City News Roundup
See what's behind the curvy pink wall and more Dallas city news
UPDATE 9-16-2019: This column originally had an item about The Tourism Public Improvement District, but due to a number of inaccuracies, the item has been removed. In addition, a statement that Casey Thomas serves on the VisitDallas Board of Directors is incorrect, and has been struck-through where it appears in the story.
The Dallas City Council had a busy week, approving a street design program, and putting the Pink Wall issue to bed.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Casey Thomas is heading to the hot seat.
A Dallas attorney has filed an ethics complaint against the City Council member for not disclosing concert tickets he received from VisitDallas.
Thomas did not report tickets he received for at least six events at the America Airlines Center. Thomas,
who serves on the VisitDallas Board of Directors, used the tourism bureau's box suite for a Maverick’s game, an appearance by Michelle Obama, and several concerts, including Justin Timberlake, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, and R. Kelly, the complaint alleges.
Elected officials are supposed to report disclose gifts valued at $50 or more.
According to the complaint filed by retired lawyer Barry Jacobs, the passes from VisitDallas were part of pattern and Thomas expected the gifts to continue.
"Accordingly, by his acceptance of the gifts and his (inferable) anticipation of future gifts, Councilman Thomas gained an economic interest in VisitDallas," Jacobs alleges in the complaint.
Thomas will appear before the Ethics Advisory Commission at City Hall on September 17 at 9:30 am.
The saga of the zoning changes for the high-rises and residents behind the Pink Wall at the Northwest Highway and Preston Road has finally come to an end. On September 11, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved the Planned Development District 15 to resolve years of hand-wringing over concerns about increases in density and traffic.
Preston Hollow will get a large new park and approval to build a 21-story apartment building, says Candy's Dirt. Compromises on the deal include height restrictions topping at 240 feet on Northwest Highway. Previously the track was zoned for unlimited height based on zoning plans from the '60s.
The plan also allows City Council to meet its obligation of adding housing, whether it's affordable housing, market-rate, or a combination of both, Chad West noted. This is one of the few neighborhoods in town that can handle added density without displacing current residents, he said. Two residential high rises are in the area.
Councilwoman Jennifer S. Gates has played referee for constituents sourly divided on future development. The issue has been discussed at dozens of public meetings in the 30 months of negotiations.
The Dallas City Council approved the latest street design manual, which consolidates and streamlines several old documents. The new Street Design Manual emphasizes walkability and alternative transportation, such as bicycles or scooters.
In 2016, Dallas adopted the Complete Streets Manual to provide guidance on streets. While many of street improvements since and several more underway use the complete street model, however, the document was not a requirement. City streets have been built using the 21-year old Paving Design Manual.
The updates were merely symbolic now, though, since the Street Design Manual was required. However, Councilman Chad West proposed increasing sidewalk widths in commercial areas from 4 feet to 5 feet, with a preferred width of 6 feet. There are waivers still, such as protecting trees and a variety of other exceptions.