Update on Lower Greenville

After four people were stabbed outside one of the bars on Lower Greenville about six months ago, I pulled together a cross-departmental taskforce to examine problems in the area. Here’s an update on what the taskforce has been doing:

There continues to be frustration among residents regarding noise coming from bars on Lower Greenville. The police and city attorneys are likewise frustrated because they feel that the fines associated with the city’s noise ordinance are not expensive enough to deter the bars from turning up the volume. There is a perception that, to the bars, the fines levied by the city are simply the cost of doing business.

Because the problems in Lower Greenville have been ongoing for so long, I have encouraged our police and other taskforce members to think creatively about ways to address Lower Greenville problems. I am pleased to report that our police have been working very diligently on the noise issue. One DPD officer noticed that section 101.62 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“TABC”) Code prohibits loud noise on the premises. The penalty can include a $750 fine and a suspension of the business’ liquor license.

The DPD has been working closely with the TABC on this issue, and is considering standardizing the process so that a bar would receive one warning, two citations, then the third citation/violation would be forwarded to TABC for an Administrative Case filing. The DPD and the TABC are coordinating to implementing this process now, and will be moving forward with administrative case filings against bars that violate this process. Special thanks to Deputy Chief Harvey, Sargeant Clifton, Lt. Keough, and TABC Sgt. Hamilton for helping to address this important issue for the neighborhood.

Special Permits for Bars
To operate as a bar in Dallas, businesses must obtain a special permit from the city. The permitting process requires a public hearing, where nearby residents and business owners have the opportunity to let the city know whether or not the business has been operating as a good neighbor should.

Unfortunately, in Lower Greenville and other areas of the city, bars like to masquerade as restaurants so they don’t have to go through the public permitting process. Bars are defined as those businesses that receive more than 75% of their gross revenue from liquor sales.

I have been working with our police department, the city attorney, and the city auditor to ensure that businesses comply with the rules and obtain a special permit if they’re bars.

The city auditor will be conducting audits of some bars in Lower Greenville and other areas of the city that are believed to be operating without the proper permit. This is a pilot program, and once the bugs are worked out, it will be expanded.

The city will be completing an analysis of Lower Greenville parking in the next two to three weeks. Parking in Lower Greenville is remarkably complex. The city requires a certain number of parking spaces for businesses in Dallas, depending on the square footage and type of business. On Lower Greenville, however, businesses get parking credits for non-existent parking spaces. Businesses also often use “parking agreements” with other businesses to fulfill their parking requirements. In other words, a business makes an agreement with another business to “rent” parking spaces from a nearby parking lot in order to fulfill their parking requirements. Such “parking agreements” further complicate the parking situation.

Businesses are also required to keep their parking lots in a certain state of repair, and must have them striped and lit to code. Because parking is such a problematic issue in Lower Greenville, it was important for the city to undertake a parking analysis to ensure that all of the businesses in the area are complying with all city rules and regulations regarding parking.

Infrastructure Improvements
The upcoming 2006 bond contains nearly $500k for street reconstruction of Greenville Avenue from Ross to Palo Pinto. In addition, I added over $800k to to the bond to improve the streetscape for pedestrians, to add lighting, and to make other safety improvements.

There are a number of other issues that the city’s taskforce is working on to improve Lower Greenville, and you’ll be hearing about those efforts in the coming weeks.