianism).
● Lack of focus on Southern Dallas development.
● District 14 neighborhoods that should be designated “Residential” not “Urban Neighborhood.”
● A focus on top-down, city staff-directed zoning decisions instead of a neighborhood/property-owner-driven process.

Despite having shared my concerns with staff, and despite the fact that the public has been giving staff very specific suggested changes for MONTHS, staff has refused to adopt most of the substantive changes requested by me and groups as diverse as the Dallas Homeowners League, The Real Estate Council, Save Open Space, Preservation Dallas, and the development community.

Luckily, the City Plan Commission recognized that staff had not been listening to the people of Dallas, who will have to live with the consequences of this plan for decades. Last Tuesday, in a true show of leadership, our City Plan Commission approved a version of the comprehensive plan that addresses many of the concerns raised by these community groups and individuals. Most significantly, the CPC revised the plan so that neighborhoods and property owners are back in the driver’s seat in crafting future changes to their area. Instead of a top-down process in which city staff present a neighborhood with a new zoning plan, the NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENTS and PROPERTY OWNERS will gather consensus and give their proposed new zoning recommendations to the city.

The CPC also revised the comprehensive plan map to carve out “areas of transformation” (UNT campus, South Dallas, Trinity River Corridor, and Downtown) and designate everything else “areas of stability” until area plans or neighborhood plans are developed in a community-driven process. Several other significant changes were made, a list of which can be reviewed here. View the CPC’s version of the comprehensive plan map. You can also read the CPC’s signed letter of support of their version of the comprehensive plan.

At the end of the day, 13 of the 15 members of the Plan Commission support their revised version of the comprehensive plan. In seeing the very positive changes that were proposed by the CPC, although imperfect, I was prepared to support this “middle-ground” version of the comprehensive plan. It doesn’t contain all of the changes that I thought important, but overall it will be a good plan for our city and protect the integrity of our neighborhoods. With these positive changes by the CPC, all in the right direction, you would think that staff and councilmembers would be embracing this compromise, right?

Nope.

Staff is furious with what the CPC did – taking authority away from city staff and putting it back in the hands of Dallas residents. So staff is telling the Council to pass STAFF’S version of the comprehensive plan, the one that keeps them in control of future zoning changes. Staff is marginalizing the thoughtful changes crafted and approved by our Plan Commission. Staff didn’t even provide the City Council with a copy of the comprehensive plan passed by the CPC; just a chart of “CPC Recommendations” along with city staff’s version of the plan. This is unacceptable.

What can you do about it? If you would like to protect the future of your neighborhood, if you believe residents and property owners (not city staff) should be the guiding voice in future zoning changes that affect your area, then you need to do the following:

● E-mail or call your City Councilmember and the Mayor and let them know you support the CPC recommendation, “The People’s Plan.” (Get contact info)
● Attend the City Council meeting this Wednesday, June 14th at 1:30 PM at City Hall and support the City Plan Commission’s recommendations. Bring your friends and neighbors. THIS IS CRITICAL. (Map to City Hall)
● Call the City Secretary at (214) 670-3738 to put your name on the speakers’ list for Wednesday in favor of the City Plan Commission’s version of the plan.

This is about neighborhoods. This is about property rights and having a voice in the future of your community. If you don’t speak up and let your council representative know your concerns and wishes, then staff’s version of this plan will pass and the needs of your neighborhood will take a back-seat to a “staff knows best” mentality.

Angela Hunt
Dallas City Councilmember, District 14

Rumors About the Comprehensive Plan: True or False?

As many residents know, the City is in the last phase of creating a comprehensive plan to guide land use and development for decades to come. As I’ve discussed here before, I feel very strongly that we need a comprehensive plan to guide the future growth of our city. However, I have serious concerns about certain aspects of the proposed plan, and believe some changes must be made before it is approved. If you haven’t read my concerns about the current draft of the project, you may do so here.

There have been rumors flying around about the comprehensive plan, and I want to set a couple of things straight.

