In the News

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

    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 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

    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.


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

  • 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)
    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)
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

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