Monday, November 26, 2012

ER #50: Zoning Breathalyzer

City Hall Elevator Rumblings  #50

Rider #1:  Do you think someone is attempting, once again, to sell the council a bill of goods?  The recent Planning & Zoning commission meeting where they voted to send a 30/70% (food to alcohol) recommendation for council consideration when changing the zoning ordinance was just off the charts.  The only thing this would accomplish is to allow the creation of bars in Irving!

Rider #2:  And that’s the last thing we need in the city.  It’s bad enough that we have package stores for beer and wine on every corner now.  What makes the P&Z proposal so strange is that there was already a consideration by several council members to tweak the current alcohol zoning ordinance of 60/40% to 50/50%.  Someone really messed up the intent when it went to P&Z for review.  This was a big time alteration.

Rider #1:  What makes anything other than 50/50% ‘out of the box’ is when you look at the latest beverage figures reported by restaurants in the city.  At least 90% of all restaurants reflect 30% or less in alcohol sales.  And at least 70% of all restaurants have 20% or less in alcohol sales.  There really is just no justification for anything other than 50/50% if the ordinance is going to be changed.  Why anyone would want the figure higher is beyond me.

Rider #2:  I agree.  When I looked at the restaurant report, I, too, was surprised.  To see the following numbers for alcohol sales of some very popular restaurants and watering holes was eye-opening: Cool River Cafe - 34%; Cadillac Ranch - 31%; Hooter’s - 28%; Las Colinas Country Club - 26%; Via Real - 23%; Four Seasons - 22%; Aspen Creek -19%; La Cima Club (the city manager’s favorite?) - 17%; iFratelli - 17%; and El Chico - 8%.  Notice how all of these restaurants are under the 40% requirement?

Rider #1:  I can envision what is going to happen next.  Some council members are going to cede to special interests and attempt to push this ordinance beyond reasonable justification.  Even though 50/50% would suit all current and future restaurants in the city, someone might be carrying water for special interests who would attempt an ‘end run’ around what might be totally acceptable to the public.

Rider #2:  We’ll see how this is presented to the council by the city administration.  If anything greater than 50/50% is recommended, than those council members voting for a higher percentage will be voting and opening the door for bars in the city...which could be placed next to one of the package stores selling beer and wine on every corner of the city. 

Rider #1:  An additional safeguard the council should consider is that the revised ordinance would include language that prohibits all restaurants from using the word “bar” in any signage.  This doesn’t solve the problem, but it would allow for a better city-wide image not to have this flashing all over town. 

A note from counsel: These “candid” elevator conversations have been injected with fabricated nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, adverbs, modifiers and maybe a few dangling participles….Mark Holbrook