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  • 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.”

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  • 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

info@pheha.org

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