The Morning News Says the Best Neighborhood for "Urban Sophisticates" is Valley Ranch

Valley-Ranch.jpg
An urbanist's dream.
The Dallas Morning News, you may have noticed but probably didn't, is in the middle of a mammoth, months-long effort to pick the best neighborhoods. First came the safest neighborhoods, then the best schools, then those best suited for empty nesters. It's all leading up to the June 16 reveal, when the paper will anoint the area's Best Neighborhood.

The News has gone to great lengths to point out that this is not another throwaway Most-Important-Cats-of-2012 list. They've combed through reams of police reports, property records, school ratings and Census figures and crunched the data to come up with a completely, 100-percent objective method for ranking what might at first glance seem unrankable.

What's funny is how uncannily well the results hew to the stereotype of the News as the paper of Far North Dallas and the northern suburbs. The safest neighborhood is in Frisco. So is the one with the best schools. Southlake takes the crown for empty nesters.

That trend seemed destined to end with Sunday's installment, which promised a definitive ranking of the best areas for "urban sophisticates." That phrase seems to preclude anything north of LBJ. How could the News possibly twist that to favor the suburbs?

Just like this:

Irving might not come to mind as a hotbed of dense urban living, but this portion of Valley Ranch and two stretches of North Dallas took the top three spots among the best places for urban dwellers as part of a yearlong data analysis by The Dallas Morning News.

Of nearly 1,200 census tracts in the Dallas region, 64 qualified as 'urban,' defined as housing at least 10,000 people per square mile. Some areas that might seem shoo-ins -- for instance, retail- and apartment-rich Knox-Henderson -- failed to finish high because of low-performing schools.

The top-rated areas are marked mostly by cornrow-like swaths of apartments, with shopping, restaurants and walking paths either easily accessed on foot or a short drive away.

You have to feel bad for Marc Ramirez, the writer assigned with the job of explaining how the News could possibly consider Valley Ranch a model of dense urban living. He tries his hardest. There's an independent coffee shop! Sidewalks! Apartments with cool urban names like The Highlands of Valley Ranch, The Enclave at Valley Ranch, The Oaks of Valley Ranch!

Alas, it's an impossible task to explain how Valley Ranch wound up at No. 3 on the list, or how clusters of apartments around the Galleria and off the Tollway in the sliver of Dallas that juts into Collin County come in at No. 1 and 2, respectively. The list doesn't get inside the loop until Uptown and Oak Lawn show up at No. 5 and 6. Absent from the list are Downtown, the Cedars, the Design District, North Oak Cliff or any other places that are remotely urban.

It's worth glancing at the News' methodology. The paper explains that it conducted a survey to figure out how North Texans define urban sophistication, then weighted various data based on the results. So public safety accounts for an outsize 47 percent of a neighborhood's urban sophistication score, while commute and walkability make up a combined 7.7 percent.

Jacquielynn Floyd chimes in this morning with a column defending her paper's methodology, saying the data break through "rigid, outdated stereotypes" about urbanism perpetuated by "sanctimonious hipsters who use 'suburban' as an insult that describes selfish, conformist commuters who drive everywhere in super-sized SUVs, spend their leisure time at the mall, vote like the people next door and think 'art' is a Thomas Kinkade print."

Fair point. Sanctimonious hipsters -- hey, we know a few of those! -- are irritating. But so is claiming that your publication has officially proven that Valley Ranch is urban because it has apartments and sidewalks.

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71 comments
Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Actually, if the assclowns at the DaMN endorsed my neighborhood, I'd probably move.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

"What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?" 

JustSaying
JustSaying

Valley Ranch? More like Bali Ranch.

rbeezlee
rbeezlee

The overwhelming majority of those living in Valley Ranch work in the area; it's why they live there. I thought being green was important to you morons? You'd rather live in Lakewood/East Dallas or Oak Cliff and drive 5-20+ miles each way to work (which is what 90% of Lakewooders/East Dallasites do--sorry, not everyone works at a bar or a bike shop) than drive, walk, bus, or pedal 1-5 miles each way every day.  And why?  Well, we know what you'll say.  But then there's the truth: Hipster OC and LW/ED are what Jim Shotgun Shutze (pronounced "shoot-zay" not "shoots" by the way, Jimmy Boy, and you know it) filled with whitey whites, while Valley Ranch is filled with whitey whites, Indians and Pakis, and Latinos.  I mean, shit, who's gonna serve you that hand-crafted, local of course, bacon-flavored, micro-brew if not Zooey or Brook or Jason or Mykel?  All talk.  Yens nothing but all talk, SWPL, adolescents.  Suck it.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

SUV is just vapid urban sophisticate talk for, 'able to convince myself it isn't a station wagon'.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I once met an urban sophisticate in Addison.

