Giovanni’s Priorities

Creating & Protecting Homeownership 

1) Let’s build affordable homes rather than high rent apartments. We know the quickest way to generational wealth is by homeownership, so let’s work with local builders to create dwellings the community can own. It’s time for Dallas taxpayers to stop giving millions of tax dollars away to developers who build apartments. 

2) Let’s expand protective zoning by creating a Long Time Homeownership Program. So, what this means is if your property values more than triple then this program locks in your current rate, keeping more families in their homes.

3) Let’s focus on our neighborhoods by investing in fixing our streets and sidewalks; we shouldn’t let developers dictate our priorities.

4) Let’s strengthen our Home Improvement and Preservation Program(HIPP), allowing more families to improve their homes.

5) Let’s prioritize the needs of our homeowners and long term residents over short-term rentals like Airbnb. Let’s allow our community to decide if they want their neighborhood to be a tourist destination.

Protecting Vulnerable Renters

In Oak Cliff, 74% of our families of 4 earn less than $48,000 dollars a year. Most families are renters (in fact 6 out of 10 of them are). Let’s createAnti-Displacement Ordinances to protect our vulnerable families who rent.

What does this look like? Here’s what I propose:

1) Let’s require developers to pay for moving costs when they decide to displace working families from their rental properties.

2) Let’s give our working families at least 60 days instead of 30 days to find a new place to move. If families have school-aged children, that gets extended until the end of the school year.

3) Let’s give our renting families an opportunity to collectively purchase their apartment units before the landlord sells to a developer.

Smart & Sensitive Development

Too often, development threatens everything we love about Oak Cliff. Let’s protect our historic homes, diverse culture and green spaces. How do we do this? Let’s consider these ideas:

1) Let’s give our existing small business owners an opportunity to create new clientele and stay on as the staple of the community when new development comes in.

2) Let’s focus on smart and sensitive economic growth by creating an effective small business incubator program for training and development of our local entrepreneurs. We partner up with local chambers of commerce and non-profits to empower our community rather than displace them.

3) Let’s educate our community about Community Benefits Agreements, empowering them to control the destiny of their neighborhood and holding developers accountable.

4) Let’s enact inclusionary zoning through overlays and TIFF Districts, ensuring that our community benefits. 

Public Safety 

1) Let’s truly invest in social services like mental health and homelessness services so that our police officers don’t have to deal with all of our city’s problems.

2) Let’s compensate our police officers fairly keeping them from getting poached by other cities.

3) Let’s incentivize our first responders to become neighbors by offering them assistance in purchasing a home in Oak Cliff.

4) Let’s offer solid police training in community policing, de-escalation of difficult situations, racial sensitivity and crisis intervention along with the standard firearms training.  

Quality of life

1) Let’s look to expand on the vision of the Friends of Oak Cliff Parks by further beautifying our parks, creating bike and walking trails and promoting community clean up days.

2) Let’s hold monthly farmer’s markets to combat food deserts while promoting healthy lifestyles by selling fruits and vegetables to our community.

3) Let’s invest in real biking routes giving our community alternatives to conventional modes of transportation. 

4) Let’s create Neighborhood Arts Districts so that our families and children can benefit from the resources of Dallas culture and arts without leaving the community.

The Value of Neighborhood Arts DistrictsBuilding Local Arts Ecosystems throughout our city

 ABSTRACT : Neighborhood Arts Districts, through the arts and culture, will improve the quality of life, create enthusiasm for our communities, cultivate social and civic responsibility in our citizens, spark economic activity, and prepare young people with the creative skills needed for successful academic and professional careers. 

VISION NEIGHBORHOOD ARTS DISTRICTS : Residents of Dallas will develop Neighborhood Arts Districts in every city district in order to build stronger communities, stimulate economic development, and cultivate a robust and diverse crop of arts participants that. This will transform Dallas into a region of vibrant arts and culture, a model for the entire nation. 
Neighborhood Arts Districts as Pop-Up Cultural Centers 
A Neighborhood Arts District would be what is called a “pop up” cultural center because activities and programming will take place in a building, or buildings, provided by the neighborhood community. For example, in 2016, David Lozano, Cara Mia Theatre Company Executive Director, organized a group of approximately 25 citizens from Pleasant Grove to develop a pop-up cultural center for which several members of the community offered space for programming. Other members offered spaces at their churches. The branch manager of the neighborhood Dallas Public Library offered the library’s black box and classrooms. The Executive Director of the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offered his offices as a workspace for an administrator. Questions of space were resolved by expressing needs with members of the neighborhood, and the neighborhood offered solutions.

