In north Lake Highlands, Public Improvement District could boost economic development, public safety

Proposed PID area

‘Economic vibrancy’ is the key focus of a proposed new Public Improvement District (PID) in District 10, north of the existing PID which surrounds the town center.

City of Dallas staff last week determined that requirements that would allow for a PID north of I-635 in the Forest-Audelia area have been met, and a public hearing will be held August 9 to receive commentary regarding its formation.

In order to arrive at this point, a majority of commercial property owners in the area had to buy in.

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Here is how Kathy Stewart, executive director of the existing Lake Highlands PID explained the process:

“The property owners in a specific neighborhood decide whether they want a Public Improvement District.  Basically, if 60 percent of property owners vote for the PID [they also must represent at least 60 percent of the value of the property in the district] the City of Dallas approves its formation. Then property owners are assessed a tax [not to exceed 15 cents per $100 of property value]. The money is collected and given to the PID for disbursement, which is determined by a specific budget, with oversight by the City, and annual audits.”

At a March meeting, Stewart, her staff and other leaders met with business owners in North Lake Highlands to explain PIDs.

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The overall goal of a PID is, generally, to improve quality of life within the PID boundaries. That hopefully leads to more attractive property within a PID and economic growth — it has worked in southern Lake Highlands, Stewart said.

An improvement district also has benefitted nearby Vickery Meadow.

A PID allows for security beyond the typical Northeast Police patrols, explains the Lake Highlands PID Public Safety Coordinator, Vicki Taylor, a longtime Lake Highlands Resident who has raised three children in the neighborhood. “I have a big investment in this neighborhood,” she told the group of condominium and other business owners. She analyzes crime statistics daily and dispatches extended neighborhood patrol (ENP) units, off-duty officers funded by the PID, to problem properties. “Just their visibility makes a world of difference,” she says.

She also has forged a relationship with apartment managers within the PID. “I have 24 apartments in [the southern LHPID] and I can call the managers up anytime and they know me by name,” she says. She holds quarterly meetings with apartment managers and owners in an effort to keep properties up to code and crime down.

A PID’s budget basically is divided three ways — public safety, beautification or aesthetic/structural improvement and publicity/promotion of the neighborhood.

The proposed budget for the North Lake Highlands PID for 2018 is, respectively, 60/16/5 percent. The rest would go early on into establishment fees, administration, insurance and audit costs.

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Much of the “improvement” portion of the PID will be focused on the Skillman-I-635 interchange and bridge, which also has funding from other sources, such as the I-635 East project … MORE

Here is the more in-depth history of the proposal.

Lake Highlands North PID June 28 by Christina Hughes Babb on Scribd

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  • dormand

    Some of the root causes of the deterioration in this area include: a ) the District 10 only has two code enforcement officers assigned to this area which has an excess of multifamily housing, and b ) federal programs for builders to develop low income housing have little or no requirements to properly maintain the property.

    Frequently, actions driven by tax incentives tend to defy logic. Some areas of Lake Highlands are overwhelmed with dilapidated multifamily complexes owned by out-of-state tax investors.

    The Dallas Housing Authority itself maintains rigid quality-control standards on apartment complexes. However, six other local housing authorities also issue vouchers that can be used anywhere in the area.

    Also, tenant screening is critical. A best-practice protocol for rental applicant screening is that of the apartments that ring the South Texas Medical Center in San Antonio. This protocol is so comprehensive and thorough that those with shady backgrounds walk away upon hearing of the depth of the screening. As a result, the tenants who live there enjoy a very high level of safety and freedom from miscreants.

    The July 2008 Atlantic had a piece, “American Murder Mystery,” which detailed the high correlation between Memphis housing complexes which had: (a) housing vouchers, and (b) high rates of murders.

    In summary, I believe three actions could improve the Dallas quality of life: (a) Code Enforcement should adapt the standards of the DHA, (b) best-practice background checks should be required of rental applicants, and (c) apartments should have published ratings.