Meeting Minutes, March 14, 2012

Meeting Minutes | PDF: Minutes_ Oak Cliff Gateway Steering Committee March 2012

Oak Cliff Gateway Steering Committee

March 14, 2012


Members Attending:


Christian Chernock, Linda Holt, Michael Mendoza, Jon Roy Reid, Pete Schenkel, Steve Mansfield (for Scott Seimer), Don Maison, John Barr, Amanda Cross, Rob Garza, Jim Cullar, Jim House


Also in attendance: Larry Good, Bob Stimson, Hon. Scott Griggs


The meeting was called to order at approximately 4:10 PM by the Chair, Christian Chernock.  The chair proposed to the committee that this was intended to be the final meeting of the committee prior to submitting its proposal to the City Planning Commission.  In effort to gain consensus Chernock reiterated that the work of the Gateway Steering Committee was going to be presented in three separate sections and he offered the following outline for the meeting and for the process going forward:


(1) proposed form-based zoning recommendation

(2) proposed modifications of the thoroughfare plan and

(3) proposed Bike Plan recommendations.


Chernock stated that although these were going to be considered and talked about separately he reminded everyone that they were all intricately tied together and should not be considered in isolation from each other. The committee concurred.


(1)   Discussion on Proposed Zoning Ordinance


Larry Good reviewed the changes made to the March 1, 2012 version of the proposed ordinance with the committee.  The committee members asked questions and discussed many aspects of the changes.  Inquiries were made as to the next steps.  Larry informed the committee that the next step would be to take the ordinance to the City for processing into the zoning process.  The City Attorneys will review and edit the proposed ordinance.  The committee was assured that it would be able to see the City Attorney’s revisions prior to submission to the City Planning Commission.


Differences of Opinion


The committee agreed that if when submitting the ordinance to the Planning Commission, if there were major points of contention, those in the minority would be allowed to submit a statement of their position along with the majority’s opinion.  It was also recognized that there will be some minor issues and clarifications in the ordinance that individual members of the committee will, while endorsing the ordinance as a whole, likely lobby to have changed.  Everyone agreed that this was appropriate.


Methodist Advocates to Include Skybridge Provisions in the Proposed Ordinance


Steven Mansfield requested the floor to discuss the hospital’s desire to include skybridges as an allowable use within the Oak Cliff Gateway.  Mansfield referenced the hospitals intention to construct a skybridge across Beckley Avenue.  Mansfield made a motion to include skybridge as an allowable use by right.  The idea was met with opposition by several committee members and a word of caution from Larry Good.  Mendoza reminded the committee that it agreed to plan and promote a built environment oriented around activating street-live and friendly toward pedestrians.  After some discussion Mansfield amended his motion so that skybridges are allowed with an SUP.


Motion: A motion was made to revise the proposed ordinance to allow Skybridges with a Special Use Permit thru the normal City procedures.  The motion passed with a 9 – 3 split vote.


Yes Reid, Maison, Schenkle, Barr, Cullar, Holt, Mansfield, Cross, House, Maison

No: Chernock, Mendoza


Approval of Oak Cliff Gateway Form Based Code


Motion: A motion was made to approve and endorse the proposed zoning ordinance as amended.  The motion passed unanimously. 


(2)   Proposed Thoroughfare Plan Amendments


Larry Good explained that with one exception, the current thoroughfare plan which denotes the width of the right-of-way required by the City and the type of road built within that right-of-way appropriately matched the existing thoroughfares in the area.  No additional right-of-way acquisitions were needed by the City to fulfill its current plan.


Amendment to Thoroughfare Plan


The exception is a section of North Beckley between Colorado and Zang.  In this section, the thoroughfare plan currently shows this section with a “M6D” designation which requires 100 feet of right of way for a six-lane divided road.  This section currently has a six-lane divided road built within a smaller right-of-way.  He proposed that the thoroughfare plan be amended to reflect that no additional right-of-way would be required for this area.


Motion: A motion was made to amend the City of Dallas thoroughfare plan on N. Beckley from Colorado to Zang from its current “M6D” designation to “M6D Special” which will caveat that no additional right-of-way beyond that which already exists will be required.  And, further, that the City should, subject to modifications required by a future streetcar, reconfigure this section to four lanes with on-street parking.   The motion passed unanimously.


