District 14 lies in the heart of the Dallas downtown. Lower Greenville, Uptown, Oak Lawn and downtown proper all sit within its borders.
And the district’s councilman, Philip Kingston, is hell-bent on putting the future of downtown in the hands of the public.
Kingston believes that top-down businesses have been steering the city’s interests for years, often at the public’s expense. He’s seen numerous projects, like a $200 million bridge, given priority when traffic lights desperately needed repairs.
He also pointed to the $1 billion in public debt that was spent on the Omni Hotel and the Convention Center – two buildings that do little for most people who live in Dallas.
“Right now, our city government doesn’t work that well at translating the will of the individuals into policies,” he said. “That’s what I want to improve.”
Kingston’s vision is bigger than individual policies. He wants to rework the system and include Dallas residents in the discussion over the city’s future.
“I’m not a designer or architect,” he said. “The bigger issue is the process we have in place for those people to make decisions.”
In developing the downtown Dallas area, Kingston wants to make it a connected urban core where people can work and live. As much as possible, he wants to limit the commuters coming in and out of Dallas and encourage more people to live in the city.
He said he’s especially concerned that businesses just want to build more highways rather than create residential areas in downtown. And he said there’s already proof that encouraging people to live downtown reduces the strain on the city’s infrastructure.
“Downtowners are finally working downtown,” he said. “And they’re having less of an impact on the area.”
He also believes that Deep Ellum and downtown need to be reunited and that walkability in the city’s center needs to be expanded. He also fought against a former city manager who attempted to box Uber out of the city in support of Yellow Cab.
Kingston says that services like Uber have already started to redefine how parking spaces are planned. And if options like Lyft’s carpooling feature become more popular, it’ll only further decrease the number of cars in downtown.
In each of these policies as well as the legacy he wants to leave behind, Kingston wants to make sure that individual voices aren’t smothered by the interests of the business that writes the biggest check. He’ll work tirelessly to give the people a voice, but it’s ultimately up to Dallas residents to decide their fate.
“We need to be translating our neighbor’s wishes into policies that allow the city to grow how they want it to grow,” he said.