The Next Step in Re-Zoning the Oak Cliff Gateway

Maybe you thought we were finished.  After a few years attending neighborhood meetings, participating in envisioning exercises and deliberating with the City Planning Commission, it was December 2009, when many of us watched the Dallas City Council approve a comprehensive land use plan for the Oak Cliff Gateway.  The next step involves preparing an ordinance to transform the vision into land-use rules we fondly refer to as zoning.

Why do we need zoning?  This may be a debate for another day.  The fact is, in the City of Dallas, foundations don’t get poured without the guidance of zoning.  The Oak Cliff Gateway is one of the few districts in the City of Dallas likely to undergo significant change and land use transitions as a result of the resurgence of urban lifestyles and the various components of the Trinity River Project.

At the moment, the hours of work Oak Cliff residents invested into developing the plan are suspended.   It has been nearly two years since the Oak Cliff Gateway plan was approved.  City budget and staffing constraints could result in waiting a few more years before the plan is animated with a zoning ordinance.  But matching the zoning with the comprehensive plan will clarify and refine our land use intentions, address our safety concerns and identify our opportunities.  Why wait?

We don’t need wait.  Council Member Jasso and former Member Neumann, appointed an advisory committee of stakeholders to assemble final zoning recommendations and forward them to the City for adoption as an ordinance.  If this model sounds familiar “Think Davis.”  The recently adopted Bishop/Davis Land Use Plan and Ordinance was completed in similar fashion.

Volunteer committee: Don Maison, Christian Chernock, John Barr, Amanda Cross, Jim Cullar, Linda Holt, Jim House, Robert P. Garza, Augustine “Tino” Jalomo, Dan Eddy, Michael A. Mendoza, Jon Roy Reid, Pete Schenkel | Supporting Participants: Bob Stimson and City Plan Commissioners Richard Davis and Mike Anglin | Consultant: Larry Good, GFF Architects

[The Oak Cliff Gateway Advisory Committee completed its work in June 2012 and the committee is inactive at this time.  This blog continues as a resource for members of the community involved in continuing the work of rezoning the Oak Cliff Gateway.



15 thoughts on “About

  1. Stop tearing down my neighborhood. I AM NOT MOVING AND YOU CAN NOT BUY MY HOUSE!!!!!! I see you and downtown. You can block me in but you will have to wait till i DIE to get my property.

    Posted by Thehouseyou wantandcanthave | October 5, 2014, 12:55 PM
  2. I would absolutely hate to see my Oak Cliff (although I live in far North Dallas now, my roots and heart are still there where I grew up) go the way of some of the other historic areas. North Dallas was built where there were cotton fields….nothing suffered but open space. Not that I like to see us lose open space, but we have no choice but to grow.

    To tear down historic structures like the Polar Bear to benefit some developer is absolutely immoral and insane. I hope the politicians search their hearts (hmmmm) and respond to them rather than to the desires of some of their buddies’ pocketbooks. I never understood the developer’s need to change that which has been and is still functional.

    Posted by Jim Bryan Sunset Grad 1960 | March 7, 2014, 1:30 PM
  3. The OOCCL post points out key structures in the Oak Cliff Gateway and the zoning reportedly being considered where they stand. Both the descriptions of the areas, as well as the building heights provided there, came from the committee’s website and their first public meeting at Hitt Auditorium.

    While North Marsalis may have the problem of neglected apartments, Beckley does not. What Beckley does have is a historic structure of national notoriety. There are no run down apartment houses on this block, only modest well kept homes. This block should remain untouched.

    Historic preservation on a neighborhood level is an arduous task occurring one home at a time over a very long period. The process has to wait for somebody to be able to afford new windows, new paint, a new kitchen… hardly easy today. Lake Cliff is an amazing neighborhood and it deserves a chance to be the best it can be. Historic preservation began in Winnetka Heights in the 1970’s. Lake Cliff only formally started in 1995. It takes time.

    For the record, Oak Cliff Christian had a congregation at the time it was offered well above market value for their property. The church was not vacant or run down when it was purchased by the school district. An inspection of the interior before asbestos abatement found the property with no water stains anywhere inside or cracks in the foundation. It’s ironic that rezoning these structures could result in a similar situation by making someone want the land regardless – and in spite of – what is standing there.

    Michael Amonett
    President, OOCCL

    Posted by Michael Amonett | August 25, 2011, 11:27 PM
  4. I read the article posted on July 27, by the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League. The post implies that the Oak Cliff Gateway Advisory Committee is making plans to raise structures and break ground on new development projects. The advisory group is not making such plans. The group is working to complete the charge of reconciling existing zoning with the vision of the land use study adopted in December 2009. Our recommendations remain a work in progress. On July 11 we overlaid the area map with zoning categories like mixed-use, infill and mixed use transition to provide a broad sense on types of development matching with the adopted study. Stay tuned, specific guidelines on streets, heights and building form have yet to be established.

    I applaud the League’s efforts to get the community to share ideas on rezoning the Oak Cliff Gateway. We are reading these comments. Many neighbors are contacting advisory committee members directly. Most of the people are surprised to learn that existing zoning allows for uses and structures that are very different from what we see on the ground today. Before passing judgment on zoning proposals I advise everyone to become familiar with the zoning under current review. Learn more at http://wp.me/P1GeEQ-58.

    On the matter of historic preservation I agree with the mission of protecting Oak Cliff’s grand old structures. In fact, back in 1995, I helped launch the effort to designate my own neighborhood as a historic district. We walked the streets and collected signatures – once for the planning commission and then again for city council. We endured the long and often discouraging activity of pushing the idea through public meetings. Then we moved the motion through the morass of Dallas City Hall. Lake Cliff has been a historic district since 1997. We can count just a few success stories since then, but these are not nearly enough to provide Lake Cliff with a housing stock worthy of and waiting for the next generation. Historic designation provided a little leverage but it has not resulted in a wave of preservation.

    Within months of its creation the Lake Cliff Historic District watched the implosion of a contributing apartment building on North Marsalis. Earlier this year, the neighborhood watched the demolition of a single family home on 6th street. Truth be told, the condition of the home on 6th street was deplorable. My point is that historic designation and restrictive zoning does not save old structures. Too often deteriorating structures simply remain deteriorating. Watching a structure crumble should not be mistaken for the noble act preserving a piece history. The best way to save these homes, shop-fronts and office buildings is to use them, live in them, and to own them. The charming old structures of Oak Cliff are not threatened by zoning. Our villain is neglect.

    I am reminded of the attempt to save Oak Cliff Christian Church from the path of Adamson High School. I would argue that if the church had been home to an active congregation of worshipers, it is likely that DISD would have organized development plans very differently. Historic preservation is not just about nostalgia for the past it is more about being a participant in its future.

    Michael A. Mendoza
    Member, Oak Cliff Gateway Advisory Committee

    Posted by Michael A. Mendoza | August 23, 2011, 2:22 PM
  5. Be sure to click on the PD links at the top of this home page to read about what’s currently allowed under existing ordinances. Michael Mendoza has researched and listed the areas that fall into the OC Gateway Study Area. Good stuff to know about as we begin our discussion and collect community input on establishing the zoning guidelines as part of the OC Gateway. THANK YOU Michael for putting together all of this as it makes it easier for us to learn about current existing ordinances. This will definitely be of value to us as we meet with the community. As a follow up to our first community input meeting on July 11th, if you or your group would like an additional meeting, please contact us to schedule.

    Posted by augustinej | August 20, 2011, 9:56 AM
  6. We are not Uptown. We don’t want to be Uptown. People don’t move here because they want it to look like Uptown. Oak Cliff has HISTORY, it has architectural diversity, it has small-town feel. The heights as listed are absurd, given the ambiance of the area. 5-25 storey buildings do not give “cozy” warm fuzzies. Bring them down to 2-3 stories, max 5, and preserve all of the architectural diversity that has graced the area for over 100 years.

    Posted by texasnaturalsnita Mills | August 18, 2011, 12:54 PM
  7. When ,my now adult sons were less than 3, a favorite Sunday afternoon treat was to pile the guys into their little red wagon with wooden sideboards when we’d walk to our neighborhood ice cream parlor. While the frozen treats in has been long gone, at least the building reminiscent of a frozen and icy outpost is still here. That the food now served is delicious Tex Mex does not detract from family memories of when the food at Polar Bear was as frosty as the building looks.

    My oldest suggested that no matter how tasty the food, Oak Cliff has many places to eat Mexican food, but no ice cream parlors across from a park.

    To turn this into yet another tall building blocking the view, and bringing more traffic to an area with one of the more confusing intersections in Dallas (Beckly-Zang-Crawford, etc) will add little to quality of life, esecially for those of us who have been here nearly 30 years in a neighborhood older than the carpetbaggers and land speculators who love North Oak Cliff so much they cannot wait to turn it into somewhere else.

    Perhaps these study committees should have more people who just live here than people with financial interests. Such groups need both, but I see few people listed who do not have ties to realtors or who see a 5 story building as another potential revenue sourse.

    If the carpetbaggers get their 5-story building, well, we’ll still have the memory of ice cream cones melting down the arms of two little boys, laughing as they ride the park’s merry-go-round. Yeah, THAT is gone, too.
    Joyce Hopkins


    What will this tall building at the site of the ice cream parlor be used for anyway? Full disclosure and transparency seems to be what even politicians are seeking now. What individuals or businesses will benefit from a tall pile of concrete that reaches 5 stories? That would be a welcome addition to any blog or list serv or website. Thank you. Joyce Hopkins

    Posted by Joyce Hopkins | August 11, 2011, 2:31 PM
  8. Please leave the Casa Ludi there!!!!! You’re wanting to take away everything that is individual, everything that is Oak Cliff. We don’t want to be another north dallas – go back there. Leave it alone!

    Posted by Linda Adams | August 11, 2011, 11:55 AM
  9. Please don’t demolish the old Polar Bear building. It’s part of what Oak Cliff’s all about. It holds a lot of memories for a lot of us that grew up in Oak Clif.

    Norma Farris

    Posted by Norma Farris | August 11, 2011, 9:09 AM
  10. I am all for improvement of neighborhoods but the need to tear down everything is shameful. Can’t something be left as a reminder of the past. I grew up in Oak Cliff and it was a wonderful small town atmosphere. I totally understand updating zoning but PLEASE leave a little. For our future grandkids and family to look back and see where their roots came from!!!!’

    Posted by Marilynn varner | August 11, 2011, 7:28 AM
  11. Please don’t make Oak Cliff a cookie cutter version of North Dallas or Addison. What makes Oak Clif charming and unique are it’s beautiful buildings. Why destroy them to create a “gateway” that creates a false impression? Oak Cliff is about history and diversity – a generic facade gateway gives the impression that we’re not proud of that.

    Posted by rosielindseyphotography | August 10, 2011, 4:27 PM


  1. Pingback: Public unveiling of Oak Cliff Gateway rezoning proposal tonight at Hitt Auditorium | Dallas Morning News - February 6, 2014

  2. Pingback: Public meeting will target Oak Cliff Gateway rezoning Feb. 4 at Hitt Auditorium | Dallas Morning News - January 7, 2014

  3. Pingback: Plan commission puts Oak Cliff Gateway rezoning back in play | Dallas Morning News - September 13, 2013

  4. Pingback: Town hall meetings on redistricting, Oak Cliff Gateway next week | Advocate Magazine - October 21, 2011

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