Archive for September, 2009

We Can All Take the Credit or Accept the Blame

September 30, 2009
Anything written by Rev. Gerald Britt will command my attention.  He has been in the trenches, working on behalf of the community for decades.  With that in mind, make sure you read his post on his Change the Wind blog.
Rev. Britt is right; a lot of people are working countless hours to improve the community. In some areas, assistance is given by the city but we always need residents and interested citizens to fill the gap. We also need media to report the good and bad that is going on.
With respect to District Four, the philosophy is to “make it safe,” and then businesses will return.  I still remember three years ago when people were telling Dwaine Caraway that his campaign would go nowhere if he made public safety his number one issue. Well, as we continue to find innovative ways to reduce crime the investment is coming back slowly but surely.

Even within the City, we are not waiting for the Task Force to do the work for us.  Crest Shopping Center in Oak Cliff is being revitalized, the 8th & Corinth/Fiji mixed-use transit-oriented development project will break ground shortly, and zoning is being reviewed on the eastern side of our district to ensure better uses for that area.

The convenience store initiative is now law, and the goal is for it to be expanded to car washes. The store ordinance requires videotaping of all areas of the premises, as well as all being part of DPD’s criminal trespass program which allows police to effectively address loitering issues which foster drug dealing and other crimes.
The city has a role, the newspaper has a role, and the community has a role.  Everyone has a part in the success.

The Blues are back in Deep Ellum

September 27, 2009
Last Friday, I was one of the lucky people that got to attend the grand opening of Tucker’s Blues in Deep Ellum. I say that because it was one of the best shows that I had been to in a long time.

Though I don’t profess to be an expert on blues music, I know most of the popular songs. The show consisted of several singers and a fantastic backup band. The crowd was very diverse and the atmosphere had a lot of energy the entire night.

The space, which is located next to Twister Root and formerly housed Red Blood Club, looks fantastic. But what also makes the place stand out are the owners.  You can tell that the Tuckers know what they’re doing.  For a first night, the service was really attentive without being intrusive. The brother-sister team of Dianne and Larry Tucker and their family are some of the most gracious hosts you will come across.

When we went through the whole rezoning process in Deep Ellum a couple of years ago, these are the types of places and crowds that we wanted to see come back to the neighborhood.

My advice: show up early.  As the word gets out this will be a really tough spot to get into. If you think Deep Ellum is dead, you haven’t been to Tuckers’ Blues.

Renters Don’t Pay Taxes?

September 26, 2009
In the weeks and month leading up to the City Council’s adoption of a new budget, I have seen several blogs and forums that have taken the attitude that renters do not pay taxes and that somehow don’t matter in this city.

I saw one post in particular after the council voted this week, which stated that “property owners in the city, subsidize the majority of the population who are renters.” I guess the same goes for commercial tenants.  Sometimes I wonder about the lucidity of these individuals.   So you mean to tell me that none of the rent that is paid by an apartment dweller or office user ends up in the city coffers? Seriously?

Acting like renters don’t pay tax is an arrogant, failed argument.  A check may not be written directly to the municipality by a renter, but don’t act like property taxes don’t get paid  in some fashion.  Anybody that knows anything about real estate knows that any increase in property taxes will get passed along to tenants in the form of a rent increase. It’s as ridiculous as the people picketing with “I hate government signs” but use our police, electric and water utilities. I mean, if you hate government then you at least have a rainwater collection system and solar panels on your house, right? I digress.

In fact, if you do the math on how much tax some of the “renters don’t matter” crowd pays,  I would bet that our unimportant (to them) household of renters ends up paying more in taxes then that amount and has for years.

I guess if there weren’t people to rent apartments and commercial space, the property owners would happily keep paying the same level taxes to the city and county. I guess you would still have a downtown Dallas, since developers build buildings just so they can pay taxes out of their own pockets instead of having renters whose rent will allow for such payments. Or maybe not.  Maybe, just maybe, the lease payments (rent) of said property end up in the hand of the building owner who then (gasp) pays some of it to the city and county in the form of property tax.

The reasoning of some that it’s OK to raise taxes because Dallas voters approved a bond program also doesn’t hold water.  Voters approved that increase in taxes for bond-program related projects, not to fund city services and programs. 

Homeowners and renters make a city. Picture where your city budget would be without renters, then maybe you’ll reconsider your attitude about our contribution.

DART’s Green Line Signals a New Era of Possibilities

September 13, 2009
While full service will start on Monday, Saturday was the first day that the public could ride the DART Green Line train.  There are four brand new stations, and each one had some sort of party around the station.
Despite the rain, the trains were packed! 
I started at the Baylor stop in Deep Ellum and ran into a few friends at the It’s a Grind coffee shop.  They had a great band, free cookies from Kessler Cookie Company and other fun stuff.  I then hopped on the train and rode to the south end of the line, which is the MLK station.
The Martin Luther King Jr. station is a jewel in itself. There is a lot of history that is detailed in the various art features.  Pictures from famed Dallas photographer R.C. Hickman are featured at the train stop.

