Dallas City Hall Is Working on a Plan to Reverse the Population Flight to the Suburbs

Categories: City Hall

ScottGriggs.jpg
Mark Graham
Dallas has, for the most part, missed out on the North Texas population explosion that has taken place over the past dozen years or so. While the region as a whole grew by 22 percent between 2000 and 2012, and exurbs like Frisco and McKinney more than doubled in size, Dallas' population increased by an anemic 4.1 percent. We're the hole in the doughnut.

The suburbs have plenty of built-in advantages over the city (cheaper homes, less crime, better schools, etc.), so their victory in the population race was probably inevitable, but was Dallas really predestined to be crushed so thoroughly?

Councilman Scott Griggs thinks not, and he blames poor planning on the part of City Hall.

See also: Boomtown Rats: Why is Dallas Being Left out of Region's Growth? Ask Our Leaders.

Griggs made his critique this morning during city staff's presentation of their strategic plan for spurring economic development in Dallas between 2015 and 2017. The plan lays out plenty of goals -- growing the tax base faster than suburbs, improving transportation options, improving streets -- but none of them were directly tied to bringing more residents to Dallas.

That presents a problem, Griggs said. To grow the population, "we have to have a plan in place." If there has been a strategy over the past decade, it's to rely on the strength of Richardson and Duncanville ISDs, which have spurred pockets of growth on the northern and southern fringes of Dallas, and ride the wave of urbanites looking for dense, close-to-downtown living. The vast majority of the city, meanwhile, is ignored.

If the pattern continues, Griggs warns that Dallas' population, and its tax revenues, will remain stagnant. The city will have to raise already-high taxes to maintain aging infrastructure, making city living less attractive. "If we don't grow our population we're going to get in this downward spiral."

No one on the City Council's Economic Development Committee really disagreed with that notion, although there were different theories on why Dallas has stagnated. Tennell Atkins blamed poor housing stock in much of the southern sector for driving the upwardly mobile out of the city. Rick Callahan blamed a lack of disposable income (i.e. too many people living on Social Security and entitlement payments) for creating economic dead zones.

There's was also something of a chicken-and-egg debate, with Atkins theorizing that a focus on economic development will spur population growth rather than the other way around.

The city's economic development staff said they would revise the strategic plan and peg their goals to population growth, which should solve everything, except DISD, over which they have no control. But who wants a decent school district anyway? (Note: It's only fair to point out that DISD has made significant strides in graduation rates, AP scores, SAT participation, and bridging the minority achievement gap in recent years.)

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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74 comments
ruddski
ruddski

I think the reason a lot of people live in the suburbs is because they don't like living in the city.

A lot of people who live in the city live there because they don't like the 'burbs.

But it seems the people who live in the cities worry a lot about why people who don't like living in cities feel that way, while people in the 'burbs don't really give a shit why people who live in cities don't like living in the 'burbs.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Pardon me if I don't consider "SAT participation" an outstanding accomplishment, nor am I impressed by DISD's improved graduation rates.


I still remember the mass exodus of fellow parents and kids that happened when my boys hit fourth or fifth grade. DISD has pockets of excellence like the magnets and you can find good programs and experiences at other high schools in DISD if you are willing to look and work for them, but overall, it's more about politics and money than it is about teaching kids.

Deelio
Deelio

Here's an idea:


1. Improve DISD. How many families do you know who move into the city, but avoid DISD for private schools? 


2. Increase the livability of downtown. Is there any place to fuel up? Get groceries? 


3. Are there any affordable (mid range) living options near downtown?


4. Public transportation. DART's light rail is fine, but it needs more stops with convenient housing/retail/office. If you want to spur local growth, leverage the DART rail and quit encouraging sprawl.


5. How about some walkability? Maybe some apartments/grocery/offices on one of the many walk trails that were recently built? This would reduce car reliance, and urban sprawl. 


WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

Dallas is run like a corrupt 3rd world nation. Good luck with attracting anyone but 3rd worlders and free loaders. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Two things:  Trust in the municipal leadership, both the city and DISD, is the first.  If people don't trust the government of a city, why on earth would they move there?


The second one is obvious.  It's the schools, stupid, it's the schools.  Those urbanites wanting close-in, dense living will jet for the burbs as soon as their kids reach school age.  Those that can't afford the nice private schools anyway.  You want to grow the city, you need families.  You want families, you need decent, well-managed, safe schools.

ruddski
ruddski

If Dallas wants people to live downtown, they should call it Ft Worth East, and get rid of the bums.

E.DALLAS
E.DALLAS

Did you know that Dallas Woodrow Wilson High (an IB World School) is rated higher than Plano Senior High? Source:  greatschools.org

Probably not - there are good schools in Dallas but the media is not interested in covering those - scandals at the administration building sell more papers in Collin County.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Part of the problem is that the city of Dallas is run by thundering ass-clowns on the city council.  Who wants to put their livelihood and well-being in the hands of those jokers?

