Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Forward Dallas is a vision for inclusive growth, not neighborhood destruction

By meerna Jul11,2024
Forward Dallas is a vision for inclusive growth, not neighborhood destruction

As Dallas grapples with a worsening affordable housing crisis, some residents have expressed concerns that ForwardDallas, will destroy single-family neighborhoods by imposing unwanted multiplex residences. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

ForwardDallas is a thoughtful blueprint to position Dallas as a leader in inclusive and equitable housing among America’s fastest-growing metropolises. This is a citywide visionary plan that establishes guidelines for how public and private land should be used and what the city should look like and it is undergoing its first update since 2006,

North Texas’ population surge shows no signs of slowing. We can plan for this growth responsibly or watch as more incompatible housing gets built that is not sensitive to the existing scale, design, and stability of neighborhoods in South Dallas, parts of East Dallas and West Dallas, to name a few.

Concerns about rapid resonance are unfounded. Zoning by right does not exist in the ForwardDallas plan. Any and all future zoning changes and area plans will still require extensive public input and approval processes.

ForwardDallas recognizes what unaffordability has done and is doing, driving residents to suburbs with more housing choices and options. We want Dallas to become a city where people of all income levels and stages of life can thrive.

ForwardDallas is a crucial step toward a more inclusive future for the city of Dallas. It acknowledges our city’s complex history while looking ahead. It balances the need for growth with respect for existing communities.

As housing advocates, we know, informed by data and years of experience, that many historically underinvested areas still struggle beneath legacies of oppression. South Dallas, in particular, has been fighting an uphill battle since 1937, when the city marked our neighborhoods as “unsafe for investment” and other neighborhoods adopted exclusionary “single-family only” zoning throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

ForwardDallas, shaped by years of community input and planning professionals, addresses the aspirations and concerns of residents. It’s not a law, but a guide for future zoning decisions made by our City Plan Commissioners and City Council. It does not rezone land by right; therefore it does not constitute the bulldozing of existing homes. Instead, the plan opens doors for smarter development. We believe that housing stock should be prevented from displacing existing housing stock, particularly in areas identified as high risk for displacement.

We invite anyone interested to visit the neighborhoods served by Innercity Community Development Corporation (a community-based nonprofit) to learn how the status quo is unsustainable for our neighbors. The South Dallas Fair Park Area Plan envisions how different types of new housing, compatible with existing housing, can co-exist. It also allows mixed-use and residential development along our commercial corridors, which aligns with ForwardDallas.

The need to accommodate more housing in Dallas is clear. Building Community Workshop’s State of Dallas Housing 5-year Comparison Report found we are short over 16,000 affordable single-family homes, while the Child Poverty Action Lab’s Rental Housing Needs Assessment found we are facing a growing gap of over 33,660 affordable rental units. This is about providing housing choices for our nurses and medical assistants, our teachers and cafeteria workers, and our police and firefighters, if they so desire, in the communities they serve.

We cannot ignore the ugly history of redlining and segregation single-family zoning wrought in our city, and we must put measures in place to help move Dallas forward. This is consistent with the ForwardDallas update. We believe that wherever individuals choose to reside, there must be opportunities in these areas that allow them to enjoy a decent quality of life.

The plan discusses a variety of housing types, such as duplexes, townhomes and cottage courts, that can revitalize neighborhoods without disrupting their character. It provides options, not mandates. ForwardDallas specifically recommends integrating urban design standards and guidance into the development review process and future planning efforts. Studies also show that mixed-income neighborhoods are more vibrant, economically resilient and feature a diverse range of housing types.

This isn’t about destroying neighborhoods. It’s about building them up — all of them. It’s about making sure our kids and grandkids and our parents and grandparents can afford to stay in the communities they grew up in. It’s about creating opportunities where there weren’t any before.

The biggest threat to our neighborhoods is our failure to plan for inevitable growth. ForwardDallas gives us a chance to shape that growth on our terms.

Let’s move forward, Dallas.

The Rev. Billy Lane is the executive director of Innercity Community Development Corporation, which serves the needs of the South Dallas/Fair Park neighborhoods through programs focusing on homeownership and economic development. Diane Ragsdale is the founder and director emerita of ICDC. She served as a Dallas City Council member from 1984 to 1991.

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By meerna

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