Denied But Returning: Lincoln Katy Trail Has More Lives Than A Cat

City Council took up the long in the tooth Lincoln Katy Trail project at Wednesday’s evening meeting after failing City Plan Commission in November. In an attempt to sweeten the deal to an affordable housing-hungry city council, Lincoln raised their affordable component from five percent to 15 percent (from 15 to 45 units). And many council members, including Mayor Mike Rawlings took the bait.

Mayor Rawlings was so obviously hot to pass this project, he literally asked Oak Lawn District 14 Council Member Philip Kingston if he would support the deal if Lincoln purchased a home for a blind woman living in the complex referenced by Kingston. Others wanted to know what affordable percentage would cause Kingston to support the project.

“It’s math,” they said. Why yes, it is …

The council couldn’t (or wouldn’t) figure out that the existing complex contains 115 market-rate affordable housing units. Raising the affordable housing giveback to 15 percent still leaves the neighborhood with 70 fewer affordable units. They also ignore the positive self-esteem of being able to rent or purchase a market rate affordable home versus having to qualify through an invasive application process to prove you’re poor enough.

Also forgotten is that the rents currently generated by investor-owned condos in the complex are today less than the rents that Lincoln would charge for their new “affordable” units.

In the current configuration, the condos making up Turtle Creek Terrace are individually owned, with many rented by individual investors. Under Lincoln, the units would become owned by a single corporate owner (Lincoln).

To recap, so desperate for some affordable housing wins, the city is prioritizing:

  • New affordable units over existing units.
  • Fewer affordable units versus more than double the number of existing units
  • Large corporate ownership over individual resident and investor-owned housing

That’s some great affordable housing work, don’t you think?

It’s funny, Mayor Rawlings said the deal would “set a new standard for affordable” with developers. Yet moments earlier another council member said upzoning cases weren’t precedent-setting. Which is it?  Is it only precedent-setting when it looks good to say it, but not when it looks bad?

When support for the project failed, District 5 Council Member Rickey Callahan brought Lincoln representative Jeff Courtwright to ask him what he wanted to do next. OMG! Guess what? Courtwright answered that he’d like to return to City Plan Commission where he lost by two votes so he can try and sway those votes so that city council passage no longer required a three-fourths majority.  Well, duh!

There were four votes taken. Oak Lawn District 14 Council Member Philip Kingston motioned to deny the project, which didn’t pass 6-9. Then, Mayor Rawlings motioned to approve the project which also didn’t pass (10-5). Then there was much kerfuffling before they took another vote to revote on Kingston’s original motion (which gives Lincoln the right to refile a case tomorrow). The vote to revote passed 14-1.  The revote itself then passed 12-3.

Jesus H…

During the proceedings, Kingston was in snarky form at one point answering fellow council member Lee Kleinman from District 11 with, “You’re a liar, dude.”

Kingston had one point that fell on his colleagues’ deaf ears. The Oak Lawn Committee is against the project, the neighborhood is overwhelmingly against it, and City Plan Commission is against it. Residents have spent untold hundreds of hours fighting this project. In ignoring this loud and varied opposition, city council is sending a message to residents that if they disagree with residents, they have the power to wait them out and wear them down until the opposition has been worn away to an acceptable level.

That’s the take-home message residents in other parts of the city should take to heart. Elected officials who disagree with the masses know that procedure enables them to wear down the opposition.

How’s that for a political bedtime story?


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

8 Comment

  • Is it Mayor Rawlings or Unfair Rawlings!? He showed his obvious bias when allowing Angela Hunt well over her allotted speaking time of 3 minutes. Rawlings then also allowed her to trade some additional speaking time with her supporting speakers. However, when it came to the opposition, Rawlings only allowed 2 minutes each. When the main speaker for the opposition, Amanda Popken, had a slide show prepared (just as Angela Hunt did) and obviously needed extra speaking time (just as Angela Hunt did) AND politely asked saying she could be very quick, she was outright denied by Unfair Rawlings!

    As many of the council members seemed to be unaware of the facts and details of this project, mostly because they hadn’t done their homework and don’t even know the area, it may have been helpful to hear Amanda Popkens’ points.

    Some basic facts for the council members who were struggling:

    There are currently 115 affordable housing units.
    Lincoln are proposing 45. (less than 15% of their proposed building)
    Basic math: 115 – 45 = 70

    That’s 70 less affordable units that will be available AND at a much higher cost AND for ONLY 15 years. Repeat – you will LOSE 70 affordable units.

    Lincoln will need to provide over 37% affordable housing to equal the current 115 affordable units available.

    Let’s also not forget that this is not only about affordable housing. How about the 36ft height limit that Lincoln refuse to work?? It’s a BIG ISSUE!!! Too big to write about here.

    I urge council members to PLEASE listen to the neighborhood and read up on both sides of the story.

  • mm

    I just cannot believe how they treated our Amanda. Shameful!

