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  • 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...

  • January 06, 2017 8:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Stephen Young
    Dallas Observer

    Published Tuesday, December 27, 2016

    Violence marred Dallas' 2016. The city saw 163 murders through Dec. 19, up 30 percent from the 125 murders Dallas suffered by the same day last year. While the city has come a long way since Dallas' body count peaked at 500 in 1991, the murder numbers, combined with a declining murder clearance rate, will be one of the biggest challenges to whomever replaces outgoing police chief David Brown early next year.

    As one looks at Dallas' 2016 murder stats, several stark patterns, both in solved and unsolved murders, present themselves.


    1. A majority of all Dallas murders, and a majority of the city's unsolved murders, happen south of I-30. — In 2016, 105 of Dallas 163 murders took place south of the city's traditional dividing line between the haves and have-nots, Interstate 30. Of those 105 murders, 57 were still unsolved as of Dec. 22. The area near I-20 and U.S. 67 alone, which sits on the edge of DPD's South Central and Southwest Patrol Divisions, saw six unsolved murders in 2016. Sherman Waters, 20, was among those killed near the intersection. Waters got into an argument on July 20 with a group of men at the Brandon Mill Luxury Apartments at 8081 Marvin D. Love Freeway. He walked away, but later came back to finish what he started. When he did, the men with whom he was arguing opened fire, killing him.

    2. DPD struggled across the board to solve murders in 2016. — Each of DPD's patrol divisions, North Central excepted but we'll get to that later, solved somewhere between 42 and 62 percent of its murder cases. According to the most recently available FBI data, between 2011 and 2014, DPD's clearance rate hovered around 60 percent, so dipping down below 50 percent is a pretty big deal. It should also be noted that clearances do not equal convictions. All a case being cleared means is that a suspect was arrested or otherwise identified without the possibility of arrest — like Micah Johnson, who was killed by a DPD robot.

    3. The North Central Patrol Division had a strange year. — DPD's North Central Patrol Division saw the fewest murders of any section of the city in 2016 with seven. Of those seven, however, DPD only solved one, leaving the section north of Highland Park and between U.S. 75 and I-35 with a staggering 86 percent unsolved rate. Granted, it is a very small sample size, but it's a strange statistical phenomenon none the less.

    4. Ira Tobolowsky's murder is getting colder. — One of the victims of those seven North Central murders was notable Dallas attorney Ira Tobolowsky, who was burned to death in his garage in May. Shortly after his death, a friend of Tobolowsky's went on Today and declared that the murder was a "hit," executed in retribution for a defamation suit Tobolowsky filed as part of a bitter, ongoing dispute over the estate of Dallas orthodontist Richard Aubrey. No arrests have been made in the case.

    5. The numbers might not be an accident. — Back in April, when breathless reports from Dallas' broadcast stations began about the rising number of murders, Scott Henson, editor of the influential Grits for Breakfast criminal justice blog, told the Observer that short-term murder rates often don't mean very much.

    "Murder rates matter, they do, but they are subject to that small number problem. They can only be interpreted, really, over time," he said. "There's a reason that the smallest poll anybody does is 400. If you're doing a political poll, no one really does less than 400 people because that's like 5 percent margin of error. Murder rates are a lot lower than that. It's just a statistically widely varying data point."

    Still, there's been at least one change at DPD that could've had an effect on the department's clearance rate. Earlier this year, outgoing Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez reassigned now former Assistant Dallas Police Chief Rob Sherwin from DPD's crime against persons division (CAPERS) to Dallas Animal Services in an attempt to stymie Dallas' loose dogs problem.

    Sherwin left the department entirely in December to become Forney's chief of police, but before he did, he was the department's fixer. Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston blamed Gonzalez, in part, for moving Sherwin and hurting the department's clearance rate.

    "I think you did a good job at CAPERS. My point was that CAPERS still needs you," he said in October. "We are trying desperately to hire more police and the city manager's plan for dealing with animals is to move two of our best cops into dealing with animal services. It is laughable. This is emblematic of the terrible management we are getting out of the current administration."

    View full article and photos on the Dallas Observer website...

  • August 25, 2016 11:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Naheed Rajwani and Tasha Tsiaperas
    The Dallas Morning News

    Published 25 August 2016

    It's an ambitious goal: Dallas wants to hire 549 police officers by next October. 

    But that may be impossible, some police and City Council members say. The Police Department may not be able to get enough people to apply and meet the rigorous requirements for the job. 

    Historically, the department has accepted only about 5 percent of applicants — the rest are typically weeded out of the pool. 

    The department has said it will need 3,700 applicants to hire the 549 officers. This means it would have to accept almost 15 percent of  applicants. 

