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  • May 15, 2018 7:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dallas Morning News Editorial
    View article online

    The old joke was that the official bird of Texas must be the crane, because of all of the construction underway. There may be some truth to that, but one essential component of urban development in Dallas that is too often neglected is the construction of new parks for all city residents to enjoy.

    So it is encouraging that the City Council will be presented with a plan Wednesday to create a new and long-term source of support for building parks in Dallas. We hope the council supports the plan.

    In brief, the plan would require Dallas developers to offset new hotels and housing developments by paying into a new parks fund or setting land aside.

    Why is this good for Dallas? The reason is simple. Dallas is growing in terms of development and population, but it isn't keeping pace in terms of adding parks, trails and green space. Among the 10 largest cities in America, only Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix score worse on the annual list put out by the Trust for Public Land. Among the largest 100 cities, we rank 50th.

    And as we grow, it will only get harder to create parks unless we take steps now to set aside funds and land. In the parlance of the trade, it's hard to build a new park in an already "built" environment.

    In this case, the proposal being offered to the council has been kicking around for a long time. It has been approved unanimously by the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. Developers and other stakeholders have been hashing out compromises for months. And the city's quality-of-life committee has been briefed on the idea five times since 2017.

    The proposal would require developers to pay a fee depending on the size of a project or to pay a smaller fee and set aside some land for parks.

    Those funds would be pooled and spent on parks near the developments that generated the fee. Fees generated in the downtown zone could be spent citywide on the trails that stitch Dallas together.

    Dallas has made do without these fees for decades longer than many other cities in Texas, including Plano and other neighboring communities. And we are typically skeptical of mandatory fees, but in this case we believe Dallas needs to pull private developers into the process if it is to have the park land needed to ensure it is a city of the first order for generations to come.

    The risk is that opponents effectively derail this plan through needless delay. We hope the council hears out all objections. But we also hope it moves forward before its July break to support a plan that ensures Dallas can build the parks it will need in the decades ahead.

    What's in the plan?

    * Divides Dallas into seven zones. Park fees paid by developers will be used within the same zone.

    * Exception would be in the zone including downtown, Uptown, the Design District and the Cedars neighborhood. Those funds could be spent developing Dallas' citywide trails network.

    * Fees would depend on the number and type of unit developed. For example, for single-family developments, the fee would be $1,165 per house; for multifamily, $457 per one-bedroom unit. 

    * Developers could opt to donate land instead or to develop private park lands within the project, as long as it was accessible to the public.

    What's your view? 

    Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

    View article online

  • May 10, 2018 2:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Loyd Brumfield, Breaking News producer
    Dallas News

    Two armed men are at large after robbing a Capital One bank Wednesday in northwest Dallas.

    The robbery happened about 10:15 a.m. at the bank in the 5300 block of Forest Lane, police said. One of the gunmen jumped over the teller's counter and demanded money.

    The second man forced employees seated in the lobby to walk over to the teller's counter, and then both robbers fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.

    One man is described as black, about 5 feet 8 and wearing all black, including a black ski mask.

    The second man is described as black, in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall and about 200 pounds. He was wearing a purple long-sleeve hoodie, gray cap and white sweatpants, police said.

    Anyone with information should contact the FBI at 972-559-5000 or Dallas police at 214-797-0296.

  • May 01, 2018 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jamie Thompson
    Published in D Magazine May 2018
    Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

    Reneé Hall is the first woman to run the department. She’s not so sure Dallas is ready for that.

    On paper she wasn’t a front-runner, but last summer U. Reneé Hall came to Dallas and charmed the city manager and council members by being approachable and funny and smart and, yes, though we’re not supposed to mention it, attractive, too. A fit 140 pounds at 47 years old, she can hold three-minute planks and outshoot many beat cops on the firing range. She collects handguns and vintage gowns and Louis Vuitton bags. She loves being a cop, and she loves being a woman. It’s the feminine stuff, she thinks, that has dogged her as Dallas’ first female police chief. That and the color of her skin. But more on that later.

    Start with the “pedicure shoes incident.” Here’s how Hall tells the story: it was a Saturday in November. She’d been working 17-hour days. She’d gone to a roll call that morning at 8, and now she was off-duty. She wanted to get a manicure and pedicure and relax. She’d just dipped her feet into a tub of water when a member of her security detail ran into the salon and told her a SWAT officer had shot himself in the leg during a raid. Hall took her feet out of the water, and the nail technician gave her plastic slippers. She climbed into the back of an unmarked black SUV and raced to Parkland Hospital.

