Yesterday, the results of the PD-15 authorized hearing had their first airing with City Plan Commission. Those expecting a knock-down, drag-out were disappointed. Those relishing hypocrisy, dipped in pretension, were not disappointed.

It was explained that because the opposition to the city’s PD-15 draft had paid the fee to postpone the meeting originally scheduled on March 21, the meeting had to take place that day because a postponement sets a clock ticking. Because of that, and the unavailability of the much-awaited traffic study, the CPC hearing was ultimately split into two parts. Traffic issues and more discussion will take place at the June 6 CPC meeting.

CPC chair Gloria Tarpley set out the game plan from the beginning so everyone understood what was being accomplished that day. Zoning cases usually have an applicant (someone wanting to do something) but the authorized hearing didn’t. So the meeting disposed of the usual presentation of whizzy graphs and ambitious drawings. Instead, Tarpley opened it up to public comment for those in support of the city’s recommendation and those opposed.

First up were those in support (myself included – I’m a PD-15 resident). I’m going to call it 10 people who spoke. Their comments can be bucketed into:

(more…)

Two weeks ago, District 13 council member Jennifer Staubach Gates debated rival candidate and former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller at a luncheon hosted by the Dallas Builders Association. The event was live-streamed and later posted by CandysDirt.com. About 20 minutes into the recording, the topic of PD-15 was raised. (Planned Development district between Preston Tower and Athena on Northwest Highway).

The proposed updating of the area’s decades-old governing document has been one of two zoning issues at the center of this campaign. In mid-February, I pointed out that Laura Miller’s ownership of an Athena condo would constitute a financial conflict from which she’d have to recuse herself.

At the debate, Gates pointed out the conflict to Miller. Here is Miller’s response:

[The city of Dallas’ ethics code says,] “If you are involved financially in a situation that’s voted on by the Dallas City Council, where you will personally be making money where other people will not be making money but you are personally involved and will make money from it, then you have a financial conflict of interest …

My living in the area plan area and having a rental unit that we bought for my mother-in-law before she passed away has nothing to do with the code of ethics and any financial conflict of interest. I do not have a conflict of interest nor would I be or will I be recusing myself from any vote involving zoning in the area.”

According to Miller’s own words, “you have a financial conflict of interest” if “you will personally be making money where other people will not be making money.” Whether redevelopment is good, bad or indifferent to surrounding property values, that trajectory will be influenced by city hall’s vote.

Steve Long, SMU’s Maguire Chair of Ethics wrote that using Aristotle’s definition of truth, “I’m puzzled by the candidate’s response because it appears to violate this basic tenet of truth-telling.” He continued, “If she is making a profit from a rental unit then her conclusion makes no sense.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings echoes this sentiment, “I think that your assessment of the situation is absolutely correct.” (more from Rawlings further down)

(more…)

taco truckWhat do you do when your seller becomes the subject of a viral taco truck video in the wrong way — and your listing (with your sign) is the backdrop for that video?

One woman’s words with a taco truck owner have apparently cost her dearly — both in reputation and in potentially selling her house.

She was dubbed “Taco Truck Tammy” after a viral video showing her threatening to call ICE on the occupants of a food truck hit social media this week, and Dallas resident Valerie Jacobs’ appearance on the video has caused a monumental backlash from neighbors — and brought international attention to a recorded altercation between Jacobs and the food truck owners.

Jacobs asked to be called by her first name only in news interviews, but social media and other news outlets have repeatedly used her full name.

The incident also brought some attention to her Realtor as well — more on that in a minute. (more…)

Fifty years after last school bell rang for attendees, front rows are still last to fill

[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com who lives in District 13. His opinions are his own.]

The community gathered last night to discuss PD-15, and honestly, I expected this to be a “bottle of rotgut and a bullet to bite on” kind of meeting. But it wasn’t. To be sure, when the public comment section came around there was no shortage of strong words on every side of this issue. Former Dallas mayor and District 13 city council candidate Laura Miller gave her 2-cents when everyone else had gotten one. (More later)

In a bizarre coincidence, earlier in the day I’d read about the jet stream’s current velocity pushing eastbound airplanes as fast as 801 miles per hour — which is about how fast city planner Andrew Ruegg zipped through 96 slides in about 40 minutes at last night’s second PD-15 community meeting. While some of the city’s all-important graphics could have benefitted from a few more seconds on the screen, it was a comprehensive overview of the draft proposal being delivered to city plan commission on March 21.

Note to city: Graphics of exactly what’s on the table are critical to comprehension. They should be there at the get-go, not batting clean-up.

But just as the Preston Road and Northwest Highway Area Plan didn’t take economics into consideration, the city’s PD document really didn’t either. It would have been helpful to have had a “likely outcome” section.

You see, while the land bordering Northwest Highway is proposed to allow 240-foot heights, It’s not probable that’s what will be built. Let me explain …

(more…)

[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com who lives in District 13. His opinions are his own.]