RUMOR #1: “People criticizing this plan don’t want the City to adopt a comprehensive plan at all.”
FALSE. I obviously can’t speak for everyone who has concerns about this plan, but everyone I’ve talked with who is critical of the plan nonetheless supports the concept and wants to see it succeed. They just don’t like some of the aspects of the current proposal.

I for one am VERY supportive of developing a comprehensive plan to guide growth in our city. If I weren’t, I would not have served on the advisory committee, attended all the townhall meetings, and read the 454-page plan page-by-page. I want this plan to work, and I want it to be good. The right plan will be good for neighborhoods and developers alike. It will anticipate and guide growth while protecting stable neighborhoods. It will encourage greenspace, pedestrianism, and mass transit. My criticisms of the plan are reflective of my deep desire to get it right.

RUMOR #2: “People criticizing this plan are trying to derail the process.”
FALSE. Closely related to Rumor #1, this rumor is predicated on desire by plan critics for additional time to review this massive (450+ page) document.

This process is being rushed. The facts speak for themselves. With only two public meetings and no revised draft in hand, the Plan Commission was initially scheduled to approve this incredibly important and complex plan on April 6, and the Council not long thereafter. After I expressed my grave concern with this timeline, the schedule was revised to offer an extra month to review this dense document. Why are proponents so afraid of extra time to ensure we get this right?

The newest schedule, created last Thursday, is no better:

April 20 – First half of new draft of Comp Plan released. (Vision Statement and Policy sections.)
April 20 – Plan Commission briefed on Plan.
May 2 – Second half of new draft of Comp Plan released.
May 4 – Plan Commission briefed on Plan. Plan could be voted on by the Plan Commission on this date, even though they will have had only TWO DAYS to review the second half of the Plan (Implementation and Monitoring sections).
May 18 or 25 – Plan Commission votes on Plan.
Late May or early June – Council votes on Plan.

We MUST have additional public meetings and time to vet the most recent version of the document and determine whether residents’ input has been incorporated into the plan.

RUMOR #3: “Critics of this plan want to freeze our zoning as it is and oppose any changes.”
FALSE. Even the most die-hard neighborhood advocates I know agree that there are neighborhoods and areas in our city that need to be redeveloped. But we also need to recognize and protect those areas that are stable and successful. This plan, as of yet, pays lip service to quality neighborhoods, and doesn’t demarcate or protect them in any meaningful way.

Denver’s comprehensive plan shows very specific areas for stability and transition on their map. Minneapolis’ comprehensive plan map shows specific neighborhoods and areas to protect, areas that are redeveloping, and areas that need redevelopment. Why can’t our plan protect neighborhoods like these plans do?

RUMOR #4: “Critics of this plan oppose any new multi-family and only want to see single-family homes built.”
FALSE. We’ve got some great examples of good quality multi-family in District 14: West Village and Mockingbird Station come to mind. These are great mixed-use, transit-oriented developments.

However, we’ve also seen terrible failures like Vickery Meadows, where too many apartments clustered together in one area lead to increases in crime and put a burden on our school system. Nothing in this plan ensures that we would get West Village and not Vickery Meadows. Most of us agree that the city will necessarily increase in density as it grows. Let’s make sure that we ensure high-quality construction, focus on transit-oriented development, with low concentrations of multi-family so we don’t create slums.

Secondly, I do believe that the mix of multi-family versus single-family called for by this plan is setting us up for failure. Seventy-five percent of all new households built would be multi-family. Why would we want to encourage such an imbalance, when single-family homes have proved to be a stabilizing force for neighborhoods?

Improving the Proposed ‘Forward Dallas!’ Comprehensive Land Use Plan

Where should the City of Dallas encourage new business centers and mixed-use developments to be built? What kinds of industries should the city try to attract and where should they be located? Which neighborhoods in our city should be protected and preserved and which need to be redeveloped? These and other important issues are critical to the future of our city. Today, the City of Dallas is unable to answer these questions because we do not have a long-term blueprint for growth. The City is working to change this by developing a comprehensive land use plan.

