City News Roundup
The City of Dallas has been busy addressing the quality of life in many neighborhoods. This week, news comes of improvements to crime in the streets and landfill rubble growing next to homes. Plus, a city council member has pulled out of a debate against her high-profile challenger in one of the wealthiest districts in Dallas.
This is what happened in Dallas this week:
A colossal mound of shingles has piled up in South Dallas, giving neighbors an awful eyesore that they say causes dangerous air pollution. An injunction could put industrial recycling on pause after a hearing on March 22.
The pile of recycled material at Blue Star Recycling on Choate Road in South Dallas has been growing for months. Now, after growing complaints from neighbors to City Hall, change is coming. City Councilman Tennell Atkins, who has had this on his radar since December, is leading an effort to shut down the recycling yard and move it. He also involved state officials, including the Texas Center for Environmental Quality. City attorneys and Code Enforcement have also helped to clarify how the site was zoned to allow industrial recycling activities in a residential neighborhood.
Families are complaining of air pollution, noise, odors, and health issues like coughing up dark matter and children experiencing asthma. The site is located near South Central Expressway just north of I-20 in a neighborhood of auto-repair shops, used-car lots, and landfills. It is near Paul Quinn College and the Joppa Preserve surrounded by Five Mile Creek and other waterways that feed into the Trinity River.
“We’re doing everything in our power, and I am doing everything in my power, to make sure that we put economic policies, environmental that these things should not ever happen,” Atkins said.
Gates Won’t Debate
An update in the City Council race for the district 13 seat: Incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates won’t debate former Mayor Laura Miller in the only forum scheduled between the two candidates. The debate was organized by Preston Hollow People, the free newspaper published by D Magazine, but canceled after Gates’ campaign said she wouldn’t be participating. Gates says she won’t participate because the free event was promoted online by D Magazine and quickly sold out, thereby limiting the number of District 13 constituents.
“Unfortunately, the ticketing strategy for this event did not align with this goal — the tickets were publicized by D Magazine and “sold out” very quickly, before either candidate had time to invite D13 residents,” Gates said on Facebook.
Gates said there will be other events, but none are scheduled for either candidate. Miller responded by saying she was “extremely disappointed” and that it’s “clear to me that she is not willing to debate me.”
A trial date has been set for Amber Guyger, the fired Dallas cop who shot and killed her neighbor she thought was an intruder. The trial is slated for August 12 by Judge Tammy Kemp; however, that will likely be delayed as a change of venue is expected to move the trial outside of Dallas.
Guyger, 30, fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean on September 6 after she says she entered the wrong apartment and mistook Jean for an intruder, police have said. Jean was in his own apartment, preparing to watch a football game, when he was shot.
Some streets across South and West Dallas turn into full-fledged racetracks for high-speed motorists showing off their horsepower to the nuisance of residents on nearby streets. Since January, Dallas Police have ramped up their efforts to curtail illegal street racing issuing nearly 2,000 tickets in the first two months of 2019. Southwest Patrol issued 1,960 citations for speed, racing, and dangerous driving in western portions of the city, while South Central Patrol issued 805 tickets for Oak Cliff racing.
Council members Omar Narvaez and Scott Griggs have seen illegal racing increase in their districts as the number of patrol officers have been shrinking. Narvaez says Griggs led the push to get police to form its Speed and Illegal Street Racing Task Force last year. Narvaez says the data shows the group has been very effective in responding to citizen complaints about the problems with dangerous drivers.
“It has become too dangerous and extremely scary for too many of the residents in our city, which is decreasing the quality of life in far too many neighborhoods,” Narvaez said on Facebook.
He is also looking out for racing enthusiasts, attempting to locate a safe space to get their motors running without heading to the highway. “We need to stop this on our streets,” Narvaez said. “I am also committed to come up with a location where people who enjoy racing, spinning out and doing donuts can have a safe and legal place to be able to participate in this activity."