Effects of Revitalizing the Trinity River on Social Environments: The Fluidity of Migrations in Dallas, Texas

Abstract: 

The City of Dallas has embarked on a large-scale, multi-layered urban renewal plan for the Trinity River, called The Trinity River Corridor Project. The revitalization of the Trinity includes plans that will affect the neighborhoods surrounding its riverbanks. This paper will explore the consequences of river renewal on the Latino community in Oak Cliff.  The Corridor Project will most likely change the demographics; new people are already being attracted to the area, while it will be harder for the current, lower income residents to stay. Parts of the population might be at risk of losing their homes and businesses to rising property taxes. I will look at property values over the last decade in Oak Cliff and explore changes in the area using ethnographic research and analysis of the Dallas Morning News articles as well as existing literature concerning revitalization efforts in other cities.

Table of Contents: 

    Statement of the Problem

    Cities across the United States have made the move toward creating urban spaces that are more inclusive of the natural environment. A popular trend for cities has been to “reclaim” their rivers by creating accessible green spaces for recreation inside the city limits (Kibel, 2007). Dallas has followed suit and much like Boston, Los Angeles, and Boulder, the city of Dallas has implemented a master plan that will turn its river from a neglected waterway into a natural recreational space within the city. This plan includes redeveloping the areas around the river for at least one mile from the riverbanks. The revitalization of the Trinity River and subsequent plans made by the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee to redevelop the neighborhoods that line the riverbanks aim to create a centerpiece for the city of Dallas. This new “oasis,” known as the Trinity River Corridor, may have drastic effects on the demographics of downtown neighborhoods. Dilapidated buildings will be torn down and new businesses will take their place. The area known as Oak Cliff in the southern sector of Dallas has become a popular place as of late; once known as the “barrio,” it has now become a trendy place to live.  This entails a move towards gentrification and a demographic shift from a lower to middle-class population to a young urban population (yuppies).  The most pertinent questions here are (1) who will benefit from these renovations, and (2) who will lose?

    My paper will focus on this particular area of Dallas known as Oak Cliff. It lies within the southern sector of Dallas and is flanked on the east by I-35E, on the west by Loop 12, to the south by I-20, and to the north by I-30.

    Purpose

    In my study I analyze the living situations of those who inhabit the land within the proximity of the planned development for the Trinity River Corridor Project, specifically, the Oak Cliff neighborhood. I look at current conditions in order to identify whether residents are already adversely affected by the changes or how further development might negatively affect the Latino community of the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas. Oak Cliff is a predominantly Latino neighborhood: according to the 2010 Census, 68% of the population is considered Hispanic. My goal is to study how the adoption of form-based codes that will occur in Oak Cliff could potentially make life more difficult for small business owners by instituting policies that will force them to make costly renovations to their buildings or pressuring them to sell their properties. Form-based codes are regulations enforced by the city that aim to develop buildings in an aesthetically pleasing manner, meaning that the buildings in question must conform to specific structural styles. More importantly I will infer whether these conditions will force the lower-income residents out of Oak Cliff while simultaneously making the area more accessible to people with higher incomes.  This dynamic of residential shifts is called gentrification and involves an increase in the average income and a decrease in average family size. In this population migration, poor people will be displaced.