    In the officer’s room, Hall hugged family members around the bed. “Chief, I’m so sorry,” the injured officer told her, embarrassed about his misfire.

    “Hey, you’ve got nothing to apologize for,” she told him. “Those rumors about me making SWAT a part-time team? That’s out the window. You guys clearly need training.” Everyone laughed. Then Hall got serious. “Are you good?” she asked the officer.

    “Yeah, Chief, I’m good.”

    Someone noticed the slippers Hall was still wearing and said, “Don’t step on the chief’s toes. They’re not finished yet.” More laughter.

    Hall didn’t think anything of it. She went back to the salon and finished her pedicure. But days later, she heard that stories were circulating around the department: Chief showed up at the hospital in pedicure slippers!

    “It was like I’d flown down on a unicorn or something,” Hall told me recently. To her mind, the conversation should have been about how great it was that the chief had stopped what she was doing on a Saturday and had gone straight to the hospital. Don’t male cops get haircuts on their days off? Trim their beards? “They’ve never seen a woman in this role. It’s always been a man. So they’re not processing the pedicure shoes. That’s what women do. We get pedicures. I’m a girl. There’s hair, makeup, nails and toes.”

    Hall has talked about the pedicure incident at substations across the city, where she attends roll calls to meet the officers under her command. Not long ago, a cop at Southwest asked what Hall was doing to improve morale across the struggling department.

    “It’s never enough,” she told him. “When I got here, you guys wanted beards. I gave you beards. You wanted outer vest carriers. I got those. You talked about never seeing the police chief in the past. I showed up at the hospital when someone was injured, and it wasn’t enough because I had on pedicure shoes.” The cops laughed. “Whatever I do, it’s never enough,” she told them. “At some point, you’ve got to stop looking at me to improve morale. And you’ve got to start looking at yourselves.”

    Read Entire Article Online

  • April 27, 2018 1:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Jon Anderson
    candysdirt.com

    Packed House at Park Cities Baptist Church

    If you’ve been following along in your prayer books, you know that over a year ago the Preston Place condos burned. You may also know about the failed attempt at negotiating an area redevelopment plan. I’ll even toss in bonus points if you’re aware of the Athena and Preston Tower working with former mayor Laura Miller to stymie everything.

    All caught up?  Good …

    Last night, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates assembled the neighborhood to discuss the history and next steps in the process. What was a surprise to most was that the authorized hearing, first mentioned last summer as having a two or three year waiting list, had been bumped up in the schedule and was beginning immediately. Gates made available applications for representatives on the authorized hearing committee.

    But I get ahead of myself.

    PD-15 with Northwest Highway to the south

    Full Disclosure: I live in PD-15, and the publisher of this blog, Candy Evans, owns a unit at The Seville on Averill Way.

    According to the city planning representatives, the concept of what became Planned Development District number 15 (PD-15) began in 1947 but was only called a PD when PDs were begun in the 1960s.  Prior to its official PD designation, the area was zoned for commercial development, which also allows residential construction. It was during the official PD designation in the 1960s that the zoning was changed to its current MF-3 (multi-family 3) under section 51 (not today’s 51-A) zoning parameters.

    Unbuilt 1970s high-rise proposed on Preston Place lot

    MF-3 under section 51 allows for unlimited height, 60 percent lot coverage, various setbacks and other parameters.  Overlaying that are the PD-15 documents that limit the number of dwelling units possible in PD-15. There are currently between 60-65 unbuilt units available (the leftover from a failed high-rise project on the Preston Place lot in the early 1970s).

    Those 60-65 surplus units are now a shared resource among all members of PD-15 and all would have to agree to allow another parcel to utilize them. The only way a property can be redeveloped without a zoning hearing would be to rebuild the same number of units as currently exist or get the members of PD-15 to unanimously agree to change the PD’s parameters.

    Last summer the PD-15 working group assembled by Gates tried to come up with just such an accommodation that the buildings would all agree to. The process bogged down into two sides equally unwilling to compromise.

    Because of all this, a developer can’t just file a zoning case with the city for a specific project (as they usually do), seeking more than the existing dwelling units listed in the PD documents. In Preston Place’s case that would be 60 units on a two-acre plot and 15 units on Diplomat’s one-acre — numbers that are completely unrealistic given land values and the quality of building expected by the neighborhood.

