It is not enough that the hotly contested District 13 City Council race between Laura Miller and Jennifer Staubach Gates has frozen forward progress Behind the Pink Wall, keeping victims of the Preston Place fire in limbo as to their financial future. Now it could also stymie new home development in Northwest Dallas.

About 4.4 acres of land at 10210 Webb Chapel Road once belonged to Mi Escualita Preschool. The property has sat vacant for at least six and a half years, but was recently was purchased by developer David Gleeson with hopes to build detached single-family homes on the land with a large national homebuilder such as David Weekley Homes. The homes, perfect for downsizing Baby Boomers, will be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 square feet in size, with prices ranging from $375,000 to $475,000.

And Gleeson has followed city protocol in order to obtain zoning for the new homes, which he says will add value to the neighborhood. And though he has talked to them, as well as other builders, the development is not a David Weekley Homes project at this point.

Still, Laura Miller included the development as No. 8 on her “Top 10” reasons of why Jennifer Gates won’t debate her (there have been at least 3 debates) and why District 13 residents should vote her in and incumbent Gates out. Miller also included the proposed development in her Dallas Morning News Voter profile.

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At last night’s debate between District 13 Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates and former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, I fully expected the political point-scoring and backbiting that is politics. What I didn’t expect was the paucity of actual answers to questions. Part of that rests on moderator Tim Rogers for not calling out either candidate for being non-responsive to his questions. Each question was supposed to net both candidates 90 seconds to respond. With such a short time, you’d think they’d get to the meat of an answer. Not really.

Instead, we saw an hour of political brinksmanship with little hard substance from either candidate. One of two things was behind this – either they had no detailed answers, or more likely, those answers were thought to be unpalatable to voters. As you will read, I’m not afraid of unpalatable.

But before I go there, Miller’s opening remarks contained one of the few truthful moments. She described herself as someone of “action” compared to Gates’ “indecision.” While Miller meant this as a dig at Gates, I saw the opposite. Gates’ appearance of indecision comes from her wanting information to help guide a decision. For example, within PD-15,  Gates has spent two years trying to reach a compromise. Only after two committees devolved into factions did she finally ask city staff to come up with something.

Compare that to a quick-to-judge, uncompromising Miller, whom I’ve seen in action on the Preston Center Area Plan committee, the proposed Preston Center skybridge, Highland House, and now PD-15. She’s someone who doesn’t allow new information to cloud her initial judgment. I have the patience for those trying to learn more to get a better result.

In a more visceral display, before the debate, Laura Miller asked me to carry her suitcase to the stage (seen in photo) while Gates glad-handed me as she did many in the room.  To Gates, I was a constituent, to Miller, a lackey, apparently.

Roads are Bad and You Don’t Pay Enough Tax

The topic of roads came up … (more…)

The truth about Preston Center: Latest proposal for the parking garage

A couple of days ago, Phil Crone, Dallas Builders Association Dallas Division executive officer, asked for help plugging the DBA debate planned for April 4 at the division’s monthly meeting. Knowing that Jennifer Staubach Gates had canceled an earlier debate, I jumped on this and called executive editor Joanna England: we’ve got to live stream it!

We got to Maggiano’s, got set up, and were told that we had a problem: Neither candidate had agreed to video of any kind. Jennifer Staubach Gates was seated, and Laura Miller had not yet arrived.

I went right up to Gates and asked if we could live stream. She said yes, of course. The DBA asked Miller when she arrived, and she agreed. The Dallas Morning News was there taking stills. Knowing that residents of District 13 wanted to see this, we also decided to post the hour-and-a-half-long video here on the website.

Keep in mind that the DBA drafted the questions and yes, it was builder-oriented, which is very pertinent to the issues concerning D13: building, growth, density, big houses dwarfing smaller 1950s ranches, traffic, site views, density, highest and best use of land, and did we mention density? Crime and other issues were not discussed, but we will cover those in our soon-to-be published candidate questionnaires. (Ours were so detailed the candidates are all asking for more time.)

During the debate, Dallas Morning News writer Robert Wilonsky messaged me that it was riveting, then asked how I would score the candidates. 

The corner of Preston Rd & Northwest Highway, 2014. It has since been replaced by The Laurel Apartments, the first shot over the bow of the burgeoning Preston Road and Northwest Highway debacle.

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debate

Incumbent District 13 Dallas councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates (center) debated former mayor Laura Miller (far right) Thursday. The Dallas Builders Association’s Phil Crone moderated.

Candy will dissect the debate later today, but for now, we have the recorded Dallas Builders Association debate between District 13 incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates and former mayor Laura Miller. Let us know what you think! (more…)