No Means No, or: Angela Hunt Says Dallas Can No Longer Be Afraid of Developers

Speaking of Angela Hunt and how Dallas goes about, um, planning a city (?) -- as we were this morning -- you might wanna click on over to Hunt's blog. There, she just posted a very lengthy essay concerning last week's council confab with four noted urban planners. The same shindig's the subject of Schutze's column in this week's paper version of Unfair Park, which'll be posted shortly. But for now, read Hunt's take, in which she more or less says the city must change the way it deals with developers looking to reshape the city in their image.

This discussion highlighted the most significant difference between walkable, beautiful cities with great planning and foresight, and Dallas' more desperate approach to re-zoning. Both [Larry] Beasley and [Christopher] Leinberger explained that great, walkable cities are in the driver's seat when it comes to development. They are proactive, they know what they want, and they are not afraid to say "no" to bad development. Here in Dallas, we are reactive. We do not tell developers "Here are the areas we want to see grow and this is what we want it to look like." Instead, we wait for developers to come to us, asking to put a denser development on whatever real estate they happen to own.

The name of Dallas' planning department -- "Development Services" rather than "Planning and Zoning" -- underscores Dallas' desperate desire to please developers at the expense of good planning. Dallas is terribly afraid that if we say "no" to poorly conceived re-zoning requests then our city will dry up. No new buildings will be built. We'll become a ghost town.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky