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?


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?


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’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.


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.



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 …


At last week’s National Association of Real Estate Editors’ conference, unsurprisingly, a lot of time focused on the state of the residential real estate market. The main drivers can be broken down into two large buckets that I’m further breaking down.  Part One focused on people and population issues, while this installment focuses on home construction.

The graphic above is a vivid illustration of all that’s wrong with homebuilding and the effects of extremely tight housing supplies and increasing prices.  For eight years we have built about half the housing units we need. Unfortunately, those were not eight years where humans stopped aging and young adults ceased wanting to get away from their Spiderman and Little Mermaid sheets.


Listening to experts discuss the state of the US housing market at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ conference last week, two large forces were evident … people trends and building trends.  Put together, we have a good picture of what’s going on in housing. But within these large buckets, there remains a lot of nuance to unpack. This first installment will cover people and population trends.

Population and Housing

Population is broken into manageable, marketable pieces called “generations,” reflected in the graphic above that reports the number of births in a given generation.  Unfortunately for statisticians, the generations are not of equal duration.  One reason the Baby Boomers became the largest was that, as a generation, it’s up to three years the longer and also coupled with a period of increased birth rates.  By contrast, the poor Gen X-ers had lower birth rates but also the shortest “generation” timespan … a double whammy. Had Gen-X been as long as the Boomers, it would have had roughly the same birth size as the Millennials.