I have to agree with The Dallas Morning News editorial board on this one: More residential development in West Dallas benefits everyone. How they arrived at the conclusion is another matter.

Take this paragraph for example:

While this might sound like a chicken-or-egg question — which comes first, housing or residents? — the answer is clear: It’s housing, especially single-family homes, that is key to a neighborhood’s rebirth. Fresh signs of that rebirth are showing up in West Dallas and North Oak Cliff.

Is it really all that clear?

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Are Arbitrary School District Boundaries Distorting Real Estate Values?

Lakewood Elementary is a sought-after attendance area within Dallas ISD.

Lakewood Elementary is a sought-after attendance area within Dallas ISD.

A recent column by Heather Wilhelm highlights a huge issue in America: In order to get into a good public school, you often have to spend more on a home. Heck, brokerages have developed search tools to help you focus on the school attendance areas you want, weeding out perfectly good homes that have imperfect schools.

Wilhelm, a political columnist in Austin, dissects the intersection between public education and real estate in her recent Dallas Morning News Op-Ed, “Public Schools — The Craziest Government Program of Them All.” For the most prescient example, look at HPISD and the Lakewood Elementary attendance area.

Read on for more.

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Once Upon a Time, There Were a Lot of People (and Hats) in Downtown Dallas

Look at this 75-year old, never-before- seen- footage of Dallas that Dallas Morning News editor Robert Wilonsky unearthed (and I guess, bought) narrated by Mark Doty, Historic Preservation officer for the city of Dallas. 90 seconds of downtown Dallas on Kodachrome. (If you don’t know what that is, along with ice cube trays, holler at me.) Funny but not surprising to note that there were houses in downtown Dallas as far back as 1939 — single family. This was about the time, says Doty, that the Cedars ‘hood was being built. This was downtown Dallas before skyscrapers and highways. I was also enthralled with the vintage clothes and hats. I swear in 1939 every woman has as many hats as she had shoes, maybe more. Didn’t they blow away? How did women keep them on their heads? Good question for Ebby Halliday, who got her start in selling by selling ladies hats!

NO-to-Transwestern-DealA few weeks ago we told you that Laura Miller, Mitchell Rasansky and a bevy of Preston Hollow  “VIPs” had joined the debate over a multi-family complex in the early works over at Preston and Northwest Highway, Behind the Pink Wall. This development is the source of all the “No” signs cropping up in Preston Hollow as far east as Hillcrest, as far west as Midway Hollow, and as far north as Forest.

Well, now Miller, that is former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, has taken it one step further. She WROTE an email to Jennifer Gates asking her to replace Kleinman, claiming he is unwilling to meet with Jennifer’s constituents. Well, she didn’t say he was “unwilling”: she said appoint someone who is MORE willing: (more…)

Inwood Home of the Week: Sun & Sleep in Mike Modano’s House for $3,495,000

IHOTW Epping Lane

You have to BUY it first, of course!

I told you that Mike Modano had put his Epping Lane home on the market about the same time he sold his home with former wife Willa Ford on Mimosa. And I may have showed you the old photos of this house before the new Mrs. Mike Modano, the brilliant Allison, got her hands on it. And oh what a talent Allison has — look at how she has transformed this home into a soft, stunning, light bright palette of delicious hues, Carrera marble and the most tasteful fixtures.

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4923 Deloache ext

Are you a fan of blue and white? How about Chuck E. Cheese? Oh do I have the house for you!.

This home had me SCREAMING in delight when I saw it last week Friday. 4923 Deloache will give you all the excitement you need to stay up all night. After all, it’s just MONDAY! (more…)

It’s on the lips of just about every mom in my neighborhood: What will this home rule proposal mean for our failing neighborhood elementary? Will it mean we won’t have to spend an arm and a leg for private school, or uproot our family for the suburbs?

That’s exactly what’s happening right now, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings wants to stanch the flow of Dallas’ middle class hemorrhage before the city bleeds out. His impassioned plea is one worth listening to.

“You’ve got to just speak the truth. The problem is that everybody is moving out of town. … This is the big elephant in the room,” Rawlings said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News editorial board this week.

We see it all the time when checking out listings in sought-after suburbs or in Dallas neighborhoods where parent groups have worked their tails off to reinvest in ailing campuses in areas where the housing stock is perfect for families but the schools … not so much. Good schools are a selling point. Underperforming schools act as a repellant. Add to the equation that homeowners are already funding these failing schools through property taxes, and the problem is even more galling. This is the major takeaway from Tod Robberson’s blog post:

[Rawlings] suggested that the dysfunctional school system was a major — if not the major — impediment to our city’s growth and development. It is a deterrent to middle class families considering a move here. Bad schools and school management drive down property values. It’s a civil rights issue.

“Economically, it’s a train wreck…,” he said. “It is broken, and we have got to admit that.”

The key point in his remarks was the breakdown over the past decade in taxpayer funding for DISD. We’ve spent $13.9 billion on public education in DISD. That breaks down to $3.5 million per college-ready student during that time period.

If this were a business, and those were the results based on that expenditure, Rawlings said, “Everybody should be fired who had anything to do with this.”

Now, if home rule does turn the district around, it won’t be an overnight fix. It will take years for Dallas ISD to become the kind of district that attracts middle-class families rather than sends them fleeing once their children reach school age, considering that these are the households who really can’t afford to pay for their child’s education through taxes and then again through private school tuition. It seems like a more logical solution than splitting the district up, which was proposed by East Dallas families through the White Rock ISD facebook page. The two strategies, based on what the commission comes up with, may not be mutually exclusive, though.

While home rule may not be a magic bullet, it has at least started a citywide conversation about the dire consequences of doing nothing.

What do you think? If Dallas ISD makes progress with changes on the district level, can the city turn it around, or is the damage already done?

Landscape site plan Preston and Northwest HighwayCharles Sartain, who lives on Northwood and is pretty darn close to the proposed Transwestern development, says in a Letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News last week there IS a need for upscale, luxury apartments in the area and he would like to see a traffic study and more information. He also says “no negotiations” are not the prevailing opinions in the neighborhood, which stretches from Hillcrest all the way to the Dallas North Tollway, including homeowners with the ’50′s ranches on Northwood to the tree canopied and creek-lined estates of Old Preston Hollow.

“No negotiation” and “squelch it before it gets to zoning” are not the prevailing opinions in the neighborhood. The protesters say they want somebody to fight for them. We want a plan commission and council who will fight for a rational debate and vote for a reasonable result.