    Enter the Authorized Hearing

    An authorized hearing is when the city instigates a look into the appropriate zoning for a given area. The city assembles a contingent of area residents to meet and hammer out an agreement, with the city acting as information resource and mediator. The outcome can be to leave the area untouched or to make specific accommodations in return for givebacks from developers.

    And that’s where I reside. Camp Negotiate.

    Once questions and comments were heard, the expected dire predictions of overcrowding and its resulting traffic were heard. Somehow, redevelopment of these few parcels was thought to have a huge impact on Northwest Highway and Preston Road traffic.  That intersection sees tens of thousands of cars each rush hour. The increased traffic from those few hundreds of new apartments amount to a rounding error.

    Now internal roads?  Absolutely there will be impacts. But it’s up to the neighborhood representatives in the authorized hearing to negotiate solutions for new projects (if this, then that). Ditto parking, flooding, and all the other Pink Wall woes. Ultimately, not everything can or will be fixed (there’s simply not enough money in these few deals), but the area will be better off than it would be without a successful negotiation.

    The most galling sentiment was that somehow the authorized hearing took away residents’ rights. Poppycock. Yes, the authorized hearing removes the requirement of unanimous PD-15 approval for changes, but given the contentious, non-negotiable attitudes of those working group members, “unanimous” was never really in the cards.

    The Preston Road and Northwest Highway Area Plan Noose

    Many spoke in a reverence for the Area Plan, perfectly at home in the Baptist church’s fellowship hall. Cheers were shouted anytime a speaker mentioned support for the plan and its recommendations. Area Plan task force members Steve Dawson and former mayor Laura Miller seemed to place the plan in the same pantheon as Mom’s apple pie and baseball. Neither are Pink Wall residents. Neither are towers residents (Miller’s husband inherited his mother’s Athena unit that they rent but have never lived in, see here). Neither stumped for towers’ representation on the Preston Center task force they sat on while deciding the area’s fate. 

    Side note: It was funny to hear Dawson wax about the preciousness of the neighborhood and then have to grudgingly answer an audience chant of “Where do you live?”

    Answer: University Park.  

    I finally had to get up and have a say (something I rarely do). I pointed out the truth Gates was unwilling or unable to admit. Namely that there are no financial underpinnings in the Preston Center plan to support any of its conclusions (here, here). There is more math in the following few paragraphs than exists in the 95-page Preston Center Plan.

    Because of this, I told those cheering for four-story construction while booing the ugliness of The Laurel apartments on the corner, that quality matters. If they want Laurel clones, by all means beat the area down to four stories, but zip-it later when you don’t like the results. After all, assuming a 20 percent profit margin, every dollar the neighborhood beats out of a project removes 80 cents in quality from the construction. Construction margins don’t decrease, construction quality does.

    Miller Greed Shames Preston Place Owners

    During Miller’s comment, she said that a supposed contingent-free offer to purchase Preston Place for $12 million was turned down in lieu of the current $18 million contingent offer from Provident. (It’s been known that Leland Burk, a friend of Miller and also in the audience, put in an offer to purchase Preston Place.) Miller’s point seemed to be to greed-shame Preston Place residents for not taking the lower offer.

    Assuming both numbers are correct, who among us would take $12 million when $18 million is on the table?  Zero. That’s the difference between $200,000 and $300,000  — a whopping one third less — per Preston Place homeowner. So why should Preston Place owners, who lost every possession to fire, some without insurance, be greed-shamed? And why should they be shamed by a woman living over a mile away (with a big dining room) in her 9,168-square-foot mansion sitting on two manicured acres in Old Preston Hollow?

    Ultimately, the meeting went as expected. The towers have been ginned up against rational development and the authorized hearing process. Those sentiments were well-heard. The remainder of the participants coming from around the Pink Wall (some even from the towers) and Preston Hollow were more open to the process.

    Gates did say one thing that would disqualify someone from being part of the authorized hearing. Anyone stating their opposition to the authorized hearing was out. At the very least, that leaves out non-resident landlords Laura Miller and Steve Dawson, Preston Tower residents John Pritchett and Susan Conard, and Athena residents Carla Young and Brett Fincher, along with anyone else who signed the letter last November to Gates.

    But I think Gates needs go a step further. I believe anyone who served on the original PD-15 working group should also automatically be excluded. They’ve proven they don’t have what it takes to reach a compromise and are too entrenched in their positions to be of value. And, even though I resigned because of the shenanigans, this also includes me.

