Video courtesy of Uptown Dallas, Inc.
Something has to be done. Uptown is beginning to feel a bit like Greenville Ave. did a few years back. Remember? The late night crime and violence, residential streets overrun with youthful overindulgence, and uninvited visitors parking in front of residences … to put it nicely. Uptown is on the cusp of being known as similarly problematic area — unless we can do something now to curb that trajectory. As Uptown Dallas, Inc. works diligently to attract more young families, improve the schools, and focus on great parks, the late night bar scene is (literally) spilling into the streets and driving a higher police presence.
Two potential solutions have surfaced and exploration began last night at a formal community input session hosted by the City of Dallas Department of Sustainable Development and Construction:
1.) Include patios as a business square footage and raise the required parking. (Presently, only interior space counts toward parking requirements.)
2.) Create a Special Use Permit (SUP) overlay on the district, which would require renewal semiannually, for bars and restaurants within the district. (Specifics can vary.)
The first is in response to parking issues, where large establishments have lower parking requirements with a small interior space and large outdoor patio. Many in the audience at yesterday’s input meeting recommended other ways of addressing this concern – extending DART hours past 2 a.m., identifying dedicated Uber pick-up locations, increasing the presence of bike lanes throughout the city, and making the neighborhood more walkable. It’s unclear how attached the City is to this particular solution. Although it would grandfather-in existing businesses in non-compliance, the building would become non-compliant as soon as the place was up for lease again, creating a huge burden on new businesses and landlords. And in the past few years, dozens of hot new places have begun incorporating patio space into their property. We all know, establishments with large patios really do create higher demand for more parking — especially when driving is the only way to get there. How can we resolve this without ruining our new-found love of being outdoors in Dallas?
The second is in response to noise concerns and the suitability of certain types of restaurants and bars for the neighborhood. On Greenville Ave., a similar SUP requirement was implemented in the Planned Development (PD) district regulations. If businesses aren’t good ‘neighbors’, the community can lobby for their SUP renewal application to be denied and the business must close down before midnight. The SUP overlay would (hopefully) create a sense of responsibility of the businesses to the surrounding community, but also creates a very unstable environment for a small business owner — especially one whose business plan relies on midnight-to-2 a.m. customers. Perhaps enforcing noise ordinances would be a better policy to enforce?
The city’s response to these two issues will set a precedent, which could potentially be applied to other reviving districts and neighborhoods we love — Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, Design District …
For more info see the May 20th presentation “Parking Requirements for Retail and Personal Service Uses Utilizing Outdoor Spaces” to the Council’s Quality of Life Committee and the Aug 5th “Late Hours Overlay” presentation to the same committee.
The next opportunity to voice your recommendations will be held Monday Dec. 12th at 7:30 p.m. in the basement auditorium of City Hall, room L1FN. Any policy recommendations will then go Planning Commission Advisory Board early 2017, then to the Planning Commission for approval, to the Quality of Life Committee, then to City Council for implementation.