ZOAC, Thursday, May 18
ZOAC (Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee) is a committee of individuals appointed by Dallas City Councilmembers. ZOAC is the first official body to review the city's proposed ordinance.
After being briefed on the late-hours overlay in April, ZOAC began deliberations on the proposal. on Thursday, May 18. Sometimes, ZOAC cases can take months. With the late-hours overlay, it only took one day. By the end of the meeting, committee members unanimously voted to send the overlay on to the City Plan Commission with "no recommendation." Thank you to all those who showed up and those who also spoke. Our visible presence made a significant difference.
There were about 60 people in the audience, only two of whom were in support of the overlay. Following a refresher on the proposal by staff, ZOAC members asked very salient questions. Discussion among the committee lasted about 45 minutes.
Then, ZOAC Chair Tony Shidid called speakers to the microphone.
One person spoke passionately in support of the overlay outlining murders and other crimes that took place in Lower Greenville before that overlay was created. Another overlay supporter stated that current tools to manage neighborhood disruption were inadequate.
Eight overlay opponents spoke from a variety of factors including how:
Greater Dallas Restaurant Association executive director Andy Rittler did an excellent job of bringing it home with his remarks, specifically on how the GDRA would like to take the lead in crafting a better solution with both affected businesses and neighbors.
Then what happened?
A motion was made and seconded by ZOAC to make "no recommendation." That is when ZOAC members began voicing their opinions on the late-hours overlay. To a person, each found the proposed overlay onerous, unnecessary, subjective, and potentially discriminatory.
ZOAC member Chad Benedict stated that, for many small businesses, "Being forced to close at midnight means being closed forever." He also spoke to the "highly-subjective" nature of the overlay and how it could be used to discriminate against minorities, the LGBTQ community and other groups. "We have the processes in place to take care of any bad operator," he added.
"It seems too discriminatory," added committee member Lanay Hartmann.
ZOAC vice-chair Margot Murphy reinforced every point made by opponents, specifically bringing attention to remarks made by former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley. Chair Tony Shadid echoed all his colleagues' statements. The committee voted to forward the late-hours overlay proposal with "no recommendation."
So, what does that mean? Is the late-hours overlay dead?
Next, the overlay will go to the City Plan Commission with ZOAC's "no recommendation." Plan Commission chair Michael Anglin was nearby as the ZOAC vote was rendered. He was asked how often something with that "no recommendation" designation gets picked up and re-explored. He said rarely. However, he (and city staff) allowed it could still be put in play at the Plan Commission level.
From there, the proposed overlay goes back to the Council's Quality of Life Committee and then on to Dallas City Council. As we post this, one source tells us it could go straight from ZOAC to the Quality of Life Committee, We'll confirm.
At each juncture, the proposed late-hours overlay could either simply be passed along with ZOAC's "no recommendation" label rendering it "dead" ~or~ members of the Plan Commission, Quality of Life Committee, or City Council could breathe life back into it at each stage. Under-the-radar political pressure to approve the overlay begins ... now.
So, even though ZOAC's stance was so strong, the proposal is not dead.
Hold onto your garlic.
And encourage other businesses, individuals and organizations to Take Action (at top). If they endorse and follow Save the Patio, we will keep them (and you) apprised. Thank you!