    Significance of the Study

    The environmental degradation humans have inflicted upon their environments have been in the spotlight for decades now. As a country, we find ourselves in the midst of an attempt to foster sustainability by changing our daily habits. One can look to almost any marketable product in the American lifestyle and find the word “eco” being used in its advertisement; be it clothing, cars, cookware, or cruises. This shift in mentality is not limited to the consumer world, but has taken hold of political agenda. Los Angeles, Chicago, and recently, Dallas, have altered treatment of the rivers within their city limits by renewing and renovating the urban space around them. Past efforts to revitalize inner city landscapes have affected not only the lay of the land but also the composition of communities: usually those at the lowest ranks of society have suffered the most from these changes. As the nation picks up on the “green movement”, more and more cities begin to adopt new policies and regulations for the promotion of environmental consciousness. The desired outcome is a city where people and nature live in harmony. This easily turns into an unreachable utopia, or a situation that is only benefitting a selected few. Therefore it is important to look at examples and see what these massive undertakings have done throughout history. In the book Rivertown: Rethinking Urban Rivers, Paul Stanton Kibel presents eight stories of large cities that have sought ways to restore and replenish their rivers. Urban restoration, while beneficial to native fauna and flora, has had the tendency to gentrify the places being restored. Restoration of the natural landscape and the introduction of green spaces within large cities is a way to balance out the ecology of a region. This sort of development attracts business and residents, yet has always come with a heavy cost and those that cannot afford to pay are almost always pushed away.

    Methodology

    I collected data via literature review of available sources such as the original proposed plan for the Trinity River Corridor from December 2003 and subsequent meeting agendas created by the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee. Historical information was gathered from the websites of the Dallas Historical Society and the Texas State Historical Association. Information about the Oak Cliff neighborhood was gained from The Dallas Morning News, as well as field observations gathered from walking through the area. Information about urban renewal projects and their consequences on the demographic of an area was found in Rivertown: Rethinking Urban Rivers. I gathered information about traditional city planning and form-based codes in Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream as well as from the website for the Form-Based Codes Institute. I conducted ethnographic studies in the Oak Cliff neighborhood on March 21, 2013 and April 4, 2013. Interpretations of the rezoning of the area were documented on-site with a handheld recorder and a disposable camera. Statistical information about property values, tax values, and financial flux were found using the Zillow website search engine as well as the Dallas Central Appraisal District website. A major limitation of this study was that I was unable to perform any interviews.  Interviews of the residents of Oak Cliff would have been a valuable resource to gain insight into the struggles of the current inhabitants of the neighborhood.

    The Beginnings of a Metropolis

    John Neely Bryan is credited as the founder of the city of Dallas. In 1839, while searching for an area to serve as a trading post to Native Americans and the new immigrants to Texas - white settlers from the east -, Bryan came upon a location where three forks of the river convened. While Bryan was planning his trading post the Native Americans were forced off the land as decreed by a recently signed treaty, and Bryan, realizing that half of his clientele was lost, decided to instead create a permanent settlement instead of a trading post. The town quickly grew; the first crop of corn was planted in 1842, the first doctor arrived in 1843, and in 1845 the town held its first election to decide whether Texas should annex to the United States. It did and the newly created city of Dallas became part of the state of Texas (Dallas Historical Society, 2010).

    In 1852, a man named Alexander Cockrell bought up most of John Bryan’s land and built the first bridge over the Trinity River. The bridge created the opportunity to expand the small town of Dallas by allowing mobility over what would normally be considered an obstacle set by nature. Since the time of the city’s founding citizens have sought ways to use the river to their advantage. Many an enterprising dreamer looked down the length of the Trinity River and envisioned the city of Dallas as a harbor town with a bustling merchant class, yet, the fluctuating water levels of the Trinity River did not allow for barges and steamboats to pass consistently. Any mobility that was lacking in the Trinity River was balanced out by the ease of travel over land; new technology furthered this mobility in 1872 with the introduction of a railway system to the city. The flow of human traffic increased exponentially and opened up new opportunities for business and economic growth. Settlers from failed colonies nearby flocked to the city and Dallas began to annex bordering towns. In 1903 the area south of the Trinity River from Dallas known as Oak Cliff was annexed.

