Dallasites Sound Off Against ForwardDallas Plan

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Dallas skyline | Image by dibrova/Shutterstock

Dallas residents went on the attack on Thursday during a meeting of the City Plan Commission, lambasting the prospect of multifamily housing units being built in neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family homes.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the City plans on updating its comprehensive land use plan this year, which is known as ForwardDallas. The plan is supposed to serve as a “long-range future land use vision that guides how and where the city grows over the coming decades and describes how to achieve that vision.”

Residents of neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes, however, have been wary of talk by some City officials about how the way forward for Dallas is through increasing density, which could mean allowing for rezoning changes to let developers install multifamily housing units where they were previously prohibited. Such an approach has been touted by some as a way to increase “affordable housing.”

Many signed up to address the City Plan Commission at its meeting last week to argue against the proposal, claiming that the notion that multifamily housing necessarily means lower costs was false.

“What we’re seeing in real life in our East Dallas neighborhoods is an encroachment by large multifamily townhomes, which are driving up the land prices. This is what’s driving expensive building in this area,” said Patricia Simon. “We are not building affordable housing because the developers are lining their pockets by creating density. … Our taxes are going up as a result of this, making it unaffordable for even those of us who have lived in these neighborhoods for a decade.”

Jose Rivas also took to the podium and called on City leaders to establish protections for single-family neighborhoods.

“The current ForwardDallas plan appears to overlook the negative impacts on our established neighborhoods in the name of affordability, which the staff and [City Plan Commission] admit in community meetings across the city that it will not remedy,” he said. “We need a balanced approach that safeguards existing homeowners’ interest while still supporting responsible growth and density around our community through an open and transparent process.”

While the ForwardDallas plan itself, once adopted, would not institute zoning changes, rezoning would likely be a mechanism by which City officials achieve the plan’s stated goals.

Although a majority of speakers during the meeting’s public comment component were resoundingly against any possible changes to single-family zoning, some residents expressed support for the plan as written, citing affordability as a key problem in the city.

“What we need is greater housing options, a variety of choices that are diverse in types and size and are affordable and attainable. … Many Dallas neighborhoods exist with a long history of multifamily homes and that’s what we used to consider normal,” said Brenda Grimworthy. “But today, those older structures can’t be replaced or imitated [because of zoning]. For Dallas to grow, our old normal needs to come back and we need a significant increase in middle housing for sale and rent that’s available across the entire city.”

Members of the City Plan Commission will be holding a day-long public workshop on June 17 to discuss proposed revisions to the ForwardDallas plan before making any official recommendations to the Dallas City Council.

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