2013 local issues
Processing of Building Permits, Certificates of Occupancy and Zoning Cases
Commercial real estate projects are all about timing, and the response times for basic development services can make or break a project. Budget constraints and staffing cuts over the past two years have created significant challenges for the Department of Sustainable Development & Construction. Since August of 2010, The Real Estate Council has played a vital role in bringing together city staff and other private sector stakeholders to recommend improvements to these basic development services through the establishment of the Building Inspection Enterprise Fund Committee that meets monthly. Our work is ongoing, and our input will play a critical role in 2012 to ensure that the cost of doing business in the City of Dallas stays competitive with the surrounding municipalities.
The City of Dallas is now looking at both the quantity and quality of storm water runoff. The Drainage Design Manual governs the drainage design practices in the City of Dallas. Traditionally, in development projects and street designs, engineers have focused only on the quantity and not the quality of storm water runoff. In January 2006, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) completed the Integrated Storm Water Management (iSWM) Manual, which is designed to help area cities implement more environmentally friendly approaches to storm water management. In 2009, the City of Dallas Green Building Task Force, which includes citizens, professional groups, developers and staff members, held public meetings to receive input from the development and professional community on adopting the NCTCOG iSWM Manual for voluntary use as part of the Drainage Design Manual. In December of 2009, the iSWM Manual was adopted on a voluntary basis, and the City agreed to use the manual on appropriate municipal projects. In April of 2011, the City of Dallas will convene a policy committee and a technical committee to review the practicality and functionality of the iSWM Manual to determine whether these practices are cost-efficient and effective at reducing the volume of storm water runoff, increasing the quality of storm water runoff, promoting green spaces and natural drainage pathways, and facilitating green drainage techniques. The Real Estate Council will participate on both committees and make recommendations to the city.
Article X (Tree Code)
Tree mitigation costs can be a deterrent to commercial and residential developments, particularly in Dallas’ southern sector. The Real Estate Council has worked closely with the City of Dallas arborists, Save Open Space advocates, the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee, the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and the Homebuilders Association to determine a method for offsetting the cost of tree mitigation. This method would create an incentive-based program to encourage greener and more sustainable developments as well as the conservation of the more significant trees on a given property. The city’s Zoning Ordinance Committee is expected to consider the recommendation this year.
Development Code Amendments
The Real Estate Council continues to participate in discussions with the City’s Zoning Ordinance Committee and the Plan Commission to encourage meaningful amendments to the Dallas Development Code. Whether we are reviewing the parking ordinance to recommend more appropriate parking ratios or encouraging administrative flexibility with the minor amendment process for planned developments, we are committed to working with city staff and public officials to help make the development process more efficient for those doing business in the City of Dallas.
2013 Statewide Issues
Our member organizations represent a broad cross-section of the real estate industry including accountants, appraisers, architects, asset managers, attorneys, bankers, brokers, designers, developers, engineers, planners, title and finance professionals and more.
The availability of water and power and the movement of people and goods throughout our state are essential to a growing economy that provides job opportunities for Texans. Transportation infrastructure is critical to maintaining our economy and our quality of life. The state’s growing population means more wear and tear on roads and greater traffic congestion. Federal, state and local funding sources required to build and maintain our transportation system are inadequate, rapidly eroding in availability, and politically at risk. Policymakers should explore new transportation funding solutions and ensure current transportation revenues are appropriately allocated. RECsTX encourages the legislature to:
- End diversions from Fund 6 to non-transportation programs
- Extend the authorization for Regional Mobility Authorities to enter into Comprehensive Development Agreements
- Fund pass-through financing programs with the Texas Department of Transportation
- Expand the ability to use transportation reinvestment zones to fund transportation projects
- Expand the Texas Department of Transportation’s ability to enter into Comprehensive Development Agreements
- Identify and appropriate resources to the Rail Relocation Fund
A level playing field is critical for the commercial real estate industry to regain its footing and help rebuild the tax base. A moderate, balanced and stable tax structure contributes to the positive business climate necessary for Texas to compete in a world economy. Any legislation revising the Texas franchise tax should include language to correct basic inequities.ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND RESPONSIBLE GROWTH
Commercial real estate development is a leading industry for growth in Texas. The Texas Legislature should not impose undue regulations that inhibit growth and should encourage tools that stimulate the economy and promote responsible and sustainable development such as:
PROTECTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
- Tax Increment Financing and Public Improvement Districts
- Programs that encourage the use of green building technology and provide tools for retrofitting existing infrastructure
- Encouraging water preservation
- Development agreements
- Public/private partnerships
Texans expect the Legislature to strike a fair balance between the rights of private property owners and governmental entities. The Texas Legislature must protect landowners from unduly burdensome local development requirements that reduce the value of the landowner’s property. The legislature must also preserve existing protections such as Chapter 245 of the Texas Local Government Code (Vested Rights) and the Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act (PRPRPA).