    So it will probably either have to lower its standards, have a lot more applicants, or have more qualified applicants than in the past. 

    That's why some say the hiring goal is unrealistic. 

    "It's almost utterly impossible to hire 549 police officers," said Lt. Thomas Glover, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. Glover once worked in the personnel division. 

    The $20 million hiring push is part of the proposed 2017 Dallas budget, which emphasizes raises for first responders and hiring more police officers to replace a larger-than-expected number of officers leaving the department in recent years. 

    Support for raises and a sharply expanded force has grown among City Council members since the July 7 ambush, in which a gunman killed five police officers. 

    The department's leaders believe higher starting salaries and more aggressive recruiting will help them meet the goal. 

    Recruiters plan to visit college campuses, job fairs and military bases to persuade more people to apply. They say they plan to target youth programs and promote job openings on the internet. 

    The department also plans to hold more on-site testings than usual. Civil service exams, which are a part of the testing, will be given every Monday instead of once a month.

    View full article and photos on The Dallas Morning News website...

    The Police Department recently added 12 people to the personnel division to help with recruiting.

    "We'll be very selective here real soon," Police Chief David Brown told the City Council at an Aug. 17 meeting. "With the higher pay, it puts us in a strong position to hire the 549."

    And officials have touted an uptick in applications since the ambush, which came at the end of a downtown protest over the killings of black men around the country by police. Brown issued a public challenge for the protesters to put in applications to become police officers.

    In a little more than a month, 812 people applied.

    The increase in applications is significant, but unlikely to result in a large number of hirings because most people who show interest is becoming a Dallas police officer don't end up with a job offer.

    Cory Morris didn't make the cut.

    Morris, 26, is a Dallas native planning to come home from the Army in six months. He took eight days off from his deployment in Hawaii to go to on-site testing for applicants at Dallas police headquarters last week.

    Morris was expecting to qualify for the job because of his military background, which he says gave him strict training about when and when not to draw a weapon.

    He passed the Dallas department's physical fitness test but was eliminated during the polygraph test.

    "I pretty much wasted my money to go fail out," he said.

    And the Police Department lost out on another potential candidate.

    The big recruiting pools are whittled down in many ways.

    They have to show up: About 300 people signed up for last week's testing, but only 155 people actually arrived.

    They have to pass: Police said 49 people made it through the first phase, which includes a civil service exam, fitness test, polygraph and an interview. About two dozen are still in this process.

    Then they have to pass the background check. It usually takes several weeks or even months.
    After that, a few will fail to make it through the police academy.

    The end result last year was that there were 3,824 applications, but only 208 hired.
    1472079164-Applications-and-hirings.png

    And there are other obstacles.

    The department lags far behind other Texas cities in starting pay.

    In Dallas, the starting pay is $44,659. In Mesquite, it is $57,489.

    The Dallas department also hasn't been hiring officers fast enough to replace the ones who are already leaving, many of whom are going to those higher-paying law enforcement agencies.

    The Mesquite Police Department has 231 sworn officers and hopes to hire 19 more this year.

    "We're trying, but it's difficult to find somebody who's qualified enough to get the job, who is the same person who wants the job, and who is willing to do that job," said Lt. Brian Parrish, a Mesquite police spokesman.

    He said his department has hired one former Dallas police officer so far and is willing to "steal as many Dallas officers as we can." The chief may know where to look: He is former First Assistant Dallas Police Chief Charlie Cato.
    1472079109-Police-attrition.png

    The Dallas department projects that 262 officers will leave by the end of the fiscal year in September. Of those, 120 officers have resigned to take jobs elsewhere, more than in past years.

    Almost 350 of the 549 the department wants to hire over the next year would just replace officers who are leaving.

    The last major hiring effort in Dallas brought in 394 officers in one year in 2008, a far cry from the goal of 549 this year.

    "We're all competing for the same good applicant," said Deputy Chief Scott Walton, who is in charge of personnel.

    The rank and file wonder if the city can ever catch up to its goal of 2.8 officers per 1,000 residents.

    "Now the hole is so deep and so big, we need an extraordinary amount of cops," said Dallas Police Association vice president Michael Mata.

    When police officials shared data about recruiting with City Council members during a public safety committee meeting Monday, council member Philip Kingston asked how many of the recruits would make it to the academy.

    After hearing how few make the cut, he told Walton, "That sounds to me like we're not on pace to be able to hire 500. Am I being too skeptical?"

    "Well, I would say yes because we really haven't talked about what our plans for recruiting are. ... We have a much more aggressive recruiting plan," Walton responded.

    Kingston didn't seem convinced.

