populationTwo out of three of the metropolitan areas that had the largest population growth were in Texas, and three Texas metropolitan areas were in the top 10 nationally, new census figures revealed.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA topped the nation when it came to numeric population growth, the most recent Census Bureau data revealed Thursday, with a gain of 131,767 in 2018, or 1.8 percent.

Census officials attribute the growth to migration — both domestic and international migration — as well as natural increase (having more births than deaths). In fact, natural increase impacted DFW growth the most, while domestic migration was the largest source in Phoenix.

“One interesting trend we are seeing this year is that metro areas not among the most populous are ranked in the top 10 for population growth,” Sandra Johnson, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division, said in a statement. “Though no new metro areas moved into the top 10 largest areas, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, and Orlando all experienced numeric increases in population since 2010, rivaling growth in areas with much larger populations. This trend is consistent with the overall growth we are seeing in the south and the west.” (more…)

Recategorizing zoning to reflect reality.

[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com. His opinions are his own.]

The actions and words of many city plan commissioners and city council members should be a warning to all who live in multi-family areas – discrete zoning designations don’t matter. Personal investments made in part because of existing zoning don’t matter. You as residents don’t matter.

When the Lincoln Katy Trail project was at CPC, chairwoman Gloria Tarpley said in response to huge neighborhood opposition to changing the MF-2 designation to MF-3, “we do this all the time.”  For those uninitiated in city zoning, among other things, the change would increase buildable height from 36 feet to 90 feet. It’s also real estate alchemy, administratively making land a lot more valuable for the sellers.

When the Lincoln project hit city council in January, Mayor Rawlings swept away neighborhood opposition to concentrate on snagging less-affordable housing that currently exists (and calling it a “win” for affordable housing in north Dallas).

This is just one example of a city unconcerned with residents in multi-family areas. For some reason, city leaders think that any change is OK, and that residents should just buck-up. Somehow, they feel that constant worrying about huge increases in density is part of what living in a multi-family are means – in contrast to near bullet-proof zoning in single-family neighborhoods.

In a Faustian deal, multi-family areas are the carpet Dallas can sweep its increasing population under as a way to preserve single-family homes, which are rarely converted to multi-family. The exception (of course) is a sliding scale of resident income. The poorer the well-located area, the more likely single-family will be swept away in gentrification.  Middle-class and up?  You’re pretty golden.

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Amazon’s announcement that it would hike its minimum wage to $15 company-wide came on the heels of a Dallas-related announcement (no, not THAT one) last week that will add about 1,500 new jobs in west Dallas (photo courtesy Flickr).

Wednesday, Amazon announced that it would adopt a $15 minimum wage company-wide, and the news couldn’t have been more welcome for Dallas city councilman Omar Narvaez, who had a prime Amazon announcement of his own last week.

“Breaking District 6 News,” he wrote on Facebook. “Thank you to my colleagues for unanimously approving the following economic development deal for D6.”

That deal? A new Amazon distribution warehouse at Chalk Hill Road and I-30, bringing 1,500 full-time jobs to the area. (more…)

I never realized DCAD’s boundaries create a great big bug.

Last week, Robert Mundinger over at TheMap showcased the work of his friend Owen Wilson-Chavez who’d created a 3-D map of tax revenues generated across the DCAD taxing area. During my self-guided tour, I discovered a bunch of other, equally interesting, maps. It’s Dallas like you’ve never seen it …

Above, you can immediately see the unsurprising fact of Southern Dallas not contributing much money in property taxes to the city’s coffers. But it’s more nuanced than that. First, pretty much all the green you see are concentrated areas of commercial real estate. Below the Park Cities “white spot” is downtown and Uptown. To the right is the Central Expressway corridor with the North Park Shopping Center area being the tallest green. Beyond that there’s Galleria, Preston Center and the commercial space bordering LBJ and Central Expressway. The lesson here is that higher density generates more taxes than it costs in services.

How much more?

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Source: US Census

Yesterday, the U.S. Census released their latest numbers tracking population growth and distribution.  Surprise, surprise! Six of the top 10 largest-gaining counties were in Texas.  Surprise, surprise, surprise! Four of those were in the Metroplex – Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant. Totted-up, from July 2016 to July 2017, the Metroplex added 146,238 new residents, the most of any metro area. That’s a 12.4 percent gain … year over year!

Still think we’re overbuilding?

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Surprisingly, Jon ain’t a big ol’ hypocrite on zoning

I write a bit about development projects that include zoning changes of some sort.  This is mostly because those that don’t require a zoning change just file their plans and they’re off.  There is no public discussion, except after, when we see the usual awfulness that we’re all left to look at.

Some, even CandysDirt.com’s editor, question me on what are seen as wildly inconsistent opinions with regard to zoning and resulting density.  I thought detailing my thought process would help others in how they think about zoning issues.

Every property is zoned for something.  Anything from Agriculture (AG) all the way up to the tallest skyscraper.  Land within a Planned Development District (PD) also has rules for what can be built on the land.  Land use within a PD may not be defined in the same language or categories as the standard zoning tables, but the documents that created them detail height, lot coverage, uses, etc.

That’s where I begin.

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Dallas zoning map. Don’t worry, we’ll zoom in for a closer look.

As the City of Dallas grows, it will grow up and become more dense.  Neighborhoods that were thought to be fully developed aren’t. Streetscapes and views, unchanged for decades, are changing. And honestly, it’s a good thing overall.

The only way to grow and leave everything alone is to continue to build out into the unsustainable money pits of the suburbs.  Their miles and miles of endless roadways, sewers, water pipes, and bridges make these low-density spaces impossible to support from their tax base. If you think Dallas has potholes, visit a built-out, middle-income suburb on its 50th birthday.

Besides, you really want to live inside LBJ, right? And even if you don’t, you still need to understand zoning.

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States using Transferable Development Rights (2009)

We all know the city needs to grow.  Unfortunately, all too often the NIMBY response is that development and density would be much better “over there” somewhere. What if it could? What if development goals could be achieved at the same time lower density could be selectively preserved?

There’s this legal thing called Transferable Development Rights and it could be selectively used to deal with the “over there” without impacting overall development.  Here’s how it works …

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