First we’ll identify Neighborhood Curators. Each Neighborhood Arts District will be assigned a Cultural Curator responsible for organizing meetings, facilitating strategic planning, and communicating with residents from their assigned district. We suggest that Curators are experienced Arts Administrators or Artist Administrators who have experience building cultural activities and programming. Non-profit organizations with years of experience curating multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary programming can also serve as successful Community Arts Curators. 

What are the Steps towards creating a Neighborhood Arts District? There are 3 main steps that are:

1 – Community Organizing & Strategic Planning: It is important to first develop a community driven strategic plan so that a common vocabulary for achieving goals is clear to the community. The Curator will work with the district’s Dallas City Council Representative to reach out to the community and schedule meetings to begin a process of strategic planning over the course of three to four months. The Curator will hear what the residents would like to see in their pop-up cultural centers and find what artists and arts groups already operate within the district and inquire about their interest in participating. Once the neighborhood resources are assessed and tapped for participation, the Curator can offer other possibilities for arts programming that can be brought into the District. The Curator will be responsible for finding the balance of neighborhood and imported programs. Finally, the community will identify a location where programming can take place. From the perspective that art can happen in a room with a light bulb, we realize that a Neighborhood Arts District can take place in one building or a variety of buildings. 

2 – Opening Festivals: Each Neighborhood Arts District would have an opening festival. The Curator will work with neighborhood residents and their budget to create a grand opening with a specific theme. An opening festival can take place outdoors, or it could be an art-walk from building to building. The possibilities are endless. 

3 – Regular Programming: The Curator will hire local artists from each neighborhood and from around the city to present, perform, exhibit, and teach, creating a true cultural exchange between citywide and neighborhood artists. Curators can program theatre performances for children and/or adults, music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, and even public art for Neighborhood Arts Districts. This initiative will foster community spirit and renewal at the same time, creating a sense of community ownership. 

One of the greatest benefits is Community Building. Residents will gain experience working with fellow residents with the support of the City Council Representative and the Cultural Curator. They will gain an understanding of the value of their local resources and identify assets that will contribute to their success. 

Another great benefit is creating Cultural Vibrancy in the neighborhood. Imagine a community where organized arts experiences do not currently exist. Now, imagine a weekend in which a local church, school, community center, or library in this community hosts a music concert on a Friday night, a theater class for children on Saturday morning, a poetry slam during the afternoon and a theatre performance on Saturday night. This exciting schedule of community events localizes art by utilizing existing infrastructure. Rather than believing that the arts belong only in certain parts of town, the Neighborhood Arts Districts democratize the arts. Moreover, with local artists from the district, this Neighborhood Arts District concept reinforces the positive notion that people don’t have to look, act, or live in a certain part of town to be an artist. 

A benefit that you can’t put a price on is that of Raising Our Youth on the Arts!  As we have seen with City of Dallas Cultural Centers, young people can grow up being mentored throughout their school careers by attending classes in the arts, developing creative and analytical thinking skills while learning how to become socially responsible for their communities and the world. If we re-prioritize arts funding towards Neighborhood Arts Districts over the next ten years, we will see children grow, developing skills for their academic and professional careers, and become socially conscious and thoughtful leaders in their neighborhoods. We will see them motivated to go from high school to college. The impact of the Neighborhood Arts District will have indelible impact on their lives, careers and the neighborhoods they live in. 

For small organizations and individual artists, these opportunities to work in neighborhoods can help provide them with living wages. Dallas can become a home to its artists rather than simply a stepping stone to better opportunities in other arts markets. 

How does this provide an Economic Stimulus to a neighborhood? It’s been proven that a Neighborhood Arts District is great for surrounding businesses. Providing support for artists to work in neighborhoods also stimulates spending. Arts programs under the banner of a Neighborhood Arts District can seek private funding to match public funding. In the case of the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Cara Mía Theatre matched a $17,000 services contract for a summer camp with the City dollar for dollar with private funding, generating a $34,000 program. 

It is important to first develop a community driven strategic plan so that a common vocabulary for achieving goals is clear to the community.