    "I still have questions about whether that's attainable," he said. "In terms of priority, if I'm prioritizing from a public safety standpoint, to me pay seems to be a higher priority than headcount."

    That's exactly what Dallas police associations have been telling the City Council: Spend more on raises to retain officers, and focus less on hiring a huge number of new ones.

    The police associations say that if the City Council approves the current budget proposal, many more experienced officers will leave the department to work at other agencies with better pay.

    The associations are meeting with city officials to negotiate a three-year pay contract. They're asking for across-the-board raises for all officers, while the city's proposed budget only gives raises to about 70 percent of the police force.
    1472079534-NM_3Police4.jpg

    The city is planning to spend an additional $8.9 million on raises for first responders and bonus pay for patrol officers next year alone. But Glover says the unrealistic hiring goal is "a smokescreen" designed to put millions more "in a purse" instead of funding raises for all officers.

    The lack of competitive pay for experienced officers is a problem Brown brought up while asking council members to consider raises at a recent meeting.

    "Our three-year, five-year salaries aren't competitive," he said.

    Officers with three years of experience from Dallas can get about $10,000 more from Fort Worth police after completing an abbreviated training there.

    The council votes on the final budget in September.

    View full article and photos on The Dallas Morning News website...

  • May 16, 2016 1:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Joshua Baethge · May 16, 2016
    Preston Hollow People


    Love them or hate them, homeowners associations are a fact of life in many communities. Understanding their roles and expectations can go a long way toward improving a neighborhood’s quality of life.

    According to realtor Martha Miller, prospective buyers who are considering moving to a neighborhood with an HOA should research the specific requirements of the association before making a decision.

    “They should ask questions like ‘what do they do?’ and ‘how much do you pay?’,” Miller said.

    Preston Hollow has three namesake HOAs (East, North and South), as well as at least a half a dozen more that stake some claim to the area. The single-family neighborhoods in Highland Park and University Park do not have homeowners’ associations. However, practically every condominium development in the Park Cities area has its own association, no matter how small. Nearby neighborhoods like Lane Park, Caruth Hills, and Windsor Park also boast their own HOAs.

    According to Juli Black, VP of marketing and communications for the Preston Hollow East Home Owners Association, her organization’s primary goals are to provide enhanced security and foster a greater sense of community.

    “We are here to be a voice for them with anything they need,” Black said.

    Residents should speak up and participate in the HOA. According to Black, HOAs struggle to help their communities if they don’t know what residents need or want.
    Preston Hollow East utilizes off-duty Dallas police officers to help protect the neighborhood and share the latest crime information. Not all HOAs provide this level of security. However, Black said it’s a service her community has come to expect.

    Preston Hollow East also organizes neighborhood-wide events such as National Night Out, a community building event promoted by law enforcement as a way to bring neighbors and police together. It has even set up member discounts with local businesses.

    Unlike some associations, Preston Hollow East is a volunteer organization. Black encourages all residents to join.

    “The more people who join, the more resources we have for things like security and other services,” Black said.

    View article on Preston Hollow People website...

    Jim Hitt, executive manager of the Glen Lakes Homeowners Association, says residents should expect their HOA to help maintain the common areas of the community, such as landscaping and park areas. His association employs an on-site staff that can quickly address damaged common area structures or safety concerns.

    “Residents should be looking at the maintenance and condition of the areas that their association is responsible for,” Hitt said.

    In many neighborhoods, HOA membership is a prerequisite to move to the area. According to Miller, some people enjoy the services they provide, while others immediately regret subjecting themselves to what they consider to be cumbersome bylaws. She reiterated that learning all the facts before making a decision is crucial. Hitt concurs with this advice.

    “The best thing residents can do is be familiar with governing documents as they relate to what you can do on your lot,” Hitt said.

  • May 05, 2016 12:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Janette Sadik-Khan | Seth Solomonow

    CITYLAB

    Why the question remains so vital today.

    On a presidential campaign trail paved with discussions of border walls, Supreme Court nominees and terrorism fears, candidates have hardly mentioned cities beyond, perhaps, a remark about “New York values.” Yet a national agenda in this century must be an urban one. Two-thirds of the population now lives in the nation’s largest 100 metropolitan areas, and nearly 100 million more people are projected to live in American cities by 2050—swelled by the ambitious who move to them and those lucky enough to be born in them. Urban property values attest both to the desirability of cities and also to the scarcity of affordable housing as population growth outstrips new construction.

    This week marks the centennial of the birth of Jane Jacobs, one of the world’s greatest urban visionaries, and her observations have never been more relevant or needed in our national dialog and in our cities than today, 10 years after her death. Jacobs first made her mark through her masterwork, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961 and still in print. It is required reading for elected leaders, urban planners and ordinary citizens.

