FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Urbanism

20-Minute Neighborhoods Could Solve Many of Dallas’ Urban Problems

| 3 hours ago

Many of Dallas’s urban challenges can be summed up in a single term: land use. Whether we are talking about affordable housing or public transportation, income inequality or fixing streets, quality public schools or walkability, at its core, we are really always talking about land use.

Our massive investment in light rail doesn’t work? That’s because the city has developed with insufficient density around stations to make them useful. We can’t afford to fix the streets? That’s because our low-density development model means we have more street surface area than tax base to pay for it, and our highway system has made it easy for new investment to continually seek-out cheaper, under-developed locations outside the city. Our schools are underfunded? That’s because for 70 years land use decisions have allowed urban neighborhood to erode and an endless succession of competing suburbs to spring up to siphon off students, teachers, and taxes from the inner city. At the end of the day, all of Dallas’ urban problems are land use problems.

Which is why a new trend that is being adopted by a number of cities around the world caught my eye.

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Housing

Council Discusses the Difficulty of Building Granny Flats

| 3 hours ago

Dallasites have had the legal ability to add rentable backyard additions to their homes since mid-2018. Only two homeowners have applied to do it.

The city’s granny flat policy was touted as an answer to a severe affordable housing shortage. But it has proven prohibitive. On Monday, the city’s Housing and Homelessness Committee discussed its options for generating more interest. Not everyone was on board.

Granny flats are small units no taller than the main property, some of them attached to an existing house, some of them atop garages, some out in the backyard. Traditionally, neighborhoods have had to opt-in to declare themselves open to what are in city speak referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. The less red-taped option would be to allow ADUs by-right in all single-family neighborhoods. The city could create a process to allow neighborhoods to opt out.

“Neighborhood opinions are important, but we have to keep in mind that it’s a few that are loud versus the majority that are quiet,” said Council member Chad West, who represents North Oak Cliff. West says the city is effectively “regulating folks out of the ability to do this.”

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Local News

The ‘Leaning Tower of Dallas’ Ain’t Coming Down So Easily

| 5 hours ago

For the past two or so hours, Lloyd D. Nabors Demolition has been whacking the so-called Leaning Tower of Dallas with what looks like an oversized Master Lock that’s swinging from a crane. We were promised a wrecking ball. I had something more substantive in mind when I pictured it. Maybe that’s my fault. On Twitter, there are jokes. There are Dallas Morning News reporters on-scene. There are live streams. There is not UNESCO World Heritage certification. But the former Affiliated Computer Services tower is stubbornly resistant to the efforts of that schlubby wrecking ball. So maybe it will be with us longer, destruction detritus and all. I cannot imagine this thing will be down by noon; who’s got an office betting pool going?

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Local News

Leading Off (02/24/2020)

| 10 hours ago

Leaning Tower of Dallas Coming Down Today. I hope you got your pictures because the fun is over. It’s always over. It’s always been over.

Demolition Company Tears Down Wrong Vickery Place Home. The owner, Bobby Lindamood, says he’ll make it right, but short of a time machine, I don’t see how.

Mavs File Protest With the League Over the End of Saturday Night’s Hawks Game. Specifically, it regards the play with 9.7 seconds remaining, when Dorian Finney-Smith was called for a goaltend on a Trae Young layup attempt. Replay showed that it was a clean block AND YET the officials still counted the basket scored by John Collins after the whistle was blown. That basically sealed the game. The Mavs, to be fair, played pretty terribly over the last five minutes of the game; somehow the referees performed worse. (Ask Mark Cuban.) Side note: I went to the game with my son — my sister lives out there — and he was yelled at by a group protesting Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavs about a block away. So it was fun walking to the arena while someone screamed at him over a megaphone for “supporting a rapist” and it was great walking out after how the end went down. I liked everything else.

Exterminator Says He Treats Five to 10 Ride Share Vehicles For Bed Bugs Each Week. I think I can sum up my response to this as follows: NOPE.

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Transportation

Tomorrow: A Chance To Hear About the History and Future of I-345

| 3 days ago

A bit of late notice on this: Tomorrow morning, a handful of speakers will gather inside a conference room at One Arts Plaza and discuss the past and future of Dallas’ Interstate 345, the stretch of highway connecting I-45 with Central Expressway while chopping downtown from Deep Ellum. The event puts a focus on racial equity, spotlighting the historically black neighborhoods that fell victim to the highway’s construction. Says the Coalition for a New Dallas, the organization putting it on:

Since the concept of removing the highway was first proposed, much discussion has been had about engineering technicalities, traffic patterns, real estate dynamics, among other often esoteric conversations. However, the topic of race, class, and the intentional discriminatory planning of the city has often been missed. If the City of Dallas is to reckon with its past to plan a more equitable future, this discussion and subsequent actions must take place.