About a year and a half ago, the City of Dallas began working on a comprehensive plan that would guide zoning and land use development in our city for decades to come. A consulting firm — Fregonese Calthorpe Associates — was hired, and eight public workshops were held across the city to get input from residents. An advisory committee of neighborhood leaders, commercial and residential developers, business owners, and others met regularly to discuss the plan. (I served on the advisory committee for the comprehensive plan, and attended all public workshops until I was elected to the City Council last June.)

In late January of this year, the first draft of the comprehensive plan was publicly released. Two public meetings requesting input have been held since then, and no additional meetings are scheduled. Under the current timetable, the Dallas City Council is scheduled to consider this plan for adoption in June.

I am wholeheartedly supportive of Dallas’ adopting a comprehensive plan. A comprehensive plan will allow us to be proactive, rather than reactive, as our city grows. However, it is even more important that we get this plan right. Having read all 454 pages of the proposed plan, I have several concerns about the plan as it is currently drafted. I encourage you to review this plan for yourself at Forward Dallas!, particularly the sections on Land Use and Housing, as well as proposed Development Code revisions.

Below are my concerns with the draft comprehensive plan.

Dallas is already oversaturated with multi-family housing.

One of the purported goals of the plan is to significantly increase the population of Dallas over the next twenty years. While the North Central Texas Council of Governments (“NCTCOG”) predicts that Dallas will grow by 90,000 households over the next twenty years, the comprehensive plan recommends that we make policy decisions and zoning changes that will increase our population by 220,000 households.

My initial reaction to this dramatic increase in residents was “Where will these people live?” On our current path, 55,000 of the 90,000 new NCTCOG households would live in single-family homes, and the remaining 35,000 would live in multi-family housing (apartments, townhouses, and condominiums). The comprehensive plan, on the other hand, proposes that Dallas grow by the same 55,000 single-family homes, but increase our multi-family households by 165,000. To be clear, instead of 35,000 new multi-family households, the plan calls for the city to grow by 165,000 new multi-family households over the next twenty years. That’s more than 4½ times the number of multi-family units currently projected.

While the plan advocates that we dramatically increase multi-family households, proponents of the plan also claim they want to increase home ownership in Dallas. They argue that the vast majority of the proposed new 165,000 multi-family units will be owner-occupied townhomes and condos for low-income families. However, historic trends and current rental/owner occupancy rates simply do not support this claim.

Right now, only 51% of townhomes and only 5% of condos/apartments are owner-occupied. The comprehensive plan home ownership projections are entirely dependent on these percentages increasing to 85% and 75% respectively. As of yet, however, there are no plans on how to achieve such remarkably high rates of owner occupancy. Currently, the only type of housing that produces high owner occupancy rates (85%) in Dallas is the single-family home. If our goal is to increase home ownership, the only realistic way to achieve this is to encourage the new development of single-family homes.

Accepting for a moment that the higher multi-family owner occupancy rates are possible, there is no means by which to ensure that the new townhomes and condos would remain owner-occupied and would not become rental properties as they age. Such “flipping” happens all the time, particularly in depressed economic cycles. This would no doubt further undermine home ownership.

Another troubling fact is that the comprehensive plan predicts that the majority of the proposed additional households will fall below Dallas’ median income of $37,628 in yearly income. (Housing p. 5-13.) I am a strong proponent of affordable housing, and I realize that we already lack affordable housing in Dallas. If we lack affordable housing now, how is the city going to subsidize a huge increase in affordable housing for the future? What will these massive housing subsidies cost the city? How will dramatically increasing the number and density of poor within the city of Dallas affect our quality of life? These are fundamental questions that our plan – as currently drafted – cannot answer.

Do we really want to base our entire future housing model on the hope that we can (1) somehow more than quintuple the ownership rate of townhomes and condos, (2) prevent townhomes and condos from becoming rental units, and (3) dramatically increase affordable housing in Dallas at no cost to Dallas taxpayers? We need to fundamentally rethink this most basic aspect of the plan.

