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On the Real-Estate Cannibals Devouring Oak Lawn

Ever wonder what goes on at the monthly Oak Lawn Apartment Managers Stakeholders Crime Watch meeting? (If not, don't worry. This isn't about that.) It occurs at the Oak Lawn Branch Library. Lunch is donated by a local business member -- yesterday, a dozen boxes of pizza from Bank of America. Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, scheduled as guest speaker, was suddenly called into court. When this was announced, the sole TV news camera left. But the wheels of bureaucracy continued to grind in suspended motion.

Dallas Deputy Chief Brian Harvey, who subbed for Kunkle, acknowledged that the "criminal population shifted to North Oak Lawn." Indeed, the residents of North Oak Lawn have been under siege since spring. Since then, our quaint streets have been bombarded by car smashings, stolen cars, armed robberies, burglaries and vandalism. Crime sprees are cyclical, and only this month have things seemed to quiet down.

But let me digress.

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Some of our crime is due to the chaos caused by new contstruction. The slap-it-up-and-run developers have been systematically destroying the quaint character of Oak Lawn for several years. In the dead of a single night, one old property after another is bulldozed to the ground. These old house levelings occur with swift, unannounced secrecy, before code violations can be assessed.

In their place come oversized, cheaply constructed McMansions. Or million-dollar condo complexes, which will (mark my words) become slums within 20 years. In the ensuing glut of construction crews and broken streets come predators and scavengers in pick-up trucks, out to steal more than newly installed copper wire and pipes.

All quick-turnover real-estate cannibals should, at very least, be mandated to supply 24-hour security to the neighborhoods they ravage. A crime tax should be factored in by law. This was not the subject of the Stakeholders meeting, but I hope it will take precedence soon. --Josh Alan Friedman

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