Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Use this Letter for your Commissioner/Councilmember

Below is a letter you can copy, "fill in" your name and address to your Dallas City Plan Commissioner. Print and mail or fax one in! Email doesn't count! In the future we will be arranging group dropoffs for mail to save a few cents on postage (and increase our "thud" factor).

Who do I send this to?:
Click here for a complete list of plan commissioners.


City Plan Commissioner ______X
City Hall

1500 Marilla St

, TX 75201

August 9, 2005

RE: Passing the Stabilization Overlay

Dear Commisioner:

I am writing to express my support for the Zoning Overlay tool currently under consideration by the City Plan Commission of Dallas.

Like many other residents of established neighborhoods, we are extremely concerned that the trend toward teardowns and rapid, oversized construction is being driven by short-term profits for a few development and realty firms that have no long-term interest in the preservation or economic health of neighborhoods with existing residents.

Homes could still be responsibly bought, sold and built with an overlay. The idea that realtors and builders cannot make money without cannibalizing perfectly solid neighborhoods is preposterous. The only realtors and builders this will impact are speculators looking for a quick buck by buying houses at rock-bottom lot values to flip as oversized, hastily erected “McMansions” with no regard for neighbors. We do not believe the Overlay infringes on our property rights or ability to renovate, in fact it encourages continued improvement.

This new tool is crucial for protecting our property value and the significant investments we have made in our homes beyond the mere land value. Uncontrolled development within established neighborhoods creates extreme inconsistencies in property values, where steady appreciation was once the norm. We need the right to locally determine some reasonable limits (or locally set no limits) on the overall size of new houses, especially when they are being placed next door to solid houses that have lasting value.

When the economic “bubble” of rising housing prices, speculative rapid development, and poorly qualified loans at record low interest rates bursts, it will leave many vacant and poorly constructed large houses, and devalued neighboring properties in its wake if this process is not managed properly.

To generate long-term growth in property values and economic health, new construction must be conducted in a manner that does not disrupt and push out homeowners that have been solid Dallas citizens, businesspeople and taxpayers for decades. We know the Overlay tool is an unprecedented measure, but it is one we need now, as teardowns are accelerating, our zoning has expired, and Conservation Districts take time and may not be practical for every area.

Since we see no effort on the part of certain aggressive development firms and realtors to take into account the neighborhoods they are working within, we are asking you to please pass the Strategic Overlay tool, so the existing homeowners can have some means of determining their own future before it is too late.

Thank you for your consideration,


Dallas, TX 7XXXX
[Contact: optional]


At 8/10/2005 5:20 PM, Blogger Peter D'Apice said...

Your "zoning" hasn't expired. It's your deed restrictions that may have expired, although you should check to see if they actually have expired; don't believe the folklore floating around about deed restrictions expiring.

At 8/12/2005 10:54 AM, Blogger thomasjohnston said...

How can you say the the overlay will protect "the investments we have made in our homes beyond the mere land value"? Are you kidding? Look back over the past 5 years at property values. They have doubled, tripled in some cases. Everyone's property values have increased so much. Especially for people who bought more than 3-5 years ago. If anything, the overlay will cause property values to decrease.

At 8/12/2005 1:52 PM, Blogger jason said...

Yes, property values increase for almost everyone, and thanks to other economic forces like the stock market crash and low interest, people and institutions are investing in more real estate, especially within larger cities where it is a very limited resource.

Why would the ability for the residents of a neighborhood to select (or not select) maximum zoning thresholds cause property values to decrease? Are you kidding? Neighborhoods that have even more restrictive zoning, such as conservation or historic districts in place, have greater appreciation across the board. Residents invest more in renovation and the houses are a stable investment for buyers.

Newer houses can and should be built with a minimum degree of consideration for neighbors, especially when they are in established, stable areas.

If you are an existing resident in the middle of teardown/McMansion central, and the new speculative neighboring house far overshadows yours in every dimension, your house value immediately drops to land value alone -- because it's expected to be a teardown.

At 8/12/2005 1:54 PM, Blogger jason said...

And by the way, "value" isn't the only factor at play here. Many people actually like living in their home, don't intend to sell anytime soon, and don't see it as merely an investment.


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