    Oak Cliff: Land in Flux

    Hord’s Ridge was a small town before it became a suburb of Dallas, consisting mostly of farmers, and had been an established community since 1845. The beauty of the hills with their magnificent oaks next to the river caught the eye of business partners Thomas L. Marsalis and John S. Armstrong, and in 1887 they bought up several hundred acres of land along with the Hord’s Ridge settlement (Nall, 2013). Marsalis and Armstrong had been business partners for some time and had a lucrative business as owners of various grocery warehouses in Dallas. They decided to try their hand at a different market and divided the land they had purchased into large lots to create an elite residential neighborhood. Marsalis and Armstrong named the suburb Oak Cliff, appropriately, and it profited greatly. By the end of 1887 sales of the land had surpassed $60,000 (Nall, 2013). Marsalis decided to withhold some of the land from sale hoping to sell it at a higher cost later on, a tactic Armstrong disapproved of (Marsalis and Barnes, 2013). He and Marsalis decided to take on separate roles of their business; Armstrong took charge of their grocery warehouses and Marsalis focused on the real estate market. Marsalis began planning various ways to further his profit by marketing his remaining land in Oak Cliff as a vacation resort. He had very ambitious ideas for the land, landscaped some of it into Oak Cliff Park (present day Marsalis Park and Zoo) and built the Park Hotel, which featured “several mineral baths fed by artesian wells” (Marsalis and Barnes, 2013). Thus began the fetishization of water in Texas that continues to this day. Today the city of Dallas uses approximately 25% of its water to irrigate lawns, the purpose is purely aesthetic. Artesian wells were first discovered in the 1850’s and are now highly regulated by the state of Texas because they tap into confined groundwater, which - as we now know - are a finite resource (Connor, 2013). Residents of the arid parts of Texas demanded to get their own wells set up as security against drought - the wells were considered a necessity to survive the harsh climate of Texas. Marsalis, the entrepreneur that he was, saw something more in these wells; he saw a luxury that would set his resort apart from the rest. These business expenditures proved to be successful and the town of Oak Cliff flourished, by 1890 the population of the town had reached 2,470 people (Nall, 2013). The area continued to grow for a few more years before the depression of 1893. The Civil War had left the economy of the South in ruins and as many cities and towns had to rebuild - little time was left for leisurely activities. Marsalis was forced to close the resort and the neighborhood of Oak Cliff lost a part of its prestige. What was once an elite residential neighborhood became subdivided and sold to the middle and working classes (Nall, 2013) in 1900 and three years later it became part of the city of Dallas.

    Oak Cliff remained a predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood until the 1960’s when newly enacted civil rights laws allowed for minorities to purchase homes. Large businesses that had once profited in Oak Cliff moved out of the area thinking that “a mixed-race area would not be good for business” (Oak Cliff History, 1961-1970). This was the “white flight” period, not only for Dallas but the rest of the country as well, in which white people moved out of the city and into the suburbs.  

    The Trinity Master Plan

    The last decade has seen a revival of the idea to capitalize once more on the natural landscape in Dallas. Water has played a central role in the development of Dallas and much like Marsalis’s dream of capitalizing on groundwater for his resort, former mayor of Dallas, Laura Miller, focused on surface water to improve the economy of Dallas as a whole. In 2002 Mayor Laura Miller was elected to office, her entrance into the mayor’s office brought a vision for the creation of an extensive park within the city of Dallas centered around the Trinity River. This project began as the Trinity Urban Design and Transportation study during the beginning of Mayor Miller’s term with the purpose of reviewing past projects and recommending an “urban design vision” (A Balanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River Corridor, 2003). In 2003, the Trinity River Corridor Project was outlined in a master plan. The Trinity River Corridor Project (TRCP for short) was based upon five key concepts that addressed issues that the city of Dallas has had for decades. The five elements were: Flood Protection, Environmental Restoration and Management, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and Community and Economic Development. The complexity and expanse of the developments make for a project of rather megalithic proportions. The executive summary states that this plan is “the largest and most challenging public works project ever undertaken by [the] city [of Dallas]” (A Balanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River Corridor, 2003).