    Don’t restart the car if there’s still sugar in the gas tank, you won’t get far.

    Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

  • April 17, 2018 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Jon Anderson
    candysdirt.com



    Council Member Gates enjoying a cuppa with constituents


    Top Pot
    , a name that might evoke the hopes of an herb-aceous electorate, is alas just a coffee and “hand-forged” donut shop at the edge of Preston Hollow. Begun in Seattle, the city of coffee’s rebirth, there are three locations in Dallas. I wonder if Dallas leadership called out Top Pot for a “just like home” vibe in their Amazon HQ2 bid?

    I was there at the crack of 9 a.m. on Saturday to attend a drop-in chat session hosted by the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association (PHEHA). Council member Jennifer Gates was their special guest. Unlike more formal settings, this meeting was literally coffee and donuts, no set speech or presentation. It was an avenue for local residents to have a low-key interaction with their council person to discuss whatever was on their minds.  Think of it as a cocktail party with caffeine and crullers instead of champagne and caviar. I’m sure other council members do this too, I’ve just never been invited.

    Gates handled queries ranging from the city’s homeless problem to more local issues including neighborhood walkability, and, of course the PD-15 circus.

    As for homelessness, I recommended that city leaders study programs that work, especially the great press coming from Finland’s efforts to eliminate the problem (here, here, here, here). I’ve written before about Housing First programs and their success elsewhere (here, here).  Finland began back in 2008 and today, while the rest of Europe struggles with a growing problem, Finland provided 16,300 homes to their homeless and saved money in the process. Certainly during my visit to Helsinki, I was hard-pressed to find homeless people.


    The stuff of nightmares for some Preston Hollow residents


    Apparently I’m an area legend in walking. PHEHA representatives wanted to talk about the routes I take on my various outings and the existence of sidewalks and why I chose certain routes over others (sidewalks, traffic, shortcuts, etc.). PHEHA wants to begin to enable walkability to area businesses like grocery stores (and perhaps a certain hand-forged donut shop). I learned that for some “sidewalk” is a hot button word (who’d a thunk?) with those folks being less vapor-y when “walkability” is used instead.  While I view a sidewalk as an amenity, apparently some prefer street walkers.

    There were multiple chat pods discussing PD-15. Crickets continue to chirp for Provident to muster up a plan for the Preston Place parcel they contracted for back in February. However, Gates is done waiting, deciding to get the show back on the road.  She’s called a meeting for 6 p.m. April 26 at the Park Cities Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall (located across Northwest Highway from the Pink Wall’s existing towers).  City staff will be on hand to present the facts concerning existing zoning and the authorized hearing process that’s been scheduled (and has the towers’ knickers in such a twist). It will end with a Q&A session.

    It’s odd Provident hasn’t gotten its act together in the two months since Preston Place selected their offer to proceed with. I mean, who signs a contract for millions in land options for what has to be at least a $100 million project, without a skeleton of a plan ready to go?  But maybe I live in a different world.  I’m glad Gates has decided to restart the engine, leaving Provident to chase the train.

    Also attending was Dimitri Economou from Diplomat suitor A.G. Spanos. No eyebrow raise needed, he lives in PHEHA territory and his young children don’t pass up donuts easily (or maybe that was just me?).  We had our usual sparring match about good architecture and green technologies but also area flooding. As a developer he wants to help deal with flooding where he can (the area has been stiffed by the city for years … decades?). After all, it’s smart business. Spanos keeps what it builds, so the last thing they want are pricey tenants complaining about cars floating away in the rain.

    This was my second encounter with PHEHA’s leadership who share my wait-and-see-before-judging stance on PD-15. Good projects help the area. Bad projects result in more Laurel clones. I overheard one conversation where a resident was lamenting the Laurel’s uninterrupted wall of apartments running so close to Preston Road.

    The answer was that to mitigate that solid wall of apartments, the building needed to have been allowed to go taller. It’s like baking a cookie. While a cookie flattens in the oven, it’s still the same mass as a cold dough ball. The Laurel project was shoved into the oven by a cantankerous neighborhood, forcing a flatter and more spread-out building than might have been better negotiated.  To those who wish they could turn back time on the Laurel, the opportunities within PD-15 are that time machine.

