Gates, Miller Debate District 13 Development

District 13 Dallas City Council candidates agree on this much: after fire destroyed the Preston Place Condos in 2017, debate over redevelopment at Northwest Highway and Preston Road changed.

“New projects on the south side and new plans to replace the apartments behind the pink wall that were demolished by fire have created a contentious environment,” said Jennifer Staubach Gates, who is seeking her fourth term on the council.

Her opponent, former mayor Laura Miller, has accused Gates of using the fire as an excuse to disavow the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan the Dallas City Council had unanimously approved only a couple of months before and to make room for much higher density levels than the plan supported.

Miller served on the task force that authored the plan and said she is running, in part, because if Gates gets a fourth and final term, there would be no way to hold the council member accountable for any inappropriate, neighborhood-threatening zoning changes that might get approved.

Gates has contended that she is seeking appropriate zoning as well as a fair process where everyone gets a voice and where long-term success is possible.

If the response to a planned debate presented by Preston Hollow People is any indication, interest in this race is high. Two days after an announcement about the March 28 event went up online, reservations for it were all booked up.

At press time, newspaper staff was looking to arrange for a larger venue. Tim Rogers, editor of our sister publication D Magazine, will moderate the 7 p.m. debate.

Watch our website and social media accounts for updates as well as continuing coverage of the election. Staff is preparing to live stream the debate on Facebook.


Jennifer Staubach Gates
District 13 council member (2013-present)

What do you want to see happen with development in and around Preston Center? How would you ensure that happens?
This is a difficult issue because the zoning around this has not been changed in the past 40 years. New projects on the south side and new plans to replace the apartments behind the pink wall that were demolished by a fire have created a contentious environment. At this point, I think we are best not to focus on any one project, but instead to put in place a thorough process that gives everyone a voice. There are strong opinions regarding how development should happen, and there are strong opinions that are against any type of new development. We must have a process in place that is fair to all sides, and that allows for long-term success.

I do want to make sure that voters have the facts on the two projects that are being discussed related to this campaign. Currently there is an active zoning case involving four low rises and the two high rises on NWH in PD15. The authorized hearing was called by City Planning Commission to address the inability of Preston Place to rezone their property after a fire in 2017. I have supported the process to allow for appropriate, quality and neighborhood sensitive redevelopment. City staff has proposed a PD that would provide a developable footprint not a single developers project. The recommendations take into consideration the Preston/NWH area Plan, the Property owner’s current rights and the community and steering committee input. The recommended proposal will go before CPC with a traffic impact study and if approved to the full council.

In regard to the heart of Preston Center I am working with the NTCOG, parking center property owners, neighboring property owners to redevelopment of the parking garage in line with the Preston/NWH area plan. 2017 City if Dallas bond money along with a matching grant from NTCOG is available to help fund the re-development. City of Dallas and the NTCOG are also currently working to study transportation improvements in and around the Preston Center.

It’s been said the Dallas Police Department has a shortage of officers; if elected, how would you prioritize city budgets to address the issue?
First and foremost, finding efficiencies in all areas of government will allow for adequate funding to be available for public safety. Public safety currently represents over 60 percent of the city’s general fund budget and is a need not a want. Prioritizing services that are in the lane of city government is paramount to the highest priority in the budget. It is not only about making sure our first responders are paid market rate but assuring appropriate staffing and support.

What is your platform and how will it address District 13’s biggest issues? 
For the last six years I have represented our community on the Dallas City Council. Working together with homeowners, neighborhood leaders, community stakeholders and city leaders, I have delivered proven results for our community on important issues like preserving our police pension, improving our streets, investing in infrastructure and even rooting out corruption. I’ve earned a reputation for doing my homework, listening to all sides and being a collaborative consensus builder. And, I’ve maintained a steady focus on improving basics, including delivering $550 million in new street improvements, and I’ll continue to make basics a priority.

How would you grade your record of elected service in Dallas?
During the last six years I have worked to bring people together to provide proven results for our community on important issues like preserving our police pension, improving our streets, investing in infrastructure and even rooting out corruption. I have earned a reputation for doing my homework, listening to all sides, being a collaborative consensus builder and I will continue to do so.

What makes you the better choice in this election to represent District 13 going forward?
Personality and style matters when it comes to effectiveness and ability to get things done. I have a track record of collaborating, working hard and effective relative leadership championing neighborhoods and the City as a whole. I also maintained a very strong relationship with City leadership, and especially leaders from the Police and Fire Departments. Even during very tough pension negotiations, we maintained an honest, direct relationship based on mutual respect, and I’m the only candidate in this race with the ability to maintain that type of relationship with our first responders.


Laura Miller
Mayor (2002-2007)
Council member (Oak Cliff area, 1998-2002)

What do you want to see happen with development in and around Preston Center? How would you ensure that happens?
I was proud to help author the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan, which the Dallas City Council unanimously adopted in January 2017. Two months later, after a fire burned a 3-story condominium to the ground on Northwest Highway behind the Pink Wall, our councilwoman disavowed the plan we had worked so hard to create, citing the inability of developers to make money on the density proposed in our plan. The centerpiece of our plan was developing a West Village atmosphere (the original West Village concept) in Preston Center, by creating a park in the middle of Preston Center with three levels of public parking underneath it (where the dilapidated, 1960s parking garage sits now); our city councilwoman is currently pushing an apartment tower for that site, which is completely at odds with our vision.

It’s been said the Dallas Police Department has a shortage of officers; if elected, how would you prioritize city budgets to address the issue?
Public safety is the backbone of any city and should remain our No. 1 priority. It’s important that we find new ways to fund, attract and retain the best and brightest to come to Dallas to train and serve as police officers.

What is your platform and how will it address District 13’s biggest issues?
For the past six years, homeowners and small businesses in District 13 have been under siege by overly dense, inappropriate developments being pushed by our city councilwoman with no regard to our significant traffic, parking and pedestrian problems. I’m all for balanced development, but it must make sense for the people who are left to live with the results. I am also increasingly disappointed with the condition of our streets, especially since fixing potholes was a major focus of mine when I was mayor. I feel our Dallas police need the help and appreciation of our citizens, and I have spent the last year focused on decreasing homelessness in our city, which I plan on continuing to pursue on the City Council.

How would you grade your record of elected service in Dallas?
A.

What makes you the better choice in this election to represent District 13 going forward?
I have a vision for District 13. Instead of just approving every rifle-shot project that a developer dreams up, with no attention paid to how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood, I will create great new urban spaces that encourage people to get outside, walk, bike, rollerblade, jog, stroll, eat, drink and play. Nobody can walk to retail or restaurants anywhere in our district due to a lack of vision and planning. There are thousands of beautiful homes in my District west of Midway, but not one attractive, family-friendly retail destination location in that area for people to gather. As Mayor, I brought out-of-town urban designers to Dallas to redesign the Trinity River from a road project to a lakes and river project; likewise, I convinced Forest City Enterprises out of Cleveland to completely renovate the historic Mercantile Bank complex in downtown Dallas to become one of downtown’s hottest residential projects. My experience as a mayor (2002-1007) and a council member from Oak Cliff (1998-2002) will bring great benefits to everyone who lives in District 13.

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

One thought on “Gates, Miller Debate District 13 Development

  • March 21, 2019 at 6:12 pm
    Permalink

    Excellent questions for both candidates BUT JENNIFER STAUBACH GATES HAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE DEBATE!!!!!

    Reply

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