I have to admit, had I been drinking milk, it would have squirted out of my nose when I was forwarded an email from a few Preston Hollow residents. It blared out:

CHANGE IS COMING to District 13!!! (and I don’t mean Staubach’s supersized version) Click the links below – AND: SIGN the change.org petition – AND: GO PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY FEBRUARY 19th at 6:30pm at Hyer Elementary!!!!!!!!! SPREAD THE WORD NOW!!!!!
(three pro-Laura Miller links)
SORRY JEN: LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY!

Its poor grammar, bombastic language, and the accompanying misleading images reminded me of the sound of a group of seagulls hovering over a restaurant dumpster – or basically, the internet. I wonder if they’ll be yelling “LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY” if Laura Miller loses her race against council member Jennifer Gates?

First, the campaign seems to be run by the same people who delivered the recent towers meeting. Everything is assumed to be the evil plot of council member Jennifer Gates – almost like it were politically motivated.

(more…)

Enough with the salt.

Regardless of your definition, the world got worse in many ways this past year. While many large problems seem out of our control to fix or influence, there are several things we can all do to make me feel better. Yes, me. In this season of giving, what have you done for me?  If you’re still looking for my belated present, there are still a few items from my gift registry that weren’t in my stocking this year.

Stop Pouring Salt In My Wound

I can’t be the only person who likes caramel – that magical concoction of sugar and milk. Making caramel from scratch is less simple than you’d imagine but with a reward unimaginably tasty. So why has the world gone mad tossing salt into the mix? Stop it. Caramel doesn’t need the help.

I get the whole salty/sweet thing, but not in caramel. Feel free to dip pretzels, chips, or blocks of salt in chocolate, but leave caramel the hell alone.

(more…)

By Cynthia Weatherall
Special Contributor

I attended Wednesday’s City Council meeting when the council was briefed on proposed homeless strategies by Monica Hardman, the managing director of the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions. This was the fiery meeting where the “Track 2” proposal to transport the homeless across the city stirred citizens to action as few topics can do — unless it comes to protecting your home. Thankfully, the proposed strategy, which would have established temporary “roving” shelters for homeless people at recreation centers, was roundly dismissed, not only by most city council members, but by the directors of current shelters.

That was a relief. But I attended the briefing and the Q and A, and I’m concerned by what hasn’t been widely reported about various OTHER proposals.

(more…)

Wednesday WTF

(Photo courtesy Ramiro Ramirez/Flickr)

Yesterday, we ran our weekly Wednesday WTF, and some of you had some serious issues with it. Our entire staff was on it all day. I was also called a few names, but that’s neither here nor there.

What I would like to say is this: I in no way saw any humor in what I saw in that listing. Sometimes, the WTF is hilarious to me. Sometimes — as in life — WTF can also be used in situations so shocking there is no other term that will do. WTF is a way we try to bring a little humor into Hump Day, but we never intended it to be a swipe at the less fortunate. Not ever.

Fact of the matter is, people live like this. The people who live(d) in this house did.

Now I don’t live that way. Neither do most of you. I’ve been quite poor (and I’ll be happy to tell you exactly how poor offline if you’d like), and I’ve been quite comfortable. But in all those times, I was quite clean. And when I wasn’t able to do that myself, there was someone in my life to make sure that happened. Maybe I was damn lucky.

In this case, clearly the people living here did not have that. And that is unconscionable and sad. It’s a situation that is truly due a WTF reaction, because nobody should have to live like this. Nobody should.

But we were never talking about the people. We were talking about the listing.

Still somewhere, we all failed these people. As we do every day in Dallas. Keeping a clean home shouldn’t be dependent on whether you’re using a walker or can walk unassisted — it’s a basic human right we should all have. This isn’t a matter of personal taste. But homes are like dependents: they require constant care and upkeep, and if you’re not up to it either physically or financially, this happens.

If anything, we drew attention to a need, even if by accident. Readers are already reaching out, wanting to help. So if you looked at these pictures and were horrified, I hope you’ll consider doing one thing for me: Be a good neighbor. If your neighbors are older, or are infirm, especially, check on them. Offer to do the mundane tasks like wiping down doors and decluttering if it will help them. Check on the safety of their home if you can, and try to help them encourage their landlord (or the city to encourage the landlord) to make necessary repairs. If they have family, prod them.

If you’re unsure what to do, call 211 and ask what programs are available, or reach out to some of the providers on this list for advice.

One thing we do at CandysDirt.com so very well is stir the dirt, ask the tough questions, and look at the story behind the story with transparency. We’re doing that now with this post, so stay tuned. Did we step too far unintentionally? Maybe. But know that I nor anyone on the CD staff thought the condition of the home was funny.

I assure you, I certainly did not.

Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for CandysDirt.com. Contact her at bethany@candysdirt.com.