Civic Group Ambivalent Over Broadnax’s DSD

The skyline of Dallas | Image by f11photo/Shutterstock

Single-family home building permit applications spiked in March, raising questions over whether the supposed reforms at the City of Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) under City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s office will be able to manage the influx effectively.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, median permit processing times dropped significantly last month, even as the number of applications for single-family home building permits shot up by 65.8% month to month.

However, a glance at the City of Dallas New Single-Family Dwelling permit dashboard indicates that as of April 1 (when the dashboard was last updated), out of the 268 permits being processed, 173 appear to be stuck in the department review phase.

It is currently unclear how much of the volume will be able to move as the spring building season heads into the summer months when construction typically picks up in Texas, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center.

Phil Crone, executive officer for the Dallas Builders Association, told The Dallas Express that he is not expecting such a big push to build in the City this year.

“I think the uptick this season will be modest enough for DSD to keep up with given the headwinds of the national market. That said, better times are ahead and we’ve challenged the City Manager and council to think ahead and do a stress test on the department to ensure they can handle it,” Crone wrote in a statement.

The Dallas Express also spoke with Louis Darrouzet, CEO of the Metroplex Civic & Business Association, about what gains DSD has made in the last couple of months.

“They have the dashboard up now. They’re at least measuring metrics now on the residential side. That is helpful,” he said.

However, Darrouzet lamented about the commercial end, noting that the City is not functioning as efficiently as it could be.

“From what I hear, [developers] will file a permit or a zoning request, and they’ll get some feedback on it but then have to get back into the queue for another two months, and then the [City] will look at it again, give a couple more comments, then it’s back in the queue,” Darrouzet said, pointing out such delays give pause to developers looking to build in Dallas

City Manager Broadnax has been the subject of many controversies in recent years. From the unacceptable permitting backlog that still casts a shadow over Dallas development to his losing the faith of roughly half the City Council and almost getting fired, Broadnax continues to get paid more than the President of the United States.

“I want to be optimistic that the City will start making better decisions and letting people come in and develop without throwing in all this bureaucratic red tape that you’re seeing on the commercial builder side,” Darrouzet said.

He went on to discuss the dynamics at play between developers and the City and how some existing City housing policies have been stalling projects and dissuading builders from looking at Dallas as a prime location for their projects.

“I would think that the lion’s share of that permitting and zoning department, their mantra should be: ‘How can we get as much development as possible as quickly as possible in Dallas? How do we work with our developers? How do we work with the companies that are trying to move here? How do we get this done as quickly as possible?'” said Darrouzet.

“Dallas can capture some of the value that’s heading into DFW, but they’re missing out right now,” he added.

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