    Jacobs’s view of an ideal city, famously inspired by the street scenes she witnessed beyond the window of her West Village home, was humanely designed with short and walkable blocks. Successful neighborhoods are dense with a mix of housing, retail shops, schools, offices and cultural institutions. Networks of people bring “eyes on the street,” keeping each other safe and their communities connected and driving the economies of cities. Yet most cities at Jacobs’s time were far from this ideal and many have become even less so. Built in the early-to-mid 20th century, streets in most American cities were designed to move vehicles and not to support the neighborhood life along them.

    Jacobs is remembered today for her role in defeating an expressway promoted by her nemesis, New York’s master builder Robert Moses, which would have slashed across Lower Manhattan. This victory over Moses inspired similar highway revolts against proposals for new roads through American downtowns in the 1960s and 70s. Yet aside from these halted urban highways, there has been little sustained effort in Jacobs’s name to reclaim and revive the ordinary city street itself from cars until relatively recently. Instead of inspiring an urban renaissance, Death and Life was followed by decades of rapid suburbanization, urban depopulation, congestion and economic decay, from which American cities are still recovering. City streets from curb to curb remain virtually unchanged, as congested and dangerous today as they were 50 years ago in Jacobs’s era, and the effects of this neglect are visible in neighborhoods from Boston to Atlanta to Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto, where Jacobs moved in 1968 and ultimately spent more than three decades of her life. The question remains today: What Would Jane Jacobs Do—WWJJD?

    Many communities are effectively fighting to keep streets exactly the way that Robert Moses left them.

    We should honor Jacobs’s memory today by redesigning our cities as she might have. It’s not just a matter of livability or quality of life, but a long-term strategy for a denser urban future, one that is environmentally rational and economically vital. City residents have a carbon footprint a fraction of the average American, made possible by walkable neighborhoods, accessible transit, and not needing to use a car for almost every errand. A new generation of mayors, city leaders and community organizations have started to revitalize city centers and promote residential construction in downtowns where housing stock has been reduced to parking lots. They are taking advantage of the fact that fewer young Americans are opting to get drivers licenses, the lowest level in 30 years. Meanwhile, technology is transforming every part of urban life today, and transportation platforms like Lyft, Uber and car-share companies offer alternatives to car ownership and new opportunities for city dwellers.

    But the process to fulfill Jacobs’s vision may require revolutionary action instead of a merely evolutionary course. As city leaders attempt to adapt their cities for the future, they must face down passionate resistance from residents who perversely invoke Jane Jacobs and cite environmentalism, safety, local economics, and community autonomy not merely to oppose out-of-scale mega-projects, but to defeat proposals that Jacobs herself may have supported. Known as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), local residents at official city meetings reliably oppose dense new housing, new public space, bike lanes, or redesigned streets to combat dangerous driving. By using Jane-Jacobs-like language of neighborhood preservation as a decoy to oppose Jane-Jacobs-like projects, many communities are effectively fighting to keep streets exactly the way that Robert Moses left them.

    We saw this fight first hand during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration in New York. Guided by the mayor’s long-range PlaNYC strategies to accommodate one million more city residents by 2030, we created nearly 400 miles of bike lanes, seven rapid bus routes and set in motion more than 60 plaza projects, including closing Broadway to cars in Times Square. Alongside more affordable housing, these steps, which reclaimed some 180 acres of former road space from motor vehicles, improved safety, local economics and gave people more options for getting around, but they also ignited bitter neighborhood fights—and even lawsuits—over the idea of what and who city streets are for.

    Similar attempts to change street designs routinely make headlines in cities across the nation. In San Francisco, a city facing a severe housing shortage, an environmental lawsuit halted the building of bike lanes for five years, claiming that they would slow car traffic and increase air pollution. A church in Washington, D.C., claimed that the traffic and parking impact of proposed bike lanes would infringe on the congregation’s religious liberties. Local neighbors decry attempts to redesign streets that they claim upset neighborhoods’ historical character, make streets less safe or prevent people from reaching their stores or homes.

    The impact of this NIMBYism doesn’t end with a defeated apartment building or bike lane. Opposing dense, accessible neighborhoods pushes residential development into ever-expanding suburbs and shrinking greenbelts around cities. The fight to leave our streets as they are condemns our nation to a sprawling future, longer and more congested commutes, and escalating infrastructure costs that combine for a $1 trillion drag on the national economy.