Amendment in Support of On-Street Parking within the Gateway Study Area


Mendoza raised a question about on-street parking along Beckley Avenue between Colorado Blvd. and Zang Blvd., in support of the retail and commercial zoning taking place and anticipated within the triangle of Zang, Colorado & Beckly.   John Barr raised the issue of on-street parking along Colorado Blvd.  After discussion, the committee agreed to include recommendations for on-street parking within the ROW along the triangle of Beckley, Colorado and Zang Blvd. and in within other ROW areas in the study area whereby on-street parking may have occurred historically.


Motion: A motion was made to add language to the street exhibit showing the proposed configuration of the 200 block of W. Colorado that will state that nothing in the drawing was meant to restrict the inclusion of on-street parallel parking in this area.  The motion passed unanimously.


(3)   Complete Street Recommendations & Bike Plan Amendments


Larry Good presented a series of drawings depicting proposed reconfigurations of the existing street on the City’s thoroughfare plan.  The drawings included factors such as proposed sidewalk widths, bike lanes (if applicable), on-street parking and vehicle lanes.  For Colorado west of Beckley and for Beckley north of Colorado, two exhibits were presented, Options A and B.  Chernock reminded the board that the initial discussions for Beckley and Colorado along this area included talk of parallel parking and bike lanes. He said options A and B were already huge compromises from what was initially discussed. Option A showed the status quo for these street sections.  Option B depicted these street sections with bicycle lanes included.  The committee reviewed and discussed these exhibits.


Mansfield quickly stated opposition to any recommendations suggesting lane reductions in favor of bicycles over on-street parking or circulating motor vehicles.


Chernock shared a conversation he had with Keith Jones an EMT driver and trainer regarding the streets along Beckley. He was told by Jones that bike lanes did not present any particular problem for EMT drivers. Jones said a two way cycle track along the south side of Colorado in front of Methodist would be a great idea because it put all the cyclists in one place increasing the ‘predictability’ of the streets for the drivers. Jones also said the aspect of the streets that gives the most anxiety to drivers is a center turn lane where both directions of traffic can turn from. When asked about parallel parking Jones said it was only a problem when not used correctly i.e. parking in front of a fire hydrant that obstructed access for fire and emergency help. Otherwise it was not a concern. Chernock explained that option A had a center turn lane, no bike lanes and should not be considered a viable option.


As this issue has been in contentious for several months, Methodist officials had been advocating their position individually among steering committee members, City of Dallas Officials and with Larry Good.  Good came prepared with several alternative options.  These options were prepared with hopes of it facilitating dialogue for alternate bike routes to the Trinity river park and away from Methodist.


The map showed alternate bike routes that steered bike traffic away from Colorado and Beckley.  Chernock discouraged the idea of considering alternate routes and stated several reasons. 1) There had already been many compromises by the committee with Methodist leadership not willing to compromise from their side, 2) bike routes to the Trinity were important but not at the complete exclusions of bike and pedestrian connectivity to Lake Cliff and Founders Park, two very underutilized existing public amenities that the neighborhoods West of it did not use because of a lack in safe bike and pedestrian connectivity. 3) The Bike routes completely cut off East Kessler Park from having safe bike access to Lake Cliff Park and 4) bike connectivity was only one aspect of the importance for having bike lanes along Colorado and Beckley in the areas around Methodist. Bike lanes are a vital tool for creating complete streets which is something that surrounding neighborhoods and Stakeholders have repeatedly asked for.


Chernock said that this had been a process driven by fact and sound urban design principals. He said he was particularly influenced by the data and studies presented to him from the traffic engineers and said that he had not received evidence from Methodist that supported there claims that lane reduction proved their inability to expand the hospital.


Methodist Argues for Status Quo


Steve Mansfield stated that they had done a traffic study and asked why that was not being considered.  Mansfield argued for Methodist’s position for no lane reductions on Beckley and Colorado.  Paraphrased – Methodist has been here a long time, stated Mansfield, it feels like the Committee is taking our infrastructure away from us…we have worked a long to time to pull everything together…and don’t forget, the groups not represented in this this discussion are the patients.


Chernock said he felt that the numbers of the traffic study had been “massaged” to serve Methodist. Siting that he had repeatedly asked for the traffic study prior to the boards previous meeting, at that meeting and following the meeting. The traffic study was withheld from the committee for weeks and was only shared with Larry Good. Good told Chernock that the numbers were a bit over zealous and heavily based off of future development.


Chernock reminded the committee of the study tour to the medical district on Magnolia Drive in Fort Worth (tour members included Councilmember Delia Jasso, Christian Chernock, Jason Roberts and Andrew Howard).  The tour highlighted how a large medical district and complete street elements can live side-by-side.


