David Jensen just wants City Hall to tell him what the hell it plans to do to his property. Radio silence.
David Jensen just wants City Hall to tell him what the hell it plans to do to his property. Radio silence.
Mark Graham

Dallas City Hall Is Threatening a Resident's Property and Won't Say a Word

David Jensen is the guy I wrote about a few weeks ago who owns and occupies a warehouse in West Dallas in the path of a major new real estate development heavily favored by City Hall.

His main point in talking to me was to tell the city to tell him what the hell's going on with his property. My main point in writing about it was that the city wouldn't tell him what the hell's going on with his property. I wanted to catch you up on significant developments since my story ran.

Now the city won't tell him what the hell's going on with his property until hell freezes over. Hey. Don't tell me I can't make things happen. Yeah.

I called Jensen yesterday to ask him what he had heard from his council representative, Monica Alonzo, who represents District Six in west and northwest Dallas. I remembered he told me she had promised to get answers to a bunch of legal questions for him.

I wondered what he had heard, because her office told me they were going to get her to answer my questions, too. Alonzo's assistant, Maricela S. Garza, told me in an email: "Staff is working on getting the answers to your concerns. We will get back to you as soon as we have that information available."

I wasn't hugely hopeful. Let me tell you why. "Concerns" is not a good word. I never told them I had "concerns." What I said I had were questions. "Concerns" is the kind of word people at city hall use when they have zero intention of talking to you. Like, "You poor dear." And in fact I have heard nothing at all from Alonzo since then.

Here's the deal. Alonzo is backing a plan to move the street next to Jensen's property in such a way as to take away Jensen's warehouse. And, OK, maybe that's a "concern." Like, he's all concerned because he's going to lose his house. Poor dear.

But the same plan has other major public consequences for traffic in the part of West Dallas, where Jensen lives at the foot of the new Calatrava make-believe suspension bridge across the Trinity River. Alonzo intends to completely close one street and give it to the developer who plans to build a $60 million apartment complex across the street from Jensen. People won't be able to drive down that street anymore, because that street will no longer exist.

Councilwoman Alonzo also plans to re-align another street in such a way as to create a new high-traffic short-cut through one end of the La Bajada residential neighborhood, on a street where the city just got done spending God-knows-how-much money on a supposed "traffic quieting" design.

Traffic quieting means making it harder for people to drive down the street so the residents won't be bothered with a bunch of cut-through traffic from this huge new apartment and retail development coming in.

So, wait. Councilwoman Alonzo gets done spending a whole bunch of tax money, telling the La Bajada neighborhood that she is going to quiet down their street. Now barely a year later she's going to spend a bunch more tax money to turn the same street into a high-traffic short-cut for high-end apartment dwellers.

See, that's not a "concern." That's a question. It's a question commonly expressed as WTF.

At his meeting with her several months ago, Jensen told Alonzo he needed her help with a series of questions for the city attorney about the street realignments and street closing in his neighborhood: who authorized them, when did it happen, what were the terms, what is the appeals process for property owners in the area who object to the plan?

He told me yesterday: "I have not heard from Monica Alonzo, not a word. I think it's very interesting, because the meeting I had with her, she was like, 'Oh yeah, we're all about communication. This is all about communication.'

"I said, 'Well that's good, because I'm going to be communicating with you.' Now I've sent her two emails. They've not bounced back, so she's gotten them. I have not heard word one about that list of questions she was going to ask the city attorney.

"I am not hearing anything, but things are becoming painfully clear that once again I am being actively left out of the discussions."

Jensen and I came up with an idea together. See what you think. Clearly a bunch of things are about to happen in that area that will have significant public impacts. Alonzo has hosted one public meeting about the changes, last October, in which she announced the formal design. Now Jensen and other property owners have had four months or so to mull it over.

How about another public meeting, Council member Alonzo? Is that too much to ask? Especially since you're all about communication. What harm could there be in holding another public meeting where property owners could air their concerns and ask questions and council member Alonzo could provide answers? It seems like the obvious way to clear the air.

Seriously. It's not a concern. It's a question.

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