The latest on the West Dallas Community Vision Plan
Last week, West Dallas neighbors reviewed a wide range of solutions for short and long term housing and land use as part of phase two of the West Dallas Community Vision Plan. Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation and NEOO Partners hosted the open house at the Anita Martinez Recreation Center on Thursday, Oct. 12.
Why this matters
The West Dallas Community Vision Plan, which began in 2021, is intended to encourage community investment and development, while also increasing community resources and reducing the displacement of legacy residents. The advisory committee, made up of West Dallas residents, has connections with leaders in the public and private sectors. The plan is currently in its second phase, which will create an implementation plan for the goals set in phase one.
What West Dallas neighbors said
This meeting was held a month after the City of Dallas met with West Dallas neighbors about their Forward Dallas initiative in West Dallas, Singleton United has simultaneously presented a Singleton Corridor Land Use Plan, and advocacy continues to preserve the Gilbert-Emory neighborhood. With multiple ongoing projects, some neighbors have grown frustrated, as they are continuously asked for feedback but are seeing little action taken to address their concerns. A woman who spoke up and described herself as being born, raised, and still lives in West Dallas says she’s worried by the lack of protections for renters and owners.
“We come and we fight and we say what we need to say but nothing happens and nothing is implemented,” the woman said. “Are we going to get a solution or are we just sitting here wasting time putting things on paper?”
Neighbors also raised concerns about the city’s ability to properly enforce code ordinances in West Dallas, citing incidents like new oversized homes in La Bajada and apartment complexes whose owners misrepresent the availability of subsidized units.
What NEOO Partners and Builders of Hope said
One strategy suggested by NEOO Partners was a NOAH preservation fund. NOAH, or naturally occurring affordable housing, refers to residential rental properties that are affordable, but are not subsidized by any federal program. NEOO director of development Cameran Bailey explained that a NOAH fund, and right of first refusal, give neighbors power to buy properties before they go to the open market, keeping property values and rent relatively low.
“If I’m an apartment owner who wants to sell one of their apartments, [first right of refusal means] I have to let the residents have an opportunity to buy it from me before I put it out on the open market,” Bailey says. “If it’s an apartment of low-income people, who ask how they can afford to buy the building, the money from the NOAH fund can be used for that.”
Builders of Hope chief community development and policy officer Stephanie Champion, a resident of West Dallas, says she understands the frustration of her neighbors, but by taking community-approved solutions directly to leaders, further displacement can be prevented.
“This community saw a need to come together and create a unified vision with the new development marching down Singleton Boulevard, creating real displacement pressures for the legacy residents who have been here for generations,” Champion says.
NEOO Partners’ goals and recommendations for West Dallas
The draft vision plan, based on information gathered in phase one, sets a housing goal with three desired outcomes:
- mitigate displacement;
- create housing options for all incomes; and
- preserve and stabilize the neighborhood
Phase one of the plan also sets a goal to protect existing single-family neighborhoods, to provide new and affordable housing that will add density and maintain the neighborhood, and to remove industrial land uses near residential areas. NEOO Partners recommended new zoning and code ordinances and environmental justice measures.
While the West Dallas Community Vision Plan is not led by the City of Dallas, Champion says the goal is for the Vision Plan’s recommendations to be considered in the Forward Dallas comprehensive city plan, which guides the future of land use across the city. West Dallas residents sitting on the task force are actively involved in Forward Dallas, and have continuously shared their findings and goals with city staff.
How to get involved
The vision plan team is actively recruiting West Dallas residents and stakeholders for the phase two taskforce, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next open house focusing on safe, stable and empowered neighborhoods will be hosted on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Ledbetter Jaycee Zaragoza Recreation Center.