    The study was privately funded by various individuals and large corporations such as the Belo Corporation, Carole and John Ridings Lee, Crow Holdings, JP Morgan Chase, T. Boone Pickens, and the Wal-Mart Goodworks Program (you can find the entire list in the Balanced Vision Plan on the Trinity River Corridor page). The clients for this study included Mayor Laura Miller and Chancellor of UNT System, Lee Jackson. Consultants for the study were called in from across the country and included Chan Krieger and Associates, an urban design firm based out of Cambridge, MA; Hargreaves and Associates, landscape architecture experts from San Francisco; and TDA Inc., a transportation-planning corporation from Seattle (A Balanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River Corridor, 2003). Many city officials and public works departments were also involved and included the newly created Trinity River Corridor Project Office, as well as the existing departments, such as, the Public Works and Transportation Department, Park and Recreation Department, Dallas Water Utilities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several others as well.

    According to the study, the project was divided into three parts: Basic Phase I, Extended Phase I, and the Ultimate Plan. The cost to complete the Basic Phase I was estimated to be about $1 billion and was covered by the 1998 bond election as well as other governmental sources. The Balanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River Corridor advises that the city implement the Basic Phase I and the Extended Phase I simultaneously for the most optimal results, requiring an additional $110 million for which the study was unable to identify funding for at the time. Four out of the five elements are clearly outlined in this study, the last element, “community and economic development,” is a plan of its own and was to be a separate study undertaken during the development of the other four elements.

    The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, an iconic piece for the city of Dallas designed by the world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava; the Trinity Audubon Center, a recreation and nature-education center on the Trinity River; and the creation of trails and recreational areas all along the Trinity River as it runs through the city of Dallas are all part of the master plan to revitalize the space of the Trinity River. Next in line is the revitalization of the neighborhoods along the Trinity River and the creation of the Trinity River Corridor, a bustling centerpiece for the city of Dallas that will spur economic growth.  

    Renovation of Southern Dallas

    Mayor Miller’s successor, Mayor Tom Leppert, continued with the extensive and expensive plans around the Trinity River. During his term (2007-2011), Leppert attempted to not only work on the recreational aspect of the Trinity River Corridor Project, but to also improve the conditions in south Dallas which was and continues to be an area with a lower-income population. In 2011 Mike Rawlings was elected into the mayor’s office and he brought with him a plan to regenerate the entire southern sector of the city of Dallas. Mayor Rawlings put forth a bond program with a price tag of a whopping $642 million that will continue the vision imagined by Mayor Laura Miller during the early part of the last decade and incorporate Leppert’s ambitions for south Dallas. This bond program has three main propositions that aim at fixing major problems around the city of Dallas as well as focusing on a few key sections of the city that the Mayor wants to open up for economic development.

    Proposition #1:
    $261 million is directed towards reconstructing and resurfacing 304 miles of street in Dallas to meet each district’s standard of having at least 87% of their streets in satisfactory condition (Dallas Morning News, 2012)

    Proposition #2:
    $326 million to control flooding in the Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas Farmers Market, and Fair Park. This includes rebuilding Able, a water pumping station that could open up 50 acres to development while potentially saving the buildings that are currently in the floodplain (Dallas Morning News, 2012)

    Proposition #3
    Raise $55 million to develop the economy of southern Dallas, this is part of the Mayor’s grow South initiative that aims to “increase the tax base and improve the quality of life in southern Dallas” (Dallas Morning News, 2012)

