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Tri-plexes & Four-plexes among our Single Family homes?

In November, 2023, five City Council members – including ours, Jaynie Schultz – signed a memo requesting a briefing by City staff “to explain the process and potential effects of amending … the Single Family district regulations to allow tri-plex and four-plex uses by right.”  (emphasis added).  "By right" means that no zoning approval would be required.  If an older home is torn down, 3 or 4 dwelling units could be built on that vacant lot with no review.


The memo immediately triggered concerns.  City Council member Schultz responded in an email:


"I co-signed a memo requesting a briefing on the potential of reducing single family lot sizes to allow for more diverse housing options.  The reason I supported this request was to learn more about the subject .... My signature on the memo does not imply support for anything other than learning."


There is no firm proposal yet.  But this idea could end Single-Family zoning as we know it.  It could lead to a patchwork of 3-and-4 unit dwellings (and the associated parking and traffic) scattered among our existing homes. 

Noted realtor Douglas Newby warned in the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas is Risking Single Family Neighborhoods

The article on his own web site:

Our Association's board opposes allowing 3 or 4 homes per lot in our Single Famiy-zoned neighborhoods.

Where did this idea originate?  In an email to her constituents, City Council member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) said this:



There have been a number of policies considered or discussed at the city council recently that impact single family zoning.  One recent article about the issue actually starts off saying that no, single family zoning is not under attack.  From short-term rentals invading neighborhoods to the new idea of allowing three-plex and four-plexes to be built by right in existing single family neighborhoods, allowing accessory dwelling units by right, and removing parking requirements, there is no other way to say it, but yes, single family zoning and ability to continue living in a single-family neighborhood is under attack.  There is a movement to change the rules of the zoning to reduce or remove single family neighborhoods.  Sometimes it is called "gentle density" or folks will say it is "context-sensitive design," but all that means is the rules of how land will be able to be used will change.


Many people have asked where all this has come from?  The short answer is there is an urbanist movement that has taken hold in many planning departments and universities, and the City of Dallas, as the 9th largest city in America, has attracted many employees with this mindset.  Additionally, a group of city councilmembers support the urbanist movement.


Dallas is a large, diverse city and there is plenty of land to provide all kinds of housing.  Single family neighborhoods, which provide stability to our city, should be one of the housing choices.  I have heard from residents throughout the city that they want to keep single family zoning as-is.

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