The plan’s proposed population increase has not been coordinated with DISD.

One of the City’s goals is to better coordinate with DISD. However, until two weeks ago, there was no clear plan for coordinating with decision-makers at DISD to address the significant student enrollment increase that would result from implementation of this plan. The leadership of DISD is unaware of our comprehensive plan and has not discussed its possible implications on the school system. The plan, which calls for dramatic population growth, will have a significant effect on attendance zones and school population. It appears that after my comments regarding this very issue at the last council briefing, advocates of the plan have engaged with DISD demographers. This is a good first step, but in addition to the demographers at DISD, we also need to talk with the school board and the new DISD superintendent about this proposed dramatic population increase.

The plan fails to identify “successful” or “stable” neighborhoods.

The plan places a lot of emphasis on “successful” and “stable” neighborhoods, and often states that such neighborhoods will be protected from zoning changes. Unfortunately, the plan does not identify these neighborhoods. If we haven’t defined or identified these neighborhoods, how can we possibly protect them? Similarly, if we haven’t identified areas ripe for change, how can we focus our energies on improving those areas? We need to identify areas of change and areas of stability, even though doing so may be controversial and challenging. Our consultants identified such areas when they worked on Denver’s comprehensive plan, and the same can be done for Dallas. Our neighborhoods deserve no less.

Proposed reduction in parking requirements will overburden our neighborhoods.

The plan advocates that we reduce parking requirements for businesses and multi-family housing. However, without a reliable, usable mass transit system already in place, under-parking commercial and high-density residential developments will result in severe parking deficits and problems for our neighborhoods and businesses. When businesses and apartments are under-parked, parking often overflows into surrounding neighborhoods, changing the character of our residential areas and resulting in additional litter and decreased safety.

Dallas residents love their cars. Simply reducing parking availability is not going to force residents to use mass transit, particularly when our mass transit system is, at best, in its adolescence. Useful mass transit must come first, then we can discuss reducing parking requirements.

It is important to point out that this is not simply a neighborhood problem. Unrealistically low parking requirements also scare away businesses. At our last comprehensive plan advisory committee meeting on March 6, Dallas resident and The Container Store co-founder John Mullen pointed out that he would refuse to locate his retail stores in a city with low parking requirements. He explained that in a “strip center” situation in which one or more restaurants share a parking lot with retailers, under-parked restaurants are a disaster for the retailers. Restaurants have significant parking needs during peak hours, reducing the spaces that are available for the retailers’ customers. When retail patrons can’t find parking spaces, they go elsewhere and the retailers lose business. Reducing parking requirements would only exacerbate the problem.

In addition, I must say I was disappointed at the last comprehensive plan advisory committee meeting when the comprehensive plan’s author, John Fregonese of Fregonese Calthorpe Associates, stated that the best way to address parking issues is to reduce parking space requirements, allow severe parking problems to develop, then let the affected businesses sort out the best solution. To me, that is reactionary and represents the antithesis of planning. Isn’t the whole point of developing a plan to address problems before they occur, not wait until after the problem happens and hope for a solution? Even assuming such an approach represented good planning, the facts do not support this theory. Otherwise, we already would have found solutions to the parking shortage problems on Lower Greenville and in Oak Lawn. Instead, we see significant overflow into our neighborhoods, resulting in litter, vandalism, trash, and traffic for our residents.

There may be some businesses in Dallas (such as big-box stores) that have parking requirements that are too high. I am open to reducing parking requirements when the situation merits. But to reduce parking requirements across the board disregards the current parking deficit problems in our city and the burden it places on our neighborhoods and retailers.

There are no requirements to increase greenspace in more densely populated areas.

Despite statements of generic support for parks and greenspace, the plan does not require greenspace as part of dense new developments. If we are going to more densely populate our city, we need to incorporate policy statements into the plan that require (not just “encourage”) set-asides for greenspace.

The “Vision Illustration” must be re-thought.

