Meet Dallas' Mayoral Candidate: Scott Griggs
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Dallas voters will pick the city’s next mayor on May 4.
Each of the nine candidates remaining has opined on the need for Dallas to focus on transportation, urban renewal, education, affordable housing and workforce development.
But what would each candidate’s platform mean for commercial real estate?
Bisnow sent questionnaires to every candidate in the Dallas mayor’s race to find out and will run the responses of all candidates who provide feedback.
Here are Griggs’ responses to Bisnow’s questionnaire:
Bisnow: What do you believe is the role of City Council when it comes to commercial development in the city?
Scott Griggs: The role of the Dallas City Council is to properly entitle commercial development with zoning and financial entitlements, if applicable, and ensure community expectations and benefits are fulfilled by the commercial development. The goal of the city of Dallas should be the delivery of high-quality and timely entitlement proceedings and permitting processes.
Bisnow: Do you believe affordable housing is an issue in Dallas? If so, what is your plan for addressing this issue?
Griggs: We have a land use crisis that goes far beyond just affordable housing. Our jobs are too far away from our workforce housing, and we keep investing money into large highway projects that exacerbate the situation. The affordable housing tools available to us through federal law and funding are broken. They produce concentrated poverty and housing that’s hardly affordable. This is why I take a comprehensive approach to providing real economic opportunity to the working poor and it starts with transportation and housing.
As mayor, I will implement a city of Dallas transportation policy. For far too long, we lived under the tyranny of DART’s transportation system, where people can’t get to work from point A to point B on time because of the terrible service. We need a transportation policy to set our expectations for the DART board: safety and cleanliness; level of bus service to get people to work, the grocery store, pharmacy on time; restoration of paratransit service; limitations on fare increases; and ridership goals. DART needs to end its sole focus of building the largest light rail system in America and focus on building the best bus system for the city of Dallas. Right now, we are paying $280M a year to DART — more than half of its budget collected from member cities. And since DART’s creation, the city of Dallas has given DART $5.8B.
As mayor, I’ll put the programs, strategies and tools within our Comprehensive Housing Policy into action. When I was elected to the council in 2011, the city of Dallas did not have a housing policy. As chair of the housing committee for two years from 2015–2017, I led the effort to create Dallas’ first Comprehensive Housing Policy with the goals of:
- Maintaining our existing affordable housing and creating more affordable housing.
- Offering more choice to residents on where to live.
- Overcoming patterns of segregation and poverty through investment.
The Comprehensive Housing Policy identifies areas ready for redevelopment, areas to protect from gentrification, and areas of Dallas in need of infrastructure investment. The Comprehensive Housing Policy has programs, tools and strategies for meeting Dallas’ affordable housing needs, which includes the creation of 20,000 units of single- and multifamily housing. A Market Value Analysis data-driven approach supports the programs, tools and strategies, which benefit renters, single-family homeowners, landlords and developers. Best practices from across our country incorporated such innovative ideas as utilizing Dallas’ land bank to rebuild neighborhoods, establishing and funding a Housing Trust Fund, protections from source of income discrimination, relocation assistance, first-time homebuyer assistance, home repair assistance, renter relocation assistance, low-income housing placement guidelines, minimum housing standards and inclusive zoning bonuses, for example.
Today, there is no longer a Housing Committee; rather there is a combined Economic Development and Housing Committee. This has caused a bottleneck at the council committee level on the number of tools, programs and strategies we can implement. As mayor I will implement a new kind of committee structure that will end the bottleneck and allow us to put the tools, programs and strategies to work.
Bisnow: There have been instances of developers and council members throughout North Texas facing legal consequences for bribes and undue influence when it comes to housing and commercial developments. What do you plan to do to tackle that particular issue?
Griggs: Elected officials and staff at the city of Dallas work hard every day to earn the public’s trust. The recent news of the betrayal of this trust is unforgivable and indicative that we must have a plan in place to prevent such corruption.
My plan for how we revise ethics, transparency and accountability in the city of Dallas is a four-part effort to gain trust and to better serve the public.
1. Fix The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Loophole
Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects have been a source of much corruption. The recently passed Comprehensive Housing Policy requires that these projects be scored to improve selection, but we need to go a step further. Let’s institute a “no contact period.” When a developer files for a LIHTC project, the developer and city council are not allowed to have any communication until the LIHTC project is scored by city staff and presented to the city council. This will set a high standard for conduct for LIHTC projects.
2. Follow The Money
A searchable electronic database, with a dashboard, should identify campaign contributions, council member conflicts of interest, lobbyist activities and parties or individuals having a financial interest in a city council matter. Today, only campaign contributions are searchable but other records are not maintained in a searchable electronic database. Let’s make it easy for the public to follow the money and connect the dots.
3. Who Meets Who
Both council members and lobbyists should be required to file reports detailing meetings. We need to know the identities of parties and individuals having a financial interest in a council matter. These records can be made available electronically to the public as part of a searchable electronic database.
4. Open The Door To Closed Meetings
Often, the Dallas City Council meets in closed executive session. There are no recordings of what happens in closed executive session. Let’s increase transparency at City Hall. Under my proposal, all closed executive sessions of the Dallas City Council should be video recorded in entirety. The closed session recordings can then be made available to the public whenever all rationales for closing the session are no longer applicable.
When following this plan of ethics, transparency and accountability, we can hold our city officials and staff to a higher standard, one our city has not seen and completely deserves.
Bisnow: If you only had time to focus on one issue in terms of commercial development, what issue would that be and how would you address it?
Griggs: My one issue would be the permitting process at the city of Dallas. Dallas should have an electronic permitting process that is the fastest and best in the United States. We don’t. This issue needs to be elevated to a mayoral level.
Bisnow: As more redevelopment goes on Downtown, in Fair Park and in Deep Ellum, more high-priced apartments and other facilities are coming in. What is your view of these redeveloping areas and what role do you believe the city plays in sustaining them?
Griggs: The city must encourage Downtown, Fair Park and Deep Ellum to be distinct, vibrant and mixed-income urban neighborhoods that utilize multimodal transportation. The city should sustain these neighborhoods with carefully crafted entitlements responding to the needs of each individual neighborhood.
Bisnow: Why should the DFW-area commercial real estate community vote for you?
Griggs: This year Dallas will elect a new mayor, but a new mayor will not ensure the change we need to move our city forward. Dallas needs a new kind of mayor. We need a mayor we can trust to champion our neighborhoods and our diverse communities — a mayor who will lead us to reclaim Dallas for the people of Dallas.
Through my record of service and accomplishments, I am ready to be the new kind of mayor our city needs. I have a deep understanding of our city’s challenges and opportunities. As mayor, I can lead our city to create transformative change and bring a higher quality of life to every part of our city.
Five Dallas mayoral candidates will debate CRE topics including multifamily affordability and development at Bisnow's Multifamily Annual Conference May 2.
Click here to register and to learn more about the scheduled speakers.