Andrew Howard Report: National reports and local examples have determined that complete streets do not hamper emergency response or decrease access for patrons. See


Mansfield dismissed the correlation and was oppositional on the matter.  Mendoza disagreed with Methodist’s position and reminded Mansfied that the street is part of the public space and it is not owned by the hospital.  Mendoza asked the committee to compare street infrastructure and traffic volume around other in-town hospitals such as Baylor, Parkland and Presbyterian.  Mendoza cited figures for these areas and suggested that Beckley and Colorado have enough capacity to accommodate complete street planning:


Mendoza reminded the committee that Beckley is a very wide street (6 lanes + a turning lane carrying 26,000 car trips/day).   Offering context are Northwest Highway at North Park (6 lanes + a turning lane carrying 67,000 car trips/day) and Walnut Hill at Presbyterian Hospital (6 lanes + a turning lane carrying 44,000 car trips/day). Mendoza suggested that Beckley has capacity to accommodate quality of life features for its surrounding neighborhoods.


Chernock recognized that the intersection was important to Methodist and certain committee members but was also an incredibly important intersection for the entire community, who have repeatedly said over the past five years that they wanted street activating uses, bike lanes, multi modal transportations, walkability and traffic calming implementation.


Mansfield continued to press with the hospital’s position.  After a few more rounds of discussion Mendoza encouraged the committee to recommend a complete street scenario on Colorado Blvd. by adopting GFF’s street section labeled Option B.


Motion:  A  motion was made to support the Option B exhibit for Colorado west of Beckley.  The motion was withdrawn.


Discussion: Chernock said that until the street and public infrastructure were redesigned with a focus on supporting lifestyles of health and walkability the type of development the area hopes for would not come. Chernock sited that the types of developers we are trying to encourage to come to Oak Cliff desire robust sidewalks, street trees, parallel parking and bike lanes to already be in place. John Barr agreed adamantly with Chernock’s comments. Chernock said without complete streets along Beckley and Colorado intersection we are promoting what is already there; a parking garage, a parking lot, a suburban style Walgreens and a suburban style strip center.  The Committee continued to banter the subject until Council member Griggs stated that he had to leave early but wanted to offer a suggestion.  Seeing no consensus on the matter, Griggs offered up the services of the City Design Studio to help continue to work on the design of the streets in this part of the Gateway.  Don Maison stated that he had to leave the meeting.  After additional discussion Mendoza withdrew the motion in deference to adopting Linda Holt’s motion to accept guidance from the City Design Studio.  Griggs and Maison departed before discussion ended.


Motion: A motion was made to forward the committee’s recommendations for zoning and thoroughfare plan changes with the committee taking no position on the issue of bike lanes on Colorado west of Beckley and Beckley north of Colorado and to accept Grigg’s offer to seek guidance from City Design Studio.  The motion failed on a split vote.


Yes: Chernock, Garza, Holt, Mendoza

No: Mansfield, Barr, Reid, Cullar, Cross, Schenkle, House


Discussion:  Holt offered the amendment.  When asked about his thoughts on the matter Good withheld his endorsement but stated that he was fairly certain of the studios position on the question.  Holt stated that it was difficult to take Methodist’s land use planning seriously in light of its decision to place its new ER entrance at the T-Intersection of Colorado and Bishop and placing a parking garage at the corner of Zang & Colorado, making complete street scenarios nearly impossible for the neighborhood.  Barr responded, saying that Holt’s comments were not helpful. Mansfield responded, saying he was sorry Holt felt that way and said these [planning] decisions were in the works ten years prior to today.


Excluding Complete Street Recommendations

Dismissing the conciliatory gesture to seek guidance from the City Design Studio, and after Councilman Griggs and Don Maison departed, Mansfield pressed for a motion to exclude complete street recommendations that would result in any type of lane reduction along Colorado Blvd. and Beckley Avenue.


Motion: A motion was made to forward the proposed street configurations to the City with the caveat that there should be no reduction in the number of vehicular lanes for Colorado west of Beckley and Beckley north of Colorado.  The motion passed on a split vote.


Yes: Mansfield, Barr, Reid, Cullar, Cross, Schenkle, House

No: Chernock, Garza, Holt, Mendoza


Discussion: Silence from most and a little grumbling from the others.   Michael Mendoza offered to author the minority opinion.


The meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:50PM.



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