Freddy
Freddy

@ruddski Most of Dallas is very suburban in development. Some of the older areas like East Dallas/Lakewood and North Oak Cliff were originally "streetcar suburbs" so they are more walkable and have small commercial centers, or little "downtowns". Uptown, Oak Lawn, Design District, Deep Ellum, Expo Park, Cedars/Southside are more urban. Look at the White Rock Lake/Flag Pole Hill area, it doesn't look like you are in a big city - there are some side streets which seem to be "out in the country".

Freddy
Freddy

@Cliffhanger I believe the Washington Post rankings are on AP participation not SAT. A school having a large core and range of AP courses is a good sign.  IB is also counted.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@Deelio  There are a half dozen or so new apartment and office complexes going up along Katy Trail and into the Harwood area. Not to mention a Whole Foods being built right on McKinney. Va bene?

ruddski
ruddski

The country is run like a banana republic, subject to whim of dear leader. Why should Dallas be any different?

Freddy
Freddy

@RTGolden1 There are excellent public schools in the Lakewood area and they are overflowing in popularity.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs Just curious how many people you know who have actually given that reason for why they left Dallas for the suburbs?  Just to share personal experience, I know a lot more people in the 'burbs who conceal carry than people in Dallas who conceal carry.  My personal experience is the exact opposite of your postulation.


Personally, my family left for the 'burbs when the girls got out of Stonewall Jackson Elementary.  That is a great school with great teachers and families.  There was no way we were putting our girls though DISD middle and high schools, though.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs Right.  Because cities with highly restrictive gun control laws have such low low gun crime rates.  Chicago?  Detroit? DC?

brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@E.DALLAS Yawn...every time this topic (what's wrong w/Dallas, why don't people live here, blah, blah) the schools get mentioned and all we hear about is Woodrow Wilson and Stonewall Jackson...those are two schools in a vast district. Not everyone can go to WW. Not everyone can go to SJ. There is this weird refusal to recognize that overwhelmingly,  the DISD is a nepo-negrocracy trying to figure out how to deal with a Mestizo student body and that there is really no place in the DISD for plain ol' white kids who don't want to be ballerina-engineers. Even though everyone knows it.

jasonleonwright
jasonleonwright

@E.DALLAS  I love Woodrow and lived down the street for years, but your comment surprised me. You're right that the greatschools rating is higher for Woodrow, but if you look at test scores, Plano is higher in every category. Not sure how they generate their scores, but it's not based on the % of students passing the TAKS test. I still think Woodrow is great, but I'd stay away from citing this. 

WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

@ruddski  Dallas did vote for Obama and most of the city government are democrats so I wouldn't expect it to be any different

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Freddy @RTGolden1Lakewood isn't going to reverse family flight to the burbs.  Neither are magnets or TAG academies.  Notice I didn't say fix a school.  The entire school district has to be fixed.  You can point to the high rankings of this or that school and its feeders, but that lifejacket aint gonna save a sinking ship.

TripleW
TripleW

@PlanoDave @bvckvs

@PlanoDave @bvckvs I would call it child abuse to move your kids out of that area and punish them with Plano! The middle and high school are perfectly fine and send kids to Ivy League colleges.The problem a lot of people have is that after elementary their kids are in school with many poor and non-white people rather than the cocoons they had at Lakewood and Stonewall.I don't have figures for Stonewall, but about 70 to 80% of the kids at Lakewood go on to Long and Woodrow.

In fact Long and Woodrow are International Baccaluareate World Schools offering IB MYP, IB Career Certificate and IB Diploma Programme (24 college credit hours).  Plano doesn't offer IB at the middle school level to my knowledge.

Freddy
Freddy

@brewer_anthony @E.DALLAS Actually everyone (if they qualify) can go to WW. As an IB World School it accepts applications for transfer for IB Diploma Programme and IB Career Certificate.  Anyone can apply and there are students from Highland Park and Allen there along with kids from all over Dallas.

E.DALLAS
E.DALLAS

@jasonleonwright Hey Jason when you are a DISD supporter you have to get their attention. Most times they won't listen and this is an attention-grabber. Woodrow has been ranked higher for AP participation by Newsweek and the Washington Post over many suburban schools in the past.  Now the first senior class to go IB all four years is about to graduate and applications for the freshman IB class had to be limited this year. J. L. Long Middle School is wrapping up its IB accreditation.  Lakewood, Stonewall, Long and Woodrow are all over-capacity with applications for transfer. Woodrow has students from HP, Allen, Duncanville and other suburbs.  The WWHS Community Foundation is raising record amounts and Lakewood is raising $15,000,000 for an addition. I expect the upward trend to continue.  If we can get a few other feeder systems on the same path, Dallas will benefit enormously. 

ruddski
ruddski

The "lady" can probably fend for herself, prince. And remember, on the internet, no-one knows you're a bitch. Hope you get that date!

hurleypic
hurleypic

Nice language with a Lady there, A-Hole!!!

ruddski
ruddski

Lorlee, i put my nose where I fucking well please, you can complain about it as much as you fucking well please. In the end, what you want really doesn't matter, does it?

