Archive for the ‘City Plan Commission’ Category

My Response to Jim Schutze’s Post on May 10th

May 11, 2010

While the response below was included in the following blog posts (post one, post two),  in a issue so serious I felt the need to respond in a separate post. The answer to a question that he poses to me personally is also included.


Notice that even in Jim Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  


It’s much more convenient when Schutze tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News.  The attempt to cloud the real issues with childish name calling is something I would expect from a high-school newspaper.  And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts.  For a so-called investigative reporter to use such a tone in such a serious issue makes him seem irrational and ridiculous.  It’s par for the course; the bully can’t take a punch back.  He’s done it before, and will again. 


Schutze only got involved after he thought he had a scoop on Mayor Pro Tem Caraway and figured he could use it to further his vendetta. As I mentioned before, no one at the Observer wrote about the issue on that day or in the days after, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission.



To claim that a council member can’t meet with a business owner “outside of the process” is one of the most ignorant comments I have heard about the zoning process.  So businesses should just apply for zoning and never meet with council members?  Such a process doesn’t happen in his district or others. Ask your councilperson if they’ve ever met with a business owner before the case got voted on.  In fact, Schutze should ask his own councilperson that question.  And in cases where a business lies near multiple district boundaries (Caraway’s council district is three streets down), the business will take the time to meet with all of them.  It’s perfectly acceptable and passes any ethics sniff test. Caraway was with the council member from that district at the time he was in front of Oak Cliff Metals, which was written by Schutze himself in his own article. 


What also is blatantly clear is that for someone that writes a political column as if he is a zoning expert, Jim Schutze has little actual knowledge of actual city zoning rules.  Regardless of what citations Oak Cliff Metals does or doesn’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit.  This map proves it. The pictures show it. The City’s zoning rules do not allow it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.  

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Oak Cliff Metals: More Ignored Facts

May 2, 2010

Tod Robberson on the Dallas Morning News checks in twice regarding the Oak Cliff Metals situation.

As he accurately reports:

They are seeking a re-zoning of part of their property, which they have been using without permission for industrial purposes even though it is currently zoned for retail use only.

 My hope would be that reporters like Schutze would more accurately reflect the situation instead of massaging stories and half-reporting for their own benefit.  But it hasn’t happened in two years, so I won’t hold my breath.  We will, however, continue to refute the lies that are reported by that paper.

Oak Cliff Metals: Half the Facts, and it never Mattered Anyway

April 28, 2010

(UPDATE: more on this situation in this newer post. Notice that even in Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  It’s much more convenient when he tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News. And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts. Regardless of what citations they do or don’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit. This map proves it. The pictures show it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.)

So Jim Schutze writes another article with a negative slant about what’s going on in Oak Cliff (He calls the area South Dallas, which it’s not. It’s Oak Cliff, which is inside Southern Dallas. But I digress).  So what else is new? They had a bunch of lead-up blog posts over the last month acting like they had a bombshell on their hands.  Not so much. Maybe he’s auditioning to be in a movie version of the book to the right. Who knows.

For whatever reason, Jim Schutze has had an agenda regarding Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway for the last two years or so.  I have talked about it from time to time this blog.  He claims to be even-handed, but the truth is the last decent story he wrote involving the Caraways was in March of 2006.  I only bring up this fact because he did.  Moving on.

A lot of things are left out of this week’s article in his paper, most of which is either by convenience, lack of investigation or both.

The truth is that Oak Cliff Metals is three blocks from the boundaries of District Four along Cedar Crest.  District Four residents are the ones that drive by these properties every day.

While Schutze was busy interviewing the security guard for Oak Cliff Metals, did he cross the street and ask the owner of the barber shop about Oak Cliff Metals?  No.  Did he interview the pastor of the church directly across the street? No. They would’ve told you about Oak Cliff Metals being a bad neighbor for as long as they can remember.In fact, they were at the City Plan Commission hearing.

While he claims this is Dwaine’s one-man crusade against the “fantastic” business that is Oak Cliff Metals, did he look at the minutes of the City Plan Commission during which multiple residents and business owners said that they were against the zoning application? No. Did he even attend the meeting that day? No.  Did anyone at the Observer write about the issue on that day, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission? No.

Did he writer ever have a problem with council members in North of East Dallas rezoning entire areas or streets? No.

Did he miss the entire process undertaken by the City Council more than two years ago against metal theft and metal salvage yards, on which Dwaine was the lead?  How many times was Oak Cliff Metals mentioned during that process as one of the most egregious of violators? Countless.

