Parking and Patios in Uptown Under Seige

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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.

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Amanda Popken

Amanda is a community strategist & economic development specialist focused on placemaking and urban design promoting, inspiring, teaching & engaging communities to grow their own social capital. She is President of Congress for the New Urbanism North Texas and can be found at

Reader Interactions


  1. John M says

    Major misinformation in this article, walkable neighborhoods including Uptown would be exempt from the patio parking requirements, what this is really to do is prevent establishments like The Truck Yard from being developed in say East Dallas or and around the Cedars and stealing residential parking because the current city code means with so little interior space but very expansive outdoor space they would effectively be exempt from the parking requirements.

    As for noise violations and code enforcement, as a property owner and resident that has been dealing with it for 10 years the issue is the fine is not nearly onerous enough to effectively punish the bars, many are quite happy to pay it as the cost of doing business and continue to break the law. This would put an end to that behavior. And that’s when you can get code or DPD to write a ticket. And even then like any ticket the bar can fight it, it’s actually extremely difficult to pursue a noise violation ticket and involves having an official complainant and a trip to court, something that the bars are much better prepared to fight than our already overtaxed police department and for residents that have 9-5 jobs (i.e. people that can afford Uptown).

    • mmAmanda Popken says

      John! Great insights! Please, join the discussion on the 12th! City Hall needs to hear your input. It’s such a nuanced situation that Dallas has yet to really dig into and establish solid precedents for similar neighborhoods. Such an important discussion for us to have now about our favorite neighborhoods!
      But yes, this particular discussion is in reference to specific PDs which regulate the McKinney Ave and Oak Lawn neighborhoods. Hardly “major misinformation”. Check out the committee briefings linked in the article. You’re exactly right though – this basically is targeting establishments similar to Truck Yard (such as possibly The Den on McKinney Ave) with significant outdoor patio/rooftop space which isn’t counted in their square footage to determine their required amount of parking to obtain a CO.

  2. renato says

    So grateful that the politicians would take time off from their busy schedule of bankrupting the city and hiring another round of consultants to manage the police pension fund’s brain-dead real estate assets to consider proposals to wreck a lot of small businesses and all the employment and economic activity that they generate.

  3. Randall White says

    ASH+LIME Strategies, for which the author is a collaborator, is a champion of strategies, which advance dense urban development, walkable streets, and alternative forms of transportation.

    So is Save the Patio, a coalition of (so far) 450+ businesses and individuals who believe parking requirements for business open-air cafes, patios, and courtyards are business and customer un-friendly ~and ~ that a midnight curfew tool would be a TAD subjective as a Dallas city hall deterrent. 😀

    We, too, encourage everyone to attend the Dec. 12 meeting if they have an interest in these issues. Here are details:

    If you agree that City Hall is not fully thinking through this or may be shirking its responsibilities in using tools already at their disposal, then join our coalition at:

    Bottom line, do we have a better, more economically vibrant City of Dallas with patio businesses and sidewalk cafes? If the answer is yes, then why would we even consider ideas that would make that harder to impossible to do? #savethepatio

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