Dallas: Don’t Zone Me Out of Business!
This petition had 92,753 supporters
I opened my auto repair shop along Ross Avenue in Dallas, Texas more than 30 years ago, and I have been serving customers there ever since.
When I opened the shop, I thought I had it made. Owning my own business was the American Dream I’d been chasing since 1974, when I immigrated here from Kenya. I’m proud of what we do and our customers seem to agree—they have ranked us amongst the top mechanics in Dallas.
But now Dallas is trying to shut me down. Why? Because the city thinks we need more apartment buildings, upscale coffee shops, and bars—but not my mechanic shop.
In 2005, the city changed the zoning for my property to prohibit neighborhood mechanic shops. It felt like they pulled the rug right out from under me. Using a procedure called “amortization,” they gave me a certain amount of time to close up shop to make way for the businesses the city wanted. And they would force me to close my business without paying any money.
The city wants private developers to use the land on which my shop sits to make it the “gateway to the arts district.” Apparently, they think a successful, minority-owned business has no place near an arts district.
Using zoning laws to destroy small businesses is wrong. What they are doing is eminent domain in disguise, but without compensation. It is state-run gentrification.
For years, I’ve fought the city to hold on to my dream. I don’t want to give up the shop and lay off my staff. Unfortunately, my time is running out. I recently asked the city’s Plan Commission to let me keep my business open, but they said “no.” They prefer their “vision” of gentrification to an actual operating small business.
Now my only hope is the Dallas City Council. On April 13th, the City Council will hear my appeal. I hope that you will lend your name and voice to tell them that development should not be built on the backs of those who made the community what it is and that changing the zoning laws on pre-existing small businesses and forcing them to close is wrong.
I know that Dallas has a bright future. I support economic development; it is a great thing, but the government should only do it without trampling on the rights of the city’s residents. When I first opened my shop, the surrounding neighborhood was rough. It has gotten much better, and I’ve been part of that success. Now, I want to be part of the future of Dallas, not a vestige of its past.
Today: Hinga Mbogo with the Institute for Justice is counting on you
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