Testimony to Dallas City Council on sprawl and parks

My testimony this morning

Good morning, Mayor and Council Members. My name is Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas, a non-profit advocate for clean air and water, parks and wildlife and a liable climate with over 3000 members and supporters in Dallas.

I’m here today on two matters – minimum lot size reform and funding for parks in the bond package.

First, I’m here to speak in support of reducing minimum lot sizes in the city. DFW is one the fastest growing regions in the country, but most of that growth is happening outside the city limits. That sprawl means higher greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, more flooding and water pollution, and worse air quality. Compact development, on the other hand, offers far greater environmental benefits than sprawl. Reducing minimum lot sizes can create more walkable, bikeable and transit accessible housing options for Dallas residents. By pairing such an action with investments in green infrastructure such as rain gardens and cisterns, we can build a more sustainable Dallas.

I’d also like to speak in support of including $350 million for parks, trails, and green spaces as part of the bond. From taking our kids to the playground, walking the dog on a trail, or meeting friends for a pickup game of basketball, parks just make our lives better. In addition to the physical and mental health benefits, parks also provide critical greenspace that reduces the urban heat island effect, mitigates flooding and provides habitat for wildlife.

But according to the Trust for Public Land, Dallas ranks a piddling 43rd in the nation for parks and recreation and scores below average for amenities like dog parks, playgrounds, and permanent restrooms.

Dallas’s future is greener and greater with more access to our incredible parks.


Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

As the director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughter are working to visit every state park in Texas.

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