    An article in the Dallas Morning News covering the bond debate claims that city officials constructed the bond package so that the property tax rate would not increase in the city of Dallas, the only way to maintain current tax rates while “increasing the tax base” would be to use taxes wisely (Dallas Morning News, 2012). This can only be accomplished if the land in southern Dallas is being used efficiently and if we move away from the long standing idea that properties are to serve only one function. Lots are either commercial, residential, or governmental and there is never an overlap of these functions, which creates a society that is not only dependent on automobiles but also requires greater development of land. This is not the first time that development in south Dallas has been considered. In fact, the city of Dallas has been working on developing southern Dallas for several years. According to a Trinity River Corridor Project memo, in the fall of 2008 the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee created an ad hoc committee to work with the community to develop new zoning recommendations (2009). The committee presented the type of zoning they wanted to implement, most notably the shift away from traditional planning to form-based planning. Refer to Figure 1. Form-based planning is a way to regulate development that focuses on creating an experience for people by making the properties in the area aesthetically pleasing. This entails strict restrictions on what is allowed on private property and according to the Form-Based Codes Institute website, form-based codes are “not to be confused with design guidelines or general statements of policy, form-based codes are regulatory, not advisory” (Form-Based Codes Institute, 2008). Traditional forms of city planning were more focused on quantifying land and objects. This more abstract and utilitarian procedure for urban development led to areas that, while useful for everyday life, were not always aesthetically pleasing. When told of the development plans, community members wanted the project coordinators to focus more on mixed-use development such as multi-storied buildings that can contain business, residential, and even public green space and would “encourage a more walkable district” and less on the aesthetic value of the area (J. Jordan, personal communication, April 3, 2009). The mixed-use model of city planning allows for residents to have easier access to everyday needs such as food, entertainment, and work. Property lots grow up instead of out, and buildings serve multiple purposes, connecting different aspects of everyday life and cutting down on the need for automobiles. This is a form of city planning that has truly gone “green”. A decrease in carbon emissions and an increase in the time people spend outside is the first step to creating an environmentally sustainable society.

    An article in the Dallas Morning News from February 2012 states Mayor Rawlings’s ideas for southern Dallas. He claims that he wants to strengthen neighborhood organizations and help out schools in the area. In Texas, the property taxes of a certain area or neighborhood pay for the schools within the area/neighborhood taxed. Therefore, higher property taxes means more funding for schools in that area. If Mayor Rawlings truly wants to help the economy of southern Dallas grow while simultaneously making it possible for the lower income residents to play a part in that growth, he needs to restructure the tax system in Dallas concerning school funding. Funding schools based upon local taxes means that children living in lower income neighborhoods do not get the same education or access to resources as children living in higher income neighborhoods. This leads to a sub-standard quality of education in low-income neighborhoods that exacerbates societal stratification by making it nearly impossible for people to improve their position in society and thus the quality of their lives. Creating a new system that pools together the resources from all of the city of Dallas would make for a more homogenized school system, and while it may cut back on some of the luxuries enjoyed by the upper class neighborhoods it would offer the lower income neighborhoods the basic resources that they have been denied for generations.

    While Mayor Rawlings seems to have the well-being of the communities of south Dallas in mind, a statement he issued concerning Jefferson Blvd. stands out, “This is our complete street right there. Let’s just make this thing come to life” (Bush, 2012). However, Jefferson Blvd. is already alive: with its brightly colored shops, bustling traffic, and conglomeration of pedestrians, it was the street that most stood out to me during my ethnographic studies in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. It felt like walking down a street in downtown Mexico. I saw several dress shops with Quinceañera dresses in the windows, furniture stores owned by locals, and numerous Mexican restaurants. Refer to Figure 2. One wonders how much more this street can - or should - “come to life” (Bush, 2012), and, more specifically, what Mayor Rawlings envisions for this busy strip that is integral to the culture of the people that live there. The last visit I made to Jefferson Blvd., I saw a man with a tape measure and three other people with him; he appeared to be selling a storefront to them. They stood out to me because in a sea of ‘brown’ faces, theirs were all ‘white’. President of Paul Quinn College and community leader in south Dallas, Michael Sorrell, states that he was not informed of the mayor’s plans for south Dallas. He explains how lack of community preparation “can lead to unintended gentrification” (Bush, 2012).