    The answer isn’t compulsory transit or bike-riding but rather an urban revolution to make American cities the walk-able, bike-able and bus-able centers of population and economic growth this century. There must be increased affordable housing in cities and viable, competitive options to driving available to growing city populations. Leaders and likeminded advocates and citizens must articulate these goals as part of a change-based vision that people can say yes to and not allow needed changes to founder merely because some oppose them or find them controversial.

    Paradoxically, what is most needed to achieve Jane Jacobs’s vision is to deploy a Robert Moses strategy—redesigning our streets quickly and decisively for an increasingly urban age, this time committed to accommodating population growth and offering residents more options for getting around without a car. Fortunately, planners like Moses left us with abundant road space that can now be reprogrammed for new uses. But this process of adaptation will require a Jacobs-like approach, with a focus on the person on the street, and with the process designed to implement projects and not to halt them.

    If we want safer, more equitable, affordable and economically vital cities, we can start by changing our streets today. It’s WJJWD.

    View article online at CITYLAB
  • March 09, 2016 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by NAOMI MARTIN, Staff Writer
    The Dallas Morning News
    Published 25 October 2015

    Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

    The police officers are happy to help out vacationing families if their newspapers, or their mail, start piling up.

    They stop and chat with residents. They cruise the neighborhood just like cops used to do all the time, keeping an eye out for suspicious characters. And if someone calls 911, they’re probably going to arrive very quickly.

    Dallas’ wealthier neighborhoods increasingly are funding private patrols staffed by off-duty officers. In 2003, there were about 50 “Expanded Neighborhood Patrols” in Dallas. Now there are more than 80.

    Where those patrols are located, to a degree, follows the money. Almost four out of every five are north of Interstate 30.

    Supporters say the extra patrols reduce crime in the neighborhoods that can afford them. They ease the burden for on-duty officers. And it’s an opportunity for Dallas officers to supplement their relatively low salaries.

    “It’s the single best crime deterrent,” said Michael Malouf, chair of the crime watch in the Greenland Hills neighborhood in Old East Dallas. “I credit our low crime rate to that primarily.”

    But critics say the neighborhood patrol program promotes unequal policing. Richer, safer neighborhoods get better police services, they say.

    And some Dallas residents complain that they pay taxes and shouldn’t have to pay dues for adequate police protection.

    “It’s almost like a double tax,” said Ken Smith, president of Revitalize South Dallas Coalition. “If you pay your tax dollars for policing, you should expect parity with policing everywhere.”

    Urma Santoyo works at McDonald’s and lives in an east Oak Cliff neighborhood that doesn’t have its own patrol. She said she’s called the police several times after hearing gunshots outside her house, but they often take 30 minutes or an hour to arrive.

    “It’s really bad here,” she said in Spanish. “We need more security.”

    When she heard about the program, she said she wasn’t sure she could pay for it.

    “I work so much, but for very little money,” she said.

    Fair distribution?

    Police officials say the extra patrols don’t take away resources from other areas. The cars, gas and salaries are all paid for by the neighborhood associations.

    Patrols add “extra eyes and ears to a particular area,” said Steve Bishopp, a Dallas police sergeant assigned to the Caruth Police Institute. Bishopp has worked neighborhood patrols since 1998.

    First Assistant Chief Charlie Cato said that on-duty officers are deployed based on a combination of factors: 911 calls, crimes, arrests and traffic accidents. Police supervisors, he said, don’t move an on-duty officer away from an area just because they know it’s already being patrolled by an off-duty officer.

    “We give as fair a distribution of manpower as possible,” said Cato, who is Chief David Brown’s second-in-command. “If folks want to have an additional police presence in their neighborhood, we believe it’s a benefit because it helps them feel more comfortable.”

    The program gives residents more control over where police patrol, said John Worrall, a criminologist at the University of Texas at Dallas.

    The residents elect their own board and choose administrators who direct the officers.

    “It’s the democratic process at work,” Worrall said.

    Worrall said that affluence can create other disparities, such as with school funding.

    “It’s not fair to all neighborhoods, but just because it isn’t fair doesn’t necessarily make it a problem,” he said.

    Ron Pinkston, president of the Dallas Police Association, said the neighborhood patrol program is great for the upper-class communities that can afford it, “but it skews the number of overall police officers we have in Dallas.”

    A council member who can afford to live in a neighborhood with a private patrol doesn’t see the need to hire more police officers, Pinkston said.

    “He has police service at his fingertips,” he said. “They’re going to be right there, right then.”

    ‘They’re expensive’

    The Dallas City Council established the Expanded Neighborhood Patrols in 1991.

    Yearly dues for each household in a neighborhood with a patrol appear to range from $200 to $400 each year.