The proposed comprehensive plan includes a “Vision Illustration” for our city. The vision illustration is a map of Dallas with areas colored to represent residential neighborhoods, urban neighborhoods, the downtown area, mixed-use districts, campus districts, etc. So why is this map called a “vision illustration” instead of a “map”? Because under Texas law, a city’s zoning must follow its comprehensive plan map, and plan proponents don’t want to have to change the map every time the city makes a zoning change that doesn’t follow their map.

Fair enough. But there are problems with this map. Although proponents try to play down the importance of the map, the comprehensive plan itself states that the map will guide future development, and proponents have admitted in public meetings that it will be used in making future zoning decisions. So we must get it right.

Unfortunately, some areas of the map are colored wrong. For example, some areas are marked “urban neighborhood” (such as Northern Hills and Perry Heights) when they should be “residential neighborhood.” Uptown is colored “downtown.” We don’t need to start upzoning our wonderful Dallas neighborhoods to make way for more apartments and townhomes, and we don’t need Downtown to gobble up Uptown, which has lower building heights. The bottom line is that the map (or whatever it’s called) is important and we need time to discuss it and go over it in detail.

We need to analyze underutilized zoning rights.

One of the stated goals of the plan is to “increase zoning capacity” in Dallas. That basically means upzoning lower-intensity uses to higher-intensity uses. The comprehensive plan proposal is based on the assumption that we are running out of vacant land and will need to start upzoning our currently developed land. However, we have only catalogued vacant land in our city. We have not yet examined underutilized zoning rights.

Underutilized zoning rights are those rights that a property owner currently possesses that allow him or her to build more intensive uses today, without changing the zoning on the property.

Properties are typically zoned for a number of uses, giving property owners flexibility to develop their property as they see fit. A property would have underutilized zoning rights if, for example, the property were zoned for both apartments (higher intensity) and a parking lot (lower intensity), and the property owner was currently using the property as a parking lot. In this example, more intense development rights are already available on the property; they are simply unused. If we can build apartments on that site and increase our density by using those underutilized zoning rights, we won’t have to use up our vacant land or change the zoning in our single-family neighborhoods to apartments in order to increase our density.

It’s too soon for us to start bemoaning our lack of vacant land or clamoring to upzone low-intensity uses such as single-family neighborhoods when we haven’t even cataloged our existing underutilized zoning rights.

We need to grow in the Southern Sector.

The plan needs a greater focus on developing the Southern Sector. The Southern Sector is our future. It is underdeveloped, and this plan (not just the plan’s marketing language) needs to be devoted to achieving commercial and residential development in the Southern Sector. I was extremely disappointed to see that one of the many missing sections of the plan was the proposal for South Dallas/Fair Park.

Does this plan truly represent the vision of Dallas residents?

Most troubling to me personally, this plan does not represent the “vision” of Dallas residents, no matter what its marketing language says. The city hosted eight public workshops on discrete planning projects at key intersections/transit locations around the city. That small snapshot does not translate into a vision for the other 340 square miles of the city. What is our residents’ vision for the rest of the city? Where do they want to see growth and increased density?

I served on the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, attended all of the comprehensive plan workshops, and attended the two recent public meetings. I have not once heard residents clamoring for dramatic increases in multi-family housing or reduced parking requirements. I have, however, heard great interest in pedestrian environments, trails, parks, attractive neighborhoods, and beautiful streetscapes. Let’s pursue that vision, not one of apartments as far as the eye can see.

Lack of public involvement and input.

Since the draft plan was made public in late January, there have been only two public meetings to collect input on this complex plan. There need to be additional public meetings after the consultants have incorporated the most recent public comments into the plan. The public needs an opportunity to review an updated plan to see that their input has been incorporated. I would also like to see a greater attempt to publicize this proposed plan.

The approval process is moving too fast.

Overall, the plan seems to be moving too swiftly through the approval process, even though parts of the plan are incomplete or missing, and much additional public input is needed. This is a complex document that will have substantial implications for the future of our city, and we need to get it right.