Updated: Jan 6
Yesterday, the Plano City Council voted unanimously in open session to NOT continue the Plano Tomorrow Plan Lawsuit. As such, the citizens petition for a referendum on Plano tomorrow, which has been tied up in a legal battle with the city since 2015, will be presented to council this Wednesday, August 5, at 5:00 PM. For background on this matter, see my previous article here.
On Wednesday, in a joint meeting with Planning and Zoning, we will consider whether to repeal Plano Tomorrow outright (and if so, whether to reinstate the prior comprehensive plan for the time being), or place it on the ballot for a future election.
However, neither plan will serve us moving forward. That’s why the Citizens’ Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (CPRC), to which sixteen citizens were appointed last December, has been working diligently all year to create a new comprehensive plan, dubbed the Plano United 2050 Plan, to guide the shape of our city to the year 2050, and which the overwhelming majority of Plano’s residents support.
As such, tomorrow evening’s CPRC meeting will be pivotal. Read the meeting packet here. Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4th, at 6:00 PM, the CPRC will for the first time discuss the issue of density in a meaningful way. Density, of course, was at the heart of the contention over the Plano Tomorrow Plan, impacting the Land Use Plan, the Growth & Change Plan, the Transportation Plan, and to a lesser degree, the Parks Plan, all of which are the primary things to be addressed and reshaped by the committee.
Some of the pertinent facts regarding density are as follows:
Plano already has the second-highest population density of any large city in Texas—higher than Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. We’re just edged out by Arlington, but we’ve been making a solid run for the title [EDIT: I did the math, and Plano is more dense than Dallas even after you exclude Love Field and the waterways from the calculation]
Rental properties already made up 39% of Plano’s Housing mix, as far back as a year-and-a-half ago, with multifamily housing making up 32% of all housing (source: Plano demographics). Those ratios have climbed appreciably since then, and when the Collin Creek Mall project is complete, multifamily will comprise about 40 percent of all of our housing—nearly twice the national average of 22 percent.
We’re rapidly losing the variety of housing options we once had, and increasingly facing a dichotomy where the only options for anything newer than 20 years are either large, two-story homes, or upper-end apartments—and not many of the former. We’re losing the ownership options of single-story homes, patio homes, and townhomes sought by first-time homebuyers, lower-to-middle income brackets, and empty-nesters who want to stay in Plano (and who wouldn’t?), but want to downsize out of their aforementioned large, two-story home, but don’t want an apartment (I’ve spoken with countless people in that situation)
Additionally, the stability of our community is lessened with too high a ratio of rental-to-ownership, as rentals are, by their very nature in this part of the country, shorter-term propositions than ownership options
Many zoning requests in recent history don’t really follow the comprehensive plan anyway. As of a year ago, I was informed that some 60 percent of recent and current zoning requests (almost all for mixed-use projects with apartments) were zoned for “Planned Development,” which is what it’s called when the intended development doesn’t actually conform to the allowed zoning on a given piece of land. Sometimes the differences are minor, and sometimes significant
The CPRC is going to have to tackle this issue head-on and come to a consensus as to what we—the people of Plano—want the shape and character of our city to be as we move toward the year 2050. We are the City of Excellence for a reason, and must preserve what led us to be perennially ranked among America‘s Safest Cities, Best Cities to Raise a Family, Best Cities to Retire, Best Foodie Cities—the list goes on. We need to envision and plan for the future version of the Plano we already fell in love with—the Plano our people and businesses chose to call home.
We need to throw our support behind the CPRC and the Plano United 2050 Plan, to heal the division that’s torn our city apart for years, and move forward together. I urge you to make your voice heard—to the CPRC, to Planning & Zoning, to the City Council, and to one another.
As I’ve always said, Plano belongs to the People of Plano. The direction of our city is ours to shape, so let’s make Plano better than ever.