Even the owners of Gold Metals on South Lamar are willing to talk to the press about their business. Why does Oak Cliff Metals continue to hide?

Here are some facts about zoning in Dallas: A metal salvage facility must have a Specific Use Permit to operate (zoning rules), and even at that point can only have such a permit on land zoned Industrial Manufacturing.  Such a business cannot exist 500 feet from residentially-zoned land.  Oak Cliff Metals is less than 500 feet from such property. By that definition alone, the permit should not be granted.

Did Schutze mention anything about the fact that Oak Cliff Metals skirted the law by getting a CO for outside storage instead of their true use which is metal salvage? Did he mention that they currently do not have the Specific Use Permit needed to legally operate? Nope.

As mentioned by the Dallas Morning News two weeks ago:

City code enforcers warned Falcon Transit’s owner about several potential infractions last year. “Violation confirmed” and “illegal land use” appear on one Sept. 27 code-enforcement report. A separate notice of violation, addressed to Mr. Smith, lists an invalid certificate of operation.

Did Schutze mention that in addition to their application for a Specific Use Permit, Oak Cliff Metals wants to take land zoned Community Retail along Cedar Crest and zone it Industrial Manufacturing? No.  Then his story would be that much more meaningless.  All facts conveniently left out of his article.

I openly wonder how Schutze writes articles bemoaning “ward politics,” and then write an article about a councilman that has the supposed nerve of speaking out against a problem business that is blocks from his council district.  So which one is it?  Are you for or against so-called ward politics? You can’t have it both ways.

Schutze mentions that he doesn’t live on land zoned for industrial uses.  Of course he doesn’t; he lives in East Dallas where no such zoning exists on main corridors. Let’s see how his neighbors feel if someone wants to take some of their best land on Live Oak or Gaston near his house that’s zoned retail and make it industrial.

Why most of land that is zoned industrial is south of I-30 and not in his high-income neighborhood is a discussion for another day.

As I have mentioned before, they resent the fact that we are as educated about the process of improving our neighborhoods as any other area, and that we address problems. Oak Cliff Metals, Texas-by-Products, and others are on a long list of bad actors.  Clean up takes time.

They use their paper for undercover political motives as well.  I can’t respect writers like Schutze because they have no goal; it’s all about burning people with no real positive goal to bolster their efforts, while hiding behind the cloak of “good reporting.”

Keep writing, keep lying, and keep hating. We’ll keep cleaning up our neighborhoods.

Absentee Experts on the Inner Workings of City Hall

August 25, 2009

It seems like city officials are always under fire for various things at City Hall. It comes with the territory, but it would be nice if writers dug a little deeper when working on complex and important stories.

If a so-called City Hall expert claims in an article that “people can’t go down there and get a fair hearing without paying off everybody in the world,” surely that person should have some evidence to back up such a claim. Surely you’ve been to a City Plan Commission or City Hall hearing in the last 2-3 years. Right?

Here’s my point: I’ve been reading some of the blog posts and newspaper articles in recent weeks, and been left in amazement. Some of the articles use quotes from people that I’ve never seen at one of our City Plan Commission Meetings or City Council Meetings, that never put public comments on the record about cases in their neighborhoods, but yet claim the fix is in on every case.

I wonder if these same people will support the consultant registration idea now that Mayor
Leppert’s plan has come to light. I know the answer to that one.

She must not have been down there two weeks ago, when Jim Dodd came to City Hall and singlehandedly fought a platting case against real estate giant Ridge Property Trust.

With his personally prepared handwritten packages and freehand maps, Mr. Dodd explained to us why he would be flooded out of his home if the plat was approved. Of course, if you just listen to some of the people quoted in these articles, you would think that we were playing Uno at the horseshoe until Mr. Dodd finished his presentation. On the contrary, what resulted is one of the longest discussions we have ever had about a platting case and the case was denied. Mr. Dodd, of humble beginnings and background, beat the well-financed developer. In fact, the story was covered here (before the vote) and here (after the vote). That’s just one example.

A lot has been made about the need for registration, and now it’s here as evidenced in the article cited above. Well hey, these quoted “experts” didn’t know everything. Now they know.

Just like the electronic campaign filing process that is now being used, more things are coming down the pike. Such news runs counter to articles and blog posts doubting that anything would be done regarding consultant registration or any related issue.