    Police officials said they don’t know how much money is collected from residents or how many hours the officers work each year. That’s because the neighborhood groups pay the officers directly.

    A coordinator in each police division makes sure officers fill out the required paperwork and don’t work too many hours off-duty.

    Renting a patrol car costs the neighborhood associations $13.50 per hour. The city collected more than $1.3 million over the 2015 fiscal year. In fiscal 2014, the city took in $900,746.

    Based on those numbers, patrol cars were used in neighborhood patrols for more than 100,000 hours in fiscal 2015. Add that to what the off-duty officers typically are paid — from $30 to $40 per hour — and neighborhood associations probably spent at least $4.3 million.

    “They’re expensive,” said Sgt. Roderick Dillon, who used to coordinate the neighborhood patrols in the Northeast Patrol Division, which has consistently had the most in Dallas.

    The average association pays about $50,000 to $75,000 each year for a neighborhood patrol, Dillon said, but some cost $300,000 or more.

    Paying dues

    The percentage of residents in a neighborhood who pay for the patrols varies. In North Oak Cliff, for example, about 15 percent of the more than 3,000 households pay the $365 annual fee. More than half of the residents pay a $240 annual fee in Forest Hills.

    Those who pay the dues get extra perks from the off-duty officers, like hiding mail and newspapers. Officers get a list of houses that they’re supposed to check on — locations where the residents may be on vacation or temporarily living somewhere else during a renovation.

    Overall, supporters say, police presence and response times benefit everyone.

    Malouf, of Greenland Hills, said some people who don’t pay “are getting some of the benefits of the added police presence.”

    Dillon, the sergeant, said he largely ignored the list he was given of paying members.

    “I don’t care who’s paying — I want to know my geographical boundaries and I’m going to protect everybody inside,” he said.

    Success stories

    Many neighborhood leaders say the patrols have helped to dramatically cut crime.

    In North Oak Cliff, crime is down by about 60 percent across several neighborhoods that have paid for off-duty officers to patrol since 2007, said Russ Aikman, president of the North Oak Cliff United Police Patrol.

    “It works because they are proactive rather than reactive,” Aikman said.

    On-duty officers, he said, are “typically so busy responding to one 911 call after another that they don’t have a whole lot of time just to be driving around looking for suspicious characters, suspicious vehicles.”

    “We’re paying our officers to do just that,” he said.

    Forest Hills was plagued by home burglaries when residents first funded a neighborhood patrol in 2003. Crime dropped by 50 percent that year.

    “It helps to have an officer visible,” said Judy Whalen, who heads the Forest Hills Security Program. “But we did more and we caught people.”

    Criminals figure out that there’s more police around, she said, “and they just go away.”

    She said the patrol also has helped raise property values and residents’ awareness of security measures.

    Officers enjoy working the extra neighborhood patrols because they get to know the communities in a way that they don’t have time to do when they’re on the city’s clock, said Pinkston, the DPA president.

    “You get to say hi to neighbors and be the Officer Friendly everybody wants to be,” he said.

    Dillon said he even knew the names of the kids and the dogs. But he also got to know the neighborhoods well. He knew what was out of place. A truck that shouldn’t be there. A man who doesn’t belong.

    “It’s like a very small, tiny town that you’re responsible for,” Dillon said. “You feel a personal stake in it.”

    Download PDF

  • July 01, 2015 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Tim Miller
    published in Frontburner

    If you haven’t yet, take a second to check out our new neighborhood guide. It’s a pretty robust tool that our little web team built. If you know someone who is moving to Dallas or thinking of moving, point him to this resource. One thing that makes it great is a series of essays about various Dallas neighborhoods. For example, here’s what Adam McGill has to say about his neighborhood, Lake Highlands. We asked people all over town to tell us why they live where they do and what they love most about their hood.

    One of those people was Laura Miller, former D Magazine and Dallas Observer columnist, former mayor of Dallas, current Preston Hollow resident. The essay she turned in — well, it wasn’t like the other essays. It was more of a polemic than it was a love letter to Preston Hollow. In her sights this time: Councilwoman Jennifer Gates; Gates’ appointee to the Plan Commission, Margot Murphy; and Mark Cuban. Laura isn’t real pleased with what they’re doing to her neighborhood.

    The piece clearly didn’t work for our neighborhood guide. But it also couldn’t just go to waste. “Put it on FrontBurner,” Laura told me, “or I will come over there and punch you in the throat.” I made up that quote. But I stand behind my reporting.

    ***

    The Fight for Preston Hollow
    By Laura Miller

    My three favorite streets in Dallas are Lausanne Avenue (in Oak Cliff); Dentwood Drive (in Preston Hollow); and Tokalon Drive (in Lakewood). Lucky for me, I’ve lived on two out of three.