JustSaying
JustSaying

Valley Ranch has a shitload of apartments because its close to DFW airport which makes it close to many corporate offices. People like to live close to their workplace if possible.  I didnt know that a sea of apartments with minimal parking made an area desirable for "urban sophisticates".

coachbranden
coachbranden

The ironic thing is this list reflects thinking on a Dallas scale. Instead of using common sense, they try to engage in some scientific formula and then present that as fact. Numbers can generate any outcome. In this case, they try to define urban as density. Using that criteria, LA as a metro region is denser than New York's metro area. I doubt the News wouldn't proclaim L.A. as more urban.


The other problem is using a survey to define true wants. No scientific, peer-reviewed journal would accept surveys. Measurements of real world activity are what matters, not what people say they prefer. 


And who were the respondents. If they interviewed people in Valley Ranch, then of course they are going to say what they did, regardless of whether VR is actually an urban area by any conventional definition.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

The list makes as much sense and Leslie Brenner and her stars.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

"sanctimonious hipsters who use 'suburban' as an insult that describes selfish, conformist commuters who drive everywhere in super-sized SUVs, spend their leisure time at the mall, vote like the people next door and think 'art' is a Thomas Kinkade print."

I fail to see the insult.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

their definition of what makes a geography "urban" is flawed, the criteria used is pop density per sq mile.

Ron Schulz
Ron Schulz

Since when is Valley Ranch Urban ? Thats why I dont read that piece of shit paper.

Efriam A. Garza
Efriam A. Garza

Racial tensions with the Indian populations in Valley Ranch and Las Colinas are higher than anyone wants to admit..

thechuckwilliams
thechuckwilliams

Valley Ranch doesnt even have a decent grocery store? Sure, the Coppell Farmers Market is close, but besides that, you know how far you have to drive to get decent produce?! Whole Foods on Lemmon

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Thank goodness that they left East Dallas off of the list.  We already have a starbucks and that makes us way too close to Frisco and the "compass" lakes.

OakCliffClavin
OakCliffClavin

@rbeezlee 

Wait, Oak Cliff is filled with "whitey whites"?

Have you ever been here?

Walk half a block from Bishop Arts and you're in the barrio.

The folks I know that don't work down here work around downtown, which is only a couple minutes away by DART or our fancy new bike lanes.

Daniel
Daniel

@rbeezlee Translation: A hipster girl dumped me a year or two ago and it really, really hurt.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@coachbranden I think you're laboring under a false pretense.  This survey isn't published by any sort of reputable journal.  It's a product of the media, America's new-found entertainment industry.  Newspapers, TV News and News websites aren't about News, but about attracting as much of America's miniscule attention span as they possibly can.  My guess is, the DMN needed a story of some sort that proclaimed them to be a comfortable friend to those who live at arms length from anything resembling the 'urban core'.

It's a false flag survey in any case.  You find shitbags and wonderduds in neverending supply in the urban core, the suburban sprawl, and even in the far-flung rural netherlands; just as you'll find salt of the earth, genuine great people in all those social climes.

BabyArm
BabyArm

@Sharon_Moreanus When I read reviews by LB I constantly fantasize of what a dead F*c^ she  would be. Viva queso!!!

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@mavdog 

I thought that's the criteria they used, unless "housing at least 10,000 people per sq mile" isn't the same?  I'm confused


markzero
markzero

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Brooklynites think Dallas is a suburb? Of what?

Daniel
Daniel

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz To a Manhattanite, Brooklyn is a suburb. And to a Tokyo resident, a Manhattanite talks too fast and smells oddly of pastrami.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@thechuckwilliams Coppell has the farmers market in old downtown and it actually has a chain called Sprouts Farmers Market that has pretty fresh produce. But yeah, Valley Ranch just has a kroger and a walmart supercenter.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@CornyDoggy

yes, the criteria is pop density, in this case 10K, per sq mile. that is not a good judge of if an area is "urban" or suburban. many suburban areas can meet the criteria.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@mavdog

Ok that makes sense.  Do you know what the density is in some of the competing areas?  I took a few minutes to search but couldn't find much detail

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@casiepierce

"only ever scans articles"?

oh really? at least I can write coherent sentences.

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