    Collateral Damage: Gentrification

    Gentrification indeed. Kael Alford, a special contributor to the Dallas Morning News published a story in September 2010 about her experience in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. Alford moved into the Oak Cliff neighborhood and instantly fell in love with the area. She talks about the bodegas and botanicas that are found all around the neighborhood, both of these are Spanish terms with the former meaning warehouse and the latter being what can only be described as a homeopathic remedy shop. Alford describes how produce and meats are sold on the street and easily accessible to the public. The journalist introduces us to the neighborhood she calls home and then makes the ominous statement “then…some things changed” (Alford, 2010).

    A local co-op selling organic produce, “Urban Acres”, popped up in the Bishop Arts/West Davis corridor. Alford claims, “The food was beautiful, locally grown and expensive” (Alford, 2010), offering us an idea of the types of businesses that are beginning to appear in Oak Cliff. These new businesses tend to the needs of a more affluent consumer base. Alford goes on to talk about the "better block festivals centered on new businesses and pop-up shops that boast shabby-chic decor and artisan crafts” (Alford, 2010) that have recently begun to take off in the neighborhood of Oak Cliff. To make room for these new businesses and “cleaner” looking buildings, City Council has passed rezoning changes that are meant to make it easier to construct buildings that fit in with their vision of this part of Dallas while destroying buildings that don’t.

    Alford interviews a man named Jorge Diaz, the son of the owner of a well-established botanica called Chango Botanica. “Jorge expects that the rezoning means owners of neighboring buildings will sell their property and businesses. Or they may be forced to move if leases are no longer renewed,” (Alford, 2010). Jorge’s family has already been offered money for their property, a generous sum that greatly surpasses what his family paid when they bought the property three decades ago. Jorge goes on to say that he has seen other small businesses sold to developers and only hopes that his father’s business, his family’s livelihood, can survive what is to come.    

    This phenomenon is not new. The decision to clear the slums of the inner city during the mid-twentieth century had disastrous effects such as cheaply made housing projects of mammoth proportions, displacement of original residents, and, one that is particularly significant for the northern part of Oak Cliff, the building of neighborhoods that were “seldom integrated with surrounding areas” (Kibel, 2007, p. 2). This last effect is obvious when we see the rent for the new lofts that are being built near Founders Park in the northern part of Oak Cliff. Take the Zang Triangle Lofts as an example; they start out at $944.00 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment. Quite steep for individuals without salaried jobs. I walked the streets around the area and into Oak Cliff’s Founders Park and noted that instead of seeing people who live in the lofts on the street I saw mainly homeless people.

    Oak Cliff Economy and Form-based Zoning

    Property and tax information for businesses and residential property in Oak Cliff do not show overt signs of increase. Over the last ten years the value of property in this neighborhood has increased much like the rest of the city of Dallas and any notable changes reflected the larger economy of the country as a whole. I analyzed the property values of three businesses in Oak Cliff; Gatesco Medical Supply, Chango Botanica, and Frank Smith Plumbing. Refer to Figure 3. There is no indication that property values in Oak Cliff are rising rapidly, yet it is also apparent that the neighborhood is quite divided. North Oak Cliff, the area closest to the Trinity River and one that has been rezoned is completely gentrified. Housing in this part of Oak Cliff is in the form of lofts or upscale apartments and the businesses are not the locally owned places you find closer to the heart of the neighborhood but are instead corporate businesses.

    In the course of my exploration of the Oak Cliff neighborhood I noticed that zoning laws seemed relaxed, I saw juxtapositions of businesses and residences in many parts of the large neighborhood. There were auto repair shops next to cellular stores next to boutiques selling wedding gowns and Quinceañera dresses. While analyzing the Trinity River Corridor Project’s agendas I discovered a PowerPoint presentation from March 19, 2007 that addressed the “issues” with zoning in this part of town and outlined ways to move away from “traditional use-based zoning” to “form-based zoning”. The idea behind this new approach was to facilitate the creation of a new atmosphere along the length of the Trinity River Corridor.