    Despite the chilly Saturday, the only unfortunate aspect was the relatively low turnout. To speak to your representative in such an informal setting was an opportunity missed.  Ultimately there were between 20 to 30 attendees from an area encompassing hundreds of homes.  Hey, even I rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning to attend. If such gatherings are available in your neighborhood, go.

    READ ARTICLE @ candysdirt.com

  • March 17, 2018 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CandysDirt.com
    by Jon Anderson

    Last night, the two towers bookending PD-15 held a “Town Hall” meeting to talk about “proposed rezoning” of their low-rise neighbors.  It was ironic to hear the word “neighbors” spoken so frequently by a group who, at the end, raised their hands in favor of continued “towers only” meetings. In this case, “neighbors” really means “us.”

    The meeting was run by

    • John Pritchett, Preston Tower resident, PD-15 working group and, secretary and recent president of the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association
    • Carla Young, Athena HOA president and PD-15 working group member
    • Susan Conard, Preston Tower
    • Roger Albright, attorney hired to advise the Athena and Preston Tower in PD-15 matters


    In my opinion, the meeting’s goal was to preemptively poison the well on redevelopment of Preston Place, Diplomat, Royal Orleans, and Diamond Head Condos. I say that because first, there wasn’t a whiff of “wait and see” what the developers bring.  Secondly, the meeting was rife with half-truths and contradictions continuing to stick to development options from the Preston Center plan. The plan I have debunked twice as being economically unviable (here, here).

    Here are some examples, judge for yourself. READ MORE...

  • February 15, 2018 9:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by J.D. Miles
    DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a new name some Dallas Police officers have given to the city that they hope will bring more attention to the need for more officers.

    No Hope, Texas is what the president of the Dallas Police Association is renaming the city in a new social media post.

    The DPA has been working to sort through exactly how many officers the department has and determined the latest number is 2,785. READ MORE...

  • February 13, 2018 9:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CandysDirt.com
    by Jon Anderson

    Good news. You don’t have to go to Idaho to fish in Bogus Creek.  Last October, I wrote about how the NHPRAP (Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan), not even a year old, wasn’t designed to be economically viable.  Essentially, my scribbles revealed that were its Zone 4 area to follow the recommendations contained in the NHPRAP task force’s final report, their individual condominiums would always be worth more than land value to a developer.  Note: Zone 4 contains PD-15 (Planned Development District) within the larger Pink Wall area.

    This lack of economic benefit ensures none of the redevelopment and neighborhood renewal touted by the NHPRAP plan will occur, failing to live up to its own goals.

    Well, now I’m not alone. A.G. Spanos (who has an option on the Diplomat) released an independent report by architecture firm LRK.

    LRK’s report essentially debunks the feasibility of redevelopment within PD-15 when constrained by both the current PD-15 limits and the NHPRAP’s report. Sure, Spanos has a dog in this hunt, but LRK’s report fills a gap in research not provided by the city or the NHPRAP. The report is making the rounds at City Hall just as development opponents are trying to shore up support for the flawed NHPRAP plan. READ MORE...

  • January 29, 2018 9:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NBCDFW.com
    by Jack Highberger

    The Dallas Police Department will likely fall short of recruitment goals for this year, Dallas City data shows.

    DPD hopes to hire 250 new officers by September 30th but so far has hired only 39.

    “When you get to the point that you are constantly trying to do more with less, eventually you are getting less with less,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.

    NBC 5 reached out to the Dallas Police Department for comment but did not receive an answer at the time of this stories air.

    In recent months officers have been moved from other departments to patrol to make up for staffing shortfalls, said Mata.

    Citywide, police response times have risen across the board, with the average time for “priority 4” calls rising by 20-minutes in 2017. Current recruitment efforts are also set against the back drop of lingering questions concerning the pension fund and entry level salaries that are increasingly topped by neighboring cities.

    “How do you convince that young officer that has the ability to leave or that officer that has a wife or kids, how do you get them to come to a city that is going to pay them less,” said Mata. READ MORE...

  • July 06, 2017 9:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dallas News
    Tasha Tsiaperas | Naheed Rajwani

    At 3,139 officers, the department is smaller than it was 10 years ago, when roughly 100,000 fewer people lived in Dallas.

    While the department searches for a new leader amid mounting crises — a deadly ambush, a failing pension, 911 call center failures — officers have been quietly leaving...

    Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who sits on the City Council's public safety committee, said the pension issue, suffering morale and an aging department have created "the perfect storm." READ MORE...

Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association
PO Box 25528
Dallas, Texas 75225

info@pheha.org

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