    What links the three, located in three completely different parts of town, is big trees, and plenty of them; shady, meandering streets lined with charming architecture; and peace and quiet. In Oak Cliff, where we lived for 17 years, we knew and spoke frequently to all of our neighbors and loved our small 1928 Tudor and the proximity to Bishop Arts and Aunt Stelle’s Sno-Cones. But our kids went to schools in North Dallas, and that daily, round-trip commute was brutal. So we decided to move north.

    In 2004, we moved into a house near Inwood and Northwest Highway. The sudden juxtaposition to a plethora of mega-groceries, bookstores, restaurants, and dry cleaners was a jolt. In fact, my strongest memory on moving day was realizing, as I unpacked boxes, that I could actually get in my car and drive five minutes (instead of 25 from Kessler Park) to The Corner Bakery at Preston Center to buy my favorite chicken sandwich.

    Which, 11 years later, is no longer a possibility. Because the biggest threat to Preston Hollow today is traffic and gridlock, and Dallas City Hall will determine in the next 12 months whether that gets tolerably better or disastrously worse.

    Preston Hollow’s greatest asset is geography — located in the quiet center of a bustling city. It began as a 56-acre farm purchased in 1924 by Ira DeLoache, who quickly sub-divided it and began selling big residential lots out of his “country real estate office” — which later became Ebby Halliday’s Little White House at the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road. Preston Hollow incorporated as a separate township in 1939, but five years later, residents voted to become part of Dallas. Since then, it has bleeded out and, most notably, been cut in two by the Dallas North Tollway. Its current boundaries are generally Midway Road on the west, Northwest Highway on the south, Hillcrest on the East, and Royal Lane on the north. (Sorry, Preston Hollow Village — the mega-retail complex being built at Central Expressway and Walnut Hill — but you’re no Preston Hollow.)

    To put Preston Hollow’s traffic congestion problems in a nutshell, Northwest Highway has become LBJ Freeway with stoplights.

    That’s because there is no other school-zone-free stretch of divided, six-lane roadway stretching east-to-west between I-35 and Central Expressway. For most of each weekday, those 8 miles become one impenetrable wave of lurching, honking, sun-scorched metal. Scofflaws, including me, create byzantine routes through small, residential streets to avoid the traffic. That pretty well knocks out everybody’s peace and quiet.

    For years, Preston Hollow has managed to stay out of the news. But things have heated up dramatically since Councilwoman Jennifer Gates was elected, in 2013, and real estate developers began proposing, in rapid fire, a rash of high-density, big-traffic-generating projects in and around Preston Center, our southern boundary. Residents were so instantly enraged by an eight-story residential project, proposed by Transwestern, to replace two-story apartments across from Ebby’s Little White House that yard signs spread like a summer rash in opposition.

    The frustration grew sharply when residents found out their new councilwoman would have to recuse herself for a financial conflict of interest due to her father and her husband both being employed by real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle, which was involved in the deal. Gates’ appointee to the Plan Commission, Margot Murphy, not only was hostile to neighborhood pleas for help, she took pains to point out why she didn’t have to care. “I am not an elected representative of District 13,” she told me at the height of the battle.

    Preston Hollow residents aren’t used to being ignored.

    From the day Jerry Bartos was elected to the council, in 1987, to the day Mitchell Rasansky left, in 2009, if you were a developer with an idea that wasn’t already allowed by right, that existing property owners didn’t like, you were advised — up front and early — not to bother to even file a zoning application. That forced developers to negotiate, with steely-eyed plan commissioners and council members holding their feet to the fire. Some people called that approach “anti-development.” Others called it “pro-neighborhood.”

    Those days are over.

    After Commissioner Murphy antagonized constituents on two zoning proposals in quick succession last year — Transwestern and Highland House, a 29-story residential tower slated to replace a two-story medical building — it became obvious to residents that they were on their own. Adding high-octane fuel to the fire was Mark Cuban. After 20 years buying up 10 acres of single-family estate properties in Preston Hollow — along Northwest Highway, between Ebby’s Little White House and the Tollway — Cuban decided to not only announce his intention to up-zone from residential to office tower, he did it in his typical Shark Tank manner by demolishing the houses, and most of the trees, and the brick privacy walls, instantly destroying his neighbors’ quality of life. When an adjacent homeowner with two little kids was immediately burglarized, the wife’s emails to Cuban begging for help were met with disdain. “I would like to think that having purchased the property, I have the right to use it as I see fit,” he said in one email response.

