I, along with my dedicated campaign volunteers, have been knocking on doors since January, and we have had the pleasure and privilege of speaking with thousands of our friends and neighbors. Throughout the conversations, I have encouraged everyone to share the topics that seem most concerning to them. One of those topics involves our current challenges regarding density and what can be done to slow it down.
Let me begin by saying we must work to reduce density where possible, but to understand the challenge that density poses, we must first understand how we’ve arrived at the current zoning levels. Unfortunately for Frisco, many years ago, a number of property owners rezoned farmland to multi-family zoning. I refer to this period as "zoning for dollars." The benefits to the property owners were obvious, as it made the land more valuable, but it also set into motion a series of challenges for citizens to deal with in the future. Now, "the future" has arrived. Voters are very concerned about density, and rightly so.
This leaves us today with the incredible challenge of balancing landowner rights and the needs of the community, for which I have always been a fierce advocate of both. When I first moved to Frisco, I was intrigued by the zoning patterns and began an in-depth analysis that led to my conclusion that we were on the wrong path relative to zoning and density. I remember my first opportunities to speak publicly on the topic when I approached the council as a monthly contributor during the Citizen Input section of Council meetings. This is essentially the issue that eventually led me to serve on the council.
As a council member, beginning in 2002, I focused on practical solutions to reduce the zoning densities, where possible. With the combined efforts of council and staff, we were able to reduce multi-family zoning from an estimated 65,000 units zoned, down to 26,000. We focused on improved development standards that required less units per acre, more green space, and upgraded building standards. These actions either reduced the density or at least increased the value of the constructed properties for long-term tax revenue.
Despite all our great efforts and reductions, a significant amount of multi-family remains today in areas where we may or may not wish it to be. Any legal action taken by the city to remove that zoning without the property owner’s cooperation, would be viewed as a taking or condemnation, resulting in significant financial damage to the taxpayers. It is my belief that many property owners may be open to alternatives, providing they can realize an equitable return on their investment. As Mayor, I will work cooperatively with the property owners, encouraging them to seek more creative solutions by building projects that provide positive value to the community, and less density. To the extent we can be successful, every property converted will have a positive impact.
Additionally, it’s important to note that we cannot become just a city of single family rooftops. There is a place for quality developments that include retail, restaurants, office, employment, hotels, entertainment and even some multi-family. These developments should in no way be compared to traditional "garden style" apartments, which typically see a declining value over the years.
In my opinion these developments are best situated near the Dallas North Tollway corridor, where there is access to the DNT, reducing congestion of our internal city streets. My vision is to have an area where citizens may choose to live, work and play. The property tax revenue of these upscale developments will help reduce the future burden from our average homeowner for city operations.
This issue feeds into the heart of my campaign, focusing on taxes, density and congestion. As the city continues toward build out, density will require common sense zoning to protect the rights of property owners, homeowners and families. Only by addressing this issue through this focused approach can we navigate our community into our collective vision for the future. As Mayor, I will lead with a bold agenda when it comes to reducing density, and working with our City Council to make the proper moves to help make the quality of life better for all Frisco citizens.
Finally, I will leave you with one final observation… While it’s true that the Future Land Use Plan (FLUP) identifies several areas where density “might” go, it is not a guarantee of zoning. You have it within your power to decide our future. I will champion reductions in density whenever possible. The situation calls for bold, decisive leadership, and I am confident that my 35-year track record of professional leadership success is best suited to address these difficult challenges.
What Frisco needs is a Mayor who will have a strong and independent voice, and who will not be beholden to unhealthy alliances or group think. A mayor who will say what he means and mean what he says. I will be that strong Mayor that Frisco needs, Lord willing, and if the voters see to it that I am elected.