Contrary to what’s written in the paper, nobody on our commission is too naive to know what’s going on. Knowing how much a person gets paid for their work is their business. Whether they volunteer or bill by the hour at a high rate is not my concern. It’s our job as city plan commissioners to ignore all of the noise, campaigning, and random conjecture and look at the merits of the case. Such merits don’t change whether it’s a citizen like Mr. Dodd or a well-financed company looking to win a case. It makes for a boring backstory, but if you come to our meetings that’s what you’ll see.

Dwaine Caraway Kicks off 2009 Reelection Campaign

March 25, 2009

As you may have heard, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway started of his 2009 Reelection Campaign on Monday.

Over 250 people came out, which was greatly appreciated considering it was the first day after Spring Break. Thanks to Eddie Deen for hosting us.

Again – here’s the website, which has been redone.

Here is the list of achievements since Dwaine has been on City Council.

Here are the videos. Apologies for having them in so many parts – when you have movies in HD (!) they have a ten-minute max.

This is the entire video via YouTube playlist.

The separate videos are after the jump.

My Take on Metal Recyclers in the Trinity River Corridor

March 3, 2009

I listened and watched very intently to today’s City Council Briefing, regarding the issue of metal recyclers in the Trinity River Corridor. Some went on and on about the metal businesses and how they should stay in the same place.

95% of the focus was about how wrong the city is to ask recyclers to move off of South Lamar Street in South Dallas and other areas. Very little was said about the residents that have had to put up with these places for decades.

No one disputed the visual blight and the noxious fumes that are emitted by metal recyclers. While their services are obviously needed, there are too many of them located in a small area of south Dallas and Cadillac Heights.

The fact is that most of these places have been allowed to exist in lower-income communities in Dallas.

The Trinity River Project is not just about businesses, it’s also about residents. It’s easy to say metal recyclers should stay where they are when you are blessed enough to live far away from where they wreak havoc on communities.

Times change, and from time to time various areas of Dallas are rezoned. As a result, sometimes businesses have to cease operations in that are within a given time period.

Why all the fuss over South Lamar? With the exception of the closing of Woodward Paint and Body, there was a lot less outcry when Ross Avenue was rezoned. I hope there is not a double-standard at work in the City of Dallas.

Something has to be done, and I believe the City Council as a whole will realize that it’s time for these places to go. At the very least, the bad actors should be made to shape up or ship out. They cannot continue to exist in their current state.

The Trinity River Project – So Much Work to be Done

February 27, 2009

It’s been a while since the Trinity Trust model was unveiled, but I saw it for the first time yesterday.

As you know, I was an early critic of the project. I realized that the voters have spoken and we are moving forward. But as I began to look at the project on my own, my view changed over the course of years.

At the City Plan Commission, I chair the Urban Design Advisory Committee and our task is to review 23 different areas that are associated with the Trinity with respect to zoning and design.

We are on plan #4. Again, there are 23 study areas. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and I hope to be there to see it through to the end.

Back to the model. I did my best to get the entire model on my phone, and even in panoramic view it was impossible.

Seeing Oak Cliff, West Dallas, South Dallas, and other areas together on a 40 foot by 15 foot (my estimate) wall map along with the model reminded me of the work we must get going on the City Plan Commission and in this city in general. Townview High School, Pinkston High School, Cedar Crest, Fair Park, downtown Dallas…it’s all connected.

The Trinity River Project is about more than a tollroad. It’s also about more than a park. It’s also about positively transforming the lives of the citizens of Dallas. I hope everyone keeps an open mind and seeks to find out info on their own as this project moves forward.

Jim Schutze is a Liar

September 18, 2008

When I got home today from a long day at City Plan Commission, I read this allegation by Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer:

“At today’s meeting, African-American plan commission member Michael Davis made an angry, crazy, rambling attack on the Latino citizens who had spoken in favor of the Cesar Chavez name change. How times have changed. In its offensiveness and petulance, Davis’s speech was at least the equal to any of the old white-guy bigot speeches I used to hear at City Hall decades ago.”

Seriously? Who the heck is he kidding?

Anybody that thinks that what I said today was racist in any way was not listening. After the vote, people catcalled our committee this morning and called us racists this morning and I let it go. But when similar attacks surfaced at our main commission I felt the need to address it.

I said that people of any race shouldn’t be allowed to attack and judge each other without cause.

