DALLAS — The Dallas City Council decided to take another look at the city’s recently completed Housing Needs Analysis.
The study, which evaluates the city’s future housing needs and makes recommendations, was slated to be adopted on Jan. 21, but in a 5-4 vote, the council rejected adopting the plan in favor of further review.
The analysis, if it had been adopted, would have revised the city’s comprehensive plan. Dallas’ comprehensive plan is a policy guide for the overall development of the community.
The council voted 5-4 in December to move toward adopting the analysis after it was the subject of public hearings in front of the Dallas Planning Commission and the council. City staff also, at the council’s request, held an open house in November to explain the HNA to the public and answer questions.
On Jan. 21, councilors Jackie Lawson, Michael Schilling, Larry Briggs and Paul Trahan said they still had questions about the document. The HNA forecasts the types of housing that will be needed in the next 20 years, recommends strategies to remedy deficiencies, and creates policies to guide decision making.
Dallas’ study concluded the city needs more land zoned medium-density residential for housing. Medium-density land allows for multi-family housing, such as duplexes.
Anticipating some debate on the topic, city manager Brian Latta said the council couldn’t make changes to the HNA without first having the vote to adopt it fail.
“If the ordinance is not approved, then the housing needs analysis can come back for further deliberations and discussion,” Latta said. “At that time, it could be amended.”
Lawson said she wants to make sure she fully understands the amendments being made to the city’s comprehensive plan, and had the understanding that the upcoming Economic Opportunity Analysis — an evaluation of the city’s available commercial and industrial land — could impact the conclusion of the HNA.
“There’s so much there, I would really like to take it to a workshop,” Lawson said. “I would really like to understand it better before I approve it.”
Lawson said that the number of businesses that may want to move into the city could impact the kind of housing that the city needs in the future. She said the city may not have to make changes to zoning or expand its urban growth boundary — two options to create more medium-density residential land — for that kind of housing.
“That is a direct impact as far as how that HNA would change in the comp plan,” she said. “Do we need to do an urban growth expansion or not?”
Latta said he didn’t think one analysis would affect the other. He said they apply to different parts of the comprehensive plan.
“I don’t think there is a direct tie in how you analyze the housing needs analysis to say that you also have this much commercial need in the community, so you are going to have this much residential need based off of commercial demand,” Latta said. “They don’t have to be done together. Sometimes they are, but more often than not they aren’t. It’s all planning, based on assumptions. It’s really what’s on the ground developed that really is going to impact the need for expanding the UGB than what a planning document says.”
Lawson said it was her and other councilors’ understanding that adopting the plan wouldn’t result in amendments to the comprehensive plan until the EOA was completed.
Latta said that wasn’t how the public hearings on the HNA were advertised or presented.
“We even discussed some of the policies at the public hearing. I feel like we advertised it according to the rules to do that and provided the document with all of those amendments, so I guess I hope we can do a better job of being able to explain that in the future,” Latta said. “But we are not doing any redundant work. The comprehensive plan is a very large document. It has several sections and several chapters. The housing needs analysis is just covering chapter three.”
Planning director Scott Whyte said the EOA would make amendments to chapter two.
Councilor Kelly Gabliks, who joined the meeting by phone, said she believes the council had ample opportunity to review the document and ask questions during public hearings or direct them to Whyte or Latta for clarification.
“I’m a little disappointed. We’ve had workshops. We’ve had opportunities — if you didn’t understand — to have meetings with Scott and the city manager,” Gabliks said. “I feel we’ve spent a heck of a lot of time on this, and I don’t see the need to go ahead and go back and have a workshop.”
Council president Jennie Rummell joined Lawson, Trahan, Briggs and Schilling in voting no on the ordinance to adopt the plan.
“So, we’ll be seeing it again,” said Mayor Brian Dalton. “Brian will bring it back to us. I’m assuming it will be a workshop or something else.”
Latta said he will discuss with the council how they would like to review the HNA at Monday’s council meeting.