Two (not three) questions about the rezoning proposal for Ms. Hunt

Update 1/14: The Dallas City Council will vote on the Lowest Greenville rezoning proposal on January 26, 2011. As of Friday evening, January 14, Ms. Hunt has refused to answer our questions regarding the sources of funding for the promised (but not guaranteed) streetscape renovations.

While the City Council gets ready to vote on the Lowest Greenville rezoning proposal in two weeks, questions are being raised by this correspondent and others regarding streetscape funding and promises made for changes in the zoning legislation.

BD previously submitted two questions to Ms Hunt's office, with no reply. BD has re-submitted the original questions (with more details included) and a new question to Ms Hunt this morning. If she replies, the answers will be posted here.

Question #1 - Source of money for first round of renovations

At the announcement event in November 2010, you indicated that funds for the first round of street scape renovations had been found and released earlier than previously believed possible (the amount was $1.6 million).

This money is/was separate from any bond issue money previously used for streetscape planning, surveys, etc.

Having reviewed the 2006 bond package, I do not find any line-items specifically dedicated to these renovations, which means the new monies came from other sources.

Please delineate by line item or other method the source of these funds. For example, were funds diverted from other bond projects, discretionary funds from City Manager Mary Suhm’s office, private funding etc?

Question #2 - About that bond package funding...

The second portion of the streetscape renovations will cost an estimated $2 million dollars. You have indicated these funds will be included in the 2012 Bond package.

This question is based on two assumptions –

The City Manager and City Council set the bond package, approving (or not) the requests of staff and council members.

The City Manager has indicated to staff the 2012 Bond will be a ‘meat and potatoes’ proposal; it will focus on public safety upgrades (eg to comply with security requirements post-9-11, communication upgrades, postponed equipment replacement, etc) and Trinity River levee repairs (mandated by the US Army Corps of Engineers). The total bond will be about $2 billion.

How can you state publicly that the 2012 Bond package will include the funds you promise when you have not secured the approval of staff and other council members, and the bond will probably not include non-critical items like street renovations that serve only a small portion of the community?

Question #3 - Promises made, promises not kept?

Prior to the CPC meeting, Madison Partners sent an email to their tenants with the following statement…

We had some concern as to when the street improvements will actually start, but we are extremely happy with the plan to start improvements on two blocks of Lower Greenville in 2011. We are also working with the City on a provision in the ordinance that ties the PD to actually finishing the rest of the street improvements over the next few years.  That ordinance change is not set in stone, but we are optimistic that the final language will help insure that the City keeps up its end of the bargain and improves all of Greenville between Belmont and Bryan/Ross.

The rezoning proposal as approved at the CPC did not include any kind of “if then” provision statement as noted above. If the streetscape renovations are not completed, then how will the proposed “if then” statement be implemented? Eg Will the SUP requirement be waived by an ordinance to the PD, and how will that be guaranteed??

Answer to Question #3

CPC Commissioner Bill Peterson sent this email with text regarding this question. BD notes this content was not included on his copy of the ordinance as posted to the CPC Agenda website page before the hearing. It was in the briefing ordinance provided to the commissioners the morning of the meeting but not distributed to the audience.

The effective date is 2017, five years after the proposed bond election date. Hence, five more years of requiring permits without improvements. Per Mr. Peterson, "That was the date agreed to and takes into account the extended time line to get projects that are approved in a bond election underway."

Section *.113(f) which states:

"Street improvements. If the city has not begun streetscape enhancements within this district by January 1, 2017, the director shall request that the city plan commission authorize a public hearing to determine proper zoning with consideration given to repeal of this district. For purposes of this subsection, "streetscape enhancements" means improvements to the streetscape such as wider sidewalks, street landscaping, and pedestrian lighting."

Explanation of Answer #3

When the proposed bond package goes to a vote in 2012, it may or may not include funds for finishing any renovations started in 2011.

  • If the funds are in the bond, and the bond is approved, the renovations go forward.

  • If the funds are not in the bond, the renovations stop.

  • If the funds are in the bond, but the bond is not approved, the renovations stop.

If funds are not found in other City budgets, the City might seek private sources for the money (our opinion only, and not very likely).

But no matter what happens, the City will wait five years before going back to the council and asking for a waiver on the SUP requirement (to be allowed to stay open after midnight).

Bottom line - That's five more years of forcing businesses to seek SUPs to operate after midnight, even with no renovations on the street.

Can anyone say death sentence?

By Avi S. Adelman under Dallas City Council , Lower Greenville