Lorlee
Lorlee

@ruddski Well then I expect you have your bags packed and are on your way.  Oh, but you don't live in the City -- well then don't put your nose where it isn't wanted.  


ruddski
ruddski

It's a 4th-world town.

TripleW
TripleW

@RTGolden1 @Freddy Lakewood has already reversed the flight to the suburbs. Have you checked the enrollment figures and home prices?  True enough, though, more good schools are needed.

brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@bvckvs @brewer_anthony@PlanoDave

 My bad, 3-4 mentions of tangibles/intangibles/psychological constructs probably just counts as a fixation, not an obsession.

“less tangible lessons of tolerance and community responsibility.”

“less distracted by such intangibles.”

“sorely lacking in empathy and social responsibility.”

Bottom line...those are secondary/tertiary concerns (at best) for a  school to concern themselves with. But I guess that's the New America...feelings first, results...not so much.


brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@bvckvs @ROFLCopter@PlanoDaveI applaud any parent who shields their child from the coarseness, dullness, and mediocrity that pervades the DISD. While you obsess over "intangibles", bvckvs, the rest of the developed world is leaving the US in its dust. In any case, an obsession with empathy and social responsibility seems to be manifested most spectacularly in rich, white kids, because they get to romanticize poverty.

brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@bvckvs @brewer_anthony@PlanoDaveMy observations are as valid as yours, bvckvs, and I stand by what I said. I do not live in Plano. I live in Dallas, in a "diverse" and "vibrant" part of it.. There is more interaction and proximity among more types of people in Plano than there is in Dallas.

Freddy
Freddy

@brewer_anthony @PlanoDave @bvckvs However it's not economically diverse as far as having some very poor children.  And then Plano divides itself between east and west with the west side looking down on the east.

brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@PlanoDave @bvckvsPlanoDave has a great point. Dallas apologists are always talking about the "diversity" of the city experience. Plano is far more TRULY diverse than any every neighborhood in Dallas.


ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@bvckvs @PlanoDave  Test scores.  Graduation rates.  Scholarships secured.  Number of college bound graduates.  Pick one or pick them all, silly old man.

WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

@PlanoDave @bvckvs  It all comes back to race for liberals. 


People leave because the schools suck? In a racist liberal like bcckvs' view.. the schools suck because there are too many minorities.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @PlanoDaveI thought Dallas isn't safe because of gun violence?  Bucky boy, you've typed your fingers into a clove hitch.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs All due respect, but where did I mention race? Or political leaning?

Stonewall Jackson was certainly not a "white" school, but it is an excellent elementary school with very involved parents.

On my street in far Northwest Plano, there are 12 houses.  In addition to myself, only two of the other 11 households are white.  The rest are black, latino or immigrant (mostly Asian).  The ones with children (about half) are living in Plano for the schools.  Their children are high achieving students and they feel that Plano does a good job of keeping the top performers engaged and challenged.

The move out of Dallas had absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with quality of educational opportunity free from distraction for my children.

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@RTGolden1 @bvckvs  bvckvs is a classic leftist.  Damn the statistics or any evidence that doesn't fit their narrative.  What is more important is the idea according to them.  Outcomes are an afterthought.  Myrna that litter box lady falls into this trap quite often.  When caught in that trap, they usually resort to, "Well, why doesn't your side come up with some ideas instead of just trying to destroy ...."  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1Oh, I see.  gun control WILL work in Dallas, regardless of the statistics from EVERY other US urban center it has been tried in proving that it won't work here.

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1  In the face of overwhelming evidence he still can't accept the facts.  He is a trademark, over-the-hill lefty.

TripleW
TripleW

@brewer_anthony @Freddy @E.DALLAS You can also get a good education at regular comprehensive high schools such as W.T.White and Hillcrest but Woodrow is the popular one now.

brewer_anthony
brewer_anthony

@Freddy @brewer_anthony@E.DALLASThat's not what I meant...at some point there is a practical/physical limitation to how many students can attend any school. There should be a perception that there is more than one option.

TripleW
TripleW

@jasonleonwright Yes it is but some of its many attributes are not easily evalutated by numbers.

jasonleonwright
jasonleonwright

@E.DALLAS  Again, my only complaint is that you've cited something that doesn't back up your point. Look at the TAKS scores between Woodrow and Plano Senior High and you'll see that PSH has higher scores in every category. Good schools in the DISD are important to probably everybody commenting, but your initial point is wrong. Besides a greatschools number (whatever the hell that means), the schools don't compare in the actual results. Everything you mentioned is great. I still think Woodrow is a fantastic school. 

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