  • The relevant math included in Lincoln’s most recent “offer” is that there is 15 years worth of $400000 – $500000 in annual political vigorish (i. e. the reduced rents on the 45 affordable units) floating around to get this deal done. The question is why this $6 – 7.5million in cash flows should accrue to affordable housing recipients having no connection with the matter at hand instead of interested parties like the condo unit sellers or the aggrieved residents of the across-the-street development. This question is particularly acute given that area in question already massively subsidizes other portions of the city and city taxes are already at times more than 2.5 times those in competing tax-free state cities for comparable properties even when the Dallas property is homesteaded and the out-of-state property is taxed at a commercial rate. And, the “solution” backed by the mayor would result in a lower value project that presumably would be taxed at a reduced rate thus meaning that the across-the-street owners would not only be stripped of their zoning protections but would further be forced to subsidize the forces voting against them by foregoing some of the benefit that should accrue to them from the normal tax revenues that should flow from the zoning-busting project that they oppose. All to me a continuation of the financial incompetence of a city that presided over the world class police and fire pension fund multi-billion-dollar fiasco where at least a third of the members voting last night, including the mayor, made clear from their actions and statements that they did not even begin to understand the matter at the most basic level. And, not surprisingly, all of this affordable housing gibberish sounds all too similar to the nonsense peddled by the pension consultants. So here at at least four proposals with better “math” and fairer outcomes than the council seems to prefer: (1) Approve the project without any affordable and pay the $6 – 7.5 million to the across-the-street owners over time; (2) The same except top off the selling unit holders with the money since it is their property and their expectation likely was that they were selling into a MF-2-plus project; (3) Collect the full tax money from the project without the affordable and finance an affordable project at the city level; or (4) Approve the project with the requirement that Lincoln put up a preferably for-sale affordable small lot development in another location. Of course consideration of the new Lincoln proposal is an admission that none of this could ever get done given the current sorry level of local governance and that we are left to the machinations of a self-proclaimed transferable development rights expert like Angela Hunt who somehow never ends up producing anything for local property owners.

  • One of the most fascinating and cynical aspects of Wednesday’s hearing was the false narrative parroted by Rawlings, Atkins, and Thomas about this project supposedly increasing affordable housing, when it will actually do the opposite.

    If Council had approved the proposed rezoning, it would have triggered a massive, permanently displacement of over 100 working class families from Uptown. Even with the increased affordable housing component, the net loss of units would have been enormous.

    Also, it was amazing how little interest many of the Council Members had in understanding why CPC had rejected the proposal, and why the citizens were so opposed. The level of open hostility and rudeness displayed by the Mayor towards the residents was also stunning and disappointing.

  • This is disgusting! Shame on you Mayor Rawlings! Respect the process! The same goes for the council! This whole process has been rigged BS! The vote was NO! Either address the issues necessary to get a yes vote or drop your option on this land and let someone else try to be a good neighbor! Lincoln Property doesn’t care about zoning or the neighborhood. Stop rewarding them!

  • Watching the tape, I see Kingston at one point apparently accuse Atkins of interfering in the CPC deliberations. Isn’t that illegal?

  • I think the argument that the developer is displacing 100 or so working class units is silly. The land will be re-developed one way or the other. If it isn’t a high density multi-family complex, maybe it’s retail, office, or townhomes – the highest and best use will eventually be something else.

    However, I do think the land values and area rents have probably gotten to the point where the developer can do a high rise here on a smaller footprint, and create more green space for the neighborhood. More and more renters consider this a pretty valuable amenity. Of course, that would mean going back to the drawing board and trying to get everything approved again. With such a bitter taste in their mouths, I imagine they wouldn’t go that route.

    I think residents inside the Dallas urban core need to realize that the area needs to densify. This is a good thing for Dallas – clusters of people located near city center. It creates scale for services (retail, office, parking, parks), reduces traffic congestion from a macro view, and creates a greater neighborhood.

    Anyone who buys a residence in an urban area and expects the neighboring block to continue to stay single family residential (or some other low density use), because that’s what it was zoned 20 years ago, is being naive.

  • Well lets just throw all zoning out the window….This is not an issue about affordable housing as much as it is about the up zoning of MF-2 land. Angela and crew always talk about properties near that are higher in density but the fact is they were all built to existing zoning and not rezoned. To my knowledge there has not been any MF-2 land up zoned in PD193 that is south of Knox St. Commissioner Gates asked that question but was not given a direct answer by anyone. Why the owners of these condos do not pursue builders of townhomes or apartments that fit the zoning is perplexing. Yes I realize its $$ but they could have sold for close to the same amount to others but for some reason only want to deal with Lincoln. And related to the affordable housing debate does anyone know how little off the market rent the affordable component is? If the Mayor is so concerned about affordability why doesn’t he work towards a City of Dallas living wage or work towards a reduction of property taxes which is the largest reason rents increase each year.