FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Transportation

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

| 13 mins 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

| 5 hours 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

| 5 hours 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)

| 9 hours 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

| 1 day 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?

| 1 day 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

| 1 day 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

| 1 day 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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Leading Off

Leading Off (2/20/20)

| 1 day ago

Council Member Wants to End Veteran Homelessness. Chad West, an Army vet and chair of the council’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee, said yesterday that he and the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance are aiming to house 100 vets in 100 days. Beyond that, he wants to find every local veteran a home. Veterans can get federal vouchers from the Dallas Housing Authority.

Landmark First National Bank Tower Will House Downtown Dallas Inc. The building’s $450 million renovation will be finished this year, and Downtown Dallas Inc. will be the first major tenant. Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., says: “We have been champions of this project, and it was a unique opportunity to put all of our operations under one roof.”

Number of DFW Democratic Voters More Than Doubled On First Day of Polls. On Tuesday, the first day of early voting, the number of Democratic voters more than doubled in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties from the same day in 2016.

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Criminal Justice

Mayor, Governor: Stop Sharing the News’ Fearmongering Bail Reform Editorial

| 2 days ago

The Dallas Morning News’ wrongheaded editorial about bail reform is being amplified by two of our city and state’s most prominent public officials. Mayor Eric Johnson and Gov. Greg Abbott have both tweeted it out, spreading its conflations and fear mongering.

The News’ editorial board, or an online producer, has also changed the headline of the editorial from “Is Bail Reform the Cause of Dallas’ Climbing Crime?” to “What’s Causing Dallas Crime to Spike?” The original headline is still contained in the URL for the piece. The new headline is a softer path to connecting the city’s rising violent crime rate to bail reform and District Attorney John Creuzot, who has championed the policy and others like it.

Here is my colleague Zac Crain, writing last week in response to the editorial:

Bail reform is about reducing a jail population that is largely made up of pretrial detainees, people who can’t afford to get out, even at seemingly low amounts like $500. Across the country, almost two-thirds of people incarcerated locally have not been convicted of anything. In Texas, it’s 70 percent.

We’ve written a fair amount over the past couple years about bail reform, a national movement—often court-ordered—that aims to eliminate cash bail for low, nonviolent offenses.

A little history lesson here.

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Visual Arts

The Dallas Mavericks Posterize Local Artists

| 2 days ago

This season, the Dallas Mavericks decided to try something off the court. Twenty local artists got a chance to illustrate a home game through the team’s Posterized series. Clay Stinnett imagined a grizzly bear in Elvis garb fighting a horse and a cowboy. (Mavs vs. Grizzlies, Feb. 5.) Skyler Thiot drew a basketball hoop standing tall over the Dallas skyline. (Mavs vs. Kings, Feb. 12.) Mariell Guzman infused Dallas’ landmarks with bright colors, imagining an upside down Brooklyn in black and white. (Mavs vs. Nets, Jan. 2.)

“Most people don’t realize that Dallas actually has a burgeoning art scene. It really has since the ‘80s. But right now it started to get to much more of a fever pitch as more investments, more people move from the coast to the Dallas area for different reasons,” says Dale Alexander, the vice president of the Mavericks’ Creative Studio. “We knew that there was an opportunity there.”

The team prints 100 posters for each participating game and sells them for $20 a pop. The proceeds benefit the Mavs Foundation. It wouldn’t have been possible without Chris Paliotta, a local designer who served as the project’s point person.

“I actually only knew a small handful of artists first-hand from our list,” Paliotta says. “As for the others, I’ve been tracking their work over the years through social media. It was really important for us to incorporate and tap into several different types of visual art, from the street art world, to printmaking, to comic art—we wanted to capture it all.”

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Urbanism

Dallas Doesn’t Think It’s Charging Contractors Enough to Occupy Public Sidewalks and Streets

| 2 days ago

More than a year after the city started fining contractors for illegally occupying streets and sidewalks, staff believes they aren’t going far enough. As such, they’re asking for Council approval to charge contractors higher fees to work in the public right-of-way, both as a way to generate revenue and to get them to finish their jobs quicker. They also want to increase daily fines.

The City Council’s transportation committee was briefed on the plan on Tuesday, learning that Dallas has the lowest lane and sidewalk closure fees of all the major cities in Texas. That causes streets and sidewalks to remain closed longer than needed and sometimes to even be used for storage of equipment.

Under the new fees, a 61-day closure of a 100-foot lane would jump from $366 to $1,514. The fee per square foot doubles after 121 days and triples after 180, hopefully incentivizing contractors to hurry up. (If you’re in and out within 60 days, you’ll pay just $.012 per square foot a day. If your work takes up the right of way for 180 or more, you’re looking at $.096. It hikes to $0.288 a day if your job occupies a second lane or sidewalk.) The city estimates it will increase revenue from fees from $1 million to $3 million in 2021 and, as a byproduct, “incentivize contractors to remove their barricades as early as possible.”

If you’ve been following this website for any amount of time, you’ll recognize our Dallas Hates Pedestrians series. North Oak Cliff Council member Chad West even brought it up during the meeting. The very first of those, published a whole two years ago, expressed pent-up frustration over this very issue: a mess of equipment near a downtown parking garage that swallowed up a full lane of traffic as well as a sidewalk.

“I am so happy this topic has been brought up,” West said. “If you go to a walkable city like New York, you’re never gonna have a sidewalk that’s closed off for weeks at a time without scaffolding to walk under.”

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