    These three nuclear warheads, aimed directly at Preston Hollow, resulted in residents pleading with Councilwoman Gates to stop the chaos by appointing a group to study the area’s significant problems — parking, traffic, and deteriorating infrastructure — before any more zoning cases were approved. At a town hall meeting last fall to discuss the formation of the Preston Road and Northwest Highway Area Plan Stakeholder Taskforce (which I now serve on), Councilwoman Gates got a hearty round of applause when she told the 200 people assembled: “I can’t put a moratorium in place on zoning; anyone can file a zoning case. My wish is we all take a breath, and we don’t move anything forward until we’re done with this study.”

    It never happened.

    Highland House did disappear — but on its own, thanks to the property’s new owner, Leland Burk, who voluntarily withdrew the case in the spirit of the Area Plan. Cuban’s properties are still a jarring, jeering eyesore. And Transwestern, after throwing in the towel to get those pesky yard signs down, is now back with yet another high-density proposal, leaving area homeowners dejected and exhausted; that fight will be two years old this winter.

    The latest battle is over a proposed sky bridge from the old Sanger Harris building (now Marshall’s and DSW Shoes) to the top deck of the city’s two-story parking garage. Not only would most Preston Center employees lose their current parking, leaving them nowhere else to go (except the surrounding neighborhoods), but neighbors loathe the traffic congestion that will necessarily result from an additional 2,500 cars a day headed for Preston Center and the single ramp that will take them to the top of an already completely full garage. (The developer has its own half-empty parking garage at the other end of its building but likes taking over the public parking better.)

    After eight months saying she hadn’t made up her mind and postponing a decision several times, Councilwoman Gates brought the sky bridge to the City Council on June 17 for a vote. All three area homeowner associations opposed it; a majority of Preston Center business property owners opposed it; eight of 13 members of Gates’ Area Plan Taskforce opposed it; and seven of the 15 city council members opposed it — at least for 12 months, until the Area Plan could be completed and adopted by the City Council. But Councilwoman Gates bucked them all in favor of the developer. On a vote she won by a single vote — hers — she kicked the can down the road until November, ordering her Area Plan Taskforce to spend the intervening period studying the pros and cons of the sky bridge.

    The next day, Gates told me how she begged the developer on the morning of the vote to please wait until the Area Plan was finished. “They said no,” she said ruefully. (It left no impression whatsoever when I explained that she was the elected official, not the developer.) “In retrospect, maybe I should have moved to approve [the sky bridge] and let it fail.”

    This chronic vacillation has forever changed the otherwise placid landscape of this part of town. For the first time, the physical and mental border between rural Preston Hollow and urban Preston Center has all but dissolved, with angry commercial building owners and worried homeowners united and growing in number. The Taskforce, created in a spirit of cooperation, is now seriously divided, with a majority wondering if it’s just an empty suit. And other area neighborhoods watch and worry. Right now, homeowners around Hockaday are fighting a proposal to turn some of the residential townhomes at the northwest corner of Inwood and Forest into retail — an alarming prospect, since the ocean of existing retail on the opposite corner is some of the ugliest in North Dallas. As usual, Murphy is belligerent and Gates is coy, asking homeowners to prove that the “majority of the community” is against the proposal.

    Ironically, Councilwoman Gates loves Preston Hollow for all the reasons we do. “The meandering, bar-ditch country roads work because the neighbors maintain [their yards] all the way to the asphalt,” Gates says. “The tranquility of the neighborhoods, the well-manicured lawns, the neighborhood feel, the quality of homes. And the access to good schools. It’s the people, and the strength of the neighborhoods.”

    And under our new councilwoman, the neighborhoods are getting stronger by the day.

    View online

  • October 22, 2014 9:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dallasobserver.com
    Eric Nicholson

    Luke Crosland stands at the window of his seventh-floor office and looks out across Preston Center.
    In the foreground, a tangle of luxury SUVs battle for access to a shabby, two-story parking garage that seems to deteriorate before his eyes. The garage is ringed by a jumble of aging retail strips that wouldn't be out of place in a working-class neighborhood in Garland. Further back, past the Marshalls, a clump of mid-rise office towers stand as a testament to a 1980s office boom.

    Crosland is a pugnacious commercial real estate developer best known for the iLume apartments on Cedar Springs Road. He's been gazing down on this scene since he bought into Preston Center 27 years ago. There are trendy new restaurants like John Tesar's Spoon and Hopdoddy Burger Bar, and a few office buildings have gone up here and there, but the difference between now and then is cosmetic. The retail buildings are still outdated. The infrastructure is still crumbling. Three decades of decay have only made the situation worse. READ MORE...
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Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association
PO Box 25528
Dallas, Texas 75225

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