What is the West Oak Cliff Area Plan (WOCAP)?
Here is the description according to the Planning and Urban Design website: “The West Oak Cliff Area Planning initiative began in 2020 by City Councilmember Chad West and the Planning and Urban Design Department. This area of Oak Cliff has numerous areas that are upcoming authorized hearing locations for rezoning. Additionally, this area also contains three DART light-rail stations with potential opportunities for transit-oriented development nearby. This planning effort will work to help create a land use and land development vision for this area. The Plan will be done in parallel with the update to the ForwardDallas Comprehensive Land Use Plan update and will be incorporated into that update upon adoption.”
Here is the interactive website which include a map of the area and the ways to provide public input.
What is the West Oak Cliff Coalition?
Here is a link to the WOCC facebook page where you can see past events and other information they have shared about their advocacy. “The West Oak Cliff Coalition is a community-led effort to maintain neighborhood self-determination in the face of development, gentrification, and displacement.”
What are they advocating for?
Here is a link to their petition which outlines the specific asks they are pushing for from Councilmember Chad West (District 1). The asks are summarized below:
In order to ensure that this plan is representative of the current residents’ aspirations for West Oak Cliff, we are proposing the following specific recommendations:
1. Scale: To truly capture the unique character and culture of each neighborhood within the area plan boundaries, the plan needs to be broken down into neighborhood-specific planning areas. As the demographics of each neighborhood vary greatly, so do their needs and wants. Planning an entire area without representation by each neighborhood is detrimental to building trust and ensuring participation by all residents in the planning area.
2. Timeline and Funding: As mentioned above due to the pandemic, the last year has been virtual and not always bilingual, but this cannot continue. Because of this and because the pandemic has caused significant economic and public health challenges in the very zip codes covered by the plan, the timeline needs to be dramatically slowed down, up to 12 months to ensure that neighborhoods have the educational resources and support to fully participate in these discussions; and funding needs to be allocated for outreach. We propose that outreach be conducted not only through online channels, but also through distribution of flyers and information to churches, non-profits, schools, and other community gathering places in the area.
3. Path to Policy: It is our understanding that the City of Dallas Planning staff proposed a change to the city’s planning process whereby neighborhood-driven plans can no longer get adopted by the city as formal city policy. Previously neighborhoods could develop their own grassroots plans with non-profit partners and pursue adoption of those plans with city staff, the City Plan Commission and Council. If only city-initiated plans can get adopted as official policy, the large scope and top-down process of city-initiated planning as well as certain communities’ distrust of the city is likely to result in plans being adopted that exclude historically marginalized voices, working-class voices, immigrant voices, and voices of color. Neighborhoods that organize and develop plans should be supported, not sidestepped. We ask you to advocate for and vote for a process that provides a path for neighborhood-driven plans to be adopted City policy.
4. Real Solutions: Community feedback received so far indicates a great deal of concern about displacement, gentrification, and maintaining affordability in the face of development and increasing property taxes and rent. We propose allowing neighborhoods to partner with academic and/or community-based non-profit organizations experienced in bilingual planning and zoning education. It is important to include these academic and community-based organization experts, along with adequate community representation, on taskforces and steering committees. Finally, at least one community meeting should focus on a presentation of real data and real solutions to these critical issues that are reflective of the current demographics and median income, median rent, and median home values in the area.
5. Task Force Representation: Significant sections of the WOCAP planning area do not have representation on the current WOCAP task force. These areas either do not have established neighborhood associations or have only established neighborhood associations recently, after the WOCAP process began. Task force representation has only been focused on ensuring that well-established neighborhood associations get representation, leaving many residents and many neighborhoods unrepresented. This is deeply concerning. We believe that the task force needs to be representative of the demographics of the WOCAP area, that each sub-area covered by the plan have representation regardless of whether they are already organized into a neighborhood association, and that there should be neighborhood-specific planning efforts in each neighborhood (and not just in selectively chosen areas) to ensure that current residents are centered in the future of West Oak Cliff.
What is the status?
The public comment period for the draft plan is open until May 10, 2022. The WOCC is doing outreach and engagement to help get resident input on the draft recommendations before then. If you are interested in helping them or if this plan impacts you, reach out!