The event runs 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow. The eventbrite shows that sales have ended, but I’m told you’ll be just fine making a day-of appearance.

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Podcasts

New EarBurner: SideDish Editor Rosin Saez Has Some Enchilada Takes

| 3 days ago

The first time I met Rosin Saez was near the end of last year during her job interview. She’d applied to be our online dining editor and had an impressive set of credentials: associate editor and style editor at Seattle Met magazine, where she oversaw complex features like this guide to the city’s ferries and smart, thorough shorter pieces, like this one on Filipino desserts. Our dining critic, Eve Hill-Agnus, was working on a Filipino feature at that very time. She was over the moon. After that interview, the three of us drank mezcal in the shadow of Fair Park. Hours later, I was out over my skis as they discussed the buckwheat content of the soba noodles at Tei-An. I knew we had to get her to Dallas.

In the past month, she’s fully immersed herself in our fine city. Rosin’s filed smart, timely pieces on the stresses delivery apps put on restaurants that may not have consented to their inclusion. She’s found restaurant opening scoops. And she’s helped Eve navigate this wild rash of retirements and chef changes that seemed to pick up right when she arrived. Welcome to Dallas! Rosin’s also working on a couple of big stories that I can’t wait to read. And she’s rethinking our print and online bar coverage.

We’re thrilled she’s here. Or, at least, we were. Until she said what she said about enchiladas. Listen for yourself, and allow her to introduce herself on EarBurner with Tim Rogers and Zac Crain. Follow her on Twitter. And, of course, stay hungry. There’s much to come.

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Local News

Pay Your Respects This Weekend, Because the Leaning Tower of Dallas Comes Down Monday

| 3 days ago

All good things must come to an end. Despite attempts to turn Dallas’ Leaning Tower into a UNESCO World Heritage site, our spell of weird, national, viral fame appears set to come to an end on Monday morning. Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., a crane operator will take a wrecking ball to the stubborn center of the former Affiliated Computer Services building at Haskell and Central Expressway, according to John Satterwhite, Vice President of Lloyd Nabors Demolition, the demo company on the project.

The good news is that you can watch from the comfort of your desk. KRLD 1080 has set up the below live stream. Look at those excavators go!

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Local News

Leading Off (2/21/20)

| 3 days ago

Demolition Crew Mows Down Wrong Home. Today in Dallas Demolitions Gone Wrong, Irving-based JR’s Demolition had a permit to take down a house in Vickery Place. They parked outside of a pink home a few houses down from their desired target. And then they ran a bulldozer through it. The home had not been occupied since its owner died. JR’s owner says the home was incorrectly marked and didn’t have gas or power. The previous owner had asked a neighbor to not allow it to be torn down.

Dallas Is Apparently a Big Meth Hub. One of the top eight in the nation, according to the feds. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is allocating another $1 million to stop its distribution here.

Expect the Sun Today, But It’s Going to Be Cold. You can leave your preemptive umbrella at home. It’s in the low 30s right now, but the high is 50. The day should be sunny.

Libraries Will Soon Rent Out Hotspots For Residents in Areas With Poor Internet. Pleasant Grove Council member Jaime Resendez urged the City Council to spend almost $400,000 on portable internet devices that residents could check out from the library. Starting March 12, 900 devices will be available for checkout at 10 branch locations. The U.S. Census finds that more than 42 percent of Dallas residents don’t have adequate internet access. More work will be needed, but this is a step in the right direction.

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Local News

Curbed Calls Dallas One of the Top 10 Cities To Move To Right Now

| 4 days ago

Dallas may not be the millennial magnet some headlines have made us out to be. But a new feature from Curbed suggests those millennials would be wise to consider Dallas as their next home.

Dallas, Curbed says, is one of the 10 best cities to move to right now.

The city’s charming attributes, per the Vox Media-owned real estate site: a still relatively affordable cost of living, a movement toward embracing walkable areas, and a cast of surrounding suburbs drawing corporate relocations while recommitting to densifying their downtowns. Transplants to Big D, Curbed says, are “increasingly able to find the urban lifestyles they left behind.”