What I did say was that you can’t judge a person and call them racist based on an outcome of a vote, and I was offended by those allegations. I also said that I am one of the first people at our commission that addresses any citizen that makes offensive or racial statements at our meetings. Maybe I rambled a bit, but in no way was anything that I said racist or anything close to it.

The people that were on the Cesar Chavez side, that called me personally, know what I am about. They knew how I would vote in advance. I probably have more friends in that group than I had on the other side. But it’s not about a “how many friends do I have” contest.

The bigger issue, as I have written before, is that some irresponsible writers in this town want to fan the flames and absolutely hate the fact that different groups that were once at odds are working together.

Maybe Schutze is still mad because I exposed him some time ago. He wants payback in his pathetic mind. For some people, they will try to ruin or play games with people’s lives for a little ink and attention.

Keep in mind, the Dallas Observer is the same newspaper that gave me their Best Political Blogger Award in 2006.

Anybody that knows me knows that I am not racist in any way.

My family help built this city, as did others of many races. Again, I’m not trying to prove anything, but just making a point.

Jim Schutze is a flat-out liar and a hatemonger. If he was even at our meeting, he was hiding somewhere. Controversy still sells huh?

As some of the comments show on Schutze’s hateful post indicate, he’s wrong. Here are a few:

**

“Jim, you obviously were not at the Subdivision Plan Review meeting earlier this morning where they recommended denial of changing the name of Ross Avenue to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.”

The lack of orderliness and professional conduct on the side for the name change was interesting to say the least. … I believe that was what Commissioner Davis was so upset about. “

and…

(they are quoting me here) “I have been coming down here for a long time. I have been thrown out of here more than once, but never did I stand up with my one vote here and try to judge the character or how they feel based on one vote.”

Pretty easy to understand from here.. It’s rather obvious he is referring to yourself and others characterizing anyone who disagrees with you on this issue as racists.

And I would say if anyone comes off as racist it’s Schutze and the other people trying to turn this into a racial issue.

One more…

“Wait a minute… is this the same Michael Davis who has his own blog and has generally spoken with tolerance and reason in the past about other race-related issues in Dallas?”

**

I’m still the same. I haven’t changed one bit.

He can’t demonize me. But I wanted to respond to his charge once and only once.

This is why things like Blogger.com, twitter, wordpress and other publishing tools are so great. We are not held hostage by newspapers and writers with an obvious grudge; we can respond. Thanks for the love that I have received on that post, and in general from my readers who read from time to time. You know my true spirit, and one liar can’t change that.

Our Friend is Gone

June 28, 2008

As many of you know, a couple of days ago we lost one of our Dallas City Plan Commissioners. Erma Jones Dodd, City Plan Commissioner for District 8, died of natural causes on Thursday.

Erma was loved and depended on by many. She was deeply involved in her community, in the lives of her grandchildren, and in the schools in her neighborhood. She was the “Big Mama” of her family, and for people like that there’s no replacing them.

I got a voicemail from Erma on Tuesday about our meeting that night. Never in my wildest thoughts did I think that would be the last time that I heard from her.

In the short time that I knew Erma, I learned a lot. I think about all of the conversations we had about my district and southern Dallas. She cared so much for the voiceless, those underprivileged people in our city. Erma’s voice carried in such a way that she was often the “second” to many of our motions at CPC.

Erma had a heart of gold, and was selfless beyond measure. She was always running from one community or school meeting to the next. If you check the records, you’ll see that she had been coming to City Hall to speak on various issues long before she was on the City Plan Commission and Community Development Commission.

I never got to thank her for all of the advice that she gave me, but I am glad I got one last hug during our last meeting.

I won’t be posting for a while in honor of my friend. Erma, I’m glad to have known you.

Congratulations to Cedar Oaks

February 8, 2008

Yesterday, the Cedar Oaks neighborhood in District Four presented their case for an NSO (Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay) to protect their neighborhood. They specifically focused on setbacks and unsightly structures in their eclectic neighborhood.

Cedar Oaks is roughly bounded by Marsalis, Edgemont, Cedar Oaks, and 18th street just south of the Zoo.

They have over 75% approval, which meant that they qualified for the fee waiver. THAT is a united neighborhood.

It still has to pass City Council, but the Cedar Oaks neighborhood is one step closer to achieving its goal.

This neighborhood will be one of three in District Four that will be a focus under the City’s new “Pride in Your Neighborhood Program.”

A block at a time, District Four continues to be improved. Neighborhoods are cleaned up, and hope is restored. This is just the beginning.