    There is a trend in form-based codes, most, if not all of the visual representations I found online showed the same style of architecture. Multi-storied wooden structures, single balconies, and shuttered windows. While appealing, one wonders how accurate of a representation these design styles are of the culture and community of Oak Cliff today. An integration of the community that exists there now, meaning input from the small business owners and residents, could preserve the experience that one gets walking down the streets of this cultural reservoir today. It is undoubtedly important for us, as humans, to have pleasant surroundings to live and work in. Wanting to create desirable environments for people to live in is not a bad idea; on the contrary, it is a vital part of life. What is at stake is the Latino community that lives and thrives in Oak Cliff today. Any small business owner can tell you how difficult it is to stay afloat in today’s economy, much less pay for complete renovations of their buildings. 

    The new form of form-based zoning will have an immense impact on the community in Oak Cliff. The car repair shops, the beauty and barber salons, the Quinceañera stores and the locally owned restaurants will be pushed out in favor of buildings and businesses that fit this “vision”, a vision of modernity and an architectural style that aligns with the newly constructed bridges such as the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge designed by world renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. This is not to say that the current businesses cannot profit from the mixed-use method of city planning. If business owners were to be recognized by developers as stakeholders instead of people that need to be bought out and replaced, a melting pot ideal of cultures in the city can be achieved.

    Suburbia has long held the allure of separation from the “ills” of the city, yet what are those ills? Manufacturing and industrial waste is no longer the issue it was 50 years ago, the biggest issue we face today is the overconsumption of fossil fuels, most notably of oil. The idea that one can avoid the pollution in the city by living far away from it only exacerbates the situation by making those people more reliant on automobiles and thus, oil. Any plan that promotes moving people back into the city is worth supporting and part of the renovation of the Trinity River Corridor focuses on just that. The issues faced now are within us, we as inhabitants of cities and participants in society need to break down our own biases against other people and come to not only accept other cultures but live side by side with them.

    The neighborhood of Oak Cliff is, as of right now, home for many Latinos of the Dallas area. Businesses have signs in Spanish. Refer to Figure 4. Many of the business owners themselves are bilingual, making the transition much easier and less alienating for Spanish speaking newcomers. The articles on the Dallas Morning News website show that not only are the inhabitants of the Oak Cliff neighborhood worried about gentrification, but people who have more power in the city are also aware of the issue.  This gives a voice to those who are not heard when they speak for themselves and is a great example that there are those who are currently fighting for the equal treatment of the citizens of Dallas regardless of their socioeconomic standing.    

    Conclusion

    The development of the neighborhood of Oak Cliff needs input from constituents of its own community. The city of Dallas is trying to capitalize on the Trinity River Corridor Project to garner recognition nationwide and lift the economy of the city as a whole, yet city planners need to be aware of the implications of the policies they create and the regulations they impose on the varieties of communities that live in and constitute the city of Dallas. A complete transparency needs to exist between those who want to improve the city of south Dallas and the community leaders that have the residents’ best interests in mind. This will safeguard residents and business owners against loss of their properties and could result in the creation of a neighborhood with an experience that is all its own; a neighborhood that accurately represents that Latino community that has made Oak Cliff what it is.  Creation of form-based codes that do not reflect the rich culture that exists today does not give the community a fighting chance and will surely gentrify the area. With sufficient input of the local Latino population the waters of the Trinity River will also nourish the neighborhood of Oak Cliff.

    References

    Figure 1: Traditional Use-based Zoning and Form-based Zoning

    Traditional Use-based Zoning Form-based Zoning

    Source: Corina Gomez

    Figure 2: Stores in Oak Cliff

    Source: Corina Gomez

    Figure 3: Trends in the Market Value of Property

    Source: Corina Gomez

    Figure 4: Businesses in Oak Cliff

    Source: Corina Gomez