Among the other shoutouts are Klyde Warren Park, the Arts District (which it refers to as The Pritzker District, because of the work of the Pritzker winners that lines Flora), the M-Streets and Vickery neighborhoods, Deep Ellum’s evolution, “football-crazy” Allen, and the apartment boom in Frisco.

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Transportation

Who Should Pay For the Oak Cliff Streetcar?

| 4 days ago

Oak Cliff’s Streetcar has been around since 2013, created, as our Peter Simek describes here, when a group of urbanists forced the city’s hand:

All the typical transportation powers-that-be — the North Central Council of Governments, the city, DART — thought this new generation of streetcar nuts were hapless hipster dreamers. Nonetheless, the Oak Cliff streetcar nerds applied for a TIGER grant from the federal government and won it. That essentially twisted the arms of the city and region to start thinking about streetcars.

It started out free to riders. And then a long time ago—like, 2018—Council put forth a resolution to break that tradition, charging $1 per ride. At the time, a DART spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that “we’re still working out the details on timing.” April will be two years since that quote. The trolley has remained free.

Now, the city has a renewed debate. Popping up on last week’s Council agenda was an item to pay DART the city’s standard yearly maintenance and operations fee for the streetcar, about $1.6 million. (The nonprofit McKinney Avenue Transit Authority operates the Uptown trolley, counting among its sponsors Uptown Dallas Inc., Downtown Dallas Inc., and DART.) Estimated to bring in less than $150,000 a year, Council viewed the small fare less about money and more about making sure one part of the city doesn’t have a transit luxury others don’t. Seeing that none of the city’s responsibility has yet been offset by the fare, South Oak Cliff Council member Carolyn King Arnold pressed about why. The trolley does not reach South Oak Cliff.

Council was told it was a timing issue, that DART is not resistant, merely delayed, but that the agency has promised the technology will be up and running by September. (Council member Tennell Atkins smartly asked staff to find the document where DART made that promise, assumedly so Council could hold them to it.) But then, a conversation broke out about using tax increment financing district funds from the Oak Cliff Gateway TIF District to cover the city’s $1.6 million. This, in theory, would assuage equity concerns, because the money is coming directly from the neighborhood that benefits. It remains to be seen whether Council would support slashing the fare should TIF funds be introduced, a point largely left for future debate, although West Dallas Council member Omar Narvaez was all for it.

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Local News

So Long to Abbott’s Barber Shop, Where Things Never Changed Since 1941

| 4 days ago

Abbott’s Barber Shop, a Highland Park mainstay since 1941, is closing, and with it a small piece of history will disappear. That’s mostly how history disappears, one small piece at a time.

When Edward Avalos, who had run the shop at 4242 Oak Lawn since 2007, died on January 7, the landlord ended its month-to-month lease. “We were given until the end of January to vacate,” says barber Audrey Hansen.

Even if you never went into Abbott’s, it would look familiar. You’ve seen a thousand like it in movies and on TV, and, if you’re old enough, in the occasional Norman Rockwell illustration: a masculine, shotgun-style room with lined-up chairs, lots of mirrors, and trophy heads on the wall. The conversations you hear are pretty much the ones you might have heard in 1941: current events, the weather, sports, and gossip. Only the names discussed have changed.

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Good Public Transit

Yet Another Report Highlights DART’s Poor Quality Transit

| 4 days ago

Here’s another study that highlights how inefficient Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s service is. According to an analysis by Clever Real Estate, nearly 81 percent of commuters in Dallas don’t use public transit, and those who do spend roughly 200 hours more per year commuting. That’s a stark assessment. If you have to rely on DART to get around Dallas, you’re spending more than a week a year commuting than the average driver. That’s one of the reasons this latest study ranked DART 26th in an analysis of 30 major U.S. metro systems.

This study is yet another one of those marketing studies intended to drive attention to whatever services Clever Real Estate offers, but its approach uses a simple broad stroke analysis of ridership that generates some useful insight. The analysis looks at the percentage of a metro population that uses transit, the costs and travel times of commuting for drivers and transit riders, and the earnings of drivers and transit riders. What it finds is that there are certainly trade-offs when it comes to driving and using transit, but the costs and benefits of those trade-offs are starker in some cities than others. Here are some of the findings:

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