The Fair Park station stops right in from of the gate on the Expo Park side.

Then the train moves to Baylor station (in Deep Ellum) where lucky residents of the Ambrose live right at the train stop and onto the Deep Ellum station on Good Latimer where we got a close up of The Traveling Man statue.

The current line will run from the MLK Transit Center to Victory Park, while connecting to the Red and Blue lines at all of the current downtown stops. The rest of the green line stations will be open in December 2010, with the line stretching from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton.
As some have said, access to jobs is an important byproduct of the green line. In a little more than a year people that live in Pleasant Grove, Parkdale, and most of South Dallas will have direct access to jobs from Love Field and to Carrollton.  While there may be bus service to some of these locations, it’s intermittent and it’s a totally different proposition to ride on the train. In terms of time and ease of travel this rail line will put a lot of jobs in reach.
In addition, as events are hosted in Fair Park and downtown the train will ease some of the car traffic that is generated when people are traveling to these destinations.  As I rode the train you could feel the excitement and there was a lot of conversation amongst the passengers about the benefits of having the green line. Once the State Fair hits, it will be a great way to showcase the progress of our city. 
I heard that Victory Station will have a party this coming Saturday. Bring it on!
Video of my trip is below.

Background music: “Car of Love” by Main Ingredient 

In Memory of 9/11/2001

September 11, 2009
This is dedicated to all of those that lost a loved one 8 years ago, and to those that put their lives on the lines to save others in the United States and abroad.

We will never forget.

Thank you.

Container Homes: Good or Bad?

September 9, 2009
My buddy Preston in Salt Lake City wrote an interesting post on his blog Jetson Green about a container home that was built in Houston.

A container home uses shipping containers as the building blocks of construction.  Reading various websites, people have a pretty strong opinion about container homes and whether they should be allowed in neighborhoods. In Fort Worth, someone wanted to build container homes and was recently denied the opportunity.

According to reports, the cost of the actual containers can range from $2,000-$5,000 and many times multiple containers are used to build a home. The sale prices of a container home can vary from $40,000 into the six-figure range.  I have even seen  contemporary-style 3-story homes built from containers.  They don’t always look like shipping containers, as they can be faced with facades made of brick or other materials.

These two articles give you an idea of the range of homes that can be built using shipping containers. Eventually, this concept will be presented in Dallas.
I think it is an interesting concept, and if the end result doesn’t resemble a container then give it a chance. What do you think?

(photos are by Jack Thompson at Dwell Magazine)

A Few Changes Around Here…

September 4, 2009
As readership continues to increase, you’ll notice that we’ve made a few changes on Dallas Progress.  We’re just trying to keep the site up with the times from a technology standpoint.

If you look at the bottom of the page you have the ability to search the blog, translate a page, and subscribe to our feed, as well as join our Facebook Fan Page.  There’s also a ton of games available, and you can follow us from twitter too. Did I mention: games!

At the bottom of each post, there are various share options. Just hover over each icon and you can share the article on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and other services.  You can still subscribe via e-mail on the right-hand side.

If the changes cause any tech difficulties (pop-ups, etc), please let me know.

We hope you like the changes, and thanks for continuing to read and support Dallas Progress.

Rumored Changes to Dallas’ Postal Offices on Hold

September 2, 2009

Last week, a town hall meeting was conducted to provide the public with more information regarding possible closures of Dallas’ main post office in Oak Cliff. It doesn’t seem like that rumored closure will be happening anytime soon.

Why you ask? I just received a press release from Congresswoman Johnson’s office. It states:


Washington, DC – (September 2, 2009) Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson announced today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General has begun an independent audit of proposed changes to mail processing at the Dallas Main Post Office. The USPS recently recommended moving processing and distribution operations from the Dallas Main Post Office to Coppell, on the recommendation of an Area Mail Processing study. The USPS has agreed to postpone a decision regarding the consolidation, pending completion of the audit. Congresswoman Johnson held a town hall on the issue in Dallas on August 24.

“I am pleased that the United States Postal Service will wait to make changes to the mail processing system in North Texas until an independent audit is completed,” Congresswoman Johnson said. “While consolidating postal operations might be in the best interests of the postal service, it could have a negative impact on the city of Dallas and the postal employees who live there. I look forward to seeing the results of the audit; I am confident it will give everyone involved the information we need to evaluate the situation and decide how to move forward.”

According to the USPS Office of Inspector General, the audit will review the effect on employees and the community, anticipated cost savings, and the decision to move the processing and distribution operations to Coppell.