My column in last week's Thursday addition of the Dallas Morning News dealt with the need for the Mayor and council to be elected in the city's upcoming May 14th election to adopt a new, aggressive pro-growth agenda for the southern sector.
Here's an excerpt...
'According to the 2010 census, Dallas grew by only 0.08 percent, a fact that should be on every voter’s mind as the May 14 city elections approach. The growth figures of some of our sister cities should also be etched in our minds: San Antonio grew by 16 percent, Austin by more than 20 percent, Fort Worth by 38 percent, El Paso by 15 percent, Arlington by nearly 10 percent and Plano by 17 percent. Even Houston grew by 7.5 percent. Dallas grew by less than 1 percent. The new mayor and City Council can reverse this trend with an unapologetic commitment to a significant and strategic pro-growth agenda for southern Dallas. Efforts to attract major businesses to our city’s core, increase downtown housing and add to cultural and entertainment opportunities will fall short if the southern Dallas piece isn’t the centerpiece.'
'The lack of a pro-growth attitude and agenda toward the southern half of our city has led to disparities spoken of far too seldom: Much of Dallas south of Interstate 30 is woefully underdeveloped and contributes only 16 percent to the city’s tax base. In the South DallasFair Park area alone, nearly 200 vacant lots and a plethora of abandoned vacant structures amass uncollected property taxes and liens because of our city’s “can’t do” attitude toward these communities.'
Dallas' efforts to redevelopment in South Dallas in general and the southern sector in particular led to a project based, inchoate, haphazard approach that produces minimal results and often fails to take advantage of large scale projects that present significant opportunity. Dallas remains a 'can't-do' city when it comes to redevelopment south of Interstate 30. The results is Dallas' population north carries more than 80% of the tax burden for the entire city. In the meantime, the southern part remains underdeveloped. Currently an emphasis has been on redeveloping downtown. But an arts district, entertainment venues and a deck park can only promote so much growth. You can't have nearly two-thirds of the city's land lying fallow and claim to want to turn around dismal prospects for the future, such as less than 1% population growth.
The illustration of what the result of the neglect of southern Dallas is the Diaspora of African-American middle class which have fled Dallas. Where have they gone? Lancaster, DeSoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, Cedar Hill, Red Oak, Ovilla, WAXAHACHIE! All the while, city officials give every excuse in the book for why more robust growth can't happen.
What we have been doing, has not been working. We shouldn't need growth figures in the negatives to tell us that. We will need creative, meaningful, transformational strategies in which business, government and non-profit organizations partner to bring health, growth and redevelopment to this area.
Jim Schutze, columnist for the Dallas Observer seems to think this can't happen. He rebuts my column in his own saying...