A rule in the Dallas Development Code — commonly known as the 3,000-square-foot rule — has purportedly had unintended consequences for some of the city’s predominantly “black and brown” neighborhoods.
Dallas City Council members will consider an amendment to remove a subsection of the code that allows for the demolition of residential structures of 3,000 square feet or less in historic districts that have been declared “substandard urban nuisances” by the property owner or a building inspector.
The ordinance was initially adopted in 2010 to address substandard structures and “to prevent blight and safeguard the public health, safety, and welfare.”
However, over the following 13 years, approximately 35 historic homes were demolished in the Tenth Street Historic District, and six homes were demolished in Wheatley Place, according to a City memo citing information from the Historic Preservation Office.
While the City ordinance applies to all historic districts, Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry claimed it “disproportionately impacts our predominantly black and brown and lower-income historic districts because those districts include many of the ‘declared substandard’ houses.”
Since property owners and building inspectors are able to declare a residential structure in a historic district as “substandard,” the default decision for these homes became demolition rather than consideration for rehabilitation, according to the memo.
Three other subsections pertaining to the demolition of substandard or hazardous structures are already codified, so amending the Dallas Development Code to remove the 3,000-square-foot rule will allegedly not have an adverse effect.
“These options would remain in place and provide sufficient recourse to address hazardous or potentially hazardous structures,” claimed Al-Ghafry.
In January, the City Plan Commission voted to remove the 3,000-square-foot rule from the Dallas Development Code, leaving the final ruling up to the Dallas City Council